Written for my Health and Fitness Column in the Cotswold Style Magazine March 2015
Q1-What is the maximum number of days I should workout in a week? My partner says I’m doing too much but is he doing too little?
How often you should train depends on a number of variables, such as your goal, training age, what type of training you’re doing and what time frame you have to complete your goal. But from an individual perspective you will know if you’re training too much. Some of the specific signs to look out for if you think you’re overtraining are: lack of sleeping, elevated resting heart rate, under performance, no motivation to train, loss of appetite, sore muscles, not making any progress overall for the work being put in. With regards to planning training days, it’s best to have a rest day 1-2 days after consecutive training days, because most of your progress is actually made away from the training room during your recovery downtime. So if you’re not taking recovery days then yes, you could be training too much!
Q2-I’m a busy mum with two kids who use to be an avid gym bunny, what two exercises can I do at home to strength my upper body?
As we approach Mother’s day I’d like to take the opportunity to express my respect to all the mothers out there working hard at home and at work, especially those taking care of their health. With regards to your question, the two most effective movements for you would be the press up and the pull-up. For the press-up all you will require is an area the length of your body in any part of your home! The great thing about the press up is that there are so many varieties and ways to increase the intensity once you have master the basic movements and it’s a great exercise to work the chest, triceps and shoulder muscles. The next movement is the pull-up, where you will work predominantly the opposite muscle groups (the back and biceps) along with your overall grip strength – something most people are lacking. All you will need is a door frame or pull up bar depending on your door frame design. Initially you might struggle to do a full pull up so start with some partner assisted pull ups or use a chair (simply step off the chair and then lower your body down eccentrically), until you have built up enough strength to conquer a full pull up.
Q3- My gym instructor told me that I need to only lift weights in order to lose weight, is this true?
I don’t personally like to contradict one of my fitness peers, but it isn’t strictly true. You can still lose some weight without exercising at all by just eating less than what you currently do. By this I mean consciously monitoring what you consume on a daily basis, and reduce your intake overtime, not going on one of those 500-800 calories a day fad diets. However, much research has shown that any long term weight and fat loss tends to be a result of both training and dietary intervention with a positive change in lifestyle habits. What your gym instructor was probably getting at is that resistance training (lifting weight) will help to increase lean muscle tissue which is more effective at burning calories compared to fat tissue. This will in turn have a greater effect on you losing weight and fat loss in the long term.