Questions for the trainers have been pouring in lately, and this month, Steve Lopes takes on a few of them.
An ex-Marine, Steve once competed on a national level for the Caribbean island of St. Kitts as a Power Lifter and Bodybuilder. He moved to Rochester in 2003, and became a full-time Personal Trainer. With the club since 2006, “Sergeant” Steve teaches two early-morning Boot Camp classes per week and runs S.E.A.L. Training with Bruce Hedlund.
His favorite part of his job is the significant role and impact he has in his clients’ lives.
Reader Question: I made a New Year’s resolution to finally lose about 30 pounds. I started the year off by going to the club almost every day. I’m already slacking off. How do I stay motivated?
Steve: This is very common because people tend to set expectations a little high when making goals. In order to prevent the loss of motivation, you should set realistic expectations. For example: if you have never done cardio and decide that you are going to do a half hour of cardio every day, if you miss a day or two you might thing, “Well, I’ve already failed at my goal so why bother?”
A better goal in this case would be 3 days a week for 15-20mins. Once you add this short duration to your current workout, it may have the opposite effect, for example “Well, I’m already here, and it doesn’t feel so bad, I can do more.”
Reader Question: What’s the best group exercise class to take to improve the overall look of my body? I am a slender woman in my 50s, but I want to tone up as much as Mother Nature will allow. The schedule can be a bit overwhelming.
Steve: There are some factors to consider here. First, what type of exercise do you do regularly? Do you play tennis? Do resistance training? Cardio only? Only classes? All of the above? For example, if you only play tennis, then a Group Power class might be a good investment of your time, because of the amount of stress on your joints from the sometimes explosive movement and unpredictable ball direction.
As a woman in your 50s, you are going to need your connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) to be strong and you’ll need to maintain a certain amount of muscle mass to protect your joints. If you do resistance training and yoga, then a spinning class, step class, zumba, and a core class could be good choices, so that you can build your cardio and core strength to help compliment and support your overall fitness level.
And if you are a tennis player who does yoga, does cardio and resistance training, and you just want to take an additional class, then a bootcamp class could be the way to go because it will tie it all together.
Reader Question: I’ve seen other members moving very fast on the elliptical machines and the Arc Trainers, but I tend to increase my resistance and take it slower. Which is better if my goal is to stay in shape (and not get in shape)?
Variety is key. Challenge yourself with intensity and time. Use higher resistance for longer and shorter durations. If you want to move fast, try and be aware of when your body is moving because you are moving it versus when you have built up so much momentum that your body is just going through the motions. Use lower resistance with a slow movement and total focus on muscle contraction through the whole cycle of movement.
Have you ever tried to use the elliptical at a medium incline of around 6 and a resistance of 5 or 6 and tried to not use any momentum and total muscle focus? It’s pretty challenging. I would also recommend using more than one machine during a cardio workout; it will be more interesting and effective in challenging your body’s ability to adapt to different types of cardiovascular requirements.
Also, don’t be afraid of getting off the machine and spicing up a 30-minute bike or elliptical session with 1 minute of jumping rope for every 5 minutes on the machine.
Reader Question: Is tennis a good workout? My doubles partner says yes, but I don’t have the same feeling after a match that I do after a good run on the treadmill.
It really depends on the person and his/her athletic ability. If you have good hand/eye coordination, are light on your feet, and can move quickly while having good ball placement/judgement, then it may feel like less work for you.
If you want to try and increase your workout on the court, try running on the treadmill before your match for whatever may be a challenge to you (time or distance), and when you get on the court, keep moving. Don’t stand still. Bounce around a little and keep in constant motion. Not only will this increase your readiness and increase the amount of exercise you are getting, it may also rattle your opponents.
Reader Question: What do personal trainers eat for breakfast?
Well, we are people too, so we eat a variety of things. Cereal, oatmeal, fruits, sandwiches, eggs, protein shakes, bagels w/ peanut butter and/or cream cheese, and yogurt with nuts. The list is long.
Depending on our day ahead, food allergies, time between appointments, and personal goals, we believe in setting the proper examples while also enjoying some treats from time to time. Two of my early morning favorites, which are quick and easy to make at 4am are:
1/3 cup of dry oatmeal
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
One scoop of protein powder
Mix together nad enjoy.
4 egg whites
1/3 cup of oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of splenda
Mix together, brown on a skillet for a minute or on each side, and voila-a great and healthy breakfast.
