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Top 5 Questions Asked At The Gym (Answers Included)
As a personal trainer, I notice that there is quite a bit of misinformation in regards to many basic aspects of health and fitness. Throughout my time as a trainer, I have been asked a lot of the same questions repeatedly, so I thought I would talk about the questions most gym members commonly ask.
Question #1 – How come I am not losing/gaining weight?
This is probably the number one question I have been asked as a trainer. People have told me about all their diets, and their intense workouts, and how nothing works. As people’s frustrations builds in response to their lack of progress, it almost always ends up being blamed on a slow metabolism. Although metabolism plays a role in our weight, the role it plays is often very minimal.
You can work out for 10 hours a day or eat nothing but healthy food and still not lose weight! It comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you are eating more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight and vice versa. One pound of body weight is equivalent to 3500 calories.
Another factor in the equation is called a basal metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories you burn when doing nothing. This includes bodily processes such as digestion. To figure out your basal metabolic rate, simply type in “basal metabolic rate calculator” on google.
In conclusion, basal metabolic rate + calories burned from exercise – calories consumed, is the equation necessary to understand why you may or may not be losing weight. A realistic goal would be to lose (or gain) 2 pounds per week.
Question #2 – Should I be taking supplements?
This is another topic that has a lot of misinformation. With all the thousands and thousands of “health” supplements on the market, it is no wonder so many people are so confused.
Supplements mean just that. They are supplemental to your diet. If your diet is adequate, supplements are not needed. However, many of us do not have sufficient diets, therefore taking a supplement or two may be very beneficial.
For example, if you are a vegan, it may be a good idea to take a vitamin B12 supplement. If you are a bodybuilder and are pressed for time, it may be a good idea to take a protein supplement.
One thing I will caution you is to be aware of what you are putting into your body. Taking pills and powders could have very detrimental effects because of many of the ingredients in the supplements.
Some supplements may cause you to gain a lot of muscle mass, but it may have a lot of health implications. For example, bodybuilders who use steroids and growth hormones often have heart problems because of the added stress put on their hearts from the excess muscle mass.
When taking supplements, be cautious, do your research, and question what people say to you.
Question #3 – Should I do cardio or lift weights first?
This answer depends solely on your workout goals. If your goal is to add that last rep or two to your bench press max and you want to put all your energy into your lifts, then it would not be the best idea to do an intense cardio workout prior.
If your goal is to increase your endurance to be able to run a half marathon, then it would probably not be the best idea to do an intense leg workout before your run.
We only have so much energy so you must decide where you want to spend that energy. If you simply want to get into good shape and be healthy, then I would recommend doing what feels best.
It really depends on your workout goal. Do what feels best for you. Ideally you would do cardio and lift weights at different times in the day but most of us have jobs, families, social lives, etc. and do not have the time to go to the gym that often.
Question #4 – How do I get abs?
There are two factors to this answer. We all have abdominal muscles, but it will be easier to see your abs if you have a strong core. However, the main reason people do not have visible abdominal muscles is because of the layer of fat over their abs.
The best way to lose that layer of fat is to simply lose weight. Do exercises that burn a lot of calories, such as cardio, squats, bench press, lunges, etc. Although performing ab exercises such as crunches is great for core strength, it does not burn that many calories and will not be the best way to get your abs to show.
Question #5 – How many days a week should I be working out?
This question depends on a variety of factors. The main two factors include your goal and your time availability. A general rule of thumb is to not work the same muscles on consecutive days. Thus, if you perform a full body workout one day, then I would recommend taking a day off the next day, or do only cardio the next day.
Each individual muscle group needs time to recover, and I would recommend givng each muscle group about 48 hours to recover before working it out again. For example, if you were to work out only your upper body on Monday, you could work out your lower body on Tuesday, maybe take a day off Wednesday, and then repeat the cycle all over again beginning with upper body on Thursday. In this scenario, you are giving each muscle group 48 hours to recover.
If your goal is to be a bodybuilder, then it may be best to perform a workout split in which you work out chest/triceps one day, back/biceps the next day, legs the next day, etc. In this scenario you would not have to take any days off.
It is also important to listen to your body. If you feel you need a day off, then take a day off. And never work out your muscle if it is still sore. Your body grows when you are resting as it recovers and rebuilds. If you interrupt this process you will be halting your progress.