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FAQ


What Is the Best Wayto Lose Fat?

The simple (and complex) answer is that there is no “best way” to lose fat. Each client will respond differently to a training program. However, there are some principles fitness professionals can apply when designing their clients’ programs.


Activities that incorporate many muscle groups and are weight bearing use more calories per minute and are therefore better suited for fat loss than non-weight-bearing activities that do not use many muscles.

Can I lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

The ability to gain muscle while losing fat is dependent on the relationship between your fatness and muscularity. An overly-fat and under-trained person will be able to achieve simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. A very lean person near his/her limit for muscle growth will not. As one moves away from the overly-fat, under-trained status towards a leaner, more muscular body this ability is diminished. At some point, the vast majority of people will see better/quicker results by choosing to do one or the other (gain muscle, lose fat – often referred to as ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’, respectively) at a time. For a highly general rule of thumb: if you have been training effectively for a year or more, you’re better off with a bulk/cut cycle. See Lyle McDonald’s Adding Muscle While Losing Fat – Q&A for more discussion.

If I Lift Weights, Will I Get Bigger Muscles?

Whether or not your clients will get bigger muscles (hypertrophy) depends on three basic factors: genetics, gender and training intensity. Genetics is mostly manifested as muscle fiber type; people with predominantly fast-twitch fibers acquire larger muscles more easily than people with predominantly slow-twitch fibers. In relation to gender, males acquire larger muscles than females do, because males have greater amounts of testosterone and other sex hormones that influence protein metabolism (Tipton 2001). Thus, females experience less muscle hypertrophy with strength improvement than males do (Lewis et al. 1986). Training intensity is the only factor you can control.

How Do I Get a Flat Stomach

Genetics also plays a role in whether or not your clients can obtain a flat stomach or a “six-pack” look to their abdominals. Having said that, two types of exercise can help: strength training and cardiovascular exercise. The abdominals are just like any other muscle group: For their definition to become visible, they must grow larger and the fat that lies over them must decrease. What makes the definition of the abdominals so difficult to see is that they are situated in the area of the body that contains the most fat. Strength training the abdominals is only half the story. Your clients will get a flat stomach only if they combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise to get rid of the fat. Most clients do not do nearly enough cardiovascular exercise to decrease their body fat percentage to a point where they would see their abdominals. Even when the aerobic exercise stimulus is adequate, the role of diet must not be underestimated. All people with a flat stomach or six-pack have a very low percentage of body fat.

Should I Do Cardio First or Weight Training First?

It depends on the client’s goals. Many personal trainers think that performing strength training before cardiovascular exercise will augment the amount of fat used during the cardio workout because the strength training will deplete the muscles’ store of carbohydrates (glycogen). However, strength training is not likely to deplete glycogen stores, because a lot of the workout time is spent resting between sets and exercises. Even if the strength workout were long and intense enough to accomplish this task, exercising in a glycogen-depleted state has many negative consequences, including an increase in acidic compounds produced in response to low carbohydrate levels, low blood insulin, hypoglycemia, increased amino acid (protein) metabolism, increased blood and muscle ammonia and a strong perception of fatigue. Currently, no research shows that strength training immediately before a cardio workout increases the amount of fat used during the cardio workout, or vice versa. Most likely, the intensity of the activity, not the mode of exercise, determines the “fuel”—either fat, carbohydrate or protein—that is used.

Do I Need toTake Dietary Supplements?

Your clients do not need dietary supplements unless they have a documented vitamin deficiency or they do not eat a balanced diet. Using supplements as an alternative to a sound diet can lead to serious deficits in the consumption of other nutrients (Benardot et al. 2001). It is always healthier to acquire vitamins and minerals from food than to obtain them from a pill. However, serious vitamin deficiencies do occur in a small proportion of the population (Benardot et al. 2001), and supplements are useful for making sudden improvements in vitamin status.

Can incresing my physical activity alone help me lose weight?

If you don’t change your calorie intake, increasing your activity alone can result in weight loss. Most controlled studies show a modest weight loss (usually 4 – 6 pounds) resulting from increasing activity alone. If you increase your activity and decrease the number of calories you take in, you will see a faster loss than with increasing activity alone. Starting an activity program during weight loss is essential, not only for the weight loss phase, but also (and more importantly) to maintain the loss.

What does "overload" mean?

The overload principle refers to the workload or demand put on the body. The demand strains the body systems (cardiovascular, muscular, respiratory) in a good way. The body systems respond to the demand by adapting. This means that the heart will pump more blood, the muscles will become firmer and stronger, and the lungs will supply more oxygen. When you want to increase your fitness level or your strength, you have to provide this demand on your body systems to see them improve.

Why is it easierfor guysto lose weight than it is for women?

Men have more muscle mass than women, especially in the upper body. Women usually have a greater percentage of body fat. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, giving men a 5 – 10% higher metabolic rate than women. So men start out at an advantage — they burn more calories, even at rest.

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