Workout Q & A!

Find out the best way to start your beginning weight lifting and cardio program, the best time to perform aerobic activity, how to get a flat stomach and much more!
I'm a beginner. How many days a week should I workout and what balance between weights and cardio? How many sets of how many reps of how many body parts?

In the beginning, allow yourself 60-90 minutes, three or four days a week. This will allow you to do 15-20 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes to work your mid-section and 45-60 minutes for the weight training.

Pick one exercise per muscle group (chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs) and do 3/4 sets of 10-12 repetitions for each exercises. Do this for 6 weeks and plan then to alter your routine to suit your progress.

Should I do my aerobics before or after my weight training?

If you're reasonably fit, I suggest you do 15-20 minutes of aerobics first, followed by 10 minutes of mid-section exercise and finish up, unpressured and focused, with your weight routine.

Less fit people prefer to warm up only for 5 minutes before weight training in order to conserve energy, doing the remainder of their cardio upon completion.

Some reserve their cardio for the end of their workout, aiming to burn their excess calories. There are good arguments for all. You chose as you become familiar with your training.

Should I do my aerobics before or after my weight training?

To tone the muscle and reduce the size of your mid-section, plan to do a basic 10 minute routine of stomach crunches and leg raises, 3 to 4 times a week.

15-20 minutes of intense cardio will help overall tone and introduce metabolic improvements to burn bodyfat, much of which is stored in the hips and mid-section. Plan on a sound high-protein, low-fat menu. Note: overall weight training contributes to the tone of the stomach and the burning of bodyfat.

My shoulder hurts when I bench press. What should I do?

As shoulders endure overuse and misuse, injury and pain is not uncommon. Warm up shoulders with light weight and high reps. This will align mechanics, bring supportive blood to the muscles, arouse synovial fluid in the joint and provide warmth for movement ease.

If pain persists in your bench as you add weight, try changing your grip (a hand in or a hand out), try the Smith Press, or go directly to dumbbells.

Dumbbells give you freedom to alter the position of the resisting weight with hand rotation and re-establishment of groove to avoid muscle aggravation. Perhaps a change of angle will allow pain-free movement. You need to listen to the pain and work around it. I prefer this to laying off.

Are supplements good for me or a waste of money?

A good quality time-release vitamin-mineral is very important. These nutrients needed for muscle repair, resistance, internal health, skin, bone and energy are required regularly, in abundance and often cannot be stored or produced by the body.

We rarely eat enough of the right foods to get that which we need for minimum health, no less high performance.

We are composed largely of protein; protein is the major ingredient for muscle building, hormone structure, energy and much more. Again, as high performers, we want high quality protein in abundance throughout the day to build muscle and grow strong with great vitality.

A quality protein supplement from whey and caseine will assure us of this for those times when consumption of solid food is not convenient or desirable. These are the basics you really need. They are not a waste of money, instead, they are a good investment in long life and good health.

Do I need a lifting belt?

It's imperative to use a high quality leather lifting belt to support your lower back when lifting overhead, deadlifting, squatting or performing intense standing curls and lateral raises.

When lifting throughout your regular routine where there is no excessive demand on the lower spine, train without the belt to allow the muscles to do their job freely.

It's a good idea to do specific exercises to strengthen the vulnerable, often troublesome low back area - hyperextension, stiff-legged deadlifts and power deadlifts.

How much water should I drink a day?

Typically two litres a day is a healthy recommendation. Big people, more. Hot days, more. High activity days, more. We need lots - energy, well-being, to detoxify, fight dehydration. We are 75% water, after all.

I heard I should eat several meals a day. What do you think?

Breakfast always. Wisely eat every three hours, each meal consisting of 30-40% protein, 30-40% carbohydrate, 10-20% fat. I put the accent on animal protein - 45-40-15. Eat 30 to 60 minutes prior to your workout or athletic activity and again 30-60 minutes after your training to serve energy and muscle demands.