A Certified Trainer Answers 5 Top Fitness Questions

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Fitness advice is everywhere — and we mean everywhere — but it can still feel tough to get clear answers with all that information. We turned to Brian Zehetner, a certified trainer, to give us advice on everything from cardio workouts to workout plans for weight loss.

1. I do a lot of strength training. Should I add cardio workouts to my routine, too?

Cardiovascular exercise should definitely have a role in your workouts. After all, your heart is the most important muscle you have! Adults should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (like biking slower than 10 mph) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (like swimming laps, biking faster, or jumping rope) during the week, ideally spread out over seven days. If you're able to get more than that, it’s even better. So, make time for cardio workouts.

2. I’m a die-hard runner, but lately I’ve been thinking about incorporating some cross training, too. How can I get started?

Cross training is a great idea and can actually make you a better runner because you’re conditioning the entire body and adding flexibility to your workouts. To begin, just find a couple different things you like doing and rotate them at varying intensity levels. That might mean hopping on a stationary bike, taking a yoga class, even golfing or tennis. Do whatever makes you excited to exercise and keeps you active.

3. A friend is taking a two-week break from exercise. Good idea?

For some people, that’s actually a great idea. Remember, exercise is a form of stress. If you’re following an intense workout schedule of five or six days a week, a break may give your body a much-needed rest. Even taking a couple days off can be helpful. Don’t forget that you can get stronger during periods of rest and recovery. Give it a try for yourself and see if it works!

4. I’m always in a rush. Is stretching after workouts really necessary?

Make time in your schedule because the answer is yes. It’s just as important as the strength or cardio components of your workout. Stretching offers numerous benefits, including injury prevention, better blood flow, less muscle soreness, and even reduced stress. Those are impressive results for just five to 10 minutes of work.

5. Whenever I start a new exercise program, I seem to gain a little weight. Am I doing something wrong if my workout goal is weight loss?

This is more common than you might think. If you haven’t been super active and you start exercising, your body has to respond to that change. Usually, the muscles increase in size and store extra water. That can make the scale go up a bit. Also, the body might store more sugar in the muscles and, you guessed it, that can add water, too. Good news: This water weight is usually temporary. As your body adjusts, the number on the scale often comes down. But if you’re feeling discouraged in the meantime, try putting that scale in the closet for a while!

Find What Works for You

Whether you’re concentrating on workout plans for weight loss, upping your cardio workouts for more endurance, or just easing into exercise for the first time, the important thing is to notice what’s working for you. Take your time, and, most of all, have fun!