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Your training questions answered

During July I answered some of the most common questions I get asked as a personal trainer on my Facebook page. I have decided to put them all into one please here so they are easily accessible for anyone who might need some extra help.

Ask The PT: When is the best time of day to workout?

There is so much debate about whether you should be hitting the gym first thing in the morning or waiting until later in the day but to be perfectly honest the best time of the day to exercise is the time of day you feel most like doing it!

Some people are early birds and happily get up and head off to the gym, for others the sound of an alarm clock isn't so appealing and they prefer an after work session. The best piece of advice is to do it when you want to and when it fits in with your life so it doesn't become a chore.

Ask The PT: How many times a week should I be working out?

I would recommend aiming for a minimum of three times a week. Ultimately it depends on your reason and goals for training but to see a difference in your fitness and keep building week on week I think a minimum of three times a week works but if you can do more than aim for five sessions. Just be mindful that your body needs a rest so factor in some rest days to make sure you're at your most effective.

Ask The PT: How quickly am I going to start seeing results?

Honestly, this is dependent on how hard you're working and whether you're following a plan or not. You will find that you start to feel the results of an exercise and/or diet plan before you start to see them. You'll notice that you're less lethargic, maybe sleeping a but better and your jeans might feel a bit looser within 2 to 3 weeks of your plan. If you're consistent in your regime and sticking to the plan after 6 weeks you will start to see results. One thing that I always say to clients is that they shouldn't get disheartened - stick with it and you will get the results you want but it doesn't happen overnight or without hard work, so keep going and you will see and feel the benefits.

Ask The PT: I've never followed a nutrition plan before - how do I stay on track?

There is no point in me trying to say it's easy to follow a nutrition plan - it's not! There will be things on there that you may never normally eat and the thought of the suggested meals might not be your usual tea time treat but the best piece of advice I can give you to follow a plan and keep it going is to plan and prep.

You can't follow a nutrition plan just by looking at what's in your fridge the night before, you need to sit down and think about your week - think about where you are going to be and when you need to eat and what will make that easier - its no good prepping a meal that you need to heat up if you're not going to be near a microwave. Make your plan ahead of time with a shopping list at the side, then make time to meal prep. Prep a few days in advance so your meals are organised and you will find it much easier to keep going.

Ask The PT: Should I be doing more or less reps?

The general rule of thumb is that if you want to burn fat go for 12 to 15 reps but if you are looking to build strength go for 6 to 8 but with a slightly heavier weight. The thing you need to remember is that it doesn't matter how many reps you do if your form is wrong. If you're not doing the exercise correctly then you won't get the benefit and you could hurt yourself. If you're new to training, less reps done correctly with a lighter weight will give you a feel for technique and as you find your form you can start to add weight and increase reps.

Ask The PT: What weight should I be using?

The best test to see if you're using the right weight is to do 12 reps with it - if you can get through them easily, you're using something too light and you should go up. If you can't get to 12 then you're using something too heavy and should go down. If you can do 12 but it starts to get hard towards the end but you can still make it then you've got it about right.

I would say its better to start lighter and work your way up than start heavy and burn out before you finish your workout.

Ask The PT: How long do I need to recover?

Rest and recovery are incredibly important. Your body needs time to repair itself, if you are just starting out or pushing yourself to the next level your body is going to feel it and not allowing time for recovery will be detrimental to your progress.

Obviously the time you need to recover depends on the number of times you are training and the type of training you are doing but the best piece of advice I can give is to listen to your own body. We are all different and so take your cues from your body, but don't use it as an excuse not to push yourself.

Ask the PT: Is sleep important when I am training?

Simply, yes. Sleep is important not just for training but for all elements of your body and mind. Sleep not only aids recovery but also provides us with the time for our mind to switch off. You will find that an increase in activity will most likely help you to sleep better anyway but it is really important that you don't neglect this part of your routine.

Ask the PT: Should I take supplements?

We see more and more supplements appearing on the market and they do have their place to help you. The danger is that with so many readily available you could end up spending lots and for not much benefit. I would advise that you speak to your nutritionist or PT to seek their help on what you should be taking, also think about when you are taking them around your workouts to maximise the effect. I will be doing a blog on supplements in August but if you'd like some advice now get in touch.

Ask The PT: Do I need a Personal Trainer?

As a personal trainer, I recognise that its not always possible to have five PT sessions a week but there are benefits to having someone there to help you to achieve your targets.

If you are new to working out I would always advise that you have at least one session to make sure that you have a programme that is going to work for you - don't waste your time and energy doing something that isn't going to give you the results you are looking for.

If you are a seasoned gym goer you probably don't see the need, but there is a benefit to a monthly session with a PT to see if you can make some changes that will take you to the next level. I make use of personal trainers with my own training programme, otherwise I find that I become stagnant and can then get despondent.

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