Posts Tagged cardiovascular training


I was sent some interview questions by a publisher that was interested in having me featured in a book they are making. Or so they said 🙂  Anyways, I thought that I would share my answers since the questions are pretty common:

Is it true that some exercises produce results faster than others?  Is so, which exercises provide the best and worst “returns on investment”? Yes. This usually depends on what the person’s goals are.  For example, a lot of “core” or stability exercises are great for overall strength and can help a person avoid back problems. Some people though, will do these exercises to develop their rectus abdominus (six pack muscles), when in fact they would probably be better off doing simple crunches and laying off the potato chips! One of the biggest mistakes I see most people make in exercise selection is actually during cardio. People spend so much time on the treadmill and elliptical just wishing their body fat away, when they could be burning far more calories and fat by adding resistance training or higher intensity, shorter duration cardio. My advice would be to at least talk to a professional about your goals and what you are currently doing to achieve them. Again, the problem isn’t the exercise; it’s WHY you are doing the exercise!

How should someone determine how many grams of protein and carbs they should be eating each day? There are many factors that need to be considered here. Age, sex, body type, lifestyle, goal… There are too many cookie-cutter approaches to diet and exercise nowadays. These diets aren’t necessarily bad, but two people’s bodies can react different to the same stimulus. Here is some diet advice that my clients have found helpful. Regardless of the diet plan that you are following, or how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat you are eating, there are two things that you MUST do to be successful.

1.) Log your food. You’ve heard it before, but it is crucial. People that write down what they eat are always more successful at body composition goals than people who don’t. It is even easier now with all of the calorie counting apps that people can use on their smart phones, so there are no excuses.
2.) STAY CONSISTENT! If you are all over the place with your diet and it is not working for you, what do you change? You won’t even know where to start! If you have been consistent and have been logging you food, it is very easy to look and what you are doing, change one thing, and see how your body reacts. Remember, people are different, so their diets shouldn’t all be exactly the same.
Is it a good idea for someone to workout if they have a cold? If they don’t have a hard time breathing, I say go for it. I would lay off of the cardio though, and wouldn’t recommend pushing it too hard in the gym. Also, if you have a fever or are contagious, stay out of the gym!!!

Is it better to perform cardio before or after lifting weights or should cardio be done on a completely different day? Go do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of resistance training after. Then, on another day, do the exact opposite. You will probably notice that you had more energy on the latter day. Both cardio and resistance training cause your body to burn through sugar that you have stored in your body. The difference is that your body NEEDS that sugar for resistance training. The sugar (glycogen) improves your strength, and because your brain is sensitive to blood sugar, it helps you to focus (which is important when you are holding a dumbbell over your head!). Do your cardio after. You don’t need to focus as much, nor do you need extra strength. You are working your cardiovascular system. That’s it.

Is it better to exercise every part of the body on the same day, or it better to focus on different muscle groups on different days?   This is another one that differs a lot depending on the goal. If a person wants to grow their biceps for example, they need to overload their biceps with multiple sets of different exercises. They will probably pick one other muscle to workout on the same day. They won’t have the energy, or the time to work every major muscle in their body this way. However, if your goal is more functional, or you don’t want to bulk up, you are better off doing more compound movements and total body exercises. Most women people fit into this latter category.
If someone doesn’t have the time to spend hours cooking healthy meals, how can they still eat healthy? My first advice here is to cook in bulk. Preparing meals for the next couple of days will save you time, save you stress, and make it easier to stick to any diet. If you are a person who travels a lot and cannot do this, there is some good news: eating healthy is getting easier every day! As different health trends catch on, more restaurants (even fast food) are offering healthier choices. Be careful though! Some things passed off as healthy aren’t what they seem. Try keeping apples and nuts with you so that you can snack regularly on healthy foods. This will help stop you from over eating later. Also, when you do go out to eat:

  1. Have a plan. Check the menu online first to see what the healthiest choices are.
  2. drink a big glass of water before you order your food
  3. eat your veggies first
  4. get your dressing on the side
  5. ask the waiter to NOT bring the bread basket
  6. look for the words “steamed” and “grilled”

What should a personal trainer take into consideration when working with each individual client?  Personal training should be personal! Even if 2 people have the same goal, they have different abilities, injuries, allergies, motivational factors, likes/dislikes, and they should have a program designed around THEM. Sometimes trainers forget that in order to get their client to change, they must change their approach. Some people need a drill sergeant, some need a cheerleader, and some need a therapist. Let’s say that a trainer charges $60 per 1hr session. That is $1 per minute. If the trainer isn’t giving their client value every minute that they are together, then that client should be shopping for another trainer!

