1) What is THR and What does it stand For?

2) What is a maximal heart rate?

3) What is the ideal heart rate for burning fat?

4) How do I measure my Heart Rate while I am exercising?

5) Why do I need to workout if I am already thin?

6) Can exercise help me lower my blood pressure?

7) Is swimming a good cardiovascular exercise?

8)) Can I do a variety of different things for my cardiovascular training? I get bored very easily.

9) I have joint problems. Running, brisk walking, and even the elliptical trainer hurt my knees and back. How can I get a good cardiovascular workout?

10) What is the best cardiovascular workout one can do?

11) Are the ""calories burned"" on the cardio machines accurate?

12) Does regular participation in aerobic exercise lower an individual's risk of developing cancer?

13) Should I continue my aerobic workouts when I'm sick?

14) Does any proof exist that exercise can help a person live longer?

15) Does aerobic exercise training significantly strengthen the muscles involved in the activity (e.g., does running significantly strengthen the leg muscles)?

16) Does aerobic exercise really help relieve stress?

17) Can aerobic exercise actually be fun?

18) Is it true that aerobic exercise burns fat faster than other types of exercise?

19) Does an aerobic workout cause an individual's resting metabolic rate to stay elevated for a long time after a workout (the so-called "after burn" effect)?

20) Does aerobic exercise have a positive effect on the reduction in resting metabolism associated with dieting?

21) If aerobic exercise doesn't help me to lose weight much faster, then why should I spend the extra time and effort running, stair climbing, cycling, etc.?

22) What basic steps can I take to minimize the risks associated with exercising?

23) What is the best method for determining an individual's ideal body weight?

24) What is the significance of the waist-to-hip ratio measurement from a health-risk perspective?

25) What causes cellulite, and what, if anything, can be done to eliminate it? Do any of the creams, herbs, wraps, antitoxins, or special exercises actually work?

26) I'm interested in losing weight. What type of exercise is best?

27) Will I lose body fat more efficiently by performing my aerobic workouts at a low, rather than a high, intensity?

28) Why does aerobic exercise have minimal effect in accelerating weight loss when combined with a low-calorie diet?

29) Does aerobic exercise counter the decrease in lean muscle mass associated with dieting?

30) Is there a quick and easy "weigh" to lose weight?

31) Is beer a good post-workout drink :-)?

32) Several people at the gym that I go to say that creatine supplements will increase the size and strength of my muscles. Is this true?

33) Are there any risks associated with excess protein consumption?

34) How much improvement in aerobic capacity can a person typically expect to experience, and how long does it take?

35) In the health and fitness column in my local newspaper, the physician writing the column wrote that in order to get something out of your aerobic conditioning efforts, you have to work out within your "aerobic training zone." To what was she referring?

36) I want to exercise aerobically, but I absolutely do not like running. Is running the best aerobic activity?

37) Do certain types of strength training significantly enhance a person's level of aerobic fitness?

38) What is cross training and does it offer any significant benefits?

39) How fast should my heart beat during an aerobic workout?

40) How important are the warm-up and cool-down portions of a workout?

41) Do I need to warm-up and cool-down before a relatively long run?

42) Are saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms dangerous for individuals suffering from hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure)?

43) I'm somewhat confused by the wide array of advertisements in both my local newspaper and on television for aerobic-type exercise machines. How can I know which machine would be best for me?

44) Is "spinning" a good aerobic conditioning activity?

45) Should aerobically active individuals take supplemental forms of antioxidants?

46) What effect, if any, does smoking have on my running performance?

47) How do I get six-pack or washboard abs?

48) How do I get rid of that spare tire/lower belly pouch around my abs?

49) How often should I work my abs?

50) How many sets/reps of ab exercises should I do?

51) How do I work my lower abs?

52) I've been exercising and dieting, but my belly is still flabby. What gives?

53) What are the best exercises for my abs?

54) Do ab gadgets work?

55) Can I get rid of cellulite around my butt? What the heck IS cellulite?

56) What exercises will get rid of saddlebags?

57) How do I make my butt bigger?

58) After I started lifting weights, my butt seemed to get bigger? Why?

59) Will stair-climbing or cycling make my butt big?

1) What is THR and What does it stand For?

THR is “Target Heart Rate”. You will often hear this mentioned as a range. Your THR is the number of times your heart should beat per minute while doing cardiovascular workout. THR is dependent on age and the goal of the exercise. Target heart rate guides that are found posted on many pieces of equipment are just general guidelines and care should be taken when using such guides.

2) What is a maximal heart rate?

Maximal Heart rate for a person is the highest attainable heart rate for that person. It can be derived using the formula:

Max Heart Rate = 220 – (Your Age)

3) What Is the ideal heart rate for burning fat?

It has been found that when you exercise at 65-70% of your Max Heart rate your body burns most number of calories from Fat. Exercising in this zone is optimal for fat loss.

4) How do I measure my Heart Rate while I am exercising?

There are many ways of measuring and tracking your Heart Rate. You can either get a heart rate monitor which includes a strap which you wear on your chest and the heart rate can be measured and tracked on the watch that it comes with. You can also calculate it yourself by measuring your pulse for a six second count and multiplying it by 10 to get your Heart Rate.

5) Why do I need to workout if I am already thin?

Working out, including resistance training, cardiovascular training, and flexibility, is not just for people who wish to lose weight. Fitness training is for your health, not just your looks. Thin does not necessarily mean healthy. Research has shown that someone who is thin and unfit is actually less healthy than someone who has a few extra pounds and is fit. People who are thin and unfit can have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. just like people who are overweight and unfit. A sound exercise program can also make your already thin body look even better. Make a commitment to yourself and your health and begin your fitness program today.

6) Can exercise help me lower my blood pressure?

Exercise is one of the first lines of defense against chronic high blood pressure (hypertension). It is a proven aid in the reduction of high blood pressure. Most physicians will recommend changes in diet, loss of body fat, and exercise for their patients who have chronic hypertension before they will prescribe medications to lower blood pressure. Before starting any exercise program, especially if you are hypertensive, be sure to check with your physician.


7) Is swimming a good cardiovascular exercise?

Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout. It works all of the large muscle groups in your body and is especially ideal for people who have joint problems, problems with overheating, or are too obese for weight bearing exercise yet. Make sure that you are a proficient enough swimmer to get your heart rate into its target range and swim continuously for at least 20 – 30 minutes. Some people may need stroke instruction before being able to use swimming as a fitness activity. Check with your local recreation department or a private swim club for adult lessons. Many areas have masters programs for adult swimmers that can provide stroke instruction as well as group workouts. Remember safety first and never swim alone.


8) Can I do a variety of different things for my cardiovascular training? I get bored very easily.

Absolutely. This is called cross training. Doing several different types of cardiovascular workouts not only helps alleviate boredom and prevent overuse injuries, but also ensures that you work a variety of muscle groups. Make sure that when choosing a cardio activity that you can get your heart rate into its target range and keep it in this range for thirty minutes. Do your cardio training at least three times per week.

