I am sure you wouldn’t be surprised to hear during my time training people over the last two decades that I tend to get asked the same questions from many different people. These are the top 5 questions I get asked most frequently along with the answers that I think provide the best solutions.
How Long Will It Take Me To Lose Weight?
The true answer depends on what you are prepared to do to lose your excess weight and, of course, how much you have to lose in the first place. The second point to consider is to lose FAT rather than overall body WEIGHT. Changing your body shape should be about burning unwanted fat and developing healthy muscle which can sometimes make you actually gain weight but in a healthy way.
If you consume fewer calories than what you actually need on a day-to-day basis and you workout to develop muscle, boost your metabolism and burn fat at least three times a week; the average person should aim for 1lb of fat loss per week. Multiply those weeks by the amount of fat you want to lose and you can project your timeframe for the weight you wish to lose in weeks and months.
Bear in mind, as you get fitter you will increase lean tissue while burning fat which means while you get leaner and slimmer your weight can often stay the same or results can be slower than expected from purely a weight loss point of view. In addition to using the scales, measure your body fat with body fat scales and use a tape measure on your arms, chest, waist hips and thighs to attain a more accurate measure.
How Long Will It Take Me To Build Muscle?
This again depends on lots of variables, i.e. body type and diet being the main areas to consider. If you are an ‘Ectomorph’ you will be naturally lean and slim, and find it hard to gain weight. If you are an ‘Endomorph’ you will find it easy to gain weight but hard to shift fat as your body type is naturally apple or pear-shaped. A ‘Mesomorph’ has the gift of easily building muscle as this body type is naturally athletically built.
To build muscle means training… Hard! You have to work each body part at least once a week. In order to convince your body to grow you have to break the muscles down with resistance training whilst rest and nutrition build them back up again bigger and stronger than before.
If your rest and nutrition isn’t balanced you won’t see the results you want. Get the training right and you should, however, see noticeable differences in 2-3 months from starting out. Check out my post ‘Top Ten Tips for Fitness & Fat Loss’ for general advice on getting started.
How Do I Get Six-Pack Abs?
Here is the good news… You already have one! The bad news is you can’t yet see it and your abdominal’s may not be strong enough to feel it yet. The muscles which form the ‘six pack’ are already there just waiting to be chiselled out.
Visually seeing your abdominal muscles is about stripping down body fat to a point where your abdominal fat around the midsection is low enough to reveal the layers of muscle which sit underneath it. For men this means below 8-10% body fat, for women it’s below 12-15%. Men and women both hold fat differently with women holding a little more body fat than men. This is natural and perfectly normal.
You have to consider while your abdominal muscles are physically there they may not yet be hard, toned and firm which comes from regular training of the core muscles. To get a visible six-pack you need to eat clean – No sugars, fatty foods, alcohol or eating too much.
You need to create a calorie deficit with your food and work out with weights and cardio until your body fat drops low enough to reveal the hard, strong layer of muscle which lays beneath the body fat which you may be holding on your midsection. They say “abs are made in the kitchen” and what you eat equates to about 75% of the way your abdominal area looks.
If you have been training hard for a considerable period of time with weights and doing at least 3-4 cardio sessions per week but still can’t see your abs… It’s almost definitely not about the training and more about your diet.
What Should I Eat?
This question normally follows the last one – In order to sustain a healthy, balanced and interesting diet, what you eat should be based around your preferred tastes, beliefs, allergies, preference, lifestyle and so on. If I was to generalise, however, the majority of people I see for training have three primary training goals: – 1) To get fitter 2)To lose fat 3)To look more athletic and toned.
With that in mind, your food intake should be worked around a mix of 50% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 20% fats. For more detailed information, check out my post ‘So, What Should I Eat?’.
You also need to get the calories right so you don’t over or under eat. Overeating will make your body gain fat and under eating will break down muscle for fuel – both are probably going against your initial training goals.
In order to calculate how many calories you need in a daily basis; you can use the ‘MyFitnessPal‘ app. It will work out your calorie needs for you based on your training goals. Plus, in the mobile and tablet version of the app, it will calculate your food intake in the form of a pie chart, breaking down your carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which is a brilliant visual tool to keep you on track. Sadly, that particular feature isn’t available through their website at present, just on the app.
If you want a quicker way to work out your calorie needs for the day you can also use a T.D.E.E Calculator (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which is a fantastic tool to help you get on track. You can find a great one here http://iifym.com/tdee-calculator/
What Sort of Training Should I Do?
The advice I would offer to this question massively depends on what your goals are. If you want to work on suppleness, posture and rehabilitating an injury Yoga or Pilates may be an option for you. If you like competition and enjoy working out with others maybe consider joining a sports team, an athletics club or participating in group exercise classes at your local leisure centre or health club.
If you are someone who prefers solitary workouts the gym may work for you or you could aim high and consider training for a fun run, half or full marathon.
Aside from what you like and enjoy, if your goal is to get fitter, tone your body and drop body fat you should be aiming for 3-4 resistance workouts a week. For the uninitiated this means strength based exercises which will tone and develop your body to define your muscles and boost your metabolism.
You can do this with weights in the gym, your own body weight, T.R.X bands (suspension training), resistance cables or in weights to music exercise class like Body Pump. You should be aiming to rack up three to four 30 minute plus cardio workouts a week. You can do these workouts together or separately.
For a good cardio workout you need to include a form of exercise which elevates your heart rate for a sustained period of time, ideally 20 – 40 minutes, 3 – 4 times per week. Generally, the harder you work, the more benefit you will see so your heart rate should be around 80% of your maximum heart rate, as long as you are healthy enough to do so. (You can work out your theoretical maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220) Swimming, running, cycling, stair climbing, rowing, walking, and most sports involve a strong element of cardiovascular exercise which will all help boost your aerobic fitness and burn fat.
Do you have other questions that you would like answered? Do you have ideas of your own that you would like to share? If so please leave your comments below!