Do you have a question for one of the trainers? Post your question as a comment to this post, or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.
Answering your questions this month is personal trainer Dina Smock.
Dina has been with the club for over 14 years and is N.A.S.M. (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified.
Kristi: How did you get into personal training?
Dina: I have a B.S. in Health Sciences, and I began my career at Midtown as a floor trainer. This developed into a passion for training and running special events, so I transitioned into the Events Coordinator role for awhile. After that, I became the Fitness Director and worked in this role until the birth of my twin daughters in 2002.
Since then, I’ve worked part-time as a personal trainer, with a focus on pregnancy exercise and Kinesis. I love my work, and I’m still training my very first client who started working with me 14 years ago.
Reader Question: “I have about an hour to work out every day. I would like to lose about 10 pounds and I prefer the cardio machines to the weights. Which machines should I use and for how long?”
Dina:If you can get to the gym and do a solid 30-to-60 minutes of cardio a day, three-to-four times a week, you will be on the right track. To burn the most calories, you have to work at a high intensity. The harder and longer you work, the more calories you will burn.
As far as what is the best machine, I believe that you need to have variety in your workouts. If your program has variety, you are less likely to become bored. Having variety also helps to prevent overuse injuries. If there are certain machines on which you are more likely to exert maximum effort (and thus burn more calories), the definitely fit those into your workout program. I joke with my clients by telling them that the machines on which they like to work out the least are the ones they should be doing! The Gauntlet (the never-ending flight of stairs located in the back of the cardio room) is very challenging, and running or walking with a high incline on the treadmill are also great calorie-blasters.
Reader Question: “What kind of resistance training do you recommend for toning my arms?”
Dina: There are a lot of fun resistance exercises using weights, bands, and even your own body weight that you can do to tone your arms. Push-ups are a great exercise for focusing on the upper body and arms. Depending on your fitness level, start off with a few and then work your way up to doing more repetitions and sets. Here is the proper way to do a push-up:
Lie on the floor on a mat or towel.
Flex the feet so the toes are on the floor, pointing toward your upper body.
Place hands, palms down, with palms at chest level, and fingertips at shoulder level.
Keep hands close to the body; later, you can spread your hands out further to work different muscles, or place them under your chest, but it’s important to start with the basic push-up.
Keep your head in an upright position so you are looking forward, and not down at the floor.
Slowly push up with the strength of your arms, keeping the body straight.
Hold the upright position for a few seconds.
Slowly lower yourself to the ground.
Also Yoga and Pilates are great workouts for your arms!
Reader Question: “How can you best train for mountain climbing without supplemental oxygen? How is it that only a few elite athletes can complete class 4 or class 5 climbs? How does a person train for this?”
Dina: I spoke with fellow trainer Dave Statt who has a client who has climbed several class 4 and 5 summits. There is no one correct answer to this question. In terms of training, obviously being in great shape will help with climbing, but it’s really the luck of the draw in terms of being able to do it without oxygen and there are many reasons why someone summits or does not summit.
Reader Question: “I’ve been swimming a lot this summer. I feel great after leaving the pool, but is swimming a good workout?”
Dina: Swimming is a full-body exercise. The more body parts you involve in your workout, the more calories you’ll burn. For example, spend 30 minutes doing the breast-stroke and you’ll burn almost 400 calories. Best of all, your joints are fully supported so you don’t have to worry about high-impact injuries. It’s also great cross-training for other cardio and weight-training activities.
Reader Question: “I don’t make it to the club as often as I would like to. Can you suggest some strength-training exercises I can do at home?”
Dina: When you can’t make it to the gym here are some key exercises you can do at home with weights or without. These exercises use your body weight and can be done anywhere. You can also take them on the road if you’re traveling.
Why They’re Great: Squats are one of the best exercises you can do. Squats work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves all at once.
How to Do Them: Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes facing straight ahead or angled slightly outward. Slowly bend the knees and lower your hips towards the floor, keeping your torso straight and abs pulled in tight. Keep your knees behind your toes; make sure everthing is pointing in the same direction.
Why They’re Great: Push-ups, like squats, are compound movements that use almost all of the muscles in your body. You’ll work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back, and abs.
How to Do Them:See above!
Why They’re Great:Like squats, lunges work most of the muscles in your legs and bring focus to the glutes.
