8 things you need to know before hitting the gym
(Philstar.com) - September 8, 2015 - 9:21pm

MANILA, Philippines – Is it okay to workout on an empty stomach? What are the post workout meal that you should be having? Would your breasts and behind sag after losing weight? These are one of the few commonly asked questions of people who hit the gym.

Don’t let misleading notions hinder your fitness goals. Herbalife’s Fitness Coach Chappy Callanta, one of the country’s most popular fitness coaches, answers gym questions that range from the standard to downright outrageous.

Before going on a full blast in a gym, here are some of the things you need to know to keep your workout session safe and effective:

1. How important is warming up, really?

In the Philippines, it’s not as important as countries with cooler weather because ours is already warm. However, it is important to go through a series of stretches to prepare the muscles and joints for the activity that is going to happen. I pay close attention to the hips because most people spend a lot of time sitting so we need to unlock the hips during warm up.

2. Should you work out on an empty stomach?

No, if you’re not used to it. However, some intermittent fasting proponents report a spike in training quality when we work out on an empty stomach. Aim to eat a balanced meal at most three hours before a workout and some fast acting carbs, like fruits, 30 minutes before a workout.

3. Which has better results: Cardio or weights?

It depends on what results you want. If you want to get stronger, then definitely weights. If you want to last longer in sports or in endurance activities then cardio will be a better alternative. For weight-loss, a good combination of the two will be good. Make sure to have purposeful exercise five times a week - three being days for lifting and two for cardio days.

4. Should you hit the gym even if you are feeling under the weather?

Unless you are a competitive athlete or are preparing for something, I would advise against it. If you have a fever, then it’s the body’s immune system going to war with the virus or infection. Better rest and let your immune system work full-time without worrying about regenerating the body after an exercise bout.

5. Is spot-training a good strategy to lose weight?

If you mean spot-reduction, then it is not. There is no concrete science yet that says spot reduction can occur.  Being mindful of your nutrition and exercise is still the key and you just have to be patient. You didn’t get big (or fat) overnight, you won’t lose it overnight as well.

6. "I know I'm supposed to work my abs when I exercise, but I can't feel them in there." Do I even have abs?

Yes, everyone has abs. Sometimes they are just hiding under a layer of fat. Even the biggest person in the world has abdominal muscles. Abs become visible when body fat is low, so if you want abs, rather than focusing on crunches, focus on table-push-away. As in push yourself away from the table when you’ve had enough.

7. "I’m afraid of becoming flat chested or, even worse, my boobs might sag once I start losing weight." Are there exercises to achieve bigger chests or to defy gravity?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you think about it), breasts are made mostly of adipose (fat). Because there is no spot reduction, we cannot tell the body to lose fat in the stomach but to stay away from your breasts. Your best bet will be to weight lift and do complex exercises for your upper body. It is recommended for females to do pushups and chest presses as well as rows and pulls to target the muscles of the shoulder and chest to add some muscle there. Working on posture is also a good idea.

8. Can you take a rest the following day to give your muscles a chance to recuperate?

You should workout still, especially if you just started working out. Working out every other day so that there’s a day in between when you can rest and recover is advised. Your body needs this to rebuild what you just broke down. When we lift, our muscles get micro-tears that need to be rebuilt by the body. This is how we adapt and get better-toned muscles. Once you are used to it, then you can do two straight days and then a day’s rest. Once you are really advanced, you can do daily purposeful exercise as long as you mix the intensities up. Mix hard days and easy days.

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