Question: Does increasing muscle mass in teenagers inhibit growth?

Answer: Not as long as you are getting enough calories to obtain both goals. If you are not taking in enough calories, your body will not get the nutrients it needs for growth or muscle building. This should be monitored in teens, so they are not jeopardizing their health.

Question: I am a moderately fit 26 year old female. I lift weights 3 times a week but don’t do nearly enough cardio. I am fairly thin but tend to get flabby if I don’t work out. I really want to step up my fitness and nutrition to get really fit. How should I change my diet and workout to do this?

Answer: You need to know how many calories you need a day to maintain weight. From there if you want to lose body fat, you should subtract 300-500 calories a day (for a safe weight loss each week). You mentioned that you are already thin, but are flabby. That flab is body fat, so in order to “firm-up” you need to decrease body fat. Lifting weights will help increase muscle mass, which will help burn calories throughout the day, and will in turn “tone up” that flab. You cannot turn muscle into fat, but you can reduce fat, and increase muscle.  You can get your heart rate up by doing circuit training with weights and improve your cardiovascular conditioning.

Question: I have really been watching my diet and am not consuming more than around 1,500 calories a day. If my body was used to more calories than this, will it actually store some of what I eat, thus totally do the opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish by exercising and eating right. I’m not trying to lose any more weight I’m just trying to lower my body fat percentage and put on some muscle. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated; I look forward to hearing from you.

Answer: Your body may not start off right away getting rid of body fat when you change your diet, but give it a little time. If you are starving your body (not giving it enough calories), then it may want to hold onto the fat and store most of what you are eating while using your muscle for energy. There is a very fine line with calories for weight loss programs.  Depending on your activity and the amount of muscle you have you may not be getting enough calories. If your body does not start to respond, or you are feeling very sluggish, then I would reevaluate your calorie consumption. You need to make sure that you have enough energy for your everyday living as well as your workouts.

Question: What are the physical & psychological benefits of exercise? Longevity benefits of exercise?

Answer: The number one benefit in my book is the way you feel on a day to day basis when engaging in some type of physical exercise 3-4 times a week. The overall feeling of well being is well worth the time that one may spend in a gym, or practicing their favorite sport. As for the physical benefits, just being able to walk up a flight of stairs without being coming overly winded, being able to carry your own groceries, or being without pain, are enough to keep me going on my fitness routine. The longevity benefits include things such as being able to have full range of motion of joints in old age, bone density, decreased risk for heart disease and some cancers, and the feeling of the young person still inside you. I hope these are good enough reasons to keep you motivated for the rest of your life’s workouts.

Question: I am a 41-year-old woman; I have allowed my body to become saggy…. Is it possible at my age to get my flesh firm again? Or is this the end of the line for me?

Answer: The only way to get rid of “extra” skin is to have it surgically removed. But if what is happening to you is just extra body fat, and not skin, then there is hope for you. All you need to do is decrease your body fat and increase your muscle mass. This can be done by aerobic activity, weight training, and watching your caloric intake. Remember, there is no such thing as spot reduction. Fat loss will be seen all over the body, but you can strengthen the muscles in certain body parts. Increasing muscle mass will also increase your basal metabolism and can lead to weight gain (but the right kind of weight), which will help you lose body fat faster.

Question: I’m a 47-year-old female and just starting to lift a few weights. I want to firm my muscles up, especially in my arms. Is there anything I can take that will help build muscle? I’m currently taking designer protein which is a whey protein. Should I be taking some form of creatine? Also, what brand of exercise equipment is the best? I’m interested in Bow Flex.

Answer: Lifting heavier weights will increase muscle mass. You need to lift a weight that is heavy enough that you have a difficult time with the last three repetitions in that set. You want to do between 6-10 repetitions per set, depending on your level off current fitness. (If you are just beginning, I would do 10 reps per set). Creatine may help in gaining strength, which will help you lift more weight, which will help build muscle. As for which exercise equipment is the best, is all depends on what you prefer. You do want to make sure that when you purchase any machine that you will be able to have a full range of motion, be able to set up properly to the machine to avoid injury, and that the machine will be able to grow with you (you won’t be out lifting it soon). These are just a few things to keep in mind.

