I think we all have a relatively good idea of what the basics are when it comes to getting into and staying in shape, but there are also a lot of details that I just don’t understand. Obviously, each one of us is different; we have different goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc. so no one ‘way’ will fit each of us, but I figured I should get my local expert to weigh in on some of my recent questions. I asked my CrossFit trainer, Sonjia Johnston for some feedback and she gave me some great info! Check it out…
Annie: We know that a combination of both cardio and weight training is a good way to approach working out and getting in shape, but is there a ‘rule of thumb’ about how much/little of either is the best in your opinion?
Sonjia: How much cardio and/or weight training someone needs depends on many factors, primarily: what is their fitness goal? In general, everyone benefits from strength training (using weights), no matter their goal. Weights increase muscle mass which burns more calories; thus for someone wanting to lose weight, spending 3 days a week at minimum doing strength training for the major muscle groups is pivotal to gain lean muscle mass. This individual would benefit from at least 30 min “cardio” at least 5 days a week, incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) to also stoke the metabolism. Or that person could simply do CrossFit workouts several days/week and get their bases covered for the most part.
If someone is looking to ADD muscle, their focus will be weights, not cardio. Lifting heavy 3-5 days/week and doing short (10-15 min) metcons at end of strength workout will promote their muscle gains. Doing too much cardio will impede strength and muscle gains.
For the elderly looking for general fitness and improved quality of life, weight training is pivotal to keep muscles, bones, and joints strong. In addition cardio is necessary for the cardiovascular system. Squats, pushups, db presses, step ups (low), ring rows etc can all be performed circuit style so that in 20-30 minutes a few days a week they’d get the health benefits, and more benefits than just sitting on a stationary bike for that 20-30 minutes. (Not that that’s not helpful; it is, but the strength training is very important for aging people).
In general if one is satisfied with their composition (fat/muscle ratio), physique and strength and is looking for “maintenance”, they can get by with a few workouts a week combining strength and conditioning; again, doing CrossFit will cover their bases. But they have to mind their diet!! Which brings us to the next question.
Annie: How important are eating habits in combination with working out, when trying to get into shape?
Annie: What are your thoughts on supplements (vitamins, shakes, bars, etc.) as an aid to performance in workouts?
Sonjia: My opinion on supplements is simple: eat real food. Very few people need supplements. I make an exception for fish oil for those who don’t get enough fish in their diet. Shakes and bars are not necessary unless you can’t get enough calories from real food in the quest to gain weight. I am not an advocate of meal replacement shakes; people need to eat real food. Satiety is important for weight loss and not feeling deprived; eating the right foods promotes satiety. That being said, if one is running a marathon, or performing in races like the Tough Mudder, etc, an energy bar or drink can be beneficial. But not for your everyday gym goer or CrossFitter who works out an hour or so a day. They do not need supplements for workout performance. They will get better results eating the right foods! Plan ahead and have your snacks and meals ready. “Eat food, not too much and mostly plants”. And drink lots of water!! Hydration is critical for workout performance–go into the workout hydrated by consuming water throughout the day.
So, there you have it…I got some of my questions answered! What are yours?