Hey, hey! How’s it going?
Today I want to tackle a few questions I’ve received from readers. Since I’m not totally sure how long it will take me to answer these I’m only going to address a few. As always, please feel free to email me your questions, send me a Facebook message, or comment below. Chances are others may have the same questions! And I encourage you to share your opinions on these, too. We can all learn from each other.
Roundup of reader questions
1. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to strength training and it shows. How can I get started with lifting weights?
This is a concern that I know a lot of people share. Being new to strength training isn’t something to feel embarrassed about. We all have to start somewhere! And in the same way that I have NO clue how to fix…well, anything in my house, if you aren’t used to doing something or have no experience with it then you are bound to have questions. I should also clarify that this isn’t something only women feel. Men have also shared with me that they feel a bit out of place in the weight room.
I will always recommend starting with a professional. A personal trainer or other qualified fitness specialist will work with you to understand your needs, identify any structural/mobility issues, and come up with your best plan of action. He or she can provide one-on-one training to review equipment, assess and correct form, and design programs specifically for you. It’s also a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
If hiring a trainer is not in your means, you could also look into taking a group fitness class that involves strength and body work. This is a great way to learn some basic movements, become familiar with different exercise techniques, and get to know other people.
My last recommendation is to take advantage of the numerous (free) online resources. YouTube is a great place to watch video demos and learn about proper form. I also really love the bodybuilding.com website because they have awesome videos, illustrations, and sample programs for just about anyone. There are over 20,000 articles and nearly 1 billion members worldwide.
2. I feel uncomfortable in the weight room by myself. How do you workout in a room full of men?
I became way more comfortable in the gym when I learned what I was doing. I felt intimidated in the beginning mostly because I was worried I looked like I didn’t know what I was doing (which was true!). However, as I became more familiar with the equipment and proper form, I became less and less aware of those around me. And that’s when I realized that people really aren’t looking at you – they are focused on themselves. And that’s the way it should be. If you are working out alone then you should be concentrating on yourself and only yourself. If you need other ideas, try wearing headphones and listening to some music. Or go to the gym during a slower period to avoid maneuvering around a large crowd.
3. If I am trying to lose fat and gain muscle, am I sabotaging myself by doing cardio?
No, but make sure you are clear on your goals. Conditioning work is essential for fat loss. Try incorporating interval training. This is a very effective way to lose body fat and increase strength. By performing intense intervals your body will continue to burn calories 2-4 hours after your workout has ended. Plus, when you gain muscle you begin to burn more calories (even at rest) due to the increase in your metabolism. For more information about the best ways to lose body fat, read this post.
Pay attention to the amount of time you spend on conditioning work. Studies show if you want to lose fat and increase your metabolism, then you should keep your conditioning work short (20 – 30 minutes). Once you start doing extended amounts of cardio then you begin to breakdown muscle tissue. Plus, it raises your cortisol levels which can interfere with your metabolism.
4. Working out at lunch is possible for me, but how do I get rid of the sweat and go back to work looking normal?
This question came up on Facebook after my recent post 5 tips for making the most of your time in the gym. I briefly answered it on my page, but I thought it would be helpful to share my response and provide further details.
If you are concerned about looking like you just worked out then be sure to stick with strength training over cardio since you will sweat less. Instead, save cardio for a day when you have more time to shower and cool down. Alternatively, you could try taking your “lunch break” towards the end of the day to minimize the amount of time you will need to spend at the office after your workout.
Here are some suggestions to tackle post-workout messiness:
- Shower or use wipes (I like the Yes To Cucumber ones) after your workout.
- Use bobby pins to hold your hair back or try putting it into a small bun afterwards.
- Wear waterproof makeup so you don’t end up with mascara under your eyes. It will also stay put better than regular makeup.
- Drink lots of really cold water to cool your body’s core temperature down.
- Try minimizing your wardrobe on gym days and stick with work clothes that you can slip back on, like a dress.
I’d love to know if you have anything to add to these answers. Feel free to comment below. And have a great weekend!