How to Do Them: Stand in a split-stance (one leg forward, one leg back). Bend knees and lower body into a lunge position, keeping the front knee and back knee at 90 degree angles. Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up (slowly!) to your starting position. Never lock your knees at the top and don’t let your knee bend past your toes. Variations: front lunges, back lunges, and side lunges.
4. The Plank.
Why They’re Great:The plank (or hover) is an isolation move used in Pilates and Yoga. Planks work the abs, back, arms, and legs. The plank also targets your internal abdominal muscles.
How to Do Them: Lie face down on a mat with elbows resting on the floor next to your chest. Push your body off the floor in a push-up position with your body resting on your elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can. For beginners, do this move on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes.
5. Seated Dips Why They’re Great: This exercise focuses on the triceps (the back of the arms).
How to Do Them: Sitting on a step, bench, or floor, place hands next to your hips. Lift hips off the step and forward until lower back is almost touching the step, keeping the knees bent (easier) or straight (advanced). Staying close to the step, slowly lower your body until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Keep shoulders down and abs in. Then bring yourself back up and repeat.
You can add hand weight
s to your lunges or squats for more resistance. Do 2 –3 sets of each exercises at 12-15 repetitions, 2- 3 times a week.
Thank you, Dina!
I’ve received some really great questions from readers, so now it’s time for you to submit yours! If you have a question you would like one of the personal trainers from the Fitness department to answer, you can post your question as a comment to this post, or email it to me at email@example.com. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.
This month’s “Ask the Trainer” post features Midtown personal trainer Dave Statt, whom I asked most of the questions I received from last month’s “Ask the Trainer” post.
Dave has been at Midtown for 19 years, and holds an M.S. in Exercise Physiology. He is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. His recent personal accomplishments include competing in the Musselman Triathlon and being a two-time finisher of the Adirondack Canoe Classic (AKA “The 90-Miler”).
Kristi: Tell me about your background and how you became interested in personal training.
Dave: I began lifting weights at age 12, and haven’t stopped since! I began college with the goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher, but I soon realized I loved training and science, so I switched my major to Exercise Physiology. My job is very fun. I enjoy helping clients develop a passion for exercise and achieving fitness goals.
Reader Question: “I am training to run a half-marathon in September, but don’t want to give up my regular yoga practice. What is a good balance? I try to go to 3-5 yoga classes a week.”
Dave: 3-5 yoga classes per week is too much. I would do two per week, and then do two full-body stretch sessions, which may include static and dynamic stretches that are running-specific. In general, yoga is a workout so you have to take that into account with all of the running so you don’t over-train.
Reader Question: “There was a discussion on Facebook awhile back about the ideal number of days to work out per week. Some people said they worked out 4 days, some 5, some all 7. What’s the right answer, and is it possible to work out too much?”
Dave: Frequency of workouts depends on many factors. The more intense you train, the more days off you need. It is a difficult question to answer. You have to listen to your body and if you’re feeling worn down, then take a day off. It also depends on what you are doing. I recommend strength-training 3x per week and cardio 4x per week, but you can do those on the same days as well. I would not train 7 days per week. Always take a day off.
Reader Question: “Which cardio machine at the club is best for burning fat and losing weight?”
Dave: Any cardio machine that uses a lot of muscle groups is most effective at challenging the heart and metabolic system. Here are the cardio machines that are best in terms of calorie expenditure in order from most effective to least effective:
1) Running on treadmill
2) Step mill
4) Cybex Elliptical
6) Precor Elliptical with upper body
7) Precor Elliptical without upper body
Reader Question: “If you could design a nutrition plan for a 40-something male who wants to lose about 50 pounds, what would it include?”
Dave: That is a difficult question to answer on a blog. You may want to meet with a nutritionist or trainer that can assess your current status to provide you with a thorough program.
Reader Question: “I’ve been reading a lot about sports drinks lately. Some research says they’re good for refueling after exercise, while others say water is best. What do you think?”
Dave: The best time to refuel for enhanced recovery is within 30 minutes of completing an intense workout. The fuel should be a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Some drinks meet those requirement (e.g. some new products made by Gatorade, Endurox, and even chocolate milk). Water is best for hydration, but not for refueling. They are different. Always rehydrate. Sports drinks are not bad, but some are full of sugar and unneeded calories.
Thank you, Dave!
If you emailed me a question and don’t see it answered here, it will appear in next month’s “Ask the Trainer” post.
As for the rest of you, don’t be shy! If you have a question you would like one of the gods or goddesses of the Fitness department to answer, you can post your question as a comment to this post, or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.