Hi friend! Today we’re covering common questions that you might have about fitness. This post discusses several things that I have answered for friends and clients over the years, so I thought it would be helpful to compile some of them to have as a resource.
I hope this motivates you to actually go for the fitness goals or routine that you’ve been thinking about for too long. Take it one day and baby step at a time until it naturally becomes part of your routine, and don’t forget to honor the process!
Thank you for reading, and please reach out if you have any additional questions.
I am here for you!
Do I need to work out every day?
No, and no fitness professional would recommend that you work out seven days a week. Rest days are essential for many reasons that includes hitting sustainable and optimal results!
Your body needs rest to be able to actively recover and avoid burnout. If you are completing hardcore workouts every day, you’re never going to give your body the chance to rest and live up to its full training potential. Instead, try a mix of low and high intensity workouts and make sure to include at least one rest day per week. You can still go for long walks or opt for a slow yoga flow, but make sure that you’re listening to your body on what it needs.
How long should I be working out for?
A great starting point is to aim for at least thirty minutes of moderate physical activity every day. This could mean anything from taking a long walk to completing an intense workout, so take that into consideration along with the note above on rest days. Recommendations for an ideal workout duration will change depending on desired outcomes like losing weight, maintaining weight loss or meeting specific fitness goals.
Generally speaking, you should have a plan that includes workouts that are anywhere from 30-45 minutes per session, but that also depends on what you’re doing, the frequency of your workouts, and the intensity of the exercises.
Your frequency and level of aerobic activity can vary, but it’s typically recommended to do one of the following along with strength training:
- 75 minutes (25 minutes 3 days/week) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- 150 minutes (30 minutes 5 days/week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- 3-5 days per week of a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity cardiorespiratory fitness activities
The biggest takeaway here is that you shouldn’t go into it with “an hour or nothing” mindset. Unless you’re looking to be a body builder or train for a specific fitness event, 30-45 minutes per workout is enough for most people.
When should I up my weights?
You might not be lifting heavy enough if you’re blasting through sets without feeling that muscle burnout. Whether you’re aiming to work on muscle strength (lower reps, higher weight) or endurance (higher reps, lower weight), some type of burnout should happen at the end of your sets if you’re working at the right level.
Here’s a general guideline for making mindful weight selections:
If the workout calls for 10-12 reps, you should be able to complete only 10-12 reps each time. If you can’t quite get to ten reps, you should lower the weight and if you could keep going past twelve, you should up the weight.
Also, when you can do two more reps with a given weight than you started out with for two consecutive workouts, you should probably increase the weight. The perfect dumbbell selection will challenge you and put you right in the desired rep category!
What should I be eating for maximum results?
The best rule that anyone can follow here is to eat mostly whole, less processed foods. This means loading your plates with real food before supplements or overly-processed foods. Think proteins, carbs, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. And make sure you are getting enough protein! Research consistently shows that protein helps you feel full longer and can also help you maintain and increase muscle mass.
In general, the basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (or around 0.36 g per pound) of body mass for the typical healthy adult. For example, a 150 lb (68 kg) person should consume around 54 grams of protein per day. Keep in mind, however, this is suggested to prevent a protein deficit and the actual amount of protein you should consume depends on other factors like age, gender, activity level and goals.
Also, it’s important to fuel your body for exercise with food that makes you feel good, ideally one or two hours before your workout. Try not to work out on an empty stomach! If you only have ten minutes to eat before a workout, grab something like a banana and bring a protein bar with you in case you feel sluggish or light-headed.
It’s key to remember that the perfect diet doesn’t exist. You want to build and maintain a lifestyle that is sustainable long-term, and this includes room for flexibility. Your exemplary diet and nutrition plan should come from a certified coach or professional.
Should I do cardio or strength training first?
