Trying to find the right answers to the most common fitness questions can be incredibly challenging. It should be no secret that achieving any health and fitness goal can be an incredibly daunting prospect. The amount of information available and the ‘perfect’ image that is being projected across every medium is hard enough. Combine this with the contradiction of messages that are being given to the public, it can be very hard to find the right answers. There is a very good chance that most people do not even know what the right questions to ask are.
Below are 5 of the most commonly asked health and fitness questions when it comes to exercise. Along with them are answers that aim to clear up some of the misconceptions in the health and fitness industry.
Can I spot lose weight; especially around the 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. These 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. These are able to enter the bloodstream.
During exercise, free fatty acids and glycerol used as fuel can come from anywhere in the body. Unfortunately, not specifically from the area that is being exercised.
The best way to ensure that the specific area gains results is by incorporating muscle-building exercises to that region. This should all combine 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 a toned look.
Exercise more, eat well and the results will come!
Won’t lifting weights make me bulky?
This is one of the most common fitness questions. Frustratingly, it can have both a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ answer.
The reason it can be both a yes and a no comes down to the fact that 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’ do not stress. 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). It should also be about ensuring that our muscle mass 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. This in turn, can lead to the ‘toned’ look that many people aim for.
The fear of getting bulky through weight lifting can often be the thing holding people back from getting the actual result that you are looking for. With correct programming and execution, lifting weights can lead to whichever outcome you are looking for.
The 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 question. It is 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?
Let’s start by answering the second question first.
It should be an aim that health and fitness is 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. This is because eventually what you have sacrificed will become important again. This then means that exercise will become the sacrifice.
If you can only realistically commit to 2 x exercise sessions p/week on an ongoing basis, then why try and do 5 sessions a week if it will not work in the long term?
The second question is about your goal. 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 deadline, then obviously a bespoke training plan will need to be created. 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. Plateau’s happen due to a variety of reasons and are usually a response to the body getting used to the current exercise program.
Here are a few ways to break out of a plateau:
- 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. 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. There is also a psychological boost that occurs when you have something removed 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. 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. With the added exercise in your routine weight loss will often happen.
What are the biggest mistakes people make in the gym?
Often 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 available it can be quite difficult to know what to do when you are exercising. Figuring it all out can be quite a 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. However, as it is not a personal trainer assisting you, they would not be qualified to create a program for your goals. They would simply help you with the movements.
- Enlist the help of a personal trainer. This is far and away the best of the options. 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. This offers 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. 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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