Aaron Savvy, ACSM Certified Trainer
Should I workout on an empty stomach? —John, Long Beach
You want to allow at least 45-60 minutes after eating before working out. I would go easy on the consumption of what you eat and stay on the light side. If it’s first thing in the morning, it’s okay to wait until after your workout to eat. After your workout, you want to make sure that your meal consists of both protein and a carbohydrate. The protein and carbohydrates will assist in fueling both your muscles and help replenish your energy level.
When I am working out, I see a lot of guys lifting the weights fast. Is that OK? —Dave, Hlywd
You want to be in control of the weight and the reps you are performing. When you do so, you are able to feel the contraction more instead of just going through the motion. With that said, if you are on the last set of your exercise and you want to go to failure, then yes, I would lower the weight and perform faster repetitions (pumps) until you cannot perform anymore. That will maximize your exercise by forcing and delivering the blood to your muscle much faster, giving you one hell of a pump.
I want to perform a pull-up, but do not have the arm or upper body strength to do so. Any suggestions? —Ryan, Palm Springs
When you break it down, you want to make sure you work each muscle group evenly. Doing so will ensure all-around strength, with the added plus of performing a pull-up. Because you’re a little premature on doing a pull-up solo, I suggest going with the assisted pull-up machine. You will be able to add the needed weight to help assist you through your exercise. As you get stronger, you will be able to reduce the weight and eventually do away with the assist. As far as form goes, I would grab the bar shoulder width, lean back and look up toward the ceiling. Exhale as you pull yourself up. This positioning will focus on both your back and arm strength. To bring attention to your chest, same hand position, but stand straight and look forward.
I can’t seem to motivate myself to go to the gym. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? —Scott, San Diego
I think we all experience this one! We know we want the physical change; it’s just creating the oomph in getting started. I want you to write down all the reasons why you want to workout. By you writing it down on paper, you are reinforcing your thought process as well as creating a visual for yourself. I want you to then read your reasons out loud to yourself. You are basically giving yourself a verbal pep talk. Tell yourself: How great am I going to feel by working out? I’m tired of looking and feeling the way I do! I want change—and that change starts today! I want you to visualize this and reinforce it with either a picture, a song, something that will get you moving again! If your body breaks down, how will you be able to support yourself, or better yet, your family? It’s comforting to know that you are not alone on this one. Many people struggle to find the time or try to brace the mental aspect of trying to establish a healthier lifestyle.
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