Ask Fitness FAQ's
I see most of the featured fittness ladies excercise in the morning and evening. I am not able to excercise in the morning (gym opens at 5:00 and I should be on the road at 5:45 to be in time for work), is it okay to do just one session in the evening with both cardio and strength training?
Training is best performed when you have the time! Whatever time suits you best - it doesn't have to be in the mornings. Set up a good routine for the week that allows you dedicated time for strength and cardio work.
I’m training in the mornings 4-5 days a week and eat five meals a day. I only take a pre-workout supplement, train and then eat breakfast afterwards. I’ve upped my intensity in the gym a bit over the last few weeks. I normally eat my last meal at 5pm and go to bed at round 9pm, but I now find that I feel hungry when I go to bed and am hungry again 20 minutes after getting up in the morning. I don’t want to eat later than 5pm and I try to eat as few carbohydrates as possible (if any at all) in the evenings. I believe this should help me to keep my body fat to a minimum. Should I drink a protein drink at around 8pm and another protein drink again before my training session in the mornings, or should I ignore the hunger? Will it go away once my body adapts to the new training intensity? What can I use instead of a protein drink?
Eating your last meal four hours before you go to bed is a surefire recipe for disaster in my opinion, particularly when your last meal is carbohydrate restricted. I know I would be so ravenous adopting this approach that I'd end up raiding the fridge almost every night. You have two options - either space your meals out a little more throughout the day so that your last meal is within an hour of bedtime or consume a casein (slow release protein)-rich snack or shake just before bed. Examples include fat free cottage cheese, SPS Ultra Protein, USN Protein Dessert and Evox's or Optimum Nutrition's 100% casein products. An alternative to a high casein snack is a serving (50-75g) of venison or ostrich biltong.
Another recommendation I suggest for those who battle to maintain post-dinner satiety is to regularly include ostrich (steak or fillet) at dinnertime as an alternative to fish and chicken. Ostrich seems to digest a little slower, especially in comparison to fish, which maintains a feeling of satiety for a longer period.
As for your early morning meal before your workout, I see no harm in consuming 30-40g of whey protein or a Glutamine/BCAA formula, like SSN’s CytoGuard, EAS’ Muscle Armor, USN’s BCAA Amino Mix or Evox’s BCAA stack, prior to or alongside your pre-workout drink. I'm sure that adopting these recommendations will make life a little more pleasant and will help you stick to your dietary plan a lot easier.
When I exercise for about 15-20 minutes on the elliptical my feet start burning and I can’t feel my toes. Why is this?
There are a number of possible reasons why this happens to you. The most common reason is that the natural movement on the elliptical requires that you remain on the balls of your feet throughout the duration of the exercise due to the natural motion of the machine. There are not many other exercises that require you to stay on the balls of your feet for a prolonged amount of time (other than sprinting or stair running). The fact that you are on the balls of your feet for so long means that blood flow is often restricted which can cause the heat and numbness you experience. As such, try to vary the position of your feet on the foot holds during your next session, shifting the weight onto the soles of your feet as often as possible.
The other possibility is that your shoes are either too tight, your shoe laces are done up too tight or your training shoes do not breathe easily. This can cause heat build-up and restrict blood flow. There have also been a few reported cases of people who have an allergic reaction to the material in their socks, but if this only happens on the elliptical trainer then I don't think this is the case.
If you start experiencing this heat build-up and numbness while doing other exercises I would suggest that you seek medical advice as you may have an issue with some of the nerves in your foot or a more generalised circulation problem. Athletes Foot can also cause a burning sensation, but again, as this only seems to happen while on the elliptical I don't think that this is your problem.
In my opinion, two of the most effective lower abdominal exercises are:
A) The Reverse Crunch
B) Roman Chair Knee Raises
During the reverse crunch you curl your hips off the floor, so you'll feel it mainly in the lower part of the your abdominal region, as opposed to traditional crunches, which target the upper abdominals more. The key to this move is to avoid swinging the legs to raise the hips. This is a small, subtle move, so you only need to lift your hips a few inches off the floor for it to be effective.
Here's how you do it: Lie on the floor and place your hands by your side or behind your head.
Bring your knees in towards your chest, until they're bent to 90 degrees. Keep your feet together or cross them. Contract the abs to curl the hips off the floor, reaching the legs up towards the ceiling.
Lower and repeat for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.
The Roman Chair is a rack with padded arm rests that allows your legs to hang free. It can be found in most health clubs and gyms. The key to keeping the knee raise safe and effective is to, firstly avoid swinging your legs or using momentum to bring your legs up and secondly, to keep your knees bent. This will help you to focus more on the abdominals and less on the hip flexors.
Here's how you do it: Stand on the steps and grip the handholds to stabilise your upper body. Press your back against the pad. Contract your abs to raise your legs, lifting your knees toward your chest. Don't arch your back or swing your legs up. Slowly lower your legs back down and repeat for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Perform 3-4 sets of each exercise twice a week. Really focus on contracting hard at the top of each rep and work as close as you possible can to muscle failure on each set. If you do this it won’t be long before your lower abs start showing the results you are after.