Keep in mind that some very physical activities will not keep your heart rate in its range and some may not be suitable if your skill level will not allow you to work continuously for thirty minutes. For example, swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise but if your skill level does not allow you to swim continuously, it will not be a good cardiovascular workout until your skill level improves to a point at which you can swim continuously for a sustained period of time. Chose cardio activities that work your large muscle groups, that you can do for a sustained period of time (goal of 30 minutes minimum), and that you enjoy.


9) I have joint problems. Running, brisk walking, and even the elliptical trainer hurt my knees and back. How can I get a good cardiovascular workout?

Don’t worry! You can still have a great cardiovascular workout. You can use swimming, treading water, or even water running or walking to have a great cardio workout without stress on your joints. There are buoyant vests and even special athletic shoes designed for running and walking in a pool. See specific swimming FAQ's for details on swimming as a cardiovascular activity.

 

10) What is the best cardiovascular workout one can do?

You cannot look for one "best" when it comes to cardiovascular training. What is good for one person may not be good for another. Not everyone enjoys the same activities or has the same skills. (If you can't swim then obviously swimming is not your cardio activity!) Your own "best" cardio workout may vary from month to month, week to week, and even day to day. This is why cross training is important. You can do different cardio workouts depending on what you feel like doing, where you are, what body parts are tired, etc.

When choosing a cardio activity, pick an activity you enjoy that uses large muscle groups and allows you to get your heart rate into its target range and maintain it for thirty minutes. You should do this minimally three times per week. If you have been sedentary, it may take some time before you can build up to thirty minutes of cardio training. Be consistent and patient and eventually you will be able to comfortably train in your target range for thirty minutes.

11) Are the ""calories burned"" on the cardio machines accurate?

Don't count on it. The calorie estimates on some machines are good ballpark figures, but they're never exact. To figure out how you're working, pay attention to your body instead of numbers. Are you leaning on the stair stepper or standing tall? Are you challenging yourself or practically sleepwalking through your workout? Your ultimate goal is to get in better cardiovascular shape, because the harder you're able to work out, the more calories you'll burn during and after exercise. So focus on getting fit, not the number of calories burned in a single workout.

12) Does regular participation in aerobic exercise lower an individual’s risk of developing cancer?

While it has not been shown that a given level of physical activity per se can reduce overall cancer risk, research suggests that exercise often modifies some of the risk factors associated with certain kinds of cancer. Obesity, for example, has been linked to cancer of the breast and the female reproductive system. In turn, regular exercise has been shown to help promote weight loss. Several studies have also found that men who worked at sedentary jobs for most of their lives had a greater incidence of colon cancer than those in more active jobs. A longitudinal study of Harvard alumni found that highly active or even moderately active individuals had a substantially lower risk of developing both colon and lung cancer than alumni who were less active or sedentary. On the other hand, exercise will not offset the effects of a high-fat diet or cigarette smoking. Still, it can contribute, even indirectly, to a reduced risk of cancer. As such, exercising regularly is recommended by the American Cancer Society as an integral part of its cancer prevention program.


13) Should I continue my aerobic workouts when I’m sick?

According to most sports medicine experts, the location of your symptoms can help determine whether it’s safe for you to continue to exercise. In general, when your symptoms are experienced only above the neck (e.g., headache, runny or stuffy nose, scratchy throat, or sneezing), the infection is usually mild and won’t be worsened by mild-to-moderate exercise. On the other hand, symptoms that occur below the neck or throughout the body (e.g., fever, chest cough, achy muscles, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) indicate that the infection may be more severe and requires rest. In fact, those symptoms are frequently associated with the flu, pneumonia, or some other potentially serious infection (viral or bacterial). If you do decide to exercise when you’re not feeling your best, start at approximately 50 percent of your usual exercise intensity level. If, after about 10 minutes of exercising you feel no worse than before you started, you should gradually increase your intensity level—but stay well below your normal level of effort. If, however, the activity makes you feel worse, call it a day.

14) Does any proof exist that exercise can help a person live longer?

Absolutely. In fact, the largest study measuring fitness ever conducted found that regular exercise will indeed help a person live longer. Led by Dr. Steven Blair of the Institute of Aerobics Research in Dallas, the eight-year study evaluated the fitness and mortality levels of 13,344 men and women. Researchers involved with the study found that exercise reduces the death rate from all causes, particularly cancer and heart disease. Physical fitness was measured by each subject’s performance on a standardized treadmill test—a test which is designed to accurately assess aerobic fitness (the most commonly accepted indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness). Based on the test results, the subjects were then grouped by gender into five categories ranging from least to most fit.

The results of the study, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that the higher the fitness level the lower the death rate, after the data were adjusted for age differences between the subjects. Compared with the most-fit subjects, individuals in the least-fit category had death rates 3.4 and 4.6 times higher for men and women respectively. The differences in mortality rates held relatively constant even after adjustments for coronary risk factors, such as smoking and cholesterol level, were considered. For both men and women, the largest drop from one fitness category to another was from the least-fit to the next most-fit group. Expressed as deaths per 10,000 person-years, the age-adjusted death rates for men and women in the sedentary category fell from 64 and 39.5 to 25.5 and 20.5 respectively in the next most-fit group, a decline of more than 60 percent for men and 48 percent for women.

The implication of Blair’s findings are extraordinarily significant, particularly for a sedentary individual. On a major scale, this study documents the fact that a modest amount of exercise can and does go a long way. The equivalent of brisk walking 30 minutes a day is all that is required to move from the most sedentary category to the next most fit catagory.

15) Does aerobic exercise training significantly strengthen the muscles involved in the activity (e.g., does running significantly strengthen the leg muscles)?

A regular program of aerobic exercise can produce a number of health benefits, including an increase in aerobic capacity, reduced body weight and fat stores, an improved blood lipid-lipoprotein profile, and lowered arterial blood pressure. For healthy, active adults, however, significant strength gains are not among the benefits of aerobic training. The leg muscles of elite distance runners, for example, have not been found to be significantly stronger than those of healthy, relatively inactive individuals of similar age and gender.


16) Does aerobic exercise really help relieve stress?

Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective "depressurizers" because it helps you dissipate nervous energy and allows your body to metabolize stress-related hormones more rapidly. Any physical activity that involves the major muscles of your body -- such as jogging, walking, biking, and swimming -- and that is sustained for at least 15 minutes will help to relax your muscles. It will also cause your body to release endorphins, which are naturally produced chemicals that, according to available research, can help relieve stress, impart a sense of well-being, and help you fight off stress-related issues.


17) Can aerobic exercise actually be fun?

As a point of fact, you should not perceive exercise to be a tortuous expenditure of your time. It should be enjoyable. If you don't find your conditioning regimen to be relatively enjoyable, it is very likely that you will give it up for "greener pastures." Fortunately, almost all individuals can find an exercise activity that both meets their particular needs and is well tolerated -- emotionally, as well as physically. Not surprisingly, exercise adherence is always higher (all other factors considered) in those individuals who enjoy what they are doing.


18) Is it true that aerobic exercise burns fat faster than other types of exercise?

