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Frequently Asked Questions



  1. FAT: How is it measured?
  2. How to get a washboard stomach? or How can I get rid of the FAT around my ANY BODY PART?
  3. What should my heart rate be to lose FAT?
  4. How long should I work out to burn FAT?
  5. What are the best ways to lose weight?
  6. What are the best ways to gain weight?
  7. What is aerobic exercise?
  8. What is anaerobic exercise?
  9. What things should I know before starting a training program?
  10. What's a warm-up and cool-down?
  11. What's a suggested beginner weight routine?
  12. How to get over a plateau?
  13. Should I train a muscle if it's sore?
  14. Will aerobics hurt growth?
  15. Do I count the weight of the bar?
  16. How should I breathe while lifting?
  17. Should I use a lifting belt?
  18. Should I eat before or after training?
  19. What's the best exercise to do and when is the best time to workout?
  20. Shin splints: what is it and how to get rid of them.
  21. Will muscle turn into FAT?
  22. I don't want to be HUGE. Should I still lift weights?
  23. If I'm doing both aerobic exercise and weight training, which one should be done first?

1. FAT: How is it measured?

Body Fat (BF) is usually given as a percentage of total weight. If a 100lb person has 10% body FAT, that person has 10lbs of FAT and 90 pounds of lean body mass (LBM) (water, muscle, bone, etc.). There are 3500 calories in 1 pound of fat.

Body fat is usually tested in 4 different ways.

  • Hydrostatic weighing (Immersion): Weight is taken while under the water and it is used to find your %BF.
    • Pros: Thought to be the most reliable.
    • Cons: A lot of equipment is needed, usually found at most Universities. Time consuming and sort of a hassle. What you eat the day before, or before the test, can affect the accuracy.
  • Infrared: Infrared light is used to determine your body fat.
    • Pros: Fast.
    • Cons: Not very reliable.
  • Impedance: The %BF is calculated by measuring the impedance between certain areas of the body, usually between the fingers and the toes.
    • Pros: Fast.
    • Cons: Not very reliable.
  • Pinch test: Calipers are used to measure skin fold thickness.
    • Pros: Thought to be very reliable. The more places tested the more accurate the results. Most gyms have a caliper.
    • Cons: May be embarrassing to have someone pinch your FAT. If the person is inexperienced the results may be very inaccurate.

For men < 15% is considered athletic, 25 being about average. For women < 22% is considered athletic, 30 being about average.

2. How to get a washboard stomach? or How can I get rid of the FAT around my any body part?

You can't spot reduce! Men generally store FAT around their waist, while women generally keep it around their hips. There is no exercise, magical cream (yet), plastic wrap procedure, or anything else other than liposuction, that will remove FAT from a certain area. That's usually the first place it builds up and it's the last place it will depart.

The best way to get and keep a washboard stomach, or shapely hips, is by following a low FAT diet and doing plenty of aerobics. Crunches, or side leg raises, while strengthening and building the muscles, will not make them appear through the layer of FAT between them and the skin. Get rid of the FAT and the abs will should show up and/or the hips will become firm and trim.

3. What should my heart rate be to lose FAT?

Heart Rate (HR) is the number of times the heart beats per minute. This is usually taken by pressing on the front, left side of the neck, or the inner wrist, and counting the number of beats in a certain time. i.e. If you counted 10 beats, starting at zero, in 10 seconds your HR would be 60 (10*60 sec(1min)/10). When doing an aerobic work out your Max Heart Rate (MHR) needs to be determined. Your MHR is defined as 220-Your Age. A 20-Year olds MHR would be 200, while a 50-Year olds would be 170. While performing aerobic exercise your HR should stay in the range of MHR*.50 to MHR*.80. This is your Training Zone. So a 20-year old should keep their HR between 100 and 160. Keeping the HR above this zone will not provide additional aerobic benefit, in fact, it may provide no aerobic benefit at all. For best results, aerobic and FAT burning, keep your HR in the aerobic zone for at least 12 minutes. The longer and more frequently you do this the more improvement you'll see.

4. How long should I work out to burn FAT?

An aerobic work out should last at least 12 minutes, not counting warm up or cool down, only the amount of time your HR is within your Training Zone. The longer and more frequently you do this the sooner you'll see an improvement (Less Fat..).

Why 12 minutes?

This is the amount of time needed for the body to start producing FAT burning enzymes. It does level off, but the idea is that you want to get your body to use FAT for energy. After 12 minutes you start to burn fat at a higher rate.

5. What are the best ways to lose weight?

Don't be so concerned about how much you weigh. Instead be concerned about how much of that weight is FAT. You want the weight loss to be caused by losing FAT, not muscle or water.

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. To do it efficiently and to make sure it stays off the following three steps should be taken and should become part of your every day life.

