Lucia Schwarczova of Dante Gym and Fitness has contributed an extensive and informative list of FAQ's for individuals wishing to know more about the role of a personal fitness instructor as well as dispelling some myths. Whilst in the process providing a starting point for those looking seriously into changing their lifestyles for the better.
Q: Do low intensity long cardio work outs make me lose weight?
A:If you are getting the results you are after, go for it. But there is a more time efficient way. Once you stop loosing weight, you need to do two things. One is to increase the volume (do it even longer) or increase the intensity (do it harder). Now who has the time to spend hours in the gym on the treadmill or stationary bike? We all have jobs to do, children to look after and of course what about our leisure time? And once you have increased your time in the cardio theatre to 1.5-2hours and you stop achieving your goals, when do you stop, at 4
hours a day?
I have a better idea, what about increasing the intensity, and spending no more than 20-30 min in the gym and getting the results you are after? And if you don’t know who to believe anymore, why not try it out? All you need to do is to strength train (lift some heavy weights) twice or three times a week for 30-45 min and do some cardio interval training (1min as fast as you can, 1 min slow or rest) twice a week. Now of course the secret is to change your program every 3-4 weeks, so that your body doesn’t adapt to the program.
Q: What about the "fat burning zone"?
A: I am sure you have heard it before either from friends, bodybuilders or even some personal trainers. If you do low intensity steady cardio, you burn more body fat. Here is one example: a person who does 60 min low intensity steady cardio on a stationary bike in the " fat burning zone" will burn approximately 400 calories (210 calories from fat), another person who does 30 min high intensity cardio on a stationary bike will burn 600 calories (280 calories from fat). There are two things to consider: First, the % of body fat lost in the low intensity cardio is higher than the % of body fat lost in the high intensity cardio.
But if you have a look at the total body fat loss, you lose more body fat when you do high intensity cardio in half the time. Another thing to consider is: When you are doing high intensity steady cardio, there are a few things happening in your body that you should be aware of. You are putting a lot of stress on your joints and you wearing them out, you are using up your valuable fat burning muscle and at the same time your body releases cortisol that causes you to store body fat around your tummy. That’s the same hormone that you release when you are under a lot of stress. So be happy if you want to have a flat tummy.
I could write a whole novel about this, but if you are concerned about what to do (unless you are an athlete or a marathon runner) I would stay away from steady cardio whatsoever. The solution is interval training. It will maximize your body fat loss, increase your fitness and maintain your lean muscle mass.
Q: Lifting light weights a hundred times will make me look "toned"?
A: No it will not. In order to see the "toned look" on your arms or legs, you need to have a relatively low body fat. If your body fat is high, no amount of light weight high repetition exercise will make your arms or legs look toned. So in order to see the definition on your arms, so that it does not wobble, when you wave goodbye is to lift heavy. And yes this applies for the ladies too. The most effective way to lower your body fat, is to eat 2/3 out of the ground and 1/3 meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, lifting heavy weights using compound exercises (squats, lunges, chin ups, push ups, bench press) and doing interval cardio training.
Q: What about isolation exercise and machines?
A: If you want to do a bicep curl and focus purely on your biceps, or a tricep extension to focus on your triceps, go for it but you should know more information about isolation exercises. If your goal is fat loss and to use your time efficiently, here is what should keep in mind. Doing isolation exercises you will use half the calories than doing compound exercises (the ones that use 2 or more muscles during one movement). So for example: if you want to work on your biceps, instead of doing 3 bicep curl exercises when you are sitting down or standing up (and not even breaking a sweat) you could do 3 different variations of pull ups, when you are using your upper back muscles, biceps and shoulders in one movement, therefore burning more calories and loosing more body fat. Plus this one will definitely bring your heart rate up.
When it comes to machines, it’s the same things, you are sitting down, or lying down using one or max two muscle groups, so you are wasting your time. And when it comes to safety, yes compound exercises are a little more dangerous than the machines, if you don’t know what you are doing. But the human body has not been designed to do movements on a machine. When you spend years training in the gym on the machine, your joints and stabilizers become very weak, compared to the muscles you have been working on, so you are more prone to injury, plus all this strength is useless when it comes to applying it in real life. Like caring the grocery bags, picking up the kids, pushing the car, when it breaks down, or moving the bed, when you need to. Functionally you are going to be hopeless. So all these years wasted in the gym and not only that your shape has not changed much, but you can’t even carry your groceries up the stairs.
That is why it is really important to have a personal trainer, who can teach you how to do the compound exercises right. You are investing not only into a training session but also for knowledge; that no one will take away form you.
Q: Crunch crunch crunch towards a "six pack"?
A: I am sure; most of you wonder what do these people do for exercise to get a "six pack"? In my few years spent in the gym I have seen more than enough. I know you want to hear something easy and simple so that you can have the rock hard abs yourself, but the truth is it takes some commitment. It always comes down to diet and the amount of body fat you have. So the answer is no, doing hundreds of crunches will not give you a flat stomach. In order to lower your body fat, you need to increase your metabolism by gaining some lean muscle mass, eating regular meals and increasing your anaerobic fitness (the one you improve by doing interval training).
You do not have to try too hard, when you are young. Look at some teenage boys; I doubt it that they are spending any time on the ground doing crunches. Their metabolism is very fast, they are young and they can get away with a lot of junk food. As you get older, your metabolism slows down, you lose some muscle from lack of exercise and even if you just look at that chocolate muffin, you feel like its gone straight to your hips.
You can see people with great abs doing endless sit ups (mainly in fitness magazines while doing a photo shoot) but you can ask any of them about their nutrition. I am pretty sure they are not dining in Mc Donald’s or eating processed food as you are. So once again as I mentioned before (talking about the "toning effect") you will not see your abs, if your body fat is high. So the recipe looks like this: No alcohol, no refined sugars, no processed food, no stress, and lots of salad, meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish oil, lifting heavy weights and interval training. If you are 100% committed to stick to this, you will be dripping off that fat that is covering up you "six pack".