Aerobic exercise is the only way for your body to burn fat directly. Anaerobic exercise uses only carbohydrates, while aerobic exercise uses carbohydrates and fats. At a point after approximately 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, your body shifts from using mainly carbohydrates as fuel to using more fats. You need to keep in mind, however, that when you eat, you replenish both carbohydrates and fats. As soon as you reach a point of having consumed an excess of calories, your body begins to store those calories as fat. If you eat after an activity that utilizes more fats than carbohydrates, you fill up your carbohydrate stores faster, thereby creating a situation where the excess calories are converted to fat anyway. Thus, you haven't altered your body's overall caloric balance. You lose weight when you expend more calories than you consume, not because you burn fat when you work out.

19) Does an aerobic workout cause an individual's resting metabolic rate to stay elevated for a long time after a workout (the so-called "after burn" effect)?

In general, the available scientific data indicate that the amount of energy expended after an aerobic workout tends to be very small. The number of calories burned during the recovery is dependent upon the intensity and the duration of the workout. Following exercise of unusual intensity and duration, your metabolic rate may remain elevated for as long as 24 hours -- but at levels that are just barely above resting baseline levels. In general, approximately 15 extra calories are burned during recovery for every 100 calories expended during an exercise bout.

20) Does aerobic exercise have a positive effect on the reduction in resting metabolism associated with dieting?

Most available research suggests that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise training does little to diminish the usual 10-20 percent diet-induced reduction in resting metabolic rate (RMR). In fact, some studies indicate that combining aerobic exercise with a very low-calorie diet (less than 1000 calories per day) stimulates the body to conserve energy, thereby signaling the body to initiate the process of decreasing the RMR.

21) If aerobic exercise doesn't help me to lose weight much faster, then why should I spend the extra time and effort running, stair climbing, cycling, etc.?

Despite its limitations with regard to promoting weight loss, exercising aerobically provides several important health benefits. Among the major health benefits of aerobic exercise for overweight/overfat individuals are the following:

· Improved aerobic capacity. All other factors being equal, an individual with a high aerobic capacity will have a high physical working capacity.

· Reduced risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.

· Improved blood lipid-lipoprotein profile, specifically decreased triglycerides, and increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) -- the "good" form.

· Improved psychological status, particularly enhanced self-esteem, general well-being, and decreased anxiety and depression.

· Increased fat loss to weight loss ratio (i.e., more of the weight lost is fat).

· Enhanced long-term weight management. Regular exercise is the most powerful predictor of long-term weight loss success. It helps to ensure that individuals not only lose weight, but also keep it off.


22) What basic steps can I take to minimize the risks associated with exercising?

Unfortunately, no human endeavor is totally free of risk—including exercise. The risks of exercise, however, can be minimized by adhering to certain principles and guidelines. The first step is to ensure that you are medically safe to exercise. This process involves seeing a physician and undergoing a physical examination and evaluation before you initiate your exercise program. The extent of your evaluation depends on your age, health status, and the anticipated exercise intensity. For example, all older asymptomatic individuals (males 40 plus, females 50 plus) or at high risk (e.g., having one or more risk factors, including smoking, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, obesity, stress, family history of medical problems, diabetes) should undergo a physician-supervised, graded exercise test. Healthy individuals under age 40 for men and 50 for women are usually cleared for exercise upon completing a medical/health status questionnaire, if the answers don’t reveal any possible contraindications to exercise.

The next step is to develop a sound exercise program based on scientifically documented information. Such a program should involve starting at an intensity appropriate for you and then progressing gradually to a point where your body must respond to increasingly higher physical demands. The temptation to do too much too soon should be avoided. Moderation is essential. The point to remember is that a major cause of musculoskeletal injuries is overuse—placing demands on your body that your body simply is not designed to handle. A sound exercise program always includes provisions for stretching the major joints of your body before and after exercising. It also ensures that you get proper rest (sleep). Rest enables you to better recover from the demands placed on your body by exercising.

The final step is to listen to your body. You should respond accordingly to common exercise termination signals (e.g., dizziness, light-headedness, abnormal heart beats, pain or pressure in your chest, musculoskeletal trauma, prolonged fatigue, etc.). These signals are your body's way of telling you that something is amiss and that you must decrease the level of stress to which you are subjecting your body.

23) What is the best method for determining an individual's ideal body weight?

To determine ideal body weight, individuals should not rely solely on a bathroom scale, height-weight tables, or percent body-fat measurements. Sound nutrition and exercise science principles, along with common sense, mandate that individuals should avoid setting "hard and fast" body-weight goals. Rather, they should strive for achieving a level of body weight that is compatible with a healthy life-style (e.g., sensible eating, regular exercise, etc.). All factors considered, the body weight that results from adopting such a life-style should ultimately be considered as the ideal union between an individual's wellness level, genetic potential, and a state of reality. What represents a safe, realistic, and, perhaps more importantly, attainable body weight for an individual will depend (to a large extent) on the following factors:

· Medical History. An individual's current medical history, to include a thoughtful review of personal health-risk factors, should be taken into account when attempting to define ideal body weight. For example, if an individual's blood pressure is elevated, a modest weight reduction (e.g., as little as 10 lbs.) has been shown to be quite beneficial. Extra body mass means that the heart must work harder to pump blood through miles of extra capillaries that feed that extra tissue. Type II diabetes and blood lipid-lipoprotein profiles are further examples of medical conditions that can be positively affected by weight loss.

· Family History. Body weight, like most other physical characteristics, is strongly influenced by genetic factors. If an individual's parents and siblings are extremely overweight, it is highly unlikely that such an individual will ever be "model-thin." As unfair as such a judgment might first appear, such a limitation should be kept in mind when establishing ideal body-weight goals.

· Body Composition. Leaner bodies are more effective calorie burners. The more muscle or lean body mass individuals have, the more calories they burn. Men naturally have more muscle mass than women, and, as a result, have higher metabolic rates. Furthermore, individuals who exercise on a regular basis tend to have more muscle mass and higher metabolic rates compared with their sedentary counterparts. Accordingly, although individuals who have a relatively high amount of muscle may weigh substantially more than others of similar heights, their body-weight levels may be entirely appropriate given their lean muscle mass.

· Body-Fat Distribution. Body fat located in the upper-body region is very risky in terms of health profiles. If individuals possess a high amount of upper-body or abdominal fat, they should consider losing weight (specifically body fat) through a combined program of sensible eating and exercise. One commonly accepted method of determining whether individuals have excessive amounts of upper-body fat is to look at their waist-to-hip ratios. The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a simple, yet accurate, method for determining body-fat distribution patterns. WHR is determined by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. Waist circumference is defined as the smallest circumference between the rib cage and belly button. Hip circumference is defined as the largest circumference of the hip-buttocks region. Men with WHR values exceeding .95 are considered to have an excessive amount of upper-body fat, while those with less than 0.95 are deemed to have an acceptable level of upper-body fat. Women with WHR values above 0.80 are considered to have an unhealthy amount of upper-body fat, while those with scores less than 0.80 are designated as having a reasonable level of accumulated adipose tissue on their upper bodies.

· Functional Ability. If the ability to effectively and efficiently perform activities of daily living and to comfortably engage in a variety of recreational pursuits is impaired, an individual should strive to attain a level of body weight that will support a healthy, functional life-style.

