I get asked questions all of the time. Some of these are even fitness and exercise related and as such, I like to note them down so I can write a post like this one. So, you may have already guessed that I will answer some of the many questions I have been asked over the past few months. Don’t be under any illusions though, as these are by no means all of the questions I have been asked. And I may write another article in the future to answer some more.
So, let’s get started with, “3 fitness questions – answered”.
Should you work out on an empty stomach?
This is a great question. It is commonly thought that it is a good thing to train on an empty stomach. This is something called “fasted cardio” and has even found its way into professional sport. I remember 10 years ago listening to a radio interview with a member of a British cycling team, he spoke about how part of his training regime consisted of fasted cardio. He said that this allowed him to burn more fat and maintain his weight.
If professional sports people are using fasted cardio then surely it could only be a good thing?
Well yes and…no.
The thoughts behind fasted cardio are that as the body isn’t digesting anything at that time, its insulin levels are low. This means that burning fat for energy should be easier and the science does seem to back this up.
Another good element of fasted cardio is that it increases blood flow to the abdominal area, something that is difficult to achieve during non-fasted exercise. The up side to this is that it allows the flow of fat burning chemicals to reach the abdomen, hopefully targeting this problem area for fat loss.
So, the not so good. It is widely known that low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS) is only really effective at burning fat during the actual time that you are working out for. It is also really good, especially in a fasted state at breaking down muscle to use as fuel as well. Not great, as this means that the precious muscle that you have worked hard to get is broken down.
To combat this, you should seriously consider a protein supplement either before or during the exercise.
I would also consider the use of High Intensity exercise instead of LISS. High intensity training is shorter in time and also delivers a post exercise fat burning effect of up to 12%.
Fasted cardio definitely can help you burn off more fat than fed cardio.
My opinion is, you should consider carefully whether fasted cardio will benefit you in the long term. Is it worth the potential of losing some of your hard-earned muscle to lose a little bit of extra fat?
To lose fat you must be in a calorie deficit. It’s no more complicated than, you must eat less than you burn off. Don’t be fooled into thinking that fasted cardio will allow you to have that cake at lunch time.
Do women bulk up if they workout with heavy weights?
Again, if I was given a pound every time I was asked this or was told this by someone, I would have at least…. £20 pounds. Not a fortune, granted but enough for a couple of protein bars.
Lets just put this one to bed now, shall we?
The vast majority of women will not suddenly get all massive and bulky once they start to lift weights as part of their exercise.
Women, on the whole just don’t have the hormonal make-up that will allow this. Hell, I have been training for years and I struggle to gain any serious amount of muscle.
I believe that benefits of lifting weights fat out-weigh any argument against it.
Muscle cells burn off more calories than fat cells at rest. Increasing your muscle mass will allow you to burn off more energy during the day.
Muscle takes up 20% less space than fat. Your clothes will start to fit better.
I have found that women who lift weights have a greater confidence. There is nothing like throwing around a barbell to increase the confidence of anyone, let alone women,
Lifting weights has also been shown to increase bone density and fight the process that aging and the menopause has on the female skeletal structure.
Finally, lifting heavy weights promotes fat loss.
Everyone should lift weights. Including women.
Are crunches the best exercise for your core?
Crunches are a really good exercise for part of your core but not the whole thing.
Before I get into this, I think it’s important that we all understand what the core is. When the majority of people speak about the core, they are really talking about the stomach and abdominal muscles. The six pack if you like.
Your core is so much more than that and to only train one type of exercise would be doing it a disservice and also leaving you vulnerable to injury.
I like to think of the core this way. If you were to stand up tall, chop off your head, legs and arms then what you would be left with is the core. Including the rear of the body and there are lots of different layers to the core. Some muscles sit deeper than others.
The core is all about providing stability to the body. This allows you to produce more power as you wouldn’t be able to do this without stability. The core also protects your back when you are static and whilst performing dynamic movements.
The best way to ensure that you have a core that will protect you from injury is by ensuring you train all aspects of it.
In simple terms, I like to make sure that my clients hit the core in various different types of movement.
Contraction exercises. These are exercises like the crunch but also can involve the contraction the muscles of the back and those at the side of the body.
Static exercises. These involve exercises like the plank where you are bracing the muscles, ensuring that they hold your body in a position of stability.
Rotational exercises. As the name suggests, these involve rotating the trunk.
Compound exercises. Exercises such as deadlifts or squats force you to use your core in order to protect your body during the movement.
So, crunches do have their place but you shouldn’t neglect other aspects of your core. You shouldn’t concentrate on building your six-pack in isolation. Your heath could depend on it.
I hope that the answers to these questions help you in some way.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to ask me more questions. All you need to do is comment below or us the contact section in the menu.
I can’t wait to hear from you.
Be all you can be