Question: I am a 62 year old female about 30 lbs overweight (trying to do something about that) and am doing water aerobics & some nautilus & some sit-ups every other day. I had back surgery last year and don’t want to hurt my back, but I want a FLAT Tummy again. Are there some VERY effective exercises that I can do to get rid of this disgusting belly that won’t kill my back? Thank you.

Answer: The key to “six pack abs” is body fat reduction. You need to lose body fat in order to show off the muscle underneath. You are on the right track by doing safe aerobic exercises, but should also be watching you caloric intake. Find out how many calories you need a day, and then subtract 300-500 per day for weight loss. This will put you into a safe weight loss program. Make sure that you are also getting your heart rate high enough when doing water aerobics. Lifting weights will help increase muscle mass, which in turn will burn more calories.

Question: I used to have a fairly high level of upper body strength, but I hurt my shoulder about 1 year ago and have done very little upper body exercise since then. I have never done an upper body warm up, but would like to know what to do before I start upper body exercises. Thank you very much.

Answer: Warming up your shoulder can start with 5-10 minutes on a cardiovascular machine, to warm the whole body up. You can then go from there and do some arm rotations by making a big circle with your whole arm. Perform circles swinging the arm to the front, and then do some swinging the arm the back. This will increase the blood flow to that area of the body, and get the ligaments warmed up and ready for weight bearing activity.

Question: Which do you think would get better/faster strength and mass increasing results…super slow with lower weights/fewer sets or a traditional 10rep/3set/ escalating weights to muscle exhaustion.

Answer: The heavier weight with fewer reps will give you an increase in muscle mass. You should always control the weight that you are lifting, but slowing the speed even more will not make a huge difference in your muscle gain, it will just fatigue your muscles out faster.

Question: I have just lost 170 pounds. I have so much loose skin. Is there a way besides surgery to tighten up the skin besides surgery?

Answer: I do not know of any other way. Depending upon your age, and how long you have been overweight, will make a difference as to whether or not your skin will have elasticity left in it. Some lotions claim that they can firm skin, but I don’t know how much I would buy into that. You could try one (I would purchase one of the lesser expensive ones first) to see if there is any truth to their claims. You may be able to gain some elasticity back naturally.

Question: How do I get rid of gross cellulite on the thighs? How do I trim my thighs?

Answer: Unfortunately cellulite is genetic. The best you can do is reduce the size of size of the cellulite, but there may still be some dimpling. Endermologie may also help in the appearance of cellulite. The results are temporary, and you may need to have several treatments to start to see results, but there may be a difference in the appearance. Remember that cellulite is just too much subcutaneous fat underneath the skin, which is held in place by fibrous strands attaching the muscle to the skin.

Question: I am 16 years old and I want to know how to lift safely so that I don’t stunt my growth.

Answer: You want to be careful that you are getting enough calories to ensure that you are not stunting your growth. If you are a member of a fitness facility, ask a trainer there to show you how to do each exercise correctly so you are not injuring your joints. If you are doing these things, you should not be harming yourself.

Question: I heard that thinning up your thighs and butt is all in sequence, what sequence is this and what is a workout that can give me fast results?

Answer: This seems to be one of the latest rages in weight lifting that you must follow a sequence. The only sequence that I know of is to work the largest muscles first, and then the smaller ones. You can begin with compound movements (lunges, squats, leg press) and then move to isolation movements such as leg extension, leg curl, calf raises, adduction & abduction. These are all great ways to shape the legs. If you work out your legs twice a week, and include cardio at least 3 times a week, you will see results. How fast depends upon your current level of fitness, and how hard you work. Remember that you need to watch what you eat, so you can reduce body fat to show off the muscle gained.

