It’s hard to find the right answers to the common fitness questions that need asking in order to hit your goals. It is no secret that the achieving of health and fitness goals can be an incredibly daunting prospect. With the amount of information available to people, the ‘perfect’ image that is being thrown at us from all angles and the contradiction of messages that are being given to the public, it can be very hard to find the right answers, and the questions that need to be asked in order to hit your goals.
Below are 5 of the most commonly asked health and fitness questions when it comes to exercise, with answers that aim to clear up some of the misconceptions out there.
Can I spot lose weight? How do I get a flat stomach?
Studies largely show that the spot losing of weight from a certain area of the body by targeting only that area is ineffective.
To understand why spot reduction may not be effective, it is important to understand how the body burns fat. The fat in your cells is found in the form of triglycerides, which are stored fats that the body can use for energy. Before they can be burned for energy, triglycerides must be broken down into smaller sections called free fatty acids and glycerol, which are able to enter the bloodstream. During exercise, the free fatty acids and glycerol used as fuel can come from anywhere in the body, not specifically from the area that is being exercised.
The best way to ensure that the area that you want to improve on sees the results that you are looking for is by incorporating muscle-building exercises to that region as a part of a sustainable weight loss program. The idea behind this being that when the fat from that region dissipates, there are muscles underneath that give the strong foundation required for the toned/flat look that you are going for. If there are no muscles waiting to show through, then it is hard to achieve that toned look.
Exercise more, eat well and the results will come!
Won’t lifting weights make me bulky?
One of the most incredibly common fitness questions that gets asked, and can have both a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ answer depending on what you are looking for. Largely speaking in my experience over the years it has been the males who have wanted to be bulky and the females who have been concerned that they will get bulky.
The answer to this is YES and NO, as it is entirely program specific.
If your goal is to ‘bulk up’ then you will need to be on a resistance and nutritional program specifically designed with that in mind. If you do not want to get ‘bulky’ then it is still entirely possible to lift weights without that being the end result.
It is important to understand the importance of lifting weights for everyday life, but also the role it has in weight loss. Lifting weights is not necessarily about gaining muscle (although that can be an outcome), but also about ensuring that the muscle mass that we do have is working as efficiently as possible.
The more efficient the muscle mass, the better your metabolism will be functioning. The better that the metabolism is functioning, then the higher chance we have at burning fat, and getting the ‘toned’ look that many aim for.
The fear of getting bulky through weight lifting can often be the thing holding you back from getting the actual result that you are looking for.With the correct programming, and execution, the lifting of weights can lead to whichever outcome you are looking for.
My best recommendation would be to consult a health and fitness professional about your specific goals and the correct weights program for you.
How often should I workout?
This is a great and one of the most commonly asked health and fitness questions. It can largely be answered by the understanding of 2 key factors;
- What is your goal?
- Can you commit to this amount for an indefinite amount of time?
I will start by answering the second common fitness question first. My passion, and aim is to help people discover (and understand) that health and fitness can be a lifestyle choice, not just a short-term fix. If you are looking for a sustainable, long-term and successful health and fitness program, you must be able to commit to regular exercise on an ongoing basis.
The key to doing this lies with looking at your weekly routine and seeing where exercise can fit in and planning accordingly. It is not about sacrificing parts of your life for exercise, because eventually what you have sacrificed will become important again and then exercise will become the sacrifice.
If you can only realistically commit to 2 x exercise sessions p/week on an ongoing basis, and you feel that this is something you can commit to, then why try 5 sessions a week if it will not work in the long term?
The second question is about your goal, and this is an answer that a health and fitness professional with programming experience can help you with. If you are wanting to train for a specific event, race or have a specific deadline, then obviously a specific training plan will need to be created for that. As there are a variety of factors that impact that amount, having someone who can correctly break it down is of vital importance.
I have been working out for a while now and have recently stopped losing weight. Why?
This is a common occurrence and can be most often attributed to a plateau. This can happen due to a variety of reasons and is usually a response to getting used to the exercise program that you are on. Here are a few ways to break out of a plateau with your results:
- Change up your exercise program. Giving the body something new means that it will no longer be in the comfort zone that it has gotten used to in the previous program. I try to change programs every 4-6 weeks
- Recalculate your caloric intake. Once the initial loss of weight occurs with a training plan, your body can often require a modified caloric intake in order to continue to see results. It is always good to revisit this intake throughout your journey to make sure you are on the right track. Please note, if you are unsure how to calculate your caloric intake it is always wise to consult a professional for the right advice
- Embrace the cheat meal! Studies have shown that cheat meals can actually boost the metabolism and give it a bit of a kick-start. Not to mention the psychological boost that can occur when you have something new (and naughty) from your normal nutritional plan
- Focus on a secondary goal for a short amount of time. Sometimes the stress of losing weight can get a bit overwhelming, and when the number isn’t dropping this can compound further. It is a good idea to always have something else that you are aiming for (where weight loss could be a byproduct). I.e. to be able to run 5km. If you stop focusing on the number for a while and shift the attention to running the 5km, then the stress of losing weight can be off your shoulders, and with the added exercise in your routine, often weight loss will follow.
What are the biggest mistakes people make in the gym?
Often I find that the biggest gym-related mistakes come from a lack of understanding about what is trying to be achieved, how to perform movements correctly and what the correct technique is for each movement.
With the amount of information out there it can be quite difficult to know what to do when you are exercising in the gym, and figuring it all out can be quite the challenge. A few ways to combat this would include;
- Purchasing an online program with video tutorial (make sure you do the proper research before)
- Join in a group exercise class where movements are monitored and you can get a good idea of the correct technique
- Create your own program and ask a gym instructor to take you through it. This would be an effective way to get a strong understanding of how to perform each movement, but as it is not a personal trainer assisting you, they would not be qualified to create a program for your goals, simply help you with the movements.
- Enlist the help of a personal trainer. This is far and away the best of the options, and it does not have to be a permanent one. Having someone create a personalised program for you, taking into account goals, injury history and various timelines means that all of the confusion is taken out of the process. They will be able to monitor your program and progress directly and offer you the right level of support required to achieve your goals. Even a few months with a trainer would give you the foundation needed to build from if you wanted to then take on the journey yourself.
There will always be questions to ask, and be answered when it comes to health and fitness, and if you look in the right places, those answers can be extremely helpful and valuable. The above are some of the most commonly asked health and fitness questions that get asked on a regular basis.
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