We’re always looking to further our healthy transformations — and one path toward enlightenment is gaining as much knowledge as possible. To reintroduce or re-prioritize exercise into your life, we compiled 10 of the most common fitness questions and asked industry experts to answer them.
“People fail to warm up appropriately before they exercise. The average person sits more than 60% of their day, which creates excessive tightness in their calves, hip flexors, quads, lower back and pecs, to name a few. When these individuals go to work out, these muscles aren’t quite ready to withstand the forces demanded of them, which results in poor joint movements and excessive torque to the spine while they are training. This increases the risk of injury that ultimately puts the individual out of their workout for weeks and sometimes months at a time.”
— Jennifer Zerling, MS, certified personal trainer, fitness and age management expert and co-host of Fit Because Podcast
“Some companies are very ergonomically aware and might be willing to foot the bill for a transition (sit-to-stand) desk or even a treadmill desk. If you work from home or have some privacy at work, a DIY set-up might work. For example, stack some books on top of your desk to prop your computer up at an appropriate-for-standing height.
“As much as I can relate to getting in the flow and not coming up for air for hours, it would serve you to set a reminder on your phone, computer or activity tracker to remind you to stand up and move once an hour. Just a few minutes of standing, moving around, stretching or walking will leave you feeling more mobile and might help combat fatigue and brain fog.
“Get up whenever it’s possible. If you conduct a lot of calls, get a headset, long cord or use speaker phone so that you can stand up or even walk around your office while you talk. Rather than back-and-forth emails with coworkers, get up and walk over to their desks to talk in person. You’ll stand and walk more and probably work a lot more efficiently, too.”
— Esther Avant, ACE certified personal trainer and nutrition coach at Esther Avant Wellness Coaching
“Not having energy to exercise is common and sometimes complicated. For example, day-to-day stress and family responsibilities can easily overwhelm us. Sometimes lack of energy may even be due to medical reasons like hypothyroidism. Another hurdle to being more physically active is thinking exercise must be intense and exhausting for effectiveness. It doesn’t. Some research finds even 5 minutes of walking can have health benefits. Bottom line: Start where you are and do what you can do. Any activity will be better than none at all.”
— Joe Cannon, MS, certified strength and conditioning specialist and a NSCA certified personal trainer
“There’s a range to possible target heart rates. Someone new to endurance training will probably need to target closer to 55% of their heart rate reserve. Here’s how to calculate your target heart rate:
- Determine your resting heart rate by taking your pulse in the morning when you wake up.
- Calculate your theoretical maximum heart rate (220 minus your age).
- Subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate to get your heart rate reserve.
- Determine 55–85% of that heart rate reserve (depending on fitness and experience).
- Add the result from four above to your resting heart rate to get your target heart rate for training.”
— Doug Barsanti, MA, NSCA certified personal trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of ReInvention Fitness
“What makes you sore after exercise is most likely due to the fact that when you work your muscles, you’re causing micro-damage to the muscle cells. The soreness is the repair mechanism at work. The best thing you can do for it is the following:
- Movement is very helpful and also encourages blood flow. Take walks, move your spine and joints around and do some gentle stretching if you like.
- Use heat to help bring blood flow to the area, which will help transport what is needed to repair your body. Epsom salt baths might help as well.
- Get enough rest and high-quality sleep to optimize the repair cycle.”
— Melody L. Schoenfeld, MA, certified strength and conditioning specialist
“Ultimately the fun factor trumps everything for consistency. The most successful exercise routine or activity will be the activity that gets you out of bed before everyone else or that you look forward to after a grueling work day and see yourself doing happily for months to come.
“Dig deep below the outward surface reasons (weight loss, upcoming wedding, etc.) to determine your true why and driving force for working out. Always remember: Your why must be bigger than any excuse or barrier you may face.
“Lastly, determine your sweat style. Do big groups with club-bumping music get you hyped to crush calories or alternatively [does] personal attention with a yoga coach, personal trainer, tennis coach or the like drive you to continue?”
— Roz Jones, certified personal trainer
“When it comes to working out, there is no specific time that is perfect. The answer depends on who and what kind of person you are. If you’re a morning person, then morning workouts might fit in better with your schedule. If not, find a time that you can stick to keeping. What it really comes down to is finding a realistic, consistent schedule that sticks.”
— Chris Cooper, NSCA certified personal trainer
“To maximize recovery, we need to replenish those glycogen stores. I like to use oatmeal, yams, whole-grain bread and fresh fruit. I prefer my clients avoid fat almost altogether post-workout because it has been shown to inhibit growth hormone production, which leads to slower recovery. Protein is crucial at this point. I advise clients to eat some lean chicken breast or turkey slices or worst case, a clean, whole food-based protein shake. You need to hydrate directly thereafter. The average person sweats anywhere from 20–40 ounces during a workout. You need to make sure to drink that much over the next hour to re-hydrate.”
— Chris Cucchiara, NASM certified personal trainer
“The frequency at which weight training should be conducted is 3 times a week. Target 2–3 muscle groups each training day. Perform at least two exercises per muscle and aim to complete 3 sets of 12 reps per exercise at a 70% RM intensity.”
— Sherina Chandram, personal trainer
“Your priorities determine how you spend your time and effort between cardio and lifting. If your primary goal is to tone or build muscle, then lift weights first. But if your main goal is to improve your cardio, then do that first.”
— Martise Moore, running coach, founder of GreenRunner