24) What is the significance of the waist-to-hip ratio measurement from a health-risk perspective?

Recent data indicate that the pattern of fat distribution throughout the body is an important predictor of the health risks of obesity. Exercise scientists have classified where the fat is deposited on the body into two basic categories: male-pattern (or apples) and female-pattern (or pears). Despite their names, each type of fat pattern can occur in both sexes, although men tend to be apples and women tend to be pears. Apples characteristically deposit high amounts of fat in the abdominal and trunk regions, while pears deposit high amounts of fat in the hip, buttocks, and thigh regions.

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a simple, yet accurate, method for determining your body fat pattern. WHR is determined by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. Waist circumference is defined as the smallest circumference between the rib cage and belly-button. Hip circumference is defined as the largest circumference of the hip-buttocks region.

Men with WHR values exceeding 0.95 are considered apples; those with less than 0.95 are deemed pears. Women with WHR values above 0.80 are considered apples, those with scores less than 0.80 are designated as pears. Research has shown that apples are at a greater risk for developing a number of health-related problems, the most prominent being hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure), type II diabetes (i.e., non-insulin dependent diabetes), and hyperlipidemia (i.e., elevated levels of fat in the blood).

Scientists believe that two characteristics of abdominal fat cells are probably responsible for the greater health risk associated with being an apple. Abdominal fat cells tend to be larger than those located in other regions of the body. Relatively large fat cells are associated with insulin resistance (i.e., reduced tissue responsiveness to insulin), which means body cells will take up less glucose (sugar) from the blood, causing the blood sugar level to rise. In response to the elevated blood sugar level, the pancreas secretes more and more insulin (hyperinsulinemia). Full-blown diabetes (type II) can develop if blood sugar rises enough.

Hyperinsulinemia, by promoting sodium reabsorption by the kidneys and stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, can predispose an apple to hypertension. Also, the rates of enzyme-initiated chemical reactions are higher for abdominal fat cells, thus making them more metabolically active than fat cells located in other regions of the body. The more metabolically active abdominal fat cells can be easily released into the blood stream resulting in hyperlipidemia.

All the news is not bad for apples, however. Research has shown that weight reduction tends to be easier for them, as they benefit from the high turnover rate of abdominal fat. For pears, however, weight loss is more difficult because fat cells in the hip, buttock, and thigh regions do not easily relinquish their fat. This tendency for pears to stubbornly hold onto their fat helps to ensure that nursing mothers maintain sufficient energy reserves. While it is true that apples are at a greater health risk and pears are at a disadvantage with regard to weight reduction, exercise training and a prudent diet (regardless of your body shape) can help to counteract many of the negative health consequences of obesity and result in a weight loss that can be maintained.


25) What causes cellulite, and what, if anything, can be done to eliminate it? Do any of the creams, herbs, wraps, antitoxins, or special exercises actually work?

When the fibrous strands within ordinary fat tissue become stretched, they produce a dimpling effect on the overlying skin. The dimpled appearance, often seen on the hips, thighs, and buttocks, is commonly referred to as cellulite by the plethora of manufacturers, marketers, and sellers of the various gimmicks and gadgets that purportedly work to remove it. However, nothing unique exists about that kind of fat on the body. Short of liposuction, no special or "secret" methods -- including creams, foods, diets, drugs, machines, or exercises -- will selectively eliminate the so-called cellulite.

26) I'm interested in losing weight. What type of exercise is best?

It takes two different types of exercise to help you most effectively lose weight and keep it off: one to burn a high number of calories (aerobic-type exercise), the other to build and preserve muscle tissue (strength-training exercise). Muscle tissue enables you to lose weight and keep it off because it helps you maintain your resting metabolic rate, thereby allowing you to burn a greater number of calories when you're at rest. An analysis of the available data indicates that, in general, the combination of a conventional aerobic exercise program with a severely calorie-restricted diet does little (if anything) to help preserve lean body mass during weight reduction.

It is important to keep in mind that the less lean body mass you have, the lower your resting metabolic rate will be. As a result, it is more likely that you will regain some or all of the weight loss you may have achieved. On the other hand, if you engage in exercise designed to improve your muscular fitness level at the same time you are losing weight, you will enhance the likelihood that you will be able to maintain your level of lean body mass. As a consequence, the optimal exercise prescription for sound weight management is one that combines aerobic conditioning and strength training.


27) Will I lose body fat more efficiently by performing my aerobic workouts at a low, rather than a high, intensity?

Many aerobic exercise programs and videos feature low-intensity workouts which purport to maximize fat burning. The argument behind such an alleged theory is that low-intensity aerobic training will allow your body to use more fat as an energy source, thereby accelerating the loss of body fat. While it is true that a higher proportion of calories burned during low-intensity exercise come from fat (about 60 percent as opposed to approximately 35 percent from high-intensity programs), high-intensity exercise still burns more calories from fat in the final analysis. For example, if you perform thirty minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise (i.e., at a level of 50 percent of maximal exercise capacity), you'll burn approximately 200 calories -- about 120 of those come from fat (i.e., 60 percent). However, exercising for the same amount of time at a high intensity (i.e., 85 percent of your maximal exercise capacity) will burn approximately 400 calories. Using a 35 percent fat utilization yardstick, 140 of the calories you've burned will have come from stored fat.

Although the more vigorous exercise burns both more total and more fat calories, the less intense form of exercise has its benefits as well. For example, because many overweight people tend to find that lower-intensity exercise is more comfortable, they may, therefore, be willing to engage in such workouts. The point to remember is that low-intensity workouts do, in fact, promote weight and fat loss. You just have to do them for a longer period of time.

Low-intensity aerobic exercise, however, is not a better or more effective way to lose weight than more intense physical activity -- the idea of a "fat-burning zone" is simply a myth. Keep in mind that you lose weight and body fat when you expend more calories than you consume, not because you burn fat (or anything else) when you exercise.

28) Why does aerobic exercise have minimal effect in accelerating weight loss when combined with a low-calorie diet?

Several possible reasons exist for why aerobic exercise does little to accelerate weight loss when combined with a low-calorie diet. Among the more commonly cited reasons are the following:

· Many overweight/overfat individuals are unable to perform high amounts of exercise without subjecting their bodies to an undue level of orthopedic stress -- thereby incurring an injury. High amounts of exercise are needed to promote weight loss, but the risk of orthopedic injury limits the amount of exercise that can be safely performed by many overweight/overfat individuals.

· The "net caloric expenditure" of moderate aerobic workouts is relatively small. The net calorie cost of exercise is equal to the number of calories expended during an exercise bout that are used beyond the number of calories expended by an individual's resting metabolism (RMR) and other activities that the individual might have engaged in had he/she otherwise not been exercising (refer to Table 8).

· Some individuals who exercise tend to reward themselves by resting and relaxing more after their workouts are over. As a result, the net change in their total 24-hour caloric expenditure levels may be virtually unchanged.

29) Does aerobic exercise counter the decrease in lean muscle mass associated with dieting?