  • Start an aerobic program. The activity should be something that you like doing, and look forward to doing. The activity doesn't need to be an aerobics class. Instead it could be walking, biking, inline/ice skating, dancing, etc. Anything that will elevate your HR and keep it around your Training Zone for at least 12 minutes. Remember, the longer the better.
  • Modify what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, chicken, rice, potatoes, etc. Simply switching the obvious foods will make a big difference, such as, skim instead of whole milk, chicken instead of hamburger, bagels instead of croissants, etc. Also eating small meals more frequently during the day will raise your metabolism and keep you from getting that "I'm starving" feeling.
  • Resistance Training: To build muscle that will, in turn, help burn calories throughout the day. A simple weight program where you slowly add weight and perform basic exercises every other day, such as, Squats, Bench Press, Pull-downs, and Military Presses are enough for most people.

6. What are the best ways to gain weight?

To gain weight you need to consume more calories than you burn up. To do it efficiently, and to make the weight muscle, not FAT, you'll need to start a weight training program. You want the weight to be muscle, not FAT. To do this you'll need to slowly increase your caloric intake, usually by eating another meal during the day or by using a weight gain supplement. Make sure the food is protein and carbohydrates and not FAT. Give it time. 10-15 pounds of muscle in a year is pretty good.

7. What is aerobic exercise?

Aerobic means oxygen. Your muscles are working in an oxygen rich state. After 12 minutes it causes your body to produce FAT-burning enzymes.

An aerobic exercise is one that fits the following four requirements:

  1. Is steady, nonstop.
  2. Lasts twelve minutes minimum.
  3. Has a comfortable pace.
  4. Uses the muscles of the lower body.

An easy way to measure if your training too hard/fast is a simple talk test. If you can't carry on a conversation without huffing and puffing for breath you need to slow down. If you can carry on a conversation without stopping every now and then for a breath then you need to go a little faster. You have to be doing some work. Your heart rate and your breathing needs to be elevated.

Examples: walking/running, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, dancing.

8. What is anaerobic exercise?

Anaerobic means lack of oxygen. Your muscles are working in an oxygen deprived state. This causes your body to produce sugar-burning enzymes. You are expending energy faster than your body can replace it by metabolizing oxygen.

An anaerobic exercise is any activity that fails to meet the above 4 requirements. An aerobic activity can become anaerobic if the heart rate is elevated above the training zone for a long period of time. Any start/stop activities would qualify.

Examples: tennis, football, sprinting, skiing, weight training.

9. What things should I know before starting a training program?

A person beginning a training program needs to realize a few things before they begin. First, changes don't happen overnight. You have to think about where you want to be a year or two from now and slowly achieve minor goals. Putting on muscle, or taking off FAT should be done slowly and correctly for best results. Second, if you want to become more healthy you'll probably need to alter your lifestyle for your lifetime. Many people take up aerobics or weight training, lose/gain a few pounds and quit. Months later they're back where they were. Third, you need to be informed. There are plenty of books and magazines to help get you started. Ask a lot of questions and experiment with different exercises and/or activities. Last, not everyone has the genetics to have 20" arms or to run a sub 4 minute mile. Don't get discouraged about what you don't have. Improve on what you do have.

10. What's a warm-up and cool-down?

A warm-up is an activity that gets your muscles "warmed up". Usually a 5 minute bike ride at a steady comfortable pace, or a brisk 5 minute walk, is enough. Most people like to go until they "break a sweat". A cool-down is just the opposite. You want to gradually slow the body down. This is usually done by biking/walking at a fairly fast pace and gradually slowing down over a few minutes. Stretching also makes up a part of the cool down.

11. What's a suggested beginner weight routine?

Beginners, as well as advanced, should stick to the basic exercises. Basic is not meant as -beginner- but as an exercise that uses a lot of muscles. Rest is very important. During the actual weight training the muscle is broken down, it grows/rebuilds while it's resting, usually taking 48-96 hours. So a program should also have "days off". A beginner should also exercise the whole body. Beginners also need to find the correct weight to use. Generally the weight should be heavy enough so you can do 10 reps, with the last couple being pretty tough. If you can do 11 then raise the weight slightly. You should keep a log and write down the sets and poundage's you used. Slowly up the weight when you can do at least 10 reps (work set). Don't get all wrapped up in how much weight you can do. Focus on good form and think about that muscle doing the work. Weight and strength will come with time. Okay, here's a basic beginner exercise program, it is by no means "the" only program, it's just meant as a guideline:

Done every other day, then 2 days off. (typically M-W-F, weekend off)
Warm-up: 5-10 minutes
Squats: 2 sets of progressive warm-ups. 1 work set
Deadlifts: 2 sets of progressive warm-ups. 1 work set
Bench Press: 2 sets of progressive warm-ups. 1 work set
Pull-ups/downs: 2 sets of progressive warm-ups. 1 work set
Abs
Cool down & stretching: 5-10 minutes.