Question: I have worked out three to four days a week for about three years now at a local fitness center. I am a male, age 37 non-smoker. My workout consists of a mix of aerobic workouts (Stairmaster, Nordic track, rowing machine, and aerobic classes) and weight training. My problem is that my lower body has almost no body fat while my upper body looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I know that there is no such thing as spot reduction, but I have to be doing something wrong here. One of the workers at the fitness center said I was upper body anaerobic (I think) what does this mean and what can I do about this situation? Liposuction is completely out of the question, so where do I go from here?

Answer: I am glad that you are not considering surgery for this, and are willing to work hard for results. Men tend to carry fat around the middle section, and tend to be leaner in the legs, so this is not uncommon. You may need to reevaluate your caloric intake to make sure that you are not eating more calories than you expend. You cannot lose body fat if you do not develop a deficit of calories. As far as what this trainer told you, I have seen no medical studies to support this theory.

Question: I have not done any exercise for a while and want to get back my fitness and slim body. What is the first step to begin with?

Answer: I would begin with consulting a physician before beginning any exercise program, especially if you are severely overweight, or have any medical condition for which you are being treated. I would then begin to watch my caloric intake, and begin with a light to moderate (depending on your current health status) aerobic activity, and then add weight training into the routine. This will help you get back into working out, and back to your healthy way of living.

Question: What are the best exercises with weights, for the triceps and upper arm area? I do several different ones but don’t seem to have much success at firming up.

Answer: You need to reduce the amount of fat covering the muscle to have the “firm” appearance. Size of muscle does not matter as much as excess body fat covering the muscle. triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, triceps pull downs and dips are all good exercises to work this muscle. But in order to see the muscle, you need to reduce body fat.

Question: I am 36 years old, about 30lbs overweight and extremely unmotivated. I have been in great shape before but I struggle to get my legs and abs on the same level as my arms and chest. I only want to work legs, abs and back. What should I do to get motivated and what type of program would you recommend?

Answer: You can begin by doing aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. This will help in fat loss. As far as motivation goes, try working out with a partner. Or if it is possible, hire a personal trainer to help motivate you. Set goals for yourself, and be ready to reward yourself when you reach those goals. To work your legs you can do different exercises such as squats, lunges, leg press, leg extension, leg curl, calf raises, dead lifts and adduction/abduction. There are variations to each one of these, so depending on your fitness level and knowledge; you can change them up nicely.

Question: I want to know how could I lose quick weight, also I want to improve my waistline, also work on my thighs and stomach. I want to achieve a flat stomach, and great thighs and a good looking buffed up but. What should I do to achieve these? Please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Answer: Losing weight too quickly is never permanent, or safe. If you would like to lose weight and keep it off, then following a sound diet, and exercising is always the answer. Most fast weight lose programs, you will end up losing water weight and not fat. So the moment you stop following that diet plan, you put the weight right back on. Many of the weight loss supplements are dangerous as well, and you should consult your physician before using any of them. As for the thighs and butt, weight lifting will help in that area. Compound moves will work all of the lower extremity muscles (moves such as lunges, squats, leg press, step ups and dead lifts). Ask your trainer in your gym to show you a few of these if you are not familiar with them.

Question: I don’t have to lose weight I would to build muscle. What kind of workout should I do?

Answer: You need to lift weights that cause the muscle to go to failure within 6-10 repetitions per set. You should work all muscle groups in the body. Incorporate a good diet with this (increase caloric intake if you are wanting to put on weight), and you should get the results that you need. You do not need to take in extensive amounts of protein (30% of daily calories is enough), but you need enough to repair tissue damage. Don’t forget to include cardiovascular exercises as well to work the most important muscle in the body, the heart.

Question: I get bulky thigh muscles (especially my quads) very easily. I currently do Pilates 3 times a week and want to know what aerobic workouts will not promote bulky thighs? I currently hike and jog/walk.

Answer: Any aerobic exercise where you are working with resistance will help build the muscle in the legs. Walking on a flat surface (or jogging) should not bulk up the muscles like biking.

