If you’re new to the world of working out, you might have a few questions you need solutions to. All it takes is a quick scroll on your Instagram feed to see two different fitness influencers recommend two completely different pieces of advice—making it easy to become confused by conflicting information. Let’s tackle some of the most frequently asked questions so you can say goodbye to your hesitations and feel confident as you shape a healthier lifestyle.
#1 What is the best weight loss workout?
Many who want to lose weight and tone up often head right for the treadmill in hopes of burning as many calories as possible. While cardio is good for burning calories, it isn’t the most effective way to lose weight if that’s your only strategy.
Instead, I encourage a workout routine that includes both strength training and cardio. Don’t make the mistake of prioritizing cardio over lifting. Resistance training should be an integral part of your fitness routine if your goal is to lose body fat. Building lean muscle is one of the best ways to raise your metabolic rate and burn more calories throughout the day. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Obesity, Harvard scientists found that those who performed 20 minutes of strength training per day gained less abdominal fat than those who spent the same amount of time doing only cardio. By increasing lean muscle mass, your body burns more calories while at rest.
Muscle contributes approximately 22 percent of your body’s resting metabolism and demands fuel. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Estimates suggest that each pound of lean muscle burns up to 50 calories per day. By adding 8 pounds of lean muscle, you will burn up to 400 more calories per day you weren’t burning. For a better perspective, walk on the treadmill and see how long it takes to burn 400 more calories. Compare that to the potential of burning these calories while doing nothing!
#2 Should I feel sore after every workout?
Muscle ‘soreness’ is generally viewed as a good thing, in reality, this feeling of discomfort can actually slow down the muscle recovery process. As a matter of fact, muscle recovery is at it’s best when you’re able to push yourself in the gym and begin to notice little-to-no muscle soreness the following day. This is when your body is in peak-shape, quickly recovering from your last workout and ready to take on the next challenge. Lack of soreness after a hard lift does NOT indicate a fitness plateau. Drinking plenty of water, eating adequate amounts of protein, getting plenty of sleep, and planning rest days are other vital components enhancing the recovery process.
It takes time for your body to adapt to your workouts. This is why it’s so important for beginners to start slow, focus on form, and as your technique begins to improve, slowly start to add intensity to your workouts. Each week that goes by, your body will become stronger and as your fitness levels advance you’ll notice a reduction in muscle soreness.
The more you rest, the harder you can work. The more you work, the more that rest becomes essential. Rest equals quality work, and quality work leads to needed rest. On higher intensity training days, rest more, on lower intensity days, rest less. Changing your rest between sets is an excellent way to mix up your workouts, progress your fitness level, and prevent fitness plateaus.
#3 How do I lift weights without looking bulky?
Women possess the perfect hormonal balance to lose fat and tone up as a result of strength training, not bulk up!
While men rely on testosterone to build muscle, women produce less testosterone and depend more on growth hormone (HGH) for their muscle building efforts. Studies show that the average HGH concentration in young women can be up to 80 times higher than in young men. In general, women have about 15-20% less concentration of testosterone in their body than men do.
It just so happens that women have a higher release of HGH in response to intense exercise than men, likely due to their higher estrogen levels. This is why mounting evidence suggests that high-intensity activity is one of the most effective ways women can workout to burn more fat and build lean muscle tone. Growth hormone facilitates protein synthesis for faster recovery following tough workouts, but its role in regulating fat metabolism to help shape that desirable fit, toned physique, is why it really deserves the praise!
Ladies, don’t be afraid to ‘go hard’ or lift heavy! Just make sure you use proper form, so you don’t run the risk of injuring yourself.
#4 Will exercise help me lose weight?
If your goal is to lose weight, exercise alone isn’t enough. Weight loss is accomplished with a multi-faceted approach incorporating proper nutrition, strength training, and blending high-intensity interval training with steady-state cardio. This is the most effective method for losing weight.
What we do in the gym can’t make up for poor eating habits. You can’t ‘out-exercise’ poor nutrition, diet will always win over exercise. Eating the right foods accounts for a large percentage of your training results. The fuel you put into your body is as important as the effort you put forth during workouts.
#5 What is the best type of workout when you feel sore?
When you’re just getting started on a new fitness routine, you’re probably going to experience some muscle soreness. This is especially true for those who weren’t particularly active before.
Unfortunately, soreness can also discourage beginners from continuing their routine. Instead of skipping a workout, I recommend that you do something that is lower intensity on your sorest days. This is an excellent time to knock out some LISS, or low-intensity, steady-state cardio, like going for a walk or hike.