A PT Answers The Most Commonly Asked Fitness Questions

A PT Answers The Most Commonly Asked Fitness Questions

Most of us try to incorporate some form of exercise into our weekly schedules, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t do with a bit of expert guidance now and then. Here, we asked two top PTs to answer some of your burning questions…
By Tor West

Do You Need To Eat Before Exercising In The Morning?

“If you prefer to work out before breakfast, you’ll be exercising in a ‘fasted’ state. When you do fasted exercise, your body relies on stored energy such as glycogen and fat to fuel muscle movement. However, most of us tend to have something to eat – whether it’s dinner or a snack – within two hours of going to bed and we rarely sleep for more than eight hours. So, if you get up and start training ten or so hours after your last meal, your glycogen will be low, but it won’t be gone completely. It could therefore be argued that you’ll have just enough glycogen left to train hard but low enough levels that you’ll burn more fat to compensate for it. If you’re not hungry when you wake up, and feel good, then it’s absolutely fine to do something like yoga, Pilates or barre, but if you’re looking to do something high-intensity, such as HIIT, spinning or running, you may want to eat a carb-dense snack an hour beforehand. The number one rule? If you’re training on an empty stomach, ensure you refuel with a post-workout meal – this is non-negotiable.” – Louisa Drake, PT & founder of The Louisa Drake Method

What’s The Best Time Of The Day To Exercise?

“There’s no right time to exercise – it’s about what works for you. Train when you know you can and try to stick to it. A morning workout can help set you up mentally and physically for the day ahead, whereas a lunchtime session can break up your day and boost performance. Being mindful of the style of exercise and how it affects your lifestyle is also worth noting. For example, yoga and restorative workouts can support your pre-sleep routine, which is worth trying if you struggle with stress and anxiety.” – Louisa

How Accurate Are Fitness Watches?

“Fitness watches are extremely accurate when it comes to measuring heart rate and step count, but they shouldn’t be relied on to track calories burnt during a workout. One study which analysed several leading watch brands found that all were prone to inaccurate recording of calorie expenditure. None of the seven watches in the study measured energy expenditure accurately, with the most accurate device being off by 27% and the least accurate by 93%. Fitness trackers are useful if you want to compare data on yourself over time, but should never be relied on to determine how many calories you need to consume, or not consume, in relation to exercise.” – Lucie Cowan, master trainer at Third Space

You want to be challenged in a workout but leaving a session feeling spent isn’t an indication of a good or effective workout.

Is Running Bad For You?

“No one form of exercise is bad for you, and running is a great way to elevate your heart rate and improve both your cardiovascular fitness and your mood. However, running should never be the only form of exercise you do. It’s our joints which absorb the impact of the road or treadmill when our feet land, and if our muscles aren’t strong enough to support the impact, or if our core isn’t strong enough to maintain a neutral posture, injury is inevitable. If you want running to be in your life for years to come, it should always be in combination with a solid strength training programme.” – Lucie

How Long Should It Take To See Results?

“If you’re looking to gain lean muscle mass, you should see results after six weeks of doing three strength training sessions per week, provided you’ve fuelled sufficiently, and rested enough. If it’s changes to your cardiovascular fitness you want, these can be achieved quicker. Fat loss, meanwhile, shouldn’t be rushed. If you are looking to lose body fat, take a slow and sustainable approach, or the fat will just return as soon as your body adapts to what you’re putting it through. Unless you’re working towards a very specific goal, exercising intensely for three days of the week is enough to see results.” – Lucie

What’s The Best Way To Increase Muscle Mass?

“I would always opt for resistance-based training over cardiovascular training if your goal is to build muscle mass and strength. Cardio is important for heart and lung health but it’s not a superior training method, especially once you reach your mid-30s. After the age of 40, women are more prone to bone issues and weight-bearing exercises are a proven way to build bone density. Try introducing lunges, squats and barre-style workouts. If your primary focus is to improve body composition, this is best achieved via resistance training, managing your diet and maximising movement outside of the gym – think upping your step count, moving around the house, picking up kids and generally being physically active.” – Louisa

What’s The Best Form Of Exercise For All-Round Health And Fitness?

“Pairing a resistance-based, low-impact workout using bodyweight and light-medium weights or resistance bands with a form of cardio – think jogging, swimming or cycling – is the secret formula to staying in shape. Don’t discount the power of equipment such as resistance bands, ankle weights, free weights and gliding discs – they’ll keep the body challenged and can be used to up exercise intensity to keep the mind and body guessing.” – Louisa

Don’t discount the power of equipment such as resistance bands, ankle weights, free weights and gliding discs – they’ll keep the body challenged.

Is It Better To Do More Reps With A Lighter Weight? Or Fewer Reps With A Heavier Weight?

“This depends on your goal and preference. You can build muscle and strength using lighter weights and higher reps – in fact, this can be a great place to start if you are new or returning to fitness. Once you’re feeling more confident and feel ready to increase the load, you can level up the weights you use and advance the type of exercises you are doing. It’s important to monitor how you feel during and after your workouts – are you struggling with the last reps or set? Do you suffer from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)? You want to be challenged in a workout but leaving a session feeling spent isn’t an indication of a good or effective workout.” – Louisa

What’s The Best Way To Warm Before Working Out?

“Every workout, no matter the type, should begin with at least ten minutes of mobility. Simply getting the body warm on a cardio machine or running a lap round the block in itself requires a mobility warm-up, or you risk injury. Mobility is a very different concept to flexibility, and is not to be confused with stretching. Mobility is all about movements which will increase your range of motion and stability, and allow you better control of the muscles around each joint. Heading into a workout unprepared, with a limited range of motion, results in the possibility of using the wrong muscles to compensate – typically smaller and weaker muscles. Most people either don’t realise they need to be working on their mobility until it’s too late, or are actually training less effectively than they would be if they’d mobilised properly.” – Lucie

Can You Exercise With DOMS?

“DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness – causes your body to feel sore, stiff and heavy about 24-72 hours after training. Usually, DOMS is worse if you’ve tried a new style of exercise or have lifted heavier. Depending on the level of soreness, you can still train with DOMS, but listen to your body to avoid injury. Avoid doing two heavy leg days back-to-back and switch your focus to a core and upper body class, or factor in some restorative movement. If you don’t feel DOMS after every workout, it doesn’t mean that you’re not doing it correctly or it wasn’t effective. The fitter you are, the less susceptible you are to feeling post-workout soreness, so don’t use it as a gauge of how effective your workout was. The best advice when training around DOMS is to factor in the correct recovery – think about foam rolling, using a massage gun and magnesium.” – Louisa


For more information, visit ThirdSpace.London and LouisaDrake.com, and follow @LucieXCX and @LouisaDrakeMethod on Instagram.

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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