In general, the combination of a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program with a low-calorie diet does little to protect lean muscle mass during weight loss. During weight loss, the percentage of weight lost as lean muscle mass increases in direct proportion to the magnitude of the calorie deficit encountered by the body. As a result of rigorous fasting, the total body weight that is lost is approximately 50 percent fat and 50 percent lean muscle mass. During a very low-calorie diet (with adequate protein intake), the proportions improve to 75 percent fat and 25 percent lean muscle mass. During a low-calorie diet (approximately 1200-1500 calories per day), the proportions improve even more to 90 percent fat and only 10 percent lean muscle mass. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, on the other hand, has been found to have a very limited effect on these body composition proportions. Resistance training during weight loss, however, has been shown to provide a sufficient stimulus to offer protection against the loss of the lean muscle mass during sensible dieting.


30) Is there a quick and easy "weigh" to lose weight?

In a word, no. Almost all diets share at least one common trait -- eventually, they don't work. To lose weight and keep it off (the really difficult part of controlling your weight), you must be willing to incorporate permanent changes in both your eating habits and your physical activity level. In addition to a formal exercise program, physical activity must be increased in your daily living.


31) Is beer a good post-workout drink :-) ?

It may taste good when you're thirsty, but beer is not an effective way to rehydrate after exercising. Alcohol has a diuretic effect. As a result, instead of replenishing fluids, beer promotes additional water loss via urination. In reality, the diuretic effect of beer can lead to hypohydration or, in severe cases, dehydration. Some individuals believe that beer gives them a carbohydrate boost plus extra potassium. An urgent need for these nutrients immediately following a workout doesn't exist, however. Even if an individual needed these particular nutrients, beer is a relatively poor source. For example, compared to orange juice, beer has only 13 grams and 89 milligrams of carbohydrates and potassium, respectively, versus 39 grams of carbohydrates and 700 milligrams of potassium in orange juice.

32) Several people at the gym that I go to say that creatine supplements will increase the size and strength of my muscles. Is this true?

Creatine is certainly one of the hot supplements among fitness enthusiasts. A growing body of evidence exists to suggest that taking creatine supplements may improve a person's ability to perform short-term, intense exercise. All skeletal muscle tissue contains creatine, and dietary creatine is found in meat and fish. During exercise, a portion of the muscle's creatine is depleted. Creatine phosphate plays an important role in resynthesizing ATP during short bursts of high-intensity exercise. Creatine supplements have been shown to increase the total creatine content (creatine and creatine phosphate) of muscle on an average of 20-30 percent. Several studies suggest that ingestion of 20-25 grams of creatine monohydrate per day for 5-6 days improves muscular performance during activities that require high levels of strength and power (e.g., weight lifting, sprinting). Sufficient evidence exists to state that, under certain conditions, creatine supplementation can enhance performance in activities that require short periods of high-intensity power and strength. If individuals can train at higher intensity levels, it follows that they may be able to add strength and power at accelerated rates over a period of time. Creatine can also lead to weight gain, but the mechanism responsible for the added weight has not been adequately investigated. Before you run out and start taking creatine supplements, consider the following precautions:

· The long-term effects of taking creatine have not been studied. The majority of studies have examined the effect of the short-term (30 days or less) use of creatine.

· All the studies conducted have involved adults only. Creatine's effects on children are unknown.

· Consuming large quantities of creatine (greater than 30 grams per month) may encourage fat to accumulate in the liver.

· Stomach cramping and diarrhea have been cited as adverse side effects of creatine supplementation.


33) Are there any risks associated with excess protein consumption?

The human body is unable to store extra protein. Protein consumed in excess of the body's needs is not used to build muscle; rather, it is used for non-protein bodily functions. If individuals consume protein in excess of their caloric and protein needs, the extra protein will not be stored as protein. Unfortunately such extra protein is converted to and stored as fat. As a result, if individuals consume large amounts of extra protein, in addition to their regular dietary intake, any weight gain would very likely be in the form of fat.

Another important point to keep in mind is that the potential for harm exists if protein is consumed in excess. Such harm is most likely to occur in the individual who consumes protein or amino acid supplements. For example, excess protein may lead to dehydration, because protein metabolism requires extra water for utilization and excretion (i.e., elimination) of its by-products. Since exercising individuals are already at an increased risk for dehydration, the additional strain of protein waste excretion may further promote dehydration. Excess protein has also been shown to lead to an increase in the loss of urinary calcium. A chronic calcium loss, due to excess protein intake, is of particular concern because it may increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women.


In reality, with regard to serving as a source of energy, all carbohydrates are not all the same. Some release energy quickly. Others do it over a longer period of time. To determine which foods provide quick energy versus those that will keep energy levels high until an individual's next meal, it helps to understand the Glycemic Index (GI) which assigns a value to each food indicating how fast energy will be released.

White bread -- the standard by which foods are judged -- is assigned a GI of 100. Foods with a relatively low GI rating (i.e., 75 or less) release energy gradually. On the other hand, foods with a rating of greater than 75 provide a comparatively faster energy boost that tends to fade fairly quickly. (Note: the higher the GI rating, the faster the energy is released.) A list of the GI ratings of an average serving size for some commonly consumed foods is provided in Table 9. When selecting the food choice for a "carbo load," individuals should decide when they want the energy to kick in -- sooner or later?

Glycemic Index for Various Foods

   
Puffed rice cereal
132
Honey
126
Cornflakes
121
White bread
100
Corn chips
99
Mashed potatoes
98
Raisins
93
Carrots
92
Oatmeal
90
Banana
84
Most types of cookies
80
Sweet corn
80
Potato chips
77
All-bran cereal 74
Kidney beans 71
Orange juice 71
Ice cream 69
Ryeor wheat bread 68
Frozen green peas 65
Macaroni 64
Spaghetti 61
Yogurt 52
Skim milk 46
Most fruits 42
Fructose 30
Peanuts 15


34) How much improvement in aerobic capacity can a person typically expect to experience, and how long does it take?

Increases in cardiorespiratory fitness with exercise training generally show a positive correlation to the frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise. The amount of improvement in aerobic capacity (i.e., VO2 max) that can be expected from training is very individualized and is inversely related to each individual's level of fitness. In other words, the more fit an individual is the smaller the degree of improvement in VO2 max associated with training. For example, an untrained individual may experience approximately a 25 percent increase in VO2 max after roughly 8 to 12 weeks of conditioning. A trained individual, on the other hand, may experience only a five percent improvement over the same period of time.

35) In the health and fitness column in my local newspaper, the physician writing the column wrote that in order to get something out of your aerobic conditioning efforts, you have to work out within your "aerobic training zone." To what was she referring?

Aerobic training zone refers to the training intensity range that will produce improvement in your level of aerobic fitness without overtaxing your cardiorespiratory system. Your aerobic training zone is based on a percentage of your maximal heart rate. As a general rule, your maximal heart rate is measured directly or estimated by subtracting your age from 220. (It is important to note that the method involving subtracting your age from 220 may be associated with considerable error.) Depending upon how physically fit you are, the lower and upper limits of your aerobic training zone are then based on a percentage of the maximal heart rate -- approximately 60-90 percent, respectively.

