Q. How Do I Get Started on an Exercise Program?
A. First, see your doctor to make sure everything's working properly before you start exercising, especially if you've been sedentary for a long time. Next, figure out what your goal is. Do you want to lose weight or gain muscle? Or maybe you want to train for a race. Your goal will determine your workout. For more detailed information about beginning an exercise program, see my articles, Beginner's Corner,Exercise 101 and Weight Training 101.
Q. How do I get 'six-pack' abs? Crunches don't seem to work.
A. Unfortunately, doing crunches alone will not reduce body fat. In order to get a 'six-pack' you need to reduce the body fat that is covering the abdominal muscles. To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you eat. This can be accomplished with a healthy, low-calorie diet and cardiovascular exercise. Strength training all of your muscle groups will also increase your lean body tissue, raise your metabolism and help you burn more calories. For more information about your abs, read my article, Flatten Your Abs, for great ideas on reducing body fat and different abdominal exercises.
Q. I've been working out for a while and I seem to have stopped losing weight. What can I do to get past my weight loss plateau?
A. Plateaus occur when you've been doing the same routine for a while and your body adapts to that routine. Over time, your body will become more efficient and will burn less calories. There are some simple ways to change your routine so that you constantly challenge your heart and muscles. First, you can vary the frequency of your workouts (how often you workout). Second, you can vary the intensity of your exercise (or how hard you're working). Third, you can vary the time of your workout (increasing or decrease the amount of time you're spending). Last, you can vary your workout mode. For example, if you usually walk on the treadmill, try riding the bike or using the elliptical trainer. For more information, please read my articles,Understanding Exercise Plateaus, The Truth About the Fat Burning Zone, and Get Out of the Rut for more ideas on breaking through your plateau.
Q. Do I need a personal trainer?
A. You don't need a personal trainer to reach your exercise goals. However, working with a professional can help ensure that a) you're doing the right exercises for your goals, b) you're using proper form during exercise and c) you're doing the least amount of work for the most results. See How to Choose a Personal Trainer for information on finding the right professional for you.
Q. How many times a week should I be doing cardio?
A. That depends on your goals. If you want to lose weight, shoot for 3-5 days of cardio (for 30 or more minutes). For health, the government recommends at least 3 days a week of cardio activity.
Q. How do I know which exercises to do for a specific muscle?
A. Check out the programs for ideas on strength training exercises.
Q. How do I know how many calories I'm burning during my workout?
A. Use a Calorie Calculator to determine your calorie burnage for various exercises.
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