In this week’s blog, we’re taking an alternative approach to the blog and tackle the questions I’m frequently asked by personal training clients and friends. If you have any other questions you would like answering feel free to send them to!


  1. How many calories does it take to burn one pound of fat?


It takes 3,500 calories to gain or lose one pound. To lose one pound per week, you need to decrease your calories by 500 every day. This is usually done by cutting 250 calories out of your diet and burning the other 250 through activity.


  1. How often should I work out?


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week to achieve the health benefits, maintain current weight, and/or prevent weight gain.

For those who are overweight or obese, the ACSM recommends getting 250 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Results in studies have shown that if this is followed; weight loss can be significant.


  1. How much is a healthy amount of weight to lose per week?


The answer to this question is very much dependant on your current weight. The NHS suggests 1-2lb per week, and for most people who are classed as ‘Healthy’ on the B.M.I scale, this would be okay. If you are classed as ‘Overweight’ or ‘Obese’ on the B.M.I scale then a healthy amount of weight loss could be up to 5/6lbs per week, however, this is only in certain circumstances and I would not advise this for most people.


  1. What is my target heart rate?


Target heart rate is the heart rate in which you need to train in order to achieve a certain fitness improvement. Target heart rate—the heart rate range used to determine the desired intensity of an activity—will differ depending on the goal of the workout. You can calculate your maximum heart rate (HRmax), by subtracting your age from 220. This gives you an estimated value of your maximum heart rate which is used as a basis for training at specific intensities.

The training zones are as follows…

60-70%: Each training zone Long, slow runs, easy, or recovery runs

  • Training in this zone improves the ability of your heart to pump blood and improves the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen. The body becomes more efficient at feeding the working muscles and learns to metabolise fat as a source of fuel.

70-80%: Aerobic zone or “target heart rate zone”

  • Most effective for overall cardiovascular fitness. Increases your cardio-respiratory capacity: that is, your ability to transport oxygenated blood to the muscle cells and carbon dioxide away from the cells. Also effective for increasing overall muscle strength.

80-90%: Anaerobic zone

  • The point at which the body cannot remove lactic acid as quickly as it is produced is called the lactate threshold or anaerobic threshold. It generally occurs at about 80-88% of the Heart Rate Reserve. Training in this zone helps to increase the lactate threshold, which improves performance. Training in this zone is hard: your muscles are tired, your breathing is heavy.

90-100%: VO2 max

  • You should only train in this zone if you’re very fit, and only for very short periods of time. Lactic acid develops quickly as you are operating in oxygen debt to the muscles The value of training in this zone is you can increase your fast-twitch muscle fibers which increase speed.



  1. Should I perform cardio first or weights first?


This depends on your primary goal. If your primary goal is to increase aerobic endurance or lose weight, then it would be better to perform cardiovascular exercise first. If the primary goal is to increase muscular strength, then performing strength training first would be better.


  1. How long should I rest between workouts?


Rest required between workouts depends on both your conditioning and the nature of your workouts. If you are well conditioned to exercise you may be able to train each day or even twice per day – although almost certainly not the same form of exercise or targeted muscle groups.

If you are new to exercise, particularly resistance work, you should be doing total body workouts to get your body to adapt to the new stress you are putting on it. In this case, I would suggest rest periods of at least 48-72 hours.


  1. When I stop training, will my muscles turn to fat?


This is a very common and understandable misconception. It’s most likely arisen from seeing ex sportsmen and women putting on weight after they stop training which has nothing to do with muscle converting to fat. When an athlete stops training, they will typically continue consuming large amounts of food which they would have done when training. When you combine this with lower-calorie expenditure, you are left with a huge calorie surplus every day. If you avoid eating too much when you stop training, what happens is that your muscles lose bulk (they’re no longer needed to perform at high levels) but your body fat stays the same.


  1. How can you reduce belly fat and flatten your stomach?


This is one of the most common questions I’m asked and it’s one that has a very simple answer. Losing belly fat and flattening the stomach comes down to burning off more calories than you consume. It’s 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise! Reduce your calorie intake and increase exercise. For example, if your weight is stable, but eating 500 calories a day less, which is a lot less than you think, you will lose 1lb a week, and you don’t have to change any habits!


  1. Are machines as good for you as free weights?


Simple answer…no. Machines have their use, but if you really want to get the best results from your strength and training, you would be much better using free weights or performing bodyweight exercises. Machines can force your body to move unnaturally, and they do most of the work for you. Bodyweight exercises and free weights are much safer, healthier, and better for you in the long run.


  1. What are some good workout options if you can’t afford a personal trainer?


If you can’t shell out for a trainer, then a great alternative is to join a group class or a boot camp. This way, you get the benefits of a tailored workout without the costs. Yes, the sessions aren’t bespoke, but they’re a great place to start.