36) I want to exercise aerobically, but I absolutely do not like running. Is running the best aerobic activity?

The best aerobic exercise for you (or anyone else for that matter) is one that you enjoy, one that is safe for you, and one that you will engage in on a regular basis. Keep in mind that one person's trash is another person's treasure. In other words, even if you don't want to jog, you can still develop and maintain an adequate level of aerobic fitness. Just pick an aerobic activity that you personally like -- exercising on a stair climber, walking on a treadmill, cycling, swimming, etc. -- and make it a regular part of your workout regimen. Make sure that your body likes it as much as you do (i.e., the activity doesn't expose your joints and muscles to undue stress).


37) Do certain types of strength training significantly enhance a person's level of aerobic fitness?

A type of strength training known as circuit training has been shown to increase aerobic capacity by an average of approximately five percent -- this will vary depending upon the individual's fitness level and how hard the person trains. For example, one study reported that three 20-30 minute circuit training sessions a week for a period of 20 weeks improved aerobic capacity by approximately seven to eight percent -- one-third the improvement that might otherwise be expected from a conventional aerobic conditioning program. Some evidence exists, however, that circuit training can be used to effectively maintain improvements in aerobic fitness achieved through traditional forms of aerobic training (i.e., running, cycling, stair climbing, etc.).


38) What is cross training and does it offer any significant benefits?

Cross training is typically defined as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness -- in this instance, aerobic fitness. A relatively sound argument can be advanced to support the premise that using two or more types of aerobic exercise in your training regimen is in your best interest. While no evidence exists to support the often stated claim that cross training somehow induces a better aerobic conditioning response, research indicates that using several modes of training can provide an exerciser with positive musculoskeletal and orthopaedic benefits. By combining different exercise modes, you prevent the same bones, muscle groups, and joints from being stressed over and over. As a consequence, cross training tends to reduce the likelihood of your being injured as the result of exercising "too much." In addition, cross training has also been shown to have a positive effect on cardiovascular function (principle of training specificity) and an individual's long-term adherence to a training program.


39) How fast should my heart beat during an aerobic workout?

How fast your heart should beat during exercise depends on your age and fitness level (refer to Table 5). According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), aerobic fitness can best be improved by exercising at an intensity level between 60-90 percent of your maximal heart rate. If you are just starting your workout program, you should exercise at the lower end of the intensity scale (i.e., 60-70 percent). When this level becomes less challenging (usually after three to six months), you should gradually increase the level of exercise intensity until you reach the middle of the range (70-80 percent). As your level of aerobic fitness continues to improve, you may then decide to adjust your exercise intensity rate up towards the higher end of the recommended range (80-90 percent). You should avoid exercising above your target heart rate range, since this could place you at risk for overtraining and/or injury. As a general rule, if you are unable to comfortably carry on a conversation while exercising (a.k.a., the "talk test"), you should reduce your exercise work rate regardless of your heart rate response. Because the "talk test" tends to err on the side of conservatism, and it can be very helpful in ensuring that the intensity of an exercise bout is not excessive for you.

Table 5. Target Heart Rate Range Chart*

Relative Fitness Level

Age Low
(60% - 70%)
Middle
(70% - 80%)
High
(80% - 90%)
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
55
60
65
20 - 23
19 - 22
19 - 22
18 - 21
18 - 21
17 - 20
17 - 20
16 - 19
16 - 19
16 - 18
23 - 26
22 - 25
22 - 25
21 - 24
21 - 24
20 - 23
20 - 23
19 - 22
19 - 22
18 - 21
26 - 29
25 - 28
25 - 28
24 - 27
24 - 27
23 - 26
23 - 26
22 - 25
22 - 25
21 - 24
       

* During exercise count how many times your heart beats in a 10-second interval. Use this chart to see whether your heart rate is in the appropriate range for your age and relative fitness level.

40) How important are the warm-up and cool-down portions of a workout?

Warm-up and cool-down activities should be an essential part of all exercise programs. The purpose of warm-up activities is to prepare the body, especially the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, for the conditioning or stimulus phase of the exercise session. Our experience suggests that the ideal warm-up for any endurance activity is that activity—only at a lower intensity. Hence, participants who engage in brisk walking during the endurance phase of their workout should conclude the warm-up period with slow walking. The cool-down phase assures that venous return to the heart is maintained in the face of significant amounts of blood going to the previously working muscles. Light aerobic endurance activities, coupled with stretching activities, provide the fundamental basis for both the warm-up and cool-down phases. The length of the warm-up and cool-down periods depends on several factors, including the type of activity engaged in during the conditioning period, the intensity of those activities, and the age and fitness level of the participant. In general, the warm-up and cool-down phases should last approximately five to ten minutes each. If the individual has less time available to work out than usual, it is recommended that the time allotted for the conditioning phase of the workout be reduced, while retaining sufficient time for both the warm-up and cool-down phases.

41) Do I need to warm-up and cool-down before a relatively long run?

Your performance and recovery will be enhanced if you perform a gradual warm-up prior to your exercise regimen and, subsequently, engage in a gradual cool-down program before returning to a resting activity level. Some runners like to finish their training runs with a sprint at the end of the run. This practice can be counter productive. Stopping strenuous exercise abruptly does not offer any positive training benefits and may even be dangerous. If you suddenly stop exercising, blood tends to pool in your legs, placing significant strain on your cardiovascular system as it tries to maintain your level of blood pressure. This response can cause dizziness, fainting, light-headedness, etc. and, in some instances, cardiac failure (i.e., individuals with cardiac abnormalities). By gradually cooling down at the end of your exercise bout (e.g., by engaging in a sprint

42) Are saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms dangerous for individuals suffering from hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure)?

Using saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms can be dangerous for hypertensive individuals and those with heart disease. Surprisingly, however, it is not because the individual’s blood pressure rises too high, but rather because it can drop to dangerously low levels. The basis for this dilemma is easier understood once the body’s response to excess heat is examined.

The thermoregulatory mechanisms of the body cope with excess heat through two principal mechanisms: (1) sweating and (2) the redistribution of blood close to the surface of the skin so that heat can dissipate into the air. When an individual sweats, the moisture on the skin’s surface evaporates, creating a cooling effect. In hot, humid environments, however, sweat does not readily evaporate. As a result, this evaporative cooling mechanism becomes ineffective and inefficient. In an effort to compensate, the peripheral arteries near the skin dilate, so that greater amounts of blood can be transferred to the skin’s surface. This compensatory process is responsible for the characteristic “flushed look” individuals have when they become overheated. Redirecting blood flow to the peripheral arteries requires the heart to work harder.

In fact, the heat stress associated with using a sauna, hot tub, or steam room can be enough to cause the heart rate of an individual to nearly double in less than 10 minutes. In addition to performing its usual task of supplying the muscles and other vital organs (e.g., the brain) with sufficient amounts of blood, oxygen, and nutrients, the heart struggles to meet the demands for increased blood flow to the dilated peripheral arteries. The dilation of the peripheral arteries results in significantly less resistance to blood flow, and concomitantly, a dramatic drop in blood pressure (clinically referred to as hypotension).

