Did watching Olympic Athletes for the past month make you want to get in better shape?...us too. So we asked our wonderful friend, Matthew Bellows of Vitruvian Personal Fitness Solutions just how we might go about doing that. Matt is a certified personal trainer, and has trained in New York, LA, and now in San Diego. You can visit his website at www.trainvitruvian.comto see testimonials, and what kind of training plans he offers.
1) How much do you need to exercise to see a difference? The American Council on exercise recommends a minimum of 30 minutes for 6 days a week. However it all depends on where you’re starting from. If you’re coming straight out of couch potato mode, you can see results with half that amount of time. 30 minutes 3 days a week.
2) Are there muscle groups that are harder to tone than others? Which ones? Nope. You can’t spot reduce. You can’t put a stick of butter in the microwave and choose how its gonna melt. And you can’t truly work one muscle group at a time. Your body is one, singular awesome machine, made up of lots of different parts. But they all work together to accomplish every task you do. And the best kind of training will capitalize on that fact. I see too many women doing bicep curls and tricep extension and that ridiculous adductor machine (the one where you sit down present your crotch to the world and squeeze your legs together). These exercises are almost a complete waste of time. Focus on exercises that move more than one joint at a time. What we call “compound exercises”. For example, a bicep curl just moves the elbow joint, but a row or a pullup moves the elbow joint AND works a whole bunch of muscles in your back. A tricep extension moves just your elbow joint in the opposite direction, but a bench press or a push up, does the same thing, and ALSO works your chest, core and shoulders. This is how your body accomplishes its daily tasks as a multi-functional human being, and this is how you should train. Get off the inner thigh machine and do some real squats and lunges, you’ll get where you want to be in a tenth of the time.
3) What should you do if you want to lose weight? No matter what hype you hear in a magazine, on E news, or in a late night infomercial surrounding the latest breakthrough diet, cleanse or whatever, at the end of the day weight loss is about 1 thing and 1 thing only. Calories in vs. Calories out. No cleanse, low carb, low fat, raw food, purple stuff, maple syrup invention will ever trump the simple math. Every person needs a certain amount of energy a day to function, like enough gas in a car to get to a destination. And everybody has their own size of gas tank. If you put just the right amount of gas in your tank to get to your destination, you will maintain your weight. If you put more in than you need to get to your destination, you will store the extra fuel as fat. If you take in less than you need to get to your destination, you will lose weight. That’s basically it. You need to know how many calories a day you need (your metabolism) and create a deficit from that number. Breaking it down, there are 3500 calories in 1 lb of Fat. So you need to create a deficit of 3500 calories in a week to lose 1lb. For example, if you need 1700 calories a day to maintain your weight. Subtract 500 a day from that number by either eating less or exercising more. Now you’re at 1200 a day, after 7 days, you’ve lost 3500 calories and 1 lb. Good Job! There are some great websites and apps that can help you track all your meals and help you find out how many calories you need as an individual. Some of my favorites are Myfitnesspal.comlivestrong.com and dailyburn.com
4) What should you do if you want to tone up? and is there a difference? Lift weights. You have to lift weights. Too many women are scared of this, usually because they think they are gonna come out of the gym in a week like Arnold Shwarzenegger with breasts. YOU WILL NOT BULK UP. This I guarantee. It is an impossibility. Guys can get bulky with years of work and training because they have testosterone. Women do not. Hence, no bulk. The women you see in magazines that are bulky have done some very specific things to get enough testosterone to look that way. You are not doing those things, you’d know if you were. So don’t worry about it. The most successful individuals, who reach their goals and maintain them, lift weights. It must be done. This is what it takes to burn fat and tone up. You basically won't ever reach you goals without it.
5) Any advice for a managing a busy schedule and exercise? Yes, stop making excuses. I know of no individual alive who doesn’t have time to exercise. And study after study shows how productivity, and brain power increase with exercise. You have to schedule it, like a meeting or a phone call. After a while it will become a habit and you’ll feel so much better you’ll wonder why you ever thought it was a problem.
You can also take measures throughout your day to increase your activity, take the stairs, park in the back of the parking lot, little things go a long way.
6) Where do you start if you are overwhelmed, or intimidated by the thought of exercise? Find an activity that interests you and start there. If you’ve always wanted to learn to rock climb, try that, or surf, try that. If you’re having a little bit more fun with it, it won't feel like work.
The best thing anyone can ever do is enlist the help of a personal trainer. Yes, it costs money, but you only get one body and one life and I believe in making the most of it. Almost all health clubs give you a free session when you join, and I firmly believe its worth the extra bucks to get a couple more to make sure you know what you’re doing and feel like you can get around the gym with purpose. Also, group fitness is almost always free at most health clubs. Get involved in a class. Do a little of both. If you don’t have a gym membership, find a trainer in your area to come to your home or work with you in the park. There is always help if you ask for it.
7) How important is nutrition when it comes to fitness and health? Nutrition is Paramount. Weight loss is about 85% nutrition, 15% exercise. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. Eating the right amount of calories is the only way you’ll ever lose the fat. Thats the bottom line. Within that bottom line, try to eat protein rich foods like chicken, fish, lean beef, and pork. Also cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and protein bars and powders. Protein is a longer lasting form of energy than carbs and you need it to build muscle and burn fat. And avoid carbs that have a high Glycemic Index. That basically means carbs that burn really fast, like sugar, white bread, white pasta, and white rice. Instead eat hearty whole grains, green vegetables and fruit.
8) How important is stretching after a workout? It's pretty important. Especially as you get older. Imbalances in flexibility and mobility will affect the way your skeleton sits all day while it fights gravity. The more flexible you are, the more capable you are. And that's really the whole point.
Along with flexibility, everyone should learn how to foam roll. You know those big foam tubes you see around? They are not pool toys. They are used for what is called Self Myofascial release. Its basically self massage and helps improve performance, prevent injury and pain in a significant way. Just google it or look on youtube and you’ll find simple instructions. It will hurt at first. If it hurts, it means you need it.
True or False - if you want to tone use lighter weights and do more reps? False, like I said earlier, you will not get bulky, so if you want lean tone arms and thighs, hit the weights and hit em hard.
An important thing to remember is that every body is its own body. Looking at another person and desiring their arms, or whatever is ridiculous and psychologically damaging. We all come from our own ancestry and have our own DNA that makes up who we are, and that means the shape of your nose. Instead of wasting your time comparing, find a way to improve you. You deserve it. Theres only one you and without you the world wouldn’t be what it is. Make your life the best one it can be by improving yourself. Let other people look at you and want to follow your lead. Thanks Matt! I know I just learned a lot. Hitting the gym may not get you in the 2016 Summer Games, or win you a gold medal, but feeling healthy and good about yourself is worth it's weight in gold, so I'd say it's kinda like the same thing. ;) Do you have your own questions for Matt? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. LLLove, Jen & Jess