5 Most Asked Fitness Questions
By Kelly Marshall BSc (Hons), Dip PT, NASM, SFS, IFS
It would be no under-estimate to say that 85% of the people I come across are mainly concerned with losing weight. So it is not surprising, that in all my experience, the questions that I get asked most frequently are centred on the area of weight loss. Here are the top 5 questions that I get asked most regularly and my answers to them!
1) How long before I see results?
Possibly the most asked question ever and the least straightforward to answer! The time taken to see a result depends on a combination of MANY things including, frequency and duration of exercise; the quality of the exercise done; familiarity with exercise (an absolute beginner will see/feel improvements sooner than those who are already exercising or who have exercised previously); stress levels (stress affects the bodies ability to adapt and recover that can slow improvements); quality and quantity of nutrition; sleep patterns (this also affects recovery and improvements) and the balance between calories consumed and calories burned.
It is worth considering that within the first 4-6 weeks of strength training, the majority of the changes are internal, in terms of nervous system recruitment and muscle fibre activation. So, during this period you need to be patient, as strength improvements will occur quickly but visual improvements take a little bit more time. This is why consistency and long-term commitment is crucial to getting real results.
2) Can I turn fat into muscle?
This is a popular myth that survives because as muscle tone increases with exercise, body fat generally-speaking, tends to reduce alongside, assuming a healthy, calorie-controlled eating plan. However, physiologically, it is simply not possible for one to turn in to the other.
3) Can I shift fat from specific areas like my stomach?
It never fails to amaze me how many people I meet who do 100's of sit-ups in a bid to reduce the size of their waist. Unfortunately, research shows us that fat reduction comes down to burning enough calories each day and we don't get an option in which fat stores the body decides to take from. Doing crunches will strengthen and tone those abdominals but being able to see that tone comes down to nutrition and a daily calorie deficit through the combination of good nutrition and exercise.
4) Will using weights make me have big muscles?
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! Too often, individuals, (women especially), avoid strength training altogether or stick with light weights through a fear of developing big muscles. However, this myth means that a lot of people are short-changing their ability to burn body fat because they aren't developing valuable muscle tone, which increases your metabolic rate and makes you an effective fat-burning machine. To achieve lean muscle tissue and tone, aim to use weights (machine or free weights) that allow you to do 15 repetitions a set. Your technique should be controlled throughout the 15 reps but if you get to number 15 and could do more reps, then the weight is too light! Make sure that 15 reps is the maximum you can manage because if you don't overload the muscle you can't improve the tone. Pushing yourself and going to failure = more calories burned and improved muscle tone, not increased size!
5) Is it true that muscle weighs more than fat?
Yes, it is! Often we use bodyweight in lbs/kgs as an indicator of whether we are healthy or the right weight but this isn't always accurate! Going by bodyweight alone doesn't differentiate between how much of that weight is lean tissue and how much is adipose (fat) tissue. Often individuals, who exercise regularly and incorporate strength training, have the recommended body fat % even though on a set of scales their weight could be interpreted by some as something that needed to be reduced. It is for this reason that it is recommended that 'weighing' isn't the only measure of success and individuals consider how items of clothing (i.e. a favourite pair of jeans), feel as well as energy and fitness levels.