Question: I’m a 235 lb 15yr old that plays football and loves to lift. The only problem is that I want to cut my abs and get rid of my gut and I wanted to increase my biceps and get them toned and get my traps bigger and at the same time increase my bench! I know this is a real mouth full but I am very willing to work hard! This year I did Powerlifting at my school and I didn’t do my meet, because my max bench was only about 170 and I knew I would get killed in my weight class. No one helped me out with increasing my bench besides a few good people and I was wondering if you could help me so next football season I will be faster and cut up to impress my coaches please help me.

Answer: This is certainly a great task that you are trying to do for someone your age. You may want to break them down into one goal at a time. First starting with the muscle gain, and then focusing on the fat loss. The more muscle you have, the faster and more efficient your body burns fat. When you lose body fat, you will get the definition that you want in your abs. After you have reached your goal in weight lifting, I would then focus on losing the fat. The only fat to lose fat is to decrease the amount of calories that you take in. You will want to add some type of cardiovascular exercise to this to help with the fat burning. Do a minimum of 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. One type of exercise is not necessarily better than another; it is what you prefer and feel comfortable doing.

Question: What is the best exercise and or supplements for chronic lower back pain?

Answer: You may want to consult a physician if the pain is too severe. But strengthening the abdominals will help aid in protection of the back. You will also want to strengthen the lower back itself by doing back extensions or lying on the floor (on your stomach) and lifting the upper body off the floor. Do not do these exercises if you feel any pain. You also want to get a good stretch after exercising, especially the lower back.

Question: I workout right after work therefore I leave my gym bag in my car out in the heat all day long…does this affect the bottle of ripped fuel I keep in my gym bag or the affects it has on me?

Answer: This should not change the affect that it will have on you. The chemical compounds will not change unless they reach a certain heat point, and I am sure that it is not getting hot enough. You could always bring the bottle into work with you just so it stays colder for your consumption.

Question: How many additional glasses of water, if any, does one need to drink to make up for the dehydration effect of one cup of fully caffeinated coffee?

Answer: For every ounce of caffeine that you take in, you should drink one ounce of water. So your water intake should equal your caffeine intake.

Question: I was wondering if you could suggest a good ab workout. I’m just starting to workout in preparation for a soccer league. Also, my arms are probably the weakest part on me. Anything I can do other than lift weights or push-ups etc.?

Answer: To increase strength in the arms you will need to do a resistance exercise, there is no way around that. For your abdominals, crunches are the most common way of working the abs. You can do this with or without resistance. You should take the muscle to failure, and work it every other day, unless they are very sore from the last work out, then take longer time for recovery. Make sure you hit the obliques (side of the abs).

Question: Within the past year, I have had a C-section. My body type is a very long torso. The area above my belly button is flat from doing crunches but the area below is very pudgy and folds under at my incision. The doctor used my incision from an appendectomy so the incision is a little bit lower than what I have seen from other women. Is there any exercise that I can do to target this area below my belly button since crunches are not working??

Answer: You have just gone through surgery that severed a muscle within the last year, it may take longer to get those abs back into the shape you used to be in. Remember that your skin was stretched for an extended period of time, so be patient. You may not get back the flat stomach you had before childbirth. But to work the lower part of the abdominals, you can do reverse crunches. With your feet in the air, slowly curl the pelvis up lifting the legs higher into the air. Be careful not to create momentum and swing the legs up. This is not a large movement, and you will need to concentrate on the muscles being worked, and if it is more comfortable on the lower back, place your hands under your buttocks.

Question: I am 52 and have been taking golf lessons since last Nov. A couple of months ago I encountered something like a pulled muscle halfway between my left shoulder blade and my waist. It eventually subsided, but I encountered the same type of pain just under my left shoulder blade. It eventually went away. Now I have it just under my right shoulder blade. Are there stretches or exercises that can prevent me from getting these injuries?

Answer: Yes there are. You need to stretch your rhomboids and trapezius muscles. You can do this by holding onto something with arms shoulder height, and lean back keeping arms straight. You should feel the stretch in the upper middle part of the back. As you lean away from your hands you should try to separate the shoulder blades to really feel a good stretch.

