1. How can I lose weight?
At a recent medical conference, a prominent physician coined the expression "Foot and Fork Disease” to describe the modern day epidemic of adult and childhood obesity. Too much food, combined with physical inactivity, has resulted in many overweight and unhealthy Americans.
Just telling someone that’s overweight to exercise more and eat right might be an over simplification of the process, but one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops of every big city and small town across this country. However, what people need to learn is that small adjustments can result in big changes.
2. How can I reduce my gut (or butt, or thighs)?
Spot training, or exercising to trim a specific area of your body, is an obsolete concept. Fat is the gas tank of the human body, and it is miraculously stored from head to toe -- with the heaviest concentration of fat in the abdominal and hip area.
We don’t get to choose where the fat will be released first. Thankfully, belly fat is usually the first to go.
3. What’s more important, diet or exercise?
It’s a 50/50 proposition, with these two facets of fitness synergistically supporting one another. Without the right amount of fuel and nutrients, an exercise program will produce no results. Too much fuel will clog up the system and obliterate any fitness gains.
You must eat sensibly without starving yourself. You must also combine this with three or four systematic, well-thought-out, 20- or 30-minute workouts, repeated over a period of a few short months. This is the only approach that will really work.
4. Do I have to work out every day?
No. Overdoing it is a common beginner’s mistake. I rarely recommend anyone train more than five days per week, and I personally train only two or three.
The rest and recuperation phase of any program is just as important as the active phase. When getting started on a new program, spread out your enthusiasm to avoid burn out. Use your extra time to prepare your own meals.
5. If I workout and get in shape, then stop, will my muscle turn to fat?
No. Muscles contract and generate movement. Fat acts as the muscle’s fuel, supporting the process. One never becomes the other.
Because fat is consumed by muscle, it’s logical to assume that having more muscle results in an overall reduction in stored body fat. Muscle does not mean bulk. It can just be more density within your body makeup.
6. What’s the best time of day to exercise?
Whenever you can. There are pros and cons for every time of day, but your body will actually adapt to a schedule and be slightly stronger at your usual workout time -- whenever that happens to be.
For athletes, or those seeking to push the performance envelope, this might have a slight impact. However, for the rest of us, just exercise whenever it’s most convenient.
7. Is walking as good as jogging?
Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or any other form of aerobic exercise serves one main purpose, to elevate heart and breathing rate. The mode of exercise is secondary to its effect on heart and breathing rate. Intensity is measured by the heart rate achieved during the session, coupled with the duration of the workout.
For some individuals, it may be necessary to break into a slow jog to achieve aerobic levels, while others find brisk walking does the trick.
8. Am I too old, or am I too young, to exercise?
No. While intense weight lifting or running might not be for everyone, most people will benefit from some form of physical activity. As a society, we’ve become less and less active.
To overcome this lack of activity, the American Council on Exercise recommends exercise for senior citizens as well as children. They have even organized Operation Fit Kids as a way to help overcome the trend towards childhood obesity in the United States.
9. If I lift weights, will I get too bulky?
Stay away from the steroids, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Most women and men won’t put on more than a few pounds of muscle without taking extreme measures. Most likely you’ll just increase your muscles density (tone up) and reshape your body without the characteristic bulk of a power lifter or body builder.
Depending upon many factors (many inherited from your ancestors), advances in lean, body fat levels, strength and endurance will come without a tremendous increase in size. Regardless, you’re in control of the overall effect of any weight-lifting regimen. By manipulating sets, repetitions and rest, you can easily regulate results.
10. What’s the deal with sets and reps?
A set is a series of repetitions. A repetition (rep) is performing a movement from beginning to end, through a full range of motions -- to some level of muscle fatigue.
Most people do too many sets and poor quality reps. If you’re training properly, a typical workout should be no more than 10 to 15 total sets of 10 to 20 repetitions, utilizing perfect form. If training at higher intensity levels, even fewer sets can be just as effective.