12. How to get over a plateau?

Plateaus are when you become "stuck" at lifting a certain weight for weeks and you can't seem to get past it. Here are a few ways to get through a plateau.

  • Take a week off. Give your body a chance to rest.
  • Cycle your training and change your exercises.
  • Work on the "weak link". i.e. Your triceps could limit your bench.
  • Shock the muscles.
    • Stripping (explained in other parts of the FAQ)
    • Negatives (explained in other parts of the FAQ)
    • 10 sets of 10 using a light weight.
  • Have your training partner put on the weights using a lot of 10-lbs and 5-lbs so you don't know what you're lifting just by glancing at the weights. It should be around your normal weight. It might be because of a mental block.

13. Should I train a muscle if it's sore?

No. If your legs are sore from squatting and today is bench day, that's okay. But if your legs are still sore from the last leg work out, take at least another day off. Rest is when the muscle grows.

14. Will aerobics hurt growth?

Yes. If you're training for maximum muscle mass, aerobics will slow down muscle growth.

15. Do I count the weight of the bar?

Yes. Normal Olympic barbells are 45 pounds. EZ-Curl bars are around 20. It's for your own purposes, so you don't have to, but when you start talking weights you should know that most people include the weight of the bar. In some cases, such as, Leg Press or various other machines, just record the weight you add. Be careful when going to other gyms, their platform/sled may weigh a lot more than yours.

16. How should I breath while lifting?

Usually exhale on the contraction of the muscle. It's the part of the exercise that occurs when you're working against gravity.

17. Should I use a lifting belt?

In most cases a lifting belt is not needed. Using a belt all the time actually weakens the abdominal muscles and the lower back, by making them work less. Weight belts are suggested when doing max squats or heavy lifting above the head.

18. Should I eat before or after training?

When training you should work out on an empty stomach, or close to it. You want the blood to be available for your muscles, not tied up digesting food. You want to eat within 90 minutes after a work out.

19. What's the best exercise to do and when is the best time to workout?

The best exercise to do is whatever exercise you enjoy. Most people like variety and will run one day and play basketball the next day. Find an activity that you enjoy and stick with it.

The best time to work out is, again, whatever time of day you like. Some people are morning people and they usually have no problem with going to the gym at 0600, others like to workout at night. What time of day you workout isn't important, what's important is how you're working out and if you're getting enough nutrients and rest.

20. Shin splints: What is it and what to do if you have it?

Shin splints is a condition that can result from muscle imbalance. They are characterized by generalized pain in front of the lower leg and are particularly common in runners and running backs.... The most common cause is a muscle imbalance where the calf muscles--which pull the forefoot down--overpower the shin muscles--which pull the forefoot up. As the athlete continues to train, the calf muscle usually becomes proportionately much stronger than the shin muscles.

The treatment for shin splints is to strengthen the weaker muscles (shins) and stretch the stronger muscles (calves).

To strengthen the shins, run up stairs. To stretch the calves,...(do stretching exercises for the calves, et. the wall push-ups).

  • While recovering from shin splints, it may help to use a wedge in the heel of your shoes. By raising the heel, you are reducing the pull on the muscles and tendons on the front.
  • Run on different terrain, preferably grass. It'll absorb the shock.

    21. Will muscle turn into FAT?

    No! They are two different things. Will an apple turn into an orange? The muscle, if not used, will become smaller and FAT deposits may appear over and within the muscle, but the muscle doesn't change into FAT.

    22. I don't want to look like a bodybuilder. Should I still lift weights?

    YES! For most people, adding muscle is very difficult. Hard work, eating right, and having the right genetics are all needed to get the bodybuilder look. It also takes years, and most often a lot of steroids, to put on the kind of mass that you see in magazines. If you find yourself getting more muscle than you'd like, then you can stop training and they will shrink, due to lack of work. You can use weights, or progressive resistance, to make you stronger, faster and more explosive, as well as making yourself look the way you want. If you want bigger arms it's possible to train your arms and they'll become larger. Looking like a bodybuilder takes extreme determination and the right gene pool, it isn't something that "just happens". It is also important to note that most athletes use weights to improve their strength and their performance, and don't end up looking like a bodybuilder, even though they train very hard.

    23. If I'm doing both aerobic exercise and weight training, which one should be done first?

    If you want to add muscle and lose FAT during the same workout you should do the weight training first. Why? First of all you'll have more energy, which usually results in a more productive weight training workout. Second, there is a time span of about 60 minutes, after starting the workout, where Growth Hormone levels are slightly higher than normal. You want to take advantage of that by making the workout not last more than 60 minutes. Weight training first may hamper the aerobic exercise because your tired, but you raise your chances of building muscle, which will burn more FAT in the long run. A better way would be to do them on different days and allowing yourself adequate rest between weight training sessions.





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