If someone isn’t sore after a workout, does that mean they didn’t workout hard enough? If your goal requires that you gain muscle, then you’d better be sore after most of your workouts. Otherwise, if the soreness is hit and miss, that’s okay! You weren’t sitting on the couch or taking a nap; you were doing something good for yourself. Just because you don’t feel sore the next day doesn’t mean that you didn’t benefit from the workout.

The new fad seems to be “buying organic”.  Is there any validity to eating organic food over non-organic food?  What are the benefits and/or things to be aware of? This is where goals change. Whether or not your food is organic won’t effect your body fat. People eat organic when they are trying to avoid pesticides and harsh preservatives. I think that there is a lot to be said for eating organic. It means that you care. It means that you are trying to do something better. Unfortunately, it is often far more expensive to buy organic foods. One general rule is that if you are going to peel it, it doesn’t need to be organic. Some foods are more affected by pesticides and herbicides than others. My wife and I have a list on our fridge entitled “The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen”. It lists which foods should be bought organic and which ones don’t need to be. A quick Google search and you should be able to find something similar.

Should people wait until they’re not sore from their previous workout to start working out again? If your legs are really sore from your workout, it may not be a great idea to do another leg workout, but using your legs during the workout or doing some cardio may help push the lactic acid from your legs and help them recover quicker. What i would do is a light warm up first. If the muscle group you wanted to work is still sore after a warm up, pick a new muscle group to work that day.

If someone reaches their fitness goals, should they still continue to work with a personal trainer? It depends on why they started with that trainer. I have had clients come in long after they hit their goals for one simple reason. If they didn’t have an appointment with me, they would stop working out. Even if this isn’t the case, I think it is a good idea to at least “check in” with your trainer to make sure you are improving, or to get some new ideas. Not everyone NEEDS a personal trainer, but EVERYONE can benefit from having one.

When people first start exercising, why do they sometimes gain weight initially? Multiple factors here again. I see this more with women. The initial weight gain can be from hormones changing, water retention, or muscle gain. Your body is going through all kinds of things when it is subjected to a workout program for the first time. Or maybe all the exercise is just making you hungrier! It sounds funny, but I know people who gain weight when they exercise more because of that reason exactly! Again, this is why I stress the importance of consistency with your diet. If you know how many calories, carbs, protein, and fat you are putting into your body then the initial weight gain shouldn’t scare you. It is the people that have no idea what they are putting into their body that should be scared. It could be the hunger that is getting to them!

If someone has a heart condition, can they still workout? After clearance from their doctor; yes. This person should get into it slowly, and put more of an emphasis on their cardiovascular training initially.

If someone has a job where they don’t move around a lot, what can they do to increase their activity during the day, when they’re not working out? Stand up as often as possible, or even use a stability ball for a chair. That will at least stop you from resting against the back of the chair, which is horrible for your posture. Set reminders on your computer that pop up every 30 minutes to an hour that remind you to stand and stretch out a little. When you do walk around, go ahead and take the escalator down, but always try to walk up the stairs. Park you car a little further away, and if you are in a structure park on the top and force yourself to walk up the stairs to your car. It really is about a mindset here. Some people just want to reach their goals more than others. When you put the extra effort in to little things like this it goes a long way.

Is it safe for pregnant women to workout? Absolutely! There are certain precautions a woman must take into consideration when working out, though mostly in the later half of the pregnancy (like laying on their back). Nowadays women see their doctor so often during their pregnancy that if there were any cause for concern in terms of working out, their doctor can tell them what needs to be avoided (if anything).


