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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Your Fitness Questions Answered


photo by wok

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Lots of my readers come here as a result of the weekly newsletter that I send out, but this site also gets quite a few readers from the Internet via search engines and such. One of the interesting aspects of running this site is that I get to see what keywords, terms, and questions people who end up here are asking the search engines. In this post, I'm going to answer some of those questions that I think most readers will find interesting.

What amount of cardio is necessary to lose weight?

There is no set amount of cardio that will guarantee weight loss. The only factor that will ensure weight loss is a calorie deficit. You must consume fewer calories than you burn, either by eating less, burning more via cardio, or preferably, both. Most people think they can go to the gym a few times a week, do a minimal amount of exercise and the weight will just melt off. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Take a look at the finish line at a large marathon. I'm willing to bet those marathon runners do a lot more cardio than most, but they are not all thin. No matter how much cardio you do, you can always "out eat" that amount. To lose and keep weight off requires a consitent exercise plan and vigilance with your nutrition.

Should I strength train or just do cardio to lose weight?

You should do both. You can lose weight by doing only cardio and watching what you eat, but strength training will increase the quality of the weight that you lose. If you strength train in addition to doing cardio and watching what you eat, you will lose a greater percentage of body fat as opposed to losing lean muscle mass. Everyone thinks that they want to lose weight, but the result they are really after comes from the addition of strength training to a training plan. Cardio and diet will result in a smaller version of how you look now. Cardio, diet, and strength training will change your body composition to be leaner, and more muscular, or "toned".

How can I get fit in a week?

You can't. "Getting fit" is a series of physical changes to your body that takes place over a long period of time. It is the adaptations to exercise that cause you to get fit. You cannot make those changes in a week's time, or even several weeks. It took a lot longer than a week to get unfit, and it takes a lot longer than a week to regain fitness. It takes hard work over an extended period of time.

If I diet, with weight training, will I still lose weight?

Yes, but probably not as much as you would without the weight training. So am I saying not to weight train? Absolutely not. Weight training is the number one thing that you can do to maintain muscle mass while losing fat, which is exactly what you want to do. The number on the scale won't go down as quickly, but you will be losing mostly body fat, and you will get smaller because muscle takes up less space than the equivalent amount of fat. I absolutely recommend weight training while dieting. Read Want to Lose Weight? Get off the Scale for more information about measuring body fat and using it as your measure of improvement instead of scale weight.

In a later post, I'll answer the funny questions that people who find this site ask the search engines. Stay tuned, some are real doozies.

What questions would you like to see answered in a future post?

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