It’s not far-fetched for me to get the same questions often. It just goes to show that many people still don’t know the answers to many of the basic questions most of us take for granted in knowing. But remember, we were all beginners at one point.
This was created to help answer some of the most basic questions when getting started on your training and nutrition journey.
– How heavy should I lift? – You should be using weight that challenges you for your last couple reps of a set. Meaning, if you have an exercise that is 8-10 reps, you should be getting a pretty decent struggle at the 8th/9th/10th rep without going to failure.
– How long should my rest be? – Generally:
- 1-3 reps: 3-5 min
- 5-7 reps: 120-180s
- 8-12 reps: 60-90s
- 12+ reps: 45-60s
– How do I perform a superset (or tri-set or giant set)? – Perform the first exercise for the rep scheme given then right after, or with a slight rest, go in to the next exercise (and so on if it’s a tri-set or giant set). Rest for the amount of time that corresponds with the reps for the last exercise in the set.
– What happens if something hurts? – Don’t do it. “No pain no gain” is a stupid phrase. There are many alternatives to every exercise.
– I am super sore from yesterday workout. What do I do? – Soreness is bound to happen. It isn’t the mark of a “good” workout. It’s what happens when the body is overloaded. That said, it can be good and it can be bad. If it is debilitating, then we have to cut back on the volume (total work). If it’s something you can push through, then we monitor it to see if it happens again. Do not be a “warrior”.
– When should I change my program? – Your program should change when it stops working. Program ADD/ADHD and Program Hopping are the reasons why 99% of the population never gets better in their journey and they blame it on everything from the program to their genetics. Let’s say you’re training 12 weeks and each week, you’re getting leaner and the body you want is coming to fruition, why would you change anything? That would be unwise and a disservice to yourself. Can things inside the current set up change (adding a set, changing a rep scheme, changing an exercise)? Yes. A whole new program, though? No unless there is no other way to progress it or it just doesn’t work for you.
– When should I add cardio? – Unless you are an endurance athlete who *needs* to run or you are in the military and you *need* to run, cardio should only be added when necessary. It is a tool to be used and not to be abused. It aids fat loss when the deficit is there and you don’t want to drop the calories. You can’t have both low calories AND a bunch of cardio. You will go nowhere fast or worse…you will gain more weight. *More on this in the nutrition section*. That said, if you are going to add cardio in to your training, do it correctly. I wrote about it and you can READ HERE
– My exercise states to use a kettle bell. Can I use dumbbells instead? – Yes. This is also true vice versa.
– I don’t seem to be going up in weight on my exercises and have stalled. How come? – First, you aren’t a strength athlete. The goal of fat loss is to hold on to the muscle while in a deficit to lose fat. This means lifting as heavy as you can for the rep ranges given. Your strength may go up but most likely, it’ll go down. Intensity and strength is relative to how you are dieting.
– How do I set my macros using My Fitness Pal? – I wrote about that here: The ULTIMATE!!! Guide To Creating a Fat-Loss Meal Plan on MyFitnessPal
– Can I change my calories for faster weight loss? – No. Do not touch anything if you are losing roughly .5-1% bodyweight/week. Perhaps a bit more if you are real overweight. Dropping your calories too low/fast will prove devastating because if you stall or or if the scale doesn’t budge and you are too low, you will have no calories to cut. This means you will have to go in maintenance (much higher calories and no more deficit) for a short time then start the cutting process again. This will prolong your sustainable fat loss journey.
– Can I have alcohol? – While I am not going to hound you over your alcohol intake, it would be ULTRA wise not to have any. Fat loss requires a sacrifice and you will need to give up things for the short term for the long-term gain. If you have a glass once a month, it won’t stall your progress by much but if
you’re sitting there and having a glass every weekend, you’re not only ruining all your progress to date, it inhibits your ability to make proper food choices. It all starts with “I just had one glass then I don’t know what happened…I just started to eat.”
– I overate (cals/carbs/fat/protein) yesterday. Can I eat less today? – No. You cannot and should not have this good day/bad day behavior towards food. Life happens. Whether it was your choice or not, the day is done, move forward and make better decisions. It’s one day and you’ll see that if you are hitting your goals almost every other day. The totality of the “damage” will be close to nil.
– I overate (cals/carbs/fat/protein) yesterday. Can I do cardio today? – No. You cannot and should not have this idea that you should punish yourself with exercise because you overate. Again, life happens and you may or may not have made your choices. That said, the day is over and it’s time to start fresh and continue on.
– Can I have diet/0-cal drinks? – Yes. There is nothing bad with artificial sweeteners. The science is very clear on this.
– Can I put milk/creme in my coffee? – Yes but make sure you track those cals.
– Should I meal prep or count as I go? – Personal preference but I will say this: “if you stay ready, you aint got to GET ready!” – Will Smith
– Im going out to eat with my client/boss/family/friends/loved ones. How do I track and not do damage? – Most chain restaurants/fast food places have the nutrition content on their website and in house. Check before you go and put it in your My Fitness Pal so you can plan ahead for the rest of the day. If you go to a place without a nutritional guide, choose a protein-dish (chicken/lamb/beef/fish), then gauge the rest of the contents. You can ask the serving size of the protein and the server will know (eg: “Ma’am, that is a 10oz filet mignon” or “sir, that is an 8oz salmon steak”. Remember it and plug it in.) You won’t be perfect but having an idea is better than going in blind.
– Can I workout on an empty stomach? – It’s preferential but I don’t advise it.
– Is creatine good? – Yes. 5g/day. No need to load it. You will need to drink more water though. You can learn more about creatine (and pretty much any other supplement at Examine.com)
– If I can’t find it in MyFitnessPal or don’t use it, what sites are good for finding these foods? – nutritiondata.self.com and www.calorieking.com are my favorites. That said, MFP definitely has everything you will need.
– I do have a question about pre and post workout meals. About how much of daily carbs/protein should go into these? – While nutrient timing doesn’t matter to a degree, a small meal with protein/carbs/fat pre workout (for energy) and a meal of protein and carbs and minimal fat post workout is good (muscle recovery and energy).
– How much fiber is too much? – You want to intake 14g/fiber per 1000 calories. No more than 20-22g per 1000 calories.
-MyFitnessPal says I’m over/under in calories but I hit my macros. What do I do? – All I want you to do is hit your macros. MFP will adjust to fiber and such. Make things more simple and include all calories.
-Should I add “Activity” to MyFitnessPal? – NO. This is an unjust reason to eat more on top of the fact that MyFitnessPal and other calorie trackers do not account for individual metabolic rates. Going by this could be very costly and make things worse.
-How long will it take me to get to my goal? – Not exactly sure. I can’t/won’t sell you a lie. People’s body react differently on top of the adherence you give. The best way to reach your goal is to remain consistent and do not quit.