Workout Routines: Your Top 10 Questions Answered
Lately many of you have been asking a lot of great questions, and these questions complement each other and build on the knowledge of how to train at your best. So I thought I’d do a top 10 questions answered article on workout routines. I hope you find this very helpful and that you can reference it from time to time to really take your workouts to a more advanced level. I will also be writing a top 10 question on diet and nutrition in the near future so please stay tuned for that.
Let’s jump right in, are you ready?
Question 1: How long should I stay on one workout routine?
There are many of you who come into the gym and do the same workout routine day after day…you know who you are!!! The problem with this is that our bodies adapt very quickly to any strain we put on it and results from our exercises begin to slow down. So here is a good rule of thumb. Try and change your workout after 6 weeks. You don’t have to change all the exercises but at least change the intensity.
For example if you have been increasing your weights for your biceps curls and getting to doing a maximum of 3 sets of 35lbs for 8 reps, change this after 6 weeks to doing 3 sets of 12 reps of 25lbs. Or you can even start out heavy and decrease weights in following reps. The key is variety (this actually just gave me a thought, I will write a future article on different types of variety you can add into your workout routines, there are a lot of great methods including supersets, alternating dumbbell with barbell, using push-pull techniques, etc.).
Question 2: When will I begin to see results?
This question is actually not as easy to answer as it seems as there are so many variables. Let me pain the ideal picture for you…
- you are training 3 or 4 times a week,
- you are pushing yourself at each workout or adding some form of variety,
- you are watching your form and making sure you keep your core tight and your shoulders back,
- you have removed most junk food from your diet with an exception of a cheat day or two a week to really enjoy your favorites in moderation,
- you are getting adequate sleep of at least 7 hours a night,
- you are taking rest days with some light cardio sprinkled in,
- you are drinking plenty of water, at least 8 medium sized glasses a day…
With this picture in mind you should be seeing some pretty impressive results within 4 to 6 weeks. If you are not then you are missing one or two of these points. You may want to consult with a personal trainer/dietitian at this stage.
Question 3: Should I do my cardio before my weight training routine or after?
It is always best to do your cardio after your weight training. The reason is that you want to have your maximum strength for lifting the weights. In other words, if you do a 30 minute cardio session beforehand your body will use most of the sugar available in your blood for energy so your weight training will not be at its best. With that said you want to always make sure you get a good 5-10 minute warm-up before you train with weights. Warm muscles means your body will be ready to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
Question 4: How often should I be doing cardio each week?
This obviously depends on your goals. You should make sure your goals are clear and re-assess your goals every 2 months. With that said you may want to be doing 4 days of cardio a week if your goal is to really blast away fat and lose fat weight. If on the other hand your goal is to gain muscle you should aim to have cardio in at least twice a week. This leads to the next question…
Question 5: How long should my cardio training be each session?
This really depends on the intensity. For moderate intensity cardio you can go for 45-60mins. However, for those doing high intensity interval training you can go as low as 15-25 minutes a session (but try not to do more than 2 sessions of HIIT a week as it can place a lot of strain on your recovery system). My recommendation is mix it up a lot depending on how you feel that day. Note: If you’re not sure what HIIT is read my article on high intensity interval training.
Question 6: How do I know what weight to use?
If you are wanting to gain muscle/strength then you should be aiming for 8-10 reps, and if you are wanting to define/tone you should be aiming for 12-14 reps. You know you are using the right weight when that last rep is almost impossible to do. Just remember to keep proper form and have a natural curve in your back at all times.
Question 7: What is the most effective type of training to lose the lower belly fat?
Ok, this is a big one and to be honest it first and most importantly depends on your diet. You can do a thousand situps and 5 days of cardio a week but if you’re not eating healthy then you can still have a lot of fat around your lower abs. I will cover this question with diet in the next article, but let’s say you have a pretty healthy diet full of veggies, fruit, beans, whole grains and lean meats… then high intensity interval training is fantastic for losing lower belly fat. You may also want to reference my very popular article Tone Lower Abs Workout.
Question 8: Is it more effective to do cardio in the morning on an empty stomach?
This is a pretty controversial topic as there have been quite a few arguments/studies on both sides. Some have shown that your body burns more fat since your blood sugar levels are low. Others have pointed out that your body will also break down muscle for energy in this case and exercising after fasting during your sleep can be dangerous and make you extremely light headed. Personally I beleive that it’s always best to fuel your body first thing in the morning. If you are not hungry that means you ate too late the night before so adjust your eating patterns appropriately, but I want to make sure my muscles have nutrients delivered to them as soon as I wake up.
Question 9: Is it enough to work out one body part per week?
It’s a common misconception that workouts that only include one body part per week will not be effective…if you look at bodybuilder’s routines they typically workout one body part a week. The thing is you use a number of your muscles with every exercise. For instance when doing pushups you actually also work your triceps, back, biceps and core. Sure the secondary muscles are not the focus, but all these muscles come into play.
Question 10: What’s the best way to prevent sore muscles after a workout?
This is a good one because if you’re training intense enough you should be at least a little sore the next day. The first and most important answer is making sure you get adequate sleep of 7-8 hours per night. Sleep is when our muscles are repairing themselves so it is absolutely essential to recovery. Tip: you may want to reduce or eliminate caffeine intake to help improve your sleep.
The second answer is flexibility training after your weigh training routine. Most people leave the gym as soon as their workout is over…big mistake! It almost kills all that effort you put in if you are not stretching and relaxing those muscles post-workout. Aim for holding stretches 30 seconds at a time and leaving 10-15 minutes at the end of your workout for this flexibility training.
The third answer is nutrition. I will be covering this answer in further detail when I write up the Top 10 Questions for Diet/Nutrition, but you may want to take a read at my article Muscle Recovery in the meantime.
Have any other burning questions you’d like answered? Leave a comment below and if there are enough I will create a second part to this article…