With Google being one of the most commonly visited websites on the Internet, it comes as no surprise that there are millions of exercise myths and questions asked on the Internet. If you Google the best exercises to lose weight or gain lean muscle, you literally get thousands of contradicting results. Let's tackle the biggest fitness questions that I am often asked about by women.
1. How do you know what the right exercise is for YOU?
This is probably one of the most important questions I get asked. There's not really a single right answer--it depends on a couple of factors.
First, take a peek at your health and fitness goals. If you want to run a marathon, the best form of exercise is going to be running mixed with cross-training. If you're hoping to climb Machu Picchu, you want to incorporate a mix of cardio with leg strengthening exercises. However, if you're just looking to become healthier, lose weight, or gain lean muscle, find a type of exercise that challenges you but that you ENJOY! The more you enjoy your work out, the more likely you are to stay motivated when it gets tough. As long as you are safely pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone while exercising, the type of exercise truly doesn't matter.
With that being said, I will say that our bodies tend to adapt to what we do every 4 to 6 weeks. I recommend switching up your workouts every 4 to 6 weeks so that you are constantly shocking your body's metabolism.
Ultimately, ask yourself are my favorite question--"how is that working for you?" If you find that you're slaving away in the gym and following healthy nutrition guidelines but STILL not seeing results, shake things up and try a new type of exercise.
2. How often should I be exercising?
Like I mentioned above, your frequency of exercise should be in alignment with your health and fitness goals.
If you're planning to run a marathon, you'll definitely need to be running more than 1 to 2 times a week in the months leading up to the race.
If you're hoping to maintain your health and current weight, the CDC and prevention currently recommends 150 minutes (or about 30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week.
If you're hoping to lose weight, you need to up your daily workouts to about 60 minutes a day.
However, it's also about listening to your body. If you're extremely fatigued and sore from the previous day's work out, allow yourself a day to recover. Just try not to use recovery as an excuse too often!
3. Should I complete cardio or weight training first?
To be honest, it depends on your goals. Are you starting to see a pattern? 😜 if your primary goal is to increase your aerobic endurance or lose weight, I recommend you perform cardio first. If your main goal is to increase your muscular strength and power, I recommend starting your work out with strength training.
Basically, you should perform the most important type of exercise earlier in the work out when you're not fatigued. If you're hoping to lose weight and gain lean muscle (let's be honest-- most of us are trying to do both because we don't want saggy skin,) alternate every day. Start your workout with cardio one day and then strength training the next day.
4. Is it dangerous if my muscles start to shake during a workout?
Shaking muscles are not dangerous!! As long as you are safely executing the exercise, muscle twitches usually indicate intense work that is challenging and strengthening your neuromuscular system. If your muscles start to shake, it's a sign that they are neurologically weak. As you continue to strength train over time, you will increase your neural muscular endurance and notice less shaking (until you grab the heavier weights.)
Just as a reminder though, you never want to push yourself so hard that you find yourself shaking on the first rep. If this is the case, drop down to a lighter weight.