In a perfect world, you have a balance of cardio and strength training workouts in a frequency that is created for you, your fitness level, and your goals. Read my post on Cardio vs. Strength Training: Why You Should Do Both for more discussion there. To summarize, many fitness experts suggest doing cardio after weight training or on completely separate training days. If you do cardio first, you will use up a lot of your energy that you need for strength training and your muscles will go into (sometimes the most strenuous) circuits already tired.
But again, this can be situational.
What is the difference between cable machines and free weights?
See my post on Cable Machines vs. Free Weights: Which Is Better? for all the details on this.
The short answer is free weights are dumbbells and other equipment like benches (flat, decline, incline, utility, back extension, etc.), barbells, weighted plates, kettlebells, and more. Cable machines involve a steel frame with a weight stack attached through a cable and pulley system to one or more handles. Some cable machines are specifically designed for pushing or pulling exercises, while others have different cables on either side of the machine and have more options.
The strength training equipment that you choose to use may come down to your personal preference and training goals, so reference the post listed in this section for more pros, cons, and suggestions within each category.
How long will it take before I start seeing results?
The answer to this one is specific towards each individual. Factors like fitness level, workout intensity, workout frequency, and nutrition all play huge roles. Typically, you could expect to notice improvements after a few weeks. Within that time, you should at least start to feel your posture and form improving. You might even start to feel more muscle tone, but try not to realistically expect more than that.
Hitting specific goals and optimal results will take longer and should include carefully programed progressions and phases. You should allow at least six full weeks before critiquing the results, and ideally twelve to commit and follow your designed workout structure for desired outcomes. But again, every person is different.
I’ve seemed to hit a plateau in training. Any suggestions?
If you have been working out for awhile and the results have subsided, you may have hit a plateau. This means that your body has become used to the activities you have been doing. Our bodies are smart and become efficient in performing the same activities and exercises, especially over time. For this reason, it’s important to keep your mind and body challenged with variety.
For example, if you like to walk, jog or run, some workouts should be longer and more steadily-paced to work on endurance while others should be shorter and more intense with intervals. You’ve got to keep your body guessing!
My biggest tips on avoiding workout plateaus include varying the length of your workouts, the types of workouts you do (cardio, strength, type of strength training, HIIT, low impact, barre, Pilates, yoga, etc.,) resting regularly when you need it, and introducing new workouts and exercises on a regular basis.
Any tips for feeling intimidated at the gym?
You are one hundred percent your hardest critic! If you walk into a gym or studio and instantly feel uncomfortable, please know this won’t last forever. The more you go, the better and more comfortable you’ll feel over time.
If you’re feeling serious anxiety over it, make sure you’re going in with a plan and know what you’re doing before arriving. Focus on the workout and don’t pay attention to what’s happening around you. Focus on YOU. Try exercising during off-peak hours and at less busier times. You can also try working out with a friend, or – better yet – hire a coach or personal trainer to lead the way.
I share this on my social channels all the time, and it’s worth repeating here:
Fitness is not about perfection. Progress and honoring the process is what makes the journey successful. And if you’re a beginner, that just means you have even more opportunities to hit your goals, day by day. So stay confident!
How can I stay motivated to work out long-term?
Your fitness journey is exactly that, a journey. There are going to be ups and downs and times where you’re highly motivated followed by times you really have to talk yourself into getting up and out there. That’s normal.
The key to staying motivated and progressing in your workouts is consistency! See my tips on How To Avoid Workout Boredom and Stay Motivated for more on this one.
Is there a question or something I missed that you’d like to cover?
Shoot me a message or comment below and I’d be happy to talk about it!
I’d love to hear what has helped you in any of these topics in the comments below. I think we can all benefit from hearing what works best for different people.
You might also like:
- 15 Common Fitness Mistakes You Might Be Making
- How To Stay On Track With Your Fitness Goals
- How To Easily Add More Movement Into Your Days
- Setting SMART Goals And How To Achieve Them
[Photo Credit: Jason Roth Photography]