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Fitness And Weight Loss

Answers to the most-asked fitness questions

Physical fitness is crucial to your good health. Losing extra weight that you may be carrying around will make you look better and feel better. Weight loss isn't an easy thing to accomplish, but it's certainly worth the effort.

As a certified personal trainer, part of my commitment to clients is consulting with them about how to improve their physical fitness. This includes answering their numerous fitness and diet questions. And while I do get asked a lot of questions about fitness and weight loss, there are several common questions that seem to pop up time after time.

The following answers to the most asked questions can help most anyone get a head start on reaching their weight loss and fitness goals. So, here are some of the top fitness and weight loss questions and their answers: 

  1. I want to tighten and tone the muscles in my legs (or arms, stomach, etc). What exercises can I perform to lose fat in that specific area?

    Answer: You can't spot reduce (lose fat just in one specific area). You must reduce your overall fat storage before you'll see big results from your strength training exercises.

    You have to use up extra calories and lose fat through cardiovascular activities. These include jogging, walking, swimming, step aerobics, jumping rope, etc. But while cardio exercises are critical, you also need strength training exercises to help build muscle mass and tone your trouble area(s) at the same time. 
  2. I have a strong need (and desire) to work out and get in shape, but I just donít have enough free time. What do you suggest?

    Answer: You're certainly not alone. One of the most popular reasons people give for not working out is a lack of time. What you have to realize is that itís not that you donít have the time available. It's simply that you're not making fitness and weight loss a priority in your schedule.

    What many people don't seem to understand is that it doesn't take a large time commitment to reap large rewards from regular exercise. They think that if they can't work out several hours each week, then it will do no good to work out at all.

    But exercising even two of days a week is much better than not exercising at all. Any exercise that you can fit into your busy schedule will help you lose weight. The key is to find an effective and efficient work out plan. 
  3. What's the best fitness program for weight loss?

    Answer: The key to a successful weight loss program is that it is comprehensive and includes all of the necessary pieces. A good weight loss program includes three major components:
    • Cardiovascular exercises
    • Strength training
    • Stretching
    It's essential that you include all three components. For example, you can do cardiovascular routines 3 times a week, strength training twice a week, and liberal stretching before and after each and every workout. 
  4. I have hit a "wall". I just canít seem to lose any more weight (or get any stronger). What am I doing wrong?

    Answer: The key to breaking through "the wall" is change. One of the most effective techniques for getting over a wall is "interval training". This is a type of workout that includes several bursts of high intensity periods, each followed by lower intensity recovery periods. Youíll also want to vary your workout routine at least every month or so. 
  5. What size weights should I use and how many repetitions should I complete for each exercise?

    Answer: There's simply no "one size fits all" weight size that is best for everyone. The size of the weights that you use depends on your goals, your skills, and your current fitness level.

    A useful rule of thumb is to start with about 3/4 of maximum resistance doing 8-12 reps in 1-3 sets. To determine your specific 3/4 max size, you need to first determine the maximum amount of weight that you can lift.

    But, it's usually not recommended that beginners try to lift their maximum amount of weight because of safety concerns. So a simpler option is to select a weight that causes fatigue after the 8th - 12th repetition is finished. 
  6. Is it ok if I work out the same muscle groups daily?

    Answer: You need to allow your muscles to rest (and recover) for about 48 hours before exercising that area again. This is the safest approach to fitness as well as the most efficient approach for improving your strength. It will also assist you with increasing hypertrophy more effectively. 
  7. How often do you recommend that I stretch and do I need to stretch before or after each workout?

    Answer: Actually, you need to stretch both before and after each workout. Your body really benefits from stretching during both of these periods.

    As a minimum, you should stretch after you have completed your workout. And even if you don't work out every day its still very beneficial to practice a daily stretching routine. 
  8. Since I donít belong to a gym, how can I workout at home?

    Answer: There are many effective options for weight loss, strength training, and cardio workouts that don't require a trip to the gym. If you own a set of dumbbells, a resistance band, or an exercise ball, there are literally hundreds of great exercises that you can do by yourself at home.
These exercises will help you lose weight, increase your strength and endurance, and get a more defined look in your physical appearance. For workouts that benefit your heart, you can simply walk, climb stairs, do jumping jacks, etc.

Losing weight and getting in shape isn't easy, but it's very possible for every one of us. If you make the effort to lose those few extra pounds, you'll look better, feel better, and live longer!

Lynn Bode is a certified personal trainer specializing in Internet-based fitness programs. Visit her at www.workoutsforyou.com.

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