Updated: Nov 5, 2021
If there is one thing there is A LOT of in the health and fitness world, it's questions! And with these questions come, inevitably, contradictory opinions from so-called "experts". So, to tip-toe through the minefield that is online fitness "broscience", I will answer some commonly asked health and fitness questions.
Q. How should I structure my workout?
This depends on what you are trying to achieve. As a general rule of thumb, your workouts should place the exercise with the most value first, with accessory exercises coming afterwards. For example, if you are looking to increase your squat strength, then squats come first with other accessory leg exercises coming after. If you wanted to grow your arms then close grip bench press and close grip lat pull-downs might come first as they give you more bang for your buck, with isolated arm exercises coming later on. Go from most physically demanding > easier, more isolated exercises
Q. Should I perform cardio before weights?
Again, this is a question of what you are looking to achieve. If you are training for a specifically cardiovascular based goal or sport, then perform the relevant cardio exercise first. If you are looking to lose weight then it is better to leave your cardio exercises until after you have done your resistance work. Resistance work depletes the body of glycogen meaning your cardio work will burn more fat.
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Q. Are carbs evil?
No. Carbohydrates are not evil. The only “foods” you should really be avoiding are trans fats, added sugars and rancid oils - cooking oil which has been heated to high temperatures repeatedly (think fried foods in restaurants). Carbohydrates can play an important role in our diet and manipulating them can help to achieve your physique goals. Carbohydrates should mostly be consumed before and after your workouts, with the bulk to be consumed after a hard workout. This helps to replenish muscle glycogen and can increase insulin sensitivity.
Aim to consume high-quality carbs such as sweet potatoes, root vegetables such as parsnips, chestnuts, 85%+ dark chocolate, berries, blackstrap molasses (after training only) and green bananas. Otherwise, stick to healthy sources of protein, fat and nutrient-dense plant-based foods.
Q. Do I really need a personal trainer?
Yes. The best athletes in the world have trainers and coaches. Models with the best bodies have trainers. Bodybuilders have coaches/trainers. Correct guidance is the difference between success and failure, so a good trainer can be an invaluable asset. This doesn’t mean you need to train 3-4 times per week, however, even a few sessions to learn the basics can suffice. Spending a few hours learning how to move properly and perform exercises correctly can set you on the right track, so get in contact now to find out how I can help.
Q. I have a bad back and my hips hurt. Should I still exercise?
Of course! Correct exercise could even help your pain so long as there isn’t a serious issue underlying the injury. More often than not, back and hip pain stem from inactivity and poor postural habits leading to muscle imbalances. These can be corrected with proper exercise prescription aimed to strengthen the posterior chain (buttocks, hamstrings and lower back) and improve upper back function. Whatever your injury may be, exercise is normally the answer!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 13 years of experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.