Physical Activity FAQ

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Can I lift weights two days in a row?

Yes. However, one must leave at least 48 hours of rest between training the same muscle group(s). For example, if training upper body (i.e. arms and chest muscles) on Monday, the next time you work those specific muscle groups should be 48 hours later. This rest will allow the muscles to repair themselves from the previous workout. Exercising sooner may cause injuries and could lead to exercise burnout.

Depending on an individual’s exercise program and goals, it is recommended to train a single muscle group (chest, back, arms, shoulders, and legs) 1-2 times per week. Including rest days within an exercise program are just as important as the training days.

Beginners generally should weight lift 2-3 days per week, concentrating on either splitting up the body into three days (Example: back and biceps on Monday, legs and shoulders on Wednesday and chest and triceps on Friday) or doing 8-10 exercises for all muscle groups 2-3 days per week. One day of rest should be allotted in between each weight lifting session.

Are free weights better than weight machines?

Each professional in the fitness field has their own opinion on this question. Both methods of weight resistance training provide muscle strengthening opportunities if used properly. Free weights provide a type of resistance training that requires stabilization and balance. It takes more energy and more muscles to smoothly control a free weight during an exercise than it does a weight that is guided by a machine. There is however a disclaimer, if you are not using proper form you can not only cause injury to yourself and others but you also may not reach the benefits of training with free weights. Before you attempt to do any exercises with free weights make sure to seek professional assistance.

I am a female who just started to weight train and someone told me I am going to get too muscular and big, is this true, and should I be concerned about it?

This is a common misconception with weight training. It would be difficult for many females who are resistance training to gain enough muscle mass and size to give them the appearance of a body builder. There are specific exercise programs that are designed to increase muscular strength, increase muscle size (hypertrophy), increase power as well as improve muscular endurance. While all of these programs will help to increase muscle strength, not all will increase muscle size. An exercise program designed to improve muscle endurance is recommended to those women who do not want to increase muscle size, "bulk up." Muscular endurance training involves a lighter training load and performing 12-15 repetitions. It is important to choose a training load heavy enough to obtain the benefits of resistance training. An appropriate training load will cause voluntary muscular fatigue (i.e. the "burn") at or close to the desired number of repetitions. Women should not be afraid of gaining muscle. Women should participate in resistance training activities more than males because these types of activities promote bone growth and help to increase bone strength. Women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis and resistance training is one of the best activities to help reduce risk. Furthermore, increasing lean muscle mass through resistance training will increase metabolism and lead to greater caloric expenditure, during and after your workout.

How often can I do cardio? And how long should my cardio session be?

Cardiovascular exercise is a very important part of an exercise program and critical to staying healthy. Every routine should incorporate some cardio regardless of the individual’s ultimate fitness goals. Depending on the initial fitness level, aerobic activities should be performed 5 days per week, if not all days of the week. Beginners should start with 3 days per week, spreading the aerobic exercise throughout the week. As cardiovascular fitness is developed, increase the amount of aerobic exercises performed per week, adding another day every 4-6 weeks.

The duration of an aerobic exercise session will also be dependent on initial cardiovascular fitness level as well as the individual’s fitness goals. Beginners should start at 15 minutes, gradually increasing their duration to =60 minutes.

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