Question: I’m a 37 yr old female with average fitness level. 6 months ago I started working out at the gym – stretch classes, yoga, light weights and cardio work. I did all the right things, seeing a personal trainer once a week and I feel great. But over the last couple of weeks, my knees have started to hurt, just a generalized ache that isn’t any worse after working out. My personal trainer makes sure I don’t overextend on any exercises. Any ideas?

Answer: My suggestion for you is to see a physician if you are in constant pain, and discontinue leg work outs until you get the go ahead from your physician.

Question: I’d like to attain by December good definition of my ab region. What is the best sort of nutrition to help me? Taking into account I’m a vegetarian. At the moment I’m doing a lot of exercise daily i.e. swimming, cycling, cardiovascular workout-treadmill-rowing step machine etc and also yoga, so I am quite fit to start with. I need to rid myself of the excess fat around my stomach area love handles etc. My next question is, to lose weight one should burn more calories than what is put in, what is the best time to burn calories? In relation to the consuming of food I’ve been told that to attain good definition of the stomach region diet is imperative i.e. no alcohol at all no fats etc could you please enlighten me on these to questions.

You are right about the calories; you need to burn more calories than you take in. As far as what type of food, you should be getting a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates and fats. This will vary from person to person, but the most common balance is 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fat. And for burning the calories, you will burn them all day long. You burn more when doing aerobic exercise, but it doesn’t matter what time of the day you do it, as long as you are doing it.

Question: I am a 20 year old male. I am fairly fit (165 lbs.) but not toned. My biggest problem is that I have fatty breasts. How do I fix that?

Answer: The fatty breast may go away as you get older, and your hormones adjust. Some men have larger fatty deposits in the breast area, and can only get rid of it with liposuction. This may not happen to you because you are fairly young. You can decrease your body fat, and that will help reduce body fat in that area. Unfortunately you cannot spot reduce. You may want to start working out with weights, and gaining muscle mass, which will help in the reduction of body fat. Chest exercises may also aid in the reduced appearance of the fatty breasts.

Question: What are the best weight machines to use for increasing arm strength, firming up the abdomen and chest? How often should I exercise and with how much weight? Haven’t exercised for 20 years!!!

Answer: for the chest you can do chest press, flies, incline chest press, and dips. For the arms, you can do arm curls, triceps extensions, side lateral raises, shoulder press and reverse flies. The abdominals are worked by doing crunches and you can do them with or without resistance. As for how much weight, you should start with something that tasks the muscle on the last three repetitions of each set. I would suggest starting with 15 repetitions per set (doing 2 sets to start with), and then decreasing your repetitions and increasing your weight, as your muscles respond to the workout.

Question: I’m looking to change my work out routine soon. I want to do two body parts. Which are the best two body parts that I should workout together?

Answer: You can work out your biceps and back together, your chest and triceps together, and legs and shoulders together. As for abdominals you could work them every other day. This should give you a good routine, and don’t forget to add the cardio in there as well.

Question: What is the fastest most effective way to get lean, tight muscles? I used to dance, cheer, and run. I have 3 children and little time. I do enjoy music have access to a weight set and room to move around. I would like to begin immediately, my doctor says it’s ok and I would like to see some improvement by November 4.

Answer: Your best bet might be circuit training. If you are crunched on time, this will incorporate a weight routine and increase your heart rate. You will be lifting weights, but without a rest time in between. When you work one muscle group (i.e. Chest) you will want to work the opposing muscle group (back muscles). This is true with each and every exercise you do. While working the opposing muscle, you will rest the one you just worked. This work out keeps the heart rate elevated, so it is efficient in burning calories faster.

Question: I was wondering if I can get your opinion on products such as: Hydroxycut and Xhenodrine. What are they supposed to do and do they actually work? I also would like to know about the Atkins Diet.

These drugs are normally misused and can be very dangerous. What they do is raise the heart rate, and keep it raised throughout the day. They also raise the blood pressure as well. These drugs are very dangerous to someone with hypertension, and if you are thinking about taking them do not take them for an extended period of time, and please consult your physician first. As for the Atkins diet, it is a carb-restricted diet that advocates a high fat, no carb diet to lose body fat. This is not a healthy diet.