Lots of times when meeting new people and telling them what I do for a living, as in personal training, I get some random common questions. It makes sense to me, they are the general public and I am the fitness expert and they just want to know what I believe and what I think about certain issues, concerns or advice. I am always happy to be of service and share my 2 cents worth of knowledge knowing that my answer will hopefully help them in some way. Here are my answers to some of these common questions and maybe it helps you out.
What’s your belief on stretching? Should it be done before or after exercise?
Stretching is a great way to loosen up the body, lengthen those muscles and it just feels good to stretch it on out. Stretching before a workout is not the optimal way to go for pure performance enhancing workouts. If you stretch before your workout, you are just lengthening the muscle excessively before you are going to put into action with contraction after contraction. Think of your muscles as a rubber band, which they are, now in order to shoot that rubber band as far as you can, would you stretch it out as far as it can go and hold it there for 30 seconds before hand? No? Why not? Maybe because it is going to lose some of the elastic properties it had. Same thing applies for your muscles and body. Stretch after your workout as part of your cool down when your muscles are fatigued, tired and warm.
Is it better to do cardio before or after strength training?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If I say the chicken, some other trainer will tell you the egg. This is one of those never ending topics which will always be debatable but without further ado I will give you my reasoning why it is better to do cardio after strength training. Your muscles use fuel for every action you do whether it be long distance cardio training, sprinting or heavy strength training and think of this fuel as a limited supply. If you use up to much of your fuel doing cardio than you will have very little left for weights. From everything I have read and to my own personal experiences and beliefs, everyone is better off doing weight training first so they have an optimal amount of fuel for such heavy lifting and exercising. If you must perform cardio think about performing it after your weight session and think of it as tapping into your fuel reserves. I personally am not a fan of long distance cardio, I absolutely loathe it. Very rarely will you find me on any piece of cardio machine for longer than 5 minutes. I like to go hard with sprint intervals, tabata training and high intensity circuits for the best bang for your buck. In my opinion the best forms of cardio exercise are sprinting and walking outside with everything else being complementary.
What is the best way to warm-up?
The best ways to start your training session begins with a long cylinder piece of foam called a foam roller. Foam rolling is essential to success for any great training program. Foam rolling increases blood flow to your muscles, reduces muscle soreness, erases or minimizes trigger points and prepares your muscles for action. Remember the your muscles are rubber bands analogy I had early? Now, imagine that rubber band is tied into several knots inhibiting the band from contracting and stretching to its greatest of lengths. The foam roller is simply rolling over that knot and slowly(and sometimes painfully) reducing the size of it to get the muscle back to its proper working condition. After foam rolling, it is best to start from the ground since you are already there and work on core and glute activation. Hip bridges, clams, reverse clams, bird dogs, planks and side planks are all great to perform in the warm up. Moving up to your feet I like to work from the ground up with mini band walks, squats with the mini band, lunges in all direction (front, side, transverse) and 1 leg squats. Working my way up to the upper body with some shoulder work like T’s, Y’s and W’s, push ups and TRX rows. I like to throw in some rotational work such as chops and lifts and maybe some kettlebell swings and I am ready to go. Remember your workout is your warm up and your warm up is your workout.
What do you think about Crossfit?
Hmm kind of a touchy subject in the trainer world. One of the few things I like about Crossfit is that it gets people moving, off the couch, fired up about exercise and brings exercise more into the main stream which is good. I think it is both good and bad that it has a cult following and if only all exercise programs had such a following. Now let’s get into the bad, Crossfit is not for everyone. It is hard, intense and insane. If you are a weekend warrior or someone who is getting off the couch to start exercising, you are going to get hurt. I think the injury rate is to high and you start to see more and more people hurt. I think the workouts are too intense and are not progressive enough for the beginners. I think the volume of work is to high and the rep ranges ridiculously high. I think the Olympic style lifts should not be performed under heavy load, for time as fast as you can. You are just asking for injury. The clean, jerk and snatch does not need to be done as fast as you can for 10, 20 or 30 reps at a time because as the numbers go up, the form breaks down dramatically. Look at the olympic lifts in the Olympics, they perform only 1 rep with the best form they can. I think the body is not meant to go that hard day in and day out with infrequent and sporadic rest days. I think anything done to an extreme is bad news and bad for the body any way you shake it. I think you do not have to go beast mode and be curled up on the floor or on your back after every workout in order for exercise to be effective. I think the guys look pretty studly but the girls are a little bit to masculine for my taste. Any girl more ripped than me is not attractive in my book. And lastly I think exercise is just a tool to get us a better quality of life, move better, perform on the field or court better and makes us overall happier people. The key is move well and to move often and not be the best at exercising.
Are those shoes comfortable? (When I am see in public wearing any of my pairs of vibrams)
Not trying to be a smart ass but, would I wear them in they weren’t? What do you want me to say ” No they hurt like heck but they look cool and do nothing for my feet.’ Yes they are very comfortable and they are the closest thing to being barefoot without being barefoot. I love how minimal and versatile they are and how natural they feel. I wear them everyday whether it be at the park, at work or just around town. In fact I love them so much, I even have a pair for like 5 years now and they have been sewn and stitched together several times and are due for another round and should really be thrown away but I just can not bring myself to do it. They are that comfortable and that much a part of me.
What is the best exercise to get rid of (_________)? Or to tone (________)?
There is no such thing as spot training. Zero. It does not exist. If you think doing thousands of sit ups everyday will get you 6 pack abs well then you are going to be left with a sore back and a lot of wasted time. Your body is a whole complete system and package and needs to be exercised in it’s entirety to get the body you so desire. You need to work out all the muscles of your body, especially the big prime movers (lats, pecs, quads, hamstrings and glutes) in addition to the body part your want to work on. How often do you see a overweight guy with six pack abs because he just does crunches? Never. More often you will see a ripped guy with a ripped six pack. You ever heard the line “Abs are made in the kitchen”? Well it is true because 80% of you body fat and weight loss comes from what you put into your mouth. If you want the coveted six pack you need to work on what foods you are eating. You can not out train a bad diet. If you are killing it at the gym but still eating like crap than you are just spinning your wheels my friend. Work out smart and hard, do cardio with intensity and try eating as much minimally processed foods as you can, they more natural the better.
Well, I hope this sheds some insight into some of the common questions of a trainer and if any of you have any questions you would like to receive answers to do not hesitate to give me an email and I will get back to you. Have a wonderful day and keep those question firing.