Be honest – there’s a workout question you’ve been dying to ask! Whether you’re a gym newbie or a fitness fanatic, we’ve tapped the top trainers for their need-to-know facts
Comfort food, chocolates, DVD marathons – there’s a reason why we all feel a little wider after winter. Festive fat gain sends hordes of us heading to the gym, but don’t feel silly if you don’t know how to lose weight. PTs often get asked how to shed fat fast. “It’s a matter of combining strength with cardio and then keeping your nutrition on point,” reveals Josiah Hunte, personal trainer at Josiah Hunte Fitness. “I tell clients to alter their diet so that it helps them gain muscle – stick with lean fish or white meat, complex carbs, good fats and plenty of veg. Drop sugar, starchy foods, milk and cheese. Try a mix of sprints and weight training three to five times a week. I recommend four rounds of 400m sprints followed by moves like the clean and press, seated pull-ups and dumbbell press-ups.”
We all want to have an uber-toned tum but exercise alone won’t achieve this effect. For abs that are worth showing off, Kate Maxey, personal trainer for Adidas, has the following advice: “Lift heavy weights in the gym – the more resistance work you do the longer your body will burn fat post-workout. It’s also worth rotating the body because we spend so much time operating in the backwards and forwards plane of movement. Try rotational exercises [such as wood chops or Russian twists]. Ditch the sugar – this will reduce visceral fat around the abdominal area. And finally, de-stress. High cortisol levels can encourage the build-up of abdominal fat due to the stomach area having more cortisol receptors than anywhere else in the body. Take up yoga or meditation to lower levels of the fat-storing hormone.”
Take note – stress isn’t good for your waistline. Yoga is the perfect way to de-stress and get strong, but can you really whittle your waistline doing the ancient poses? Yes, you can. “Yoga has been criticised for not being an efficient weight loss technique but that’s because people are measuring calories burned and not considering the overall health benefits,” says Michele Panetta, owner of Fierce Grace. “It calms the mind, reduces stress and therefore reduces appetite. Plus, a typically strenuous yoga class could see someone burning anywhere between 400-600 calories per hour.” Time to hit the studio?
Conundrum – you want arms like Cameron Diaz but fear that lifting weights will make you look as muscular as Arnie. A fear of bulking up steers many women away from the weights room, which is a mistake. “Women have a different hormone profile to men and, generally, cannot gain enough lean mass to look what many consider to be ‘too big’,” explains Bio-Synergy fitness model and personal trainer Lawrie Gormley. “There are so many positives to weight training – the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be, and this converts to greater fat loss. Don’t fear the dumbbells – they could change your whole outlook on exercise and bring a new element of variety to your training programme.”
You’ve been hitting the gym hard since January 1st and now your body feels like it’s gone a few rounds with Ronda Rousey. We hear you! If you’re new to exercise or haven’t done a particular type of activity for some time, it’s likely that your muscles will feel a little (translate: very) sore. This is not necessarily a bad thing – it’s due to micro tears to the muscle fibres, which lead to muscle repair and growth.
Fortunately, experts know how to minimise the pain. “Start each session with a slow build-up,” says Toby Garbett, Olympian and double-world champion. “Evidence shows that a dynamic warm-up is better than static stretching for preventing injuries and soreness. For immediate management of sore muscles, I also apply a cooling spray like Deep Freeze Pain Relief Cold Spray to the area after exercise. This will help reduce inflammation and therefore decrease the chance of muscle injury, not to mention speed up the recovery process. Heat will also increase blood flow to the area, providing oxygen and nutrients to the muscle, which will aid the healing process.”
One of the most common excuses personal trainers get for people skipping the gym is a ‘lack of time’. But here’s the thing – you don’t need oodles of hours to reap great workout results. So how many times a week should you be exercising? “As a beginner, you should be looking to exercise around three times a week,” says Carly Siaperas, owner of FlexPT studio (flexpt.co.uk). “To make the most of your time, ensure that each workout hits all areas of the body.” A good way to do this is with compound exercises that work multiple muscles at once, such as squats, deadlifts and presses. “As you become more advanced, you might want to split up your routine so that you’re working different muscle groups on each day,” adds Carly. “A basic routine might include working the chest and tricep muscles on Monday, back and bicep muscles on Wednesday, and legs and shoulders on Friday. If you’re even more advanced, you may repeat this routine twice a week with one day off.” Simple.
Svelte arms that look great in tank tops are one of the most coveted body parts for women today, but just how do you eliminate arm flab? One word: boxing. “Boxing is growing in popularity and for good reason – it’s the perfect combination of cardiovascular and strength training,” says Tameka Small, fitness expert for the Balance Festival. “Any form of interval training will get your heart rate up, which will send your body into that fat-burning zone. And, although you can’t spot train to shed fat from a particular area, you can support weight loss by building arm and shoulder muscle definition. Some of my favourite exercises for toning the arms are plank walk-outs, press-ups and kettlebell moves, such as kettlebell rows and military presses.”