Updated: Sep 22, 2020
As a personal trainer, I get lots of questions about fitness and nutrition. Today I thought I would share some of them, along with my answers, in case you were wondering them too.
1) Q: How often/ how long should I work out? A: The World Health Organization recommends adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity exercise every week in bouts of 10 mins or more. How you break that up is up to you. Maybe you want to do an hour workout 3 times per week, or do 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week. It is also recommended that within that 150 minutes you include strength AND cardiovascular activity. You should do strength training at minimum 2x per week working all major muscle groups. It’s also recommended that you give muscles 48 hours between workouts to fully recover. To avoid that you could do upper body exercises one day, and lower body exercises another day. We call that a two day split. If this all seems overwhelming to you remember that something is always better than nothing. If you can’t do 150 minutes of exercise per week please don’t throw in the towel and not do anything. No matter how much or little you do, there is always a benefit to getting active!
2) Q: I’ve started a regular exercise routine. How long will it take for me to see results? A: That depends what results you are looking for. Within the first couple weeks you should see improvements such as increased energy, improved posture, improved endurance and strength, and increased confidence. Your blood pressure will likely also begin to stabilize surprisingly quickly. After a few weeks you’ll notice you’ve built some muscle mass. Muscles are dense so you might even see the scale go up a few pounds. Your aerobic capacity will improve and your resting heart rate should become lower. These are all signs that your hard work is paying off! If you focus too much on the number on the scale (which frankly may not change much due to your set point weight and the fact that you’re gaining muscle) you might not notice all these other benefits. If you’re feeling more energetic, more confident in your own skin/clothes, stronger, less lethargic and more focused count those as a WINS. Focus on developing healthy habits, paying attention to all the small benefits of exercise you notice and eventually your body will settle into its fittest form- no matter what the scale says.
3) Q: How many sets and reps should I do per exercise? A: There are different phases of training that require different amounts of sets and reps. In general for those getting started with fitness I usually recommend 2 to 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (starting with 2x10 and working your way up). Because you’re doing quite a few repetitions of the same exercises you’ll be forced to use a lighter weight than if you were doing fewer repetitions. This allows you to get lots of practice on their form. Good form decreases the risk of injury and provides better results in each exercise. If you are more experienced you can try experimenting with doing less reps with more sets and heavier weights.
4) Q: How often should I change my routine? A: Your body and muscles will adapt to a routine in about 4 weeks. It’s important to change things up in order to keep challenging your muscles in different ways so they can keep getting stronger and fitter. You can add variety by changing exercises, the number of sets and reps you do, the amount of weight you use or even the order of the exercises- maybe you want to try super-sets or circuits. It is especially important to change up the exercises you do so that you can work different parts of your body and create balance. The last thing you want to do is keep working the same muscles over and over and ignore others. This will create imbalances which can lead to injuries.
5) Q: Do I have to do strength training? A: YES! There are so many benefits of resistance (strength) training. For one thing, cardio can’t shape your body or improve your functional strength like resistance training can. For another, strength training increases your metabolism, improves your posture, increases your bone density, prolongs independence in older adults, increases your confidence, decreases your risk of injury AND MORE! So, yes. You have to do resistance training. You can use body weight, dumbbells, machines at the gym, resistance bands, barbells, kettlebells, or soup cans. Just do it.
6) Q: Do I have to do cardio? A: Again, YES! Your heart health depends on you working your heart. You can go for endurance, speed or power, just as long as you do it. A bonus reason to do cardio is the phenomenon called “runner’s high.” Your body releases endorphins as a reward for doing cardio (and not just running.) How great is that? So if you need a pick me up or stress reliever- do cardio. Want to lower your risk of cardiac disease? Do cardio. Just a regular day? Do cardio.
There you have it! A few common questions about fitness answered. Hopefully you learned something. If you have a question of your own feel free to contact us and we can try our best to answer you.