Sabrina Peterson
National Academy of Sports Medicine
Certified Personal Trainer/Corrective Exercise Specialist
Home and Office Personal Training  -  Weight Loss Programs
Co-Author of
The Methods of the Masters
Seattle, Washington

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Weight Loss and Fitness Questions

Learn more Simple Weight Loss Tips in my blog
Q.  What is the best workout?

A.  The one you will do at least 3 times a week and that you enjoy!  Think FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type).   Frequency should be at least 3 days a week but 5 days is better.  (Always take at least one day of total rest every week to allow your body to recover.)  Intensity is the energy you put into your workout.  If you know how to take your heart rate then your intensity should be, on average, about 70% of your maximum.  (Find out what it is here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/target-heart-rate/SM00083.  It's the simplest I've found.)  Or you can gauge your intensity on a scale of 1 to 10, where your intensity should consistently be around 6 or 7 after your warmup.  Time is the amount of time per workout.  The average time is 30 minutes.  Unless you're training for a sport or fitness competition there's really no need for most people to workout more than an hour per session.  Type refers to the kind of exercise you choose to do. 


Q.  Does working out in the morning burn more calories than working out later in the day?

A.  You don't burn more calories by working out early in the morning.   Example:  Running still burns approximately 100 calories per mile no matter what time of day you run!  There are advantages to
working out first thing in the morning.  First of all, it will be done and you don't have to build it into
 your day.  Second it will perk you up for the whole day!  However, if you're not an early morning
person, forcing yourself to get up at the wee hours could be a losing battle.  Pick a time of the day t
hat works best for you and as Nike says "Just do it." 

Q.  What is the best exercise to get rid of my belly fat?

A.  If I only had $1 for every time I was asked this one!!  Believe it or not, 30 minutes of cardio (running, walking, stair climber, elliptical, etc.) 5 days a week is the best way to burn excess body fat.  In case you haven't heard, there is no such thing as spot reducing exercising.  Doing thousands of crunches won't cause you to lose your belly.  You would have strong abs (at least a strong rectus abdominus but probably not other core muscles) but crunches don't burn fat around your abdomen. 

In order to make your body a fat burning machine and lose excess body fat I recommend 3 days of pure cardiovascular exercise and two days strength training w/cardio.  Body fat takes up a lot more space than muscle so the more fat you lose the leaner (more slender, smaller) you will be!

Q.  How often should I weigh myself?

A.  Maximum once a week, or even better once a month.  Weight is only a number and not a good measure of what effect your diet and exercise programs are having on your body.  A woman's weight can fluctuate anywhere from 3 to 8 lbs. in a 24 hour period due to water fluctuations in the body's tissues.  Far too many women base their self esteem on what the scale says.   I tell my clients that a good way to become neurotic is to weigh yourself every day. 

The scale is NOT your friend.  In my opinion, it's more of a torture device than anything.  If you could be whatever size you wanted but weigh more than you think you should would you really care?  If you fit comfortably into a size 8 would it really matter so much if you didn't weigh 125 lbs. or less?  I doubt it! 

I also don't advise people to rely on BMI.   Although it's good to know what yours is, the Body Mass Index is far too general while your body fat measurement is very specific to you!  

Q.  How important is stretching? 

A.  Stretching is extremely important.  The clients I train stretch both at the beginning (after warmup!) and end of their workouts.  However, you can usually skip stretching at the beginning of a workout.  A proper warmup is at the beginning of your workout is what you should focus on.  After your workout spend at least 5 minutes stretching your large muscles.   Stretching at the end of your workout is when you get all the benefit from it!  It also increases the effectiveness of your workout by up to 19%.   My employee Sarah has come up with her own way of saying it that I think is genius: "If you don't stretch after your workout, it's like take 20% of the workout you just did and throwing it away." 
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