Research has shown that heat stress from saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms typically won’t cause significant blood pressure changes in normotensive individuals. Hypertensive individuals on medication, however, may experience a rather sudden, dramatic drop in blood pressure. Such a hypotensive response can result in symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness, and fainting. In order to compensate, the heart beats more rapidly, attempting to supply blood to all the areas of the body that require it. Left unchecked, this reaction can cause a complete collapse of the cardiovascular system. For a person with an already compromised cardiovascular system, the heart can beat at extremely rapid rates—potentially triggering a myocardial infarction (i.e., a heart attack) or cardiac arrest (cessation of the normal heartbeat). In summary, individuals who suffer from hypertension—or any other type of cardiac condition—should be advised to avoid using saunas, hot tubs, and steam rooms.


43) I’m somewhat confused by the wide array of advertisements in both my local newspaper and on television for aerobic-type exercise machines. How can I know which machine would be best for me?

Unfortunately, many of the exercise machines/devices marketed on television are less than advertised. Not only are many of them shoddily built, they also have a tendency to subject users to an undue risk of injury because of their unsafe design. Essentially, you have two logical choices when it comes to selecting aerobic exercise equipment. First, you can contact one of the premier health, wellness and fitness organizations in the country to ask them for advice, for example, either the American Council on Exercise (1-800-529-8227) or the American College of Sports Medicine (1-317-637-9200). Second, if you belong to a local health club, YMCA, or JCC, you should try out the aerobic exercise equipment that this particular facility has to offer. Provided you ensure that the tryout period lasts for at least a few weeks, your body will let you know if it likes your choice of exercise machines.

44) Is "spinning" a good aerobic conditioning activity?

"Spinning" is a popular group exercise activity performed on exercise cycles. Typical spinning classes simulate the outdoor cycling experience. Participants maintain very high pedaling rates (at times, as fast as they can pedal) during the workout. The exercise work rate determines the aerobic demand placed on the body (specifically, the cardiovascular and muscular systems). Accordingly, a high heart rate during a spinning workout reflects a relatively substantial level of stress on the body's cardiorespiratory system and, consequently, a significant level of aerobic conditioning. No scientific evidence exists, however, to suggest that spinning is a better aerobic conditioning method than many other popular training modalities (e.g., running, stair climbing, cross-country skiing, etc.).


45) Should aerobically active individuals take supplemental forms of antioxidants?

All factors considered, the jury is still out on whether an individual should take antioxidant supplements. On one hand, the renowned founder and president of the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research (based in Dallas, Texas), Kenneth Cooper, M.D., claims that individuals who exercise regularly need antioxidant supplements more than ever. Other scientists -- in an attempt to examine Cooper's largely anecdotal-documented claims -- have conducted scientifically controlled studies, which have produced results that actually refute Cooper's recommendations.

Both sides of the argument tend to agree that relatively large amounts of exercise (e.g., more than five hours per week) will increase the body's production of free radicals (minute reactive chemicals that are produced in response to a cell's natural process of using oxygen for metabolism). In the long run, an excessive level of free radicals, if left unchecked, can cause irreparable harm to the body, including an increased risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants may protect the body's cells from damage. Many noted medical and nutritional experts contend that the best defense against free radical damage is to consume antioxidants -- particularly beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E -- which are chemical compounds either produced by the body or obtained from foods.

Based upon unpublished data gathered at the Cooper Institute, Cooper has been at the forefront of a relatively small group of medical and nutritional experts who advocate taking megadoses of antioxidant supplements on a daily basis. Cooper's detractors (in the matter) point to the results of a recently published six-year study conducted by Finnish physicians to support their contention that antioxidant supplementation may not be all that it's purported to be. Surprisingly, this investigation found that supplements of vitamin E and beta carotene may actually increase, rather than decrease, a smoker's risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

In reality, until more controlled research is conducted on the issue, you should strongly consider taking a middle road between the two extreme positions on antioxidant supplementation. In other words, you should eat as many foods rich in antioxidants as you feel is feasible. Subsequently, if you feel that your diet is not providing you with enough antioxidants, then take an antioxidant supplement -- but only in moderation. Avoid the "more-must-be-better" megadose approach. Taking megadoses of antioxidants (or any other vitamins) is not advocated by most health and nutrition experts, because some vitamins, when taken in megadoses, can be toxic or cause serious adverse side effects, and the long-term effects are largely unknown.



46) What effect, if any, does smoking have on my running performance?

Research has established that smoking impairs an individual’s ability to perform vigorous exercise because of an increased level of carbon monoxide in the blood, a reduced level of lung function, and a decreased level of maximal oxygen uptake. Carbon monoxide primarily affects exercise performance through its strong (i.e., 200 times stronger than that of oxygen) capacity to bind to hemoglobin in the blood, thereby reducing the blood’s capacity to transport oxygen. This factor decreases the delivery of oxygen to the muscles during vigorous exercise, making all effort seem more difficult than normal. At rest, and to a lesser extent during exercise, nicotine from cigarette smoke increases heart rate, blood pressure, and the oxygen demands of the heart. During exercise, nicotine also increases the blood levels of lactic acid—a substance that can cause individuals to feel fatigued when it rises to relatively high levels. In studies conducted on animals, nicotine has been shown to impair high endurance exercise capacity (essential for long duration running or swimming). The resistance to airflow following smoking is increased in the passageways of the lungs, making it more difficult to deliver air and oxygen to the lungs during strenuous exercise. In some individuals, cigarette smoke can trigger asthma-like symptoms, making it virtually impossible to exercise until the symptoms disappear.

In general, most health and fitness experts believe that when compared with nonsmokers, smokers are less fit to start with because of their smoking habit, and then lose more fitness and lung function with the passage of time. Scientists who have compared the fitness of smokers and nonsmokers, for example, report that smokers come out on the short end. In a study of 1,000 relatively young Air Force recruits, Dr. Kenneth Cooper found that the ability to run as far as possible in 12 minutes was inversely related to the number of cigarettes smoked, with those smoking more than 30 cigarettes a day exhibiting the poorest run performance.


47) How do I get six-pack or washboard abs?

The first thing you need to understand is this: we ALL have six-packs! Six-packs aren't 'created' by doing ab exercises...they already exist. Don't believe me? Take a look at Figure 1 (below) for a peek at what your abs really look like.

The reason most of us can't see our abs is because they're covered by a layer of fat. What this means is that:

Doing ab exercises to achieve a six-pack is an impossible goal
The only way to see your six-pack is to reduce your body fat
The best way to reduce your body fat is with cardio, strength training and a healthy, low-calorie diet
This doesn't mean that ab exercises serve no purpose--strong abs support your spine and protect your back. However, keep in mind that your ab workout is just one part of a complete program when it comes to getting a six-pack. For more information on this, keep reading.

48) How do I get rid of that spare tire/lower belly pooch around my abs?

