If you’re planning a new fitness programme for 2015 but haven’t exercised before you may be feeling confused. There is so much conflicting information it can be difficult to know where to start.
As a personal trainer, there are some questions I get asked on a regular basis. I’ve listed them below with my answers which will hopefully help to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the most frequently-asked questions.
Remember, if you’re really not sure, then ask someone. If you want results, it’s important to get it right from the start. Not only will a good personal trainer write a programme that will work for you, they’ll give you the information you need to take charge of your own fitness and wellbeing.
Weights or cardio – which is better for weight loss?
Both cardio (aerobic) and resistance (strength) training have incredible benefits and you should include both in your workout for optimal weight loss.
Cardio exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, improves your aerobic fitness and, of course, burns calories. Resistance training increases strength, builds muscle mass and helps to create a toned appearance. In addition, increasing your muscle mass will boost your metabolism as muscle is more metabolically active than fat.
By performing both cardio and resistance exercises you will also gain health benefits such as lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, stronger bones and better posture.
What is interval training and why should I do it?
Interval training alternates periods of high and low intensity work eg running for one minute, followed by one minute’s walking. This form of training provides an intense workout in a shorter period of time.
Research has found that people who used interval cardio resulted in significant fat loss as compared to other subjects who worked out at a lower intensity. In fact, one research study found that interval training burns up to nine times more fat cells than low intensity cardio activity. When performed correctly, you can get a great interval training workout in as little as 20 minutes.
How do I know if I am exercising at the right level?
That all depends on the purpose of your workout. Deciding on your your goals before your start exercising will help you determine the correct intensity level.
Use commonsense. If you are training for an endurance event such as a 5k run, sprinting at high intensity will not produce the training effect you are looking for. Generally, for a shorter workout, I would recommend working out harder than if you’re planning a long session.
Heart rate monitors provide an accurate way to measure how hard you are exercising but as you become more experienced, you will be able to judge for yourself more easily.
I want to lose weight quickly? Should I try a crash diet?
When it comes to losing weight, most people choose to follow a quick-fix diet. Low fat, low carbohydrate, food combining, meal replacements – the choices are endless, yet research has shown that 95 per cent of dieters regain the weight they lost within five years.
The truth is that many popular diets are based on gimmicks and although they may promote short-term weight loss they are unsustainable in the long term. Crash can have negative long-term effects. Although the initial weight loss may be high, much of this will be due to loss of water and muscle tissue.
Muscle loss in itself is unhealthy as it impairs our ability to perform everyday functions, particularly as we get older. It also slows down metabolism so when the dieter returns to normal eating their body burns fewer calories and they put on weight more quickly. This explains why so many dieters regain the weight they lost and accounts for the phenomenon of yo-yo dieting.
In order to lose fat we must eat less and increase our energy expenditure. The best way to do this is by a combination of healthy eating and exercise. The key to long-term weight loss is not to starve yourself but to make some simple, sustainable lifestyle changes. By ensuring you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and incorporating physical activity into your daily routine you will lose weight and keep it off.
Are there any supplements which can help me lose weight?
There are many supplements on the market and few with any scientifically-proven results. Eating healthily and exercising regularly are the best ways to lose weight.
Will women get too bulky with weight training?
Women are often wary of resistance training as they are concerned about becoming too muscly. This is a common misconception. Women have less testosterone and human growth hormone than men and therefore will not experience comparable size gains.
A resistance training programme will, however, help develop and preserve lean muscle mass and change your body shape. Women should definitely include some resistance training to their exercise regime.
Do I need to buy equipment to get fit?
Absolutely not. Running is one of the most popular ways of improving cardiovascular fitness while bodyweight training is a highly effective means of building fat and burning muscle. Try mixing moves such as squats, lunges, press ups, planks with burpees, star jumps and tuck jumps for a total body workout. A quick search of the internet will reveal dozens of ideas for no-equipment exercises.