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I hear many questions from members at the gym, clients, friends  and family.

This page may help you with some of the most common questions.



Q. Does fat turn into muscle, or vice versa?


A.  No.  I hear this question all the time.  The truth is that both fat and muscle are made up

of 2 different types of cells.  Muscle cells are made up of long branched chains of amino acids 

and fat is made up of adipose tissue (fat cells).  Muscles give the body structure and make the

body move (other uses also)while fat is really stored fuel for the body.  Fat has many uses also,

but in this discussion we'll stick to stored fuel or excess stored fuel.


Q.  I have heard that there is a specific % of your heart rate to stay at to burn body fat when you are doing cardio. 


A.This is actually a more complicated question than it sounds.  Because in fact that statement is true.  However, I will try to shed a little light on the subject.  Fat is fuel for long endurance activities.  So getting on a treadmill and keeping your heart rate between 55 and 65% of your maximum heart rate (HR) does burn mostly fat.  The problem arises more in the calories you burn than the fuel source.  When a lady gets on a treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour, say she burns 300-400 calories.  That is fine and dandy, but then if she later eats a cheesburger or piece of pie, she just consumed 500-600 calories.  See the problem?  It's more in that people give themselves too much credit.  People need to do both.  Eat a sensible diet and do cardio.  Just realize that even if your heart rate is higher when first beginning to exercise, your heart will eventually become stronger and your HR will be lower at the same speed or incline on the treadmill.  Your body will become more efficient when pushed at a higher intensity.  So your body becomes a fat burning machine when it gets healthier.  Getting on a treadmill and talking on the phone is not what you need to be doing.  Think, "The more I move, The healthier I become".


Q. Can you write me a diet?  What do you eat?


A.  Diet?  First I do not like the word diet.  I think people need to understand that you have to make a lifelong commitment to change your eating habits.  It is really about self control, willpower, and consistency.  Most people eat one or 2 healthy meals and they think they need to be praised.  People who are overweight and unhealthy need to understand that they have to eat good from now on.  They may allow themselves one cheat meal a week for reward, but some people don't have the willpower to stick to that.  It really depends on the person.  Some people have a real problem with eating, just as an alcoholic has a problem with drinking.  An alcoholic who is trying to quit can't go into it thinking ,"Oh I will take a drink in 6 months,"  NO they have to think, " I can NEVER have another drink again".  So in my experience, people need to figure out for themselves what works for them.  What can they live with? Educate themselves on what foods are healthy, and plan accordingly.  No fad diet or strict eating plan is going to keep the weight off forever. People can't stick to these long term, nor should they have to. To continually deprive yourself of specific foods or food groups sets you up for failure in the long run.  Consistency and self-control are key. I am very boring.  I eat pretty much the same thing week after week.  The weekend is when I have my cheat meal,but for the most part, I am consistent and hopefully it shows.



Q. How many calories does 1 lb of fat have and why should I care?


A.  1 lb of fat has 3500 calories.  So, if a person wants to lose 1 lb of fat they have to burn an extra 3500 calories more than what they take in.  A simple way to break this down is to burn 500 extra calories a day.  So in a weeks time, 7 days multiplied by 500 = 3500 calories. Now this is done by diet or exercise or by doing both together.  So, if a person has an extra 100 lbs of fat on them, (excluding some fluid loss and for simple math purposes)  3500 calories multiplied by 100 = 350,000 extra calories a person must burn to get rid of 100 lbs of fat.  Or lets break it down by days.  If a person is perfect and expends an extra 500 calories per day then it will take them 700 days to lose 100 lbs of fat.  That is almost 2 years.  Now obviously it can be done in a shorter time span, but you get the idea.  So imagine:  you weight train, and do your cardio, and you expend 600 calories (Don't flatter yourself. Most people don't burn half of this by some of the workouts I've seen.) Then you go eat a cheesburger with 500 calories.  Well, you actually only burned an extra 100 calories after all that hard work at the gym.  If you keep that up, how long will it take to lose 100 lbs?  Now if you just didn't eat that cheeseburger then you would be on the right track, or OnTraK.


Q. What is the best Ab exercise?


A. There is not one!!  The abdominals, or what most people call the abdominals, are actually a group of muscles: rectus abdominus, internal obliques, and external obliques.  There are many exercises that target different parts of the abdominals.  Some of the common ones are: crunches, leg lifts, swiss ball crunches, sit-ups, sidebends, and the plank. There are 100's of variations.  There are beginner ab exercises,(crunch), and there are more advanced exercises,(hanging windmill).  I think the biggest and most successful way of strengthening your abs is by working them, period.  But just working them is not enough.  You have to feel the exercise and the muscles you are working.  If you are doing an exercise that emphasis your lower abs, then you should start to feel that part of the muscle burn.  Everyone has their favorites, but it needs to be your favorite.  You need to pick exercises in which you can feel the abs working without hurting your lower back.  If you feel an exercise is bothering your back, then you need to find a different exercise.  There are too many ab exercises out there to risk hurting your back.  Don't think that working your abs is enough to give you a 6 pack or an 8 pack!  Your muscles can be very strong, but it's the fat on top that keeps people from seeing them.  For beginners, I recommend working abs 2 days a week and progressing to 3 or 4 days a week.  If they are sore, leave them alone until they are not.


For more great tips or to ask a specifc questions please contact us at Ontrak Personal Training.


Source: OnTrak Personal Training

Personal Trainer Franklin TN


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