Whether you are starting a new fitness journey or you've been going at it for a while, there is a lot of confusing information out there. I wanted to address a lot of common questions I see that may help eliminate some of that confusion! Now all of these questions will have simplified answers just to make it easy.
"DO I NEED TO WORKOUT EVERYDAY?"
The short answer for this is no you do not. Your exercise frequency will depend on how advanced you are. Typically it is recommended for beginners to get 3 days of weightlifting and 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week. As you become more advanced you can start adding another day of weightlifting in per week.
The reason for this is mainly rest. I know that it can be exciting to jump into a workout program when you first start and feel ready to go straight to working six days a week. You need to fight that urge! It will come in due time but for now let your body get used to the new stress you're putting it under and let it get some rest days! The muscle is formed during rest, so get plenty!
"SHOULD I BE IN THE GYM FOR 2 HOURS? 3? 4??"
Your workouts don't need to be as long as you may think. I personally can pop out a killer workout in 40 minutes and feel like I can't even lift five more pounds if you paid me to.
Workout length is more often than not tied to your experience yet again. However, there is a point where you get diminishing returns on your workouts. I personally wouldn't go for longer than 2 hours max. This is including cardio in the mix as well. The length is also heavily dependent on the type of workout you do. If you're pumping out HIIT workouts you aren't going to need a full hour, but, if you are doing conventional weightlifting you may need closer to that hour.
The bottom line here is listen to your body. If you feel like you can't possibly do anymore then chances are you can't. Remember what I said above about rest. The less rest you give your body the more prone to injuries you are and if you get injured you're working out for zero hours!
"HOW LONG SHOULD I REST IN BETWEEN SETS?"
You may see the gym bro next to you on their phone in between bench press for what feels like an eternity while the calisthenics expert never stops moving. Between these two you never really know where to rest. Well luckily, this has an actual answer!
When we look at it a key component in muscle building is putting the muscles under stress. One of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure that our muscles are primed for each set that we do so we aren't depriving ourselves of getting the most from each set. Resting around 2-4 minutes in between sets can help accomplish this. This time frame gives our muscles enough time to catch back up and allow us to keep the same weight/rep scheme we've been using but not long enough for our muscles to fully recover. Anything longer than 4 minutes can allow our muscles to relieve more of the stress and the exercise becomes less efficient.
"HOW DO I BUILD LEAN MUSCLE?"
Any form of resistance training can help stimulate lean muscle growth. All training done in the rep ranges of 6-12 reps and 3-5 sets have shown to have the highest muscle growth when compared to any others. This means that at the end of the reps completed you are unable to do another no matter how hard you try. The goal is to feel significantly challenged by the end of every workout and if you don't, you know its time to kick up the weight. This method is the most popular within the Bodybuilding community and has shown great results over the years.
Another aspect of it is ensuring that you have enough Protein in your diet so your body can take care of the building process. Protein is the building block of the muscle. An adequate amount of protein is around .8 grams per body pound. Anything higher that you may have heard is probably from someone trying to sell you Protein Powders.
"WHAT TRAINING IS BEST FOR LOSING WEIGHT?"
Any training you enjoy is the training that's best. The goal at the end of the day is to have something that you enjoy and can continue for life! Whether you lift weights, train for marathons, do Zumba, etc.. As long as you are enjoying yourself that's what matters. Training is only about 30% of losing weight anyways. The most important factor is your diet. Just find something you enjoy, stick with it, and I promise you will lose weight. Just remember that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint!
"WHATS THE BEST DIET FOR MY GOALS?"
The best diet for you is the one you can follow forever. All these fad diets out there just promote an unhealthy relationship with food. I am all for including everything that you want within reason. How can you do that you may ask? The short of it is Calories In Versus Calories Out.
Calories are the end all be all of weight loss/gain. While you may have outside factors that can attribute to how easily you lose/gain, at the end of the day changing your calories will effect one or the other. Now I'm not saying that you have to be meticulous and count down to the single calorie at first. For most beginners just being conscious of calories and understanding nutrition labels is enough. I have a few guides to help you figure out your calories that are listed below!
The bottom line with diet is that you need to make sure you never remove something entirely from your meals. When you do this it can end in a terrible day/week/month of binge eating and ruining all the progress you've made. Be sustainable and just be aware.
For everyone out there who took a moment to read this, I really hope these answers can help you build your confidence and your routines! Starting a fitness journey can be tedious but it can also be extremely rewarding. Don't let unknowns like this stop you from starting. Don't be afraid to ask questions and keep pushing forward! Let me know in the comments any questions you may have and I will answer. Who knows, I may even make a whole blog post about it!