Here we go! Presented are 10 questions submitted to me by you, my loyal readers and their respective answers, from me, your coach and scribe, to you.
1. I hear about all the benefits to weight training, but I don't want to get bulky. Why can't I just stick to cardio?
While cardio is absolutely a necessity in helping to keep your heart healthy and for speeding up one's metabolism and thusly burning body-fat, weight training simply has too many benefits to ignore. In addition to working your heart and aiding one's metabolism, it improves posture, bone density and is the main stimulus for actually enhancing the shape of your body by making your muscles firmer. It takes years of heavy weights, a lot of food and genetics to build any appreciable amount of muscle mass and it's even more difficult in women due to their naturally low testosterone levels. Bulk is mostly about a poor diet and excuses.
2. All I want is abs so I'll stick to crunches. That'll get me a 6 pack, right?
The only way you'll acquire a 6 pack is to buy one at your locale liquor shop. Spot reduction is a myth. You can target your midsection all day long, but core work, while it does indeed strengthen a midsection internally, simply does not burn enough calories as compared to working other muscle groups in ridding the stored body fat in your belly. There are 3 keys to a prominently displayed muscular midsection: A clean nutritional intake, resistance work and cardiovascular work all performed over time.
3. I want results but can't keep up this multi-hour pace for much longer. What can I do to speed results?
For one, train smarter not longer. Think of your training as if you were a skilled carpenter. One or two well placed whacks with the hammer, and the job is done. If you give your all to each set (excluding warm-ups), then you will more efficiently work your body in less time. Perform weight training intensely and cardio moderately and (coupled with good nutrition), you will burn more fat and preserve your lean muscle tissue.
4. My understanding is if something is fat free, it may contain more sugar, and if so, doesn't sugar turn to fat in the body?
When a carb is ingested, your blood sugar levels increase as the carbohydrates are broken down into sugar. As blood sugar levels increase, insulin is released. This fat storing hormone will convert sugar to fat. By decreasing the amount of sugar (high-glycemic carbs) we take in, we can lessen the body's release of insulin. Any extra calories beyond one's bodily maintenance can be converted to fat, but carbs, specifically sugar, are more apt to turn to fat than say protein due to the body taking more time to break down protein nutrients. Unsaturated fats like nuts and fish oils are less likely to turn to fat than sugar because these are "clean" fats that your body can process and utilize for various functions. In essence, avoiding or lessening both fat free and high sugar products, can help to keep you lean. Keep your foods less processed and you are not only going to run better, but be leaner too.
5. How do I go to a holiday party and not overheat or drink?
This is probably the number one question I receive around this time of year. Since we all indulge from time to time, (yes trainers too), either join the party for one meal on this special occasion or think and plan ahead. Sometimes I will have a protein shake and a small handful of raw nuts just as I get to a party to keep myself somewhat satiated and my blood-sugar levels stable. Although eating clean at a party can be difficult, it's not impossible. Look for leaner food choices. Perhaps cold cuts like turkey breast, whole wheat bread, raw nuts and some vegetables at the veggie spread - just watch out for the dip. A diet soda or even a glass of wine or light beer won't hamper your diet.
6. How do you know what you'll make me do next in our workouts?
My standard answer is I view our training sessions similarly to how a professional wrestler views his/her matches. I know my beginning and ending while taking an educated, experienced and yet malleable approach to getting there while always making it about the individual and their goals and possible limitations. I never make it cookie cutter!
7. Now that I'm training with regularity, I'm afraid that if I stop, it'll turn to fat, right?
A muscle cell and a fat cell are two different things. If one ceases training, then the stimulus now removed will cause the muscle cells to shrink. If one still eats healthy, the results will be a smaller yet still lean person. It is when exercise is both ceased and too many junk calories are consumed that fat cells will increase in size. And although one's number on the scale might stay the same or even decrease, the actual quality of those pounds will decrease if healthy habits are not maintained.
8. Stretching - should I and if so when?
Like resistance training, stretching simply has too many benefits for it to be excluded from your current fitness regimen. Amongst those benefits, are improved nutrient absorption which can lead to a more efficient metabolism and an increased range of motion which can also lead to more lean muscle mass. Stretching prior to any warm-up is ill advised as the muscle must first become warm and pliable before it can be manipulated. I like to stretch both during and after my workouts, just a few basic holds per muscle group, and I never force the range but rather hold steadily.
9. Cardio before or after my workout?
Cardio work should be an integral part of your exercise plan for your heart, your stamina and for keeping body fat levels low and in check. Its source of energy is in the form of adipose or fat, while weight training runs off of glycogen or stored carbohydrates. If one performs cardio (excluding a warm-up) prior to weight training, the result will leave one near too tired to properly complete the resistance portion of one's workout. Weights and then cardio for a muscular, yet hard and lean body.
10. Who has the time?
We all share the same 24 hour pie when it comes to time. And while we all have differing levels of responsibilities, where we differ is in our management of those hours and responsibilities. It comes down to how bad you want it. Want to see some change in your physique, not wake up in pain and actually be able to see your equipment when you pee? Make some time for your health. 3 days at the gym per week is good, 2 is okay and even 1 can make a difference. Go before work or after or at lunch. Perhaps hire a trainer to maximize workout and nutritional effectiveness in minimal time and commitment. It comes down to one thing: How motivated are you?
Please send your questions, comments and opinions to: Liebman.firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for some Christmas presents?
My new book, Anatomy of Fitness Core makes a great stocking stuffer and belly leaner :) pick them up at: http://t.co/e
In addition, I also offer personal trainer gift certificates and half hour stretch sessions. Be the spark that can change someone's life through health, fitness and wellness. Send an email to: Liebman.email@example.com
I truly wish each and every one of you very happy holidays and an even better and brighter 2013!