As mentioned previously, ab exercises will NOT GET RID OF FAT. The spot training fallacy assumes that if you have have a layer of fat over your abs, doing crunches will somehow change that when, in reality, they won't do a thing. To lose body fat, you need to burn more calories than you eat with the following:

Regular cardio exercise in your Target Heart Rate Zone.  Beginners, do 2-3 non-consecutive days of cardio (such as walking) for as long as you can.  Increase your cardio by 3-5 minutes each week until you can go continuously for 30 minutes.

Strength training for your entire body 1-3 non-consecutive days a week.  If you're a beginner, try Strength Training for Beginners.  For advanced exercisers, visit my Workout Center for ideas.

A healthy low-calorie diet.  This is by far the most crucial part of your program.  To make it work you need to:

Begin changing bad habits by replacing them, one by one, with healthier choices (fruits and veggies will fill you up and give you nutrients and fiber)

Make small changes every day instead of changing everything at once


FAQ's About Your Abs
Frequency, Reps and Sets

49) How often should I work my abs?

Your abs are no different than the rest of your muscles. You wouldn't work your shoulders every day and, similarly, you shouldn't work your abs every day either. Your body needs recovery time In order to grow stronger and change.

Work your abs 2-3 non-consecutive days a week, taking care to target all your ab muscles:

  • Rectus abdominis - ball crunches are just one way to target this muscle
  • Transverse abdominis - the plank is a great way to strengthen your TVA
  • Internal and external obliques - the bicycle works all your ab muscles!
For more, see my Abs & Back workout or a sample ab routine. Another important note: whenever you work your abs, make sure you work your lower back too.

50) How many sets/reps of ab exercises should I do?

As mentioned above, your ab muscles are just like other muscles in your body. That means you want to do between 10-16 reps of each exercise for 2-3 sets. If you've been doing abs for a while and find that you're not fatigued at the end of each set:

Check Your Form. Don't use momentum or other body parts (like your neck or your hip flexors) to help you.
Go slow! The slower you go, the more your muscles will work.
Challenge yourself with different exercises.
Try dynamic activities such as Pilates to target your abdominals in a whole new way.

51) How do I work my lower abs?

Many people still think their abs are divided into lower and upper sections. This isn't true. Your rectus abdominis is actually one long muscle that travels from your lower chest to your pelvis so any exercise you do works the entire muscle.

That isn't to say that reverse crunches (or other exercises that target the 'lower' abs) are useless. It's a good idea to do a variety of exercises, but don't expect to do 'lower' ab exercises to get rid of a lower belly pooch. Remember--the only way to do that is to reduce your body fat.

52) I've been exercising and dieting, but my belly is still flabby. What gives?

The media leads us to believe that Hollywood has found the secret to lean, flat abs. What you may not know is that for many people, it's not physiologically possible to achieve a flat-stomach. Maybe the genetically gifted folks in Hollywood can do it, but the rest of us probably can't.

The factors that dictate how our bodies look are often out of our control: age, genetics, and gender are just a few factors that decide where we store and lose fat.

Yes, you can exercise and reduce your body fat, but you many never have a flat belly. Take a look at your parents and relatives. Does your mother have a flat belly? Does your father? Did they ever? If not, chances are you won't either.

If your body is genetically incapable of giving you a flat belly, trying to reach that goal is A WASTE OF TIME. Set new, reachable goals instead of worrying about one little imperfection (an imperfection that most of us have!).

53) What are the best exercises for my abs?

Almost any exercise that works your abdominals is effective. However, there is a definitive study that has ranked ab exercises in accordance with how much muscle they activate. According to the study, the number one exercise is the bicycle because it gets every part of your abs--the rectus abdominis, TVA and internal/external obliques. Can't beat that with a stick!

54) Do ab gadgets work?

Short answer: NO! Most of the bizarre contraptions you see on infomercials promise weight loss in a very short amount of time. That is a big fat lie. You don't need special equipment to work your abs.

In a study commissioned by ACE, researchers found no differences in muscle activity for basic crunches, obliques and reverse curls than for exercises done on top-selling ab machines.

Conclusion: Don't waste your money. All you need is yourself and a floor (preferably clean). Need some ideas? Try this ab workout.

Have a question I didn't cover? Email me and, if it's a good one, I'll add it to the list. (Please visit Ab Resources before you contact me--I may have already answered your question there)

55) Can I get rid of cellulite around my butt? What the heck IS cellulite?

Cellulite is fat. Period. Cellulite is simply a term used by scientists to describe that cottage cheesy stuff that you often find on your thighs, butt, and hips. Women typically have cellulite because their adipose tissue is structured differently from men. As we gain weight, our fat cells swell while our connective tissue stays the same, thereby causing that lovely dimpling effect we all love to hate.

So, can you get rid of it? Since cellulite is fat, there are NO MAGICAL SOLUTIONS to get rid of it. If you reduce the SIZE of your fat cells, you can reduce the cottage cheese look. This is best accomplished with diet and exercise (ugh). Note: body wraps, toning lotions, electrical muscle stimulation, herbal remedies and other quick fix solutions you see on TV and in magazines DO NOT WORK! Any effects are temporary, so deal with it.

56) What exercises will get rid of saddlebags?

Saddlebags are just another name for cellulite, flabby butt, etc. Remember that there are no exercises you can do to target the fat around your butt, hips and thighs. As above, you have to reduce overall body fat with diet and exercise. You CAN incorporate strength-training exercises for your legs to help tighten your hips and butt. When you build muscle, you burn more fat all the time since muscle burns more calories than fat.

57) How do I make my butt bigger?

To gain muscle (whether it's on your butt or somewhere else) you have to do two things: eat more calories than you burn and strength train with heavy weights. Keep in mind:

You can't choose where you gain weight. If you start eating more and lifting weights, there's no guarantee your butt will reap the benefits.
The shape of your butt is primarily based on genetics. Take a look at your parents or other relatives and you'll probably notice that you have inherited some of their genes.
Doing lower body exercises (along with upper body training and cardio, of course) and eating more calories than you burn can help you build muscle but your genetics will decide how much your butt can really change.
There isn't a magic exercise that will make your butt change.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't lift weights--lifting makes your muscles strong and firm and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. Some of the best exercises for your butt include squats, deadlifts and lunges, so incorporate those weekly. Check out the top butt exercises.

58) After I started lifting weights, my butt seemed to get bigger? Why?

Many women avoid weights because they think they'll bulk up. First, very few women (and men for that matter) have the capacity to build huge Incredible Hulk-like muscles because they don't have enough testosterone in their bodies to do so. If it seems that you're getting bigger from lifting weights, it may be because you aren't losing body fat even as you're building muscle (see previous question) or it may be your genetics. If you feel your rear is expanding faster than you want, don't stop weight training! You simply want to make sure that you're burning more calories than you eat. This article, How To Lose Weight, explains how.

59) Will stair-climbing or cycling make my butt big?

Plenty of folks out there still think that these activities will enlarge their rears. But, like many myths out there, it simply isn't true. Your body has different muscle fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Fast-twitch muscle fibers (think of bodybuilders) are made to lift heavy weights and grow larger. The slow-twitch fibers (think marathon runners) are made for endurance and can't get very big. Remember that when you do aerobic exercise, you're relying on your slow-twitch muscles so they will NOT get bigger from cardio.