I get sent quite a few questions, which is great, but sometimes I get the same question from different people, leading me to think that a Q&A session would be a good idea.
I’m going to aim to do this on a weekly basis, so feel free to send me any question you have. Don’t worry if you think they’re daft, they probably aren’t, and you can bet that someone else wants to ask the same thing!
How often should I go to the Gym and how long for?
It really depends what you can fit in. If you can, aim for 3 times a week for 45-60 minutes. This would give you enough time to fit in a decent workout. If you have less time, it’s all about using the time most effectively – HIIT intervals, compound exercises and full body circuits.
Going more is great, as long as you vary your workouts and make sure you take recovery days.
Is cardio or weights better?
Unless you have a medical condition which prevents you doing either, a mixture of both is best – high intensity intervals on cardio to get your metabolism going and then weights to build muscles (which will burn more calories than stored fat).
Is there a difference between free weights and weight machines?
There’s no hiding with free weights, you’re body does all of the work. They require more coordination, control and require more effort from your stabiliser muscles. With resistance machines, they go through a guided and specific range of motion, which can be great when starting strength training or rehabilitating from an injury.
They obviously both have their advantages and disadvantages; sometimes it’s down to personal preference. If you haven’t been getting the results you want from resistance machines, get an instructor to show you some free weight exercises.
As a regular gym goer who is stuck in a bit of a rut (exercise bike, cross trainer and walking on the treadmill), what changes would you suggest?
If you’re happy with your current programme and getting the results you want, I wouldn’t change it. If you’re bored, or looking for improved results, look at adding intervals to help break up the cardio, and to create a change which the body needs (it gets bored and used to things very easily!). A simple 1 min hard: 1 min easy session will increase the intensity, and you can play around with the work: rest intervals as you’re fitness and confidence improves.
Try adding some weights in – if you’re not sure how to use the machines, always ask an instructor to show you. Start with leg press; chest press; shoulder press; lat pulldown; bicep curls; tricep dips and the plank in place of some of your cardio. It’s an all over workout, but won’t extend your gym time too much.
If you find you’re short on time, you could try and split your weights down each session – upper body, lower body and core.
What is the best exercise to get the abdominal V?
We’ve all seen them, the lines that run in a V shape below the belly button, heading towards the groin. With this, the key is diet. No amount of ab work will give you the abdominal V if your diet is poor, or not up to scratch. Muscle definition improves with a lower body fat, which you won’t get if your diet isn’t lean and healthy.
Reverse curls, hanging leg raises and leg lifts are great for hitting the lower abs; plank is great for all over core stability; Russian twists get your obliques. Combining this with a lower fat and lean diet (not cutting things drastically, but looking at unnecessary calories and fat content), will help.
The phrase “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is definitely true on this one. If this is something you’re aiming for, it’ll take a lot of hard work and perseverance!