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Jay’s “12 Week Fitness Challenge” Transformation!

Jay was told by his doctor that he was pre-diabetic in early 2011. This scared Jay, who had just lost two friends; both close to his age. Something needed to be done. Now. He had a consultation with a Doctor to talk about the Lap Band, but after some thought Jay wanted to try to lose weight the right way. I met Jay in February when he committed to a 12 week program that I am involved with, focused on motivating people to get into the best shape of their life. You can check this out at

Jay was just shy of  300 lbs when he started the program. He had lost a few pounds, but felt like he needed more help with his diet as well as his exercise. The 12 weeks flew by, and Jay proved himself to be a MACHINE!!! He never cheated on his diet and never missed an appointment with me. He was also diligent in his cardio assignments, which would change every couple of weeks.

Long story short, Jay’s hard work paid off. He sweat his butt off in the gym, educated himself about nutrition, stuck with our meal plan, and in a few short months Jay looks like a different person! In 12 weeks he lost 41 lbs (9% body fat!), gained muscle, and got word from his doctor that his blood sugar levels look great now! Jay signed up for the next challenge and has stayed consistent with all of his hard work. I can’t wait to show you all how great he has done…

Great job Jay! It has been a pleasure to work with you.

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Advanced Leg Circuit

This circuit takes you through 4 exercises with minimal rest. This is an advanced circuit! Please know your own limitations and train accordingly!

The rep ranges discussed are not all matching what is in the video. This was my 3rd set, and I was exhausted!

1st exercise- Single-Leg Touch-Down to Hop (10-15 reps): This is an exercise that helps improve your balance as well as your leg power. Stronger muscles will begin to fatigue and you will start to incorporate more and more muscle fibers. Perfect, considering you will need all the help you can get for the next one!

2nd exercise- Barbell Lunges (alternating): Pick a challenging weight for this one. We are working on strength here, so no need to go with higher reps. A weight that you can do 5-8 reps per leg is perfect!Dig through your heel and make your front leg do all the work! Neck Problems? Use dumbbells instead.

3rd exercise- Barbell Squats (Burnout): Same weight you used for the lunges, just squatting until your form goes to crap. We are using squats to continue the circuit and increase recovery and endurance. Do as many as it takes to fatigue. 3rd time around I stopped at 10… Back Problems? Don’t use any weight. Do SLOW body weight squats or use a leg press machine instead.

4th exercise- Alternating Power Step-Ups: (20 reps) Hold a medicine ball under your chin to help keep your chest up. This is another power exercise, but without the balance aspect. You are using whatever you have left in your legs to complete this one.

Have fun, and remember: you should only be competing with yourself. Not some other guy/girl in the gym. Not you 20 years ago. You, now. Know your limitations and remember that you are doing this to be healthy. Hurting yourself will not help you accomplish ANY goal…

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I Cheated… But it Didn’t Mean Anything! Promise!

As you well know, I live a pretty structured life: I workout 5 days per week, eat 6 (measured) meals per day, and spend the rest of my time teaching others to do the same. And then last weekend something happened…


Besides my vacation in Italy last summer, I cannot remember the last time I ate Spaghetti. It has literally been over a year. Saturday was the day that I gave in. I mixed a jar of my favorite all natural Marinara Sauce (Rao’s) with lean ground turkey  (that I seasoned and browned) and let it simmer for an hour. Here’s where things started getting dirty: Instead of grabbing a Spaghetti Squash to serve as my “pasta” I grabbed some good ol’ Spaghetti noodles. 7 minutes later, and there I was…  cheating on my diet, but I didn’t feel bad! Here’s why:

  1. Because I am so regimented with my diet and exercise, my body has become a fat burning machine!
  2. My lean body mass is higher than ever before, so I burn more calories at rest.
  3. I changed the serving size of my next meal to counter the extra 200-300 calories from the pasta.
  4. I took my wife Kayaking for 2 hrs the next morning to burn off anything that my body may have stored!

So here’s the deal: if you’re going to splurge, cool. But if you have a fitness goal that is important to you, then it should be a calculated splurge. Don’t just go crazy. When you do that you will often feel guilty afterward. Guilty feelings are stressful. Stress raises cortisol levels, and high cortisol levels make it harder for your body to lose fat. Bad cycle…

BTW, the weather was beautiful and Kayaking was a lot of fun! It is a great way to burn calories, take in the beauty of nature, and get some alone time with your significant other for some quality conversation. Here is a video I took on my phone: (and that is my beautiful wife doing all the work while I take in the view!)

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What is Exercise?

Why are you exercising? What is in it for you? Are you working out to achieve a certain aesthetic goal, or are you just trying to stay healthy? Both? Great!

The reason I am asking is because people are always telling me that exercise is boring, or it is “not for them”. But, what is exercise? It is getting your butt off of the couch and moving around for a measurable amount of time! You are burning calories, lubricating your joints to prevent arthritis, and (if you exercise outside) getting some much needed vitamin D to help support your immune system and keep your bones strong! So many great benefits that will help you live a longer, more enjoyable life, but there are so many excuses to not do it…

This weekend, instead of sitting on the couch watching reality shows, make a commitment to get outside and move around. You don’t have to go to the gym, go for a run, or join a bootcamp. Just move! Walking is great cardiovascular exercise, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Instead of walking to a street sign and back, try walking or riding your bike to a store that you’ve been wanting to check out. Maybe you can even ride your bike down to the local Kayak rental place and go see what you can find out in the water!

Trust me, your day will be better, your energy and mood will improve, and you can feel good knowing that you just did something that will improve your quality of life. Need some ideas on where to go? Check out

Enjoy your weekend!

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Hey Cardio Queen! Grab a Dumbell!

Are you a “Cardio Queen”?

Well maybe you’re not THAT extreme, but do your workouts consist mostly of cardiovascular training? Not in any way do I want to discourage you from doing cardio- it’s good for you! I do, however, want to explain why it is not the most effective way to lose body fat…

Let’s start with the meaning of the word “cardiovascular”- It means “of, pertaining to, or involving the heart and blood vessels.” So… cardiovascular training works your heart (which isn’t exactly the largest muscle in your body).

Have you ever noticed that cardio gets a lot easier after just a couple of weeks? Your body is starting to become more efficient, which is good; but that also means that you will burn less calories while you are running, biking, etc… This brings me to my next point.

How many calories can you burn with cardiovascular training? It depends on how much time you have. It doesn’t take long for your body to cool down after cardio and get back to its old ways of burning minimal calories.

John, I need your help! Can you please tell me how I can burn more fat without adding more gym time? Resistance training!!!

As a personal trainer in Newport Beach, people ask me a lot of questions about this topic.

What are the benefits of resistance training? Increased strength, power, bone density, and fat burn (to name a few). Resistance training is also used in Physical Therapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons that support your joints.

Resistance training burns more fat?! How? There are a couple of reasons…

You can burn the same amount of calories (or more) with circuit training as you can with cardio when they are done for the same amount of time. The difference is afterward. Your body has to spend energy to repair the muscles that have been damaged during your circuit routine. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. These tears are microscopic, and they are why you get sore after a workout. Repairing this muscle tissue takes calories. Where is your body going to find the extra calories to repair your muscles? Your body fat! Whoo-hoo!

Now your body will add new muscle tissue (if you eat enough) in an attempt to stop any future muscle damage from happening. It is your job (and literally my job) to continue this cycle until you have gained the amount of muscle that you want. My friend, you have just turned your body into a fat burning machine! And ladies, don’t freak out. You won’t get buff. Trust me- if it were that easy, your husband’s push-ups would have him looking like Vin Diesel.

Quick example:

Pretend you are a 40 year old female (5’5″, 150 lbs).

In scenario A your body fat percentage is 35%

In scenario B your body fat percentage is 20%

In the first scenario, your body would burn about 1,327 calories per day, at rest. In the second, your body would burn 1,548 calories!!! That is equivalent to your body burning almost 1/2 lb of fat per week- AT REST!

By the way: both of these women go to the gym regularly, but their body compositions are very different. Can you guess which one of these ladies is the “Cardio Queen”?

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