Ask a Trainer!

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Got a question that you’re dying to know the answer to? Send your queries into the LifeSpan Fitness Club. Shoot James an email, find LifeSpan on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter.

Safe weight loss, healthy pregnancy, benefit of incline and the bright side to soreness are all covered in this edition of the LifeSpan Fitness Club Ask a Trainer.


How much weight can someone lose in a month?

- Mary – Stillwater, Oklahoma


When it’s done in a way that’s healthy? Roughly 1-2 pounds per week, or 4-8 pounds per month. Whenever you hear of people shedding massive amounts of weight in a short period of time it’s often a hoax, or weight loss without substantial fat loss.

female-before-and-after-weight-lossTake Atkins dieting for example. While reducing carbohydrates is thought to be an effective way to reduce body fat, it’s less known that digesting protein (the primary nutrient consumed on Atkins) requires your body to use a significant amount of water. As Atkin’s dieters begin to dehydrate from water expenditure, they see large amounts of water-weight drop off the scale. It’s fake weight loss such as this that can set average expectations too high and lead to unhealthy conditions.

Through proper nutrition and exercise (see last week’s post), sustainable, healthy weight loss can be accomplished.


I’m 49 and in reasonably good shape with a TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk. Is there a daily limit I should consider for distance walked? Currently I’m around 8-11 miles a day.

- Glen – Toronto, Ontario


You’re a walking machine, Glen! That’s an amazing amount of distance to be covering in a single day’s walking effort. It is recommended that for general adult health you take at least 10,000 steps each day, or walk roughly 5 miles. This is encompassing of your entire day, from time spent on your treadmill desk to the steps you take walking to speak to a coworker.

where are you on the steps to a healthy life

For some, this goal is initially a steep one and requires a gentle increase in activity. A reasonable goal for most people is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 steps per day until they achieve this level. For those such as yourself who are extending far past this goal, the question of “how much is too much” is highly subjective. I had a professor in grad school who competed in ultra-endurance events, running over 100 miles in a single bout of activity extending across multiple days. He would suggest that extreme volumes for certain individuals is safely achievable. For the rest of us, let your body do the decision making.

If some people were to complete your 8-11 daily miles they would experience negative symptoms ranging from chaffing to low back pain or light headedness. Chronically, they might fall into a condition called overtraining. If you experience undesired sensations at higher volumes of exercise, try reducing your efforts or modifying your resting periods. If you feel as though you’re safely walking 25,000 steps a day, however, don’t cease your activity simply because it is a large number. Do, however, make sure that your previous medical history supports such exercise. If you want to be certain that you’re healthy enough for such exertion please don’t hesitate consulting your physician.


I put my data into the LifeSpan Fitness Club regularly to keep track of everything. I am pregnant and in my third trimester. I have outstanding fitness considering how far along I am, but it tells me that I’m in the “at risk” and “caution” zones for my health. How can I judge my health in reality?

- Selina – Madison, AL

Healthy pregnancy

You’re right, Selina. Currently the LifeSpan Fitness Club doesn’t have an alternate set of normative values to account for pregnancy or other health conditions. Your question was an intriguing one that required a number of phone calls to multiple women’s health centers across the nation.

The professional consensus was that currently there is no agreed-upon normative range to quantify the various health statistics of every woman during pregnancy. The prevailing message was that healthy pregnancy values are somewhat dictated by your pre-pregnancy health, making safe averages hard to compute.

Every obstetrician that I came in contact with did, however, suggest that women who are pregnant should consult their individual physician to ensure the health of their various metrics, such as blood pressure, waist circumference, and so on.

There are many reliable online tools that can help break down some of these unknowns. Please feel free to check some of these out for yourself and see if they can help you find some of the answers that you’re looking for.

The American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise During Pregnancy Fact Sheet
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Recommendations


Do you burn more calories when you’re sore from exercise?

- Charlie – Glenwood, MN

Yes, you actually do! A 2008 study found that test subject’s resting metabolism was considerably elevated even up to 72 hours after intense weight training. While the study didn’t exactly specify why this was the case and didn’t say how this increase relates to a specific calorie number, it does imply that strength training can lead to health benefits even after the immediate effort has concluded. This isn’t an excuse to eat improperly or to not exercise days after strength training, but it is a benefit to including resistance training into your exercise routine.

I’ve heard that increasing the incline on your treadmill burns more fat. Is this true?

-Marissa – Freemont, CA


It can be, yes. The style of your exercise can have great impact on your results. Incline training, even while simply walking, requires a greater intensity of effort than walking on a flat surface. It’s been determined that higher intensity, shorter duration bouts of exercise can be more effective at creating changes in body composition than longer bouts of exercise at reduced intensity. If you’re interested in experimenting with incline to increase your intensity, try alternating between zero and 2-3% incline every 3-5 minutes. If this is too difficult, simply scale back the amount of time that you spend at incline and increase the amount of time spent recovering while walking flat. Best of luck to your efforts!


I read recently that strength training can really help you lose weight. I’m concerned about getting bulky though. Do you have any recommendations for how, as a woman, I can get stronger without getting big?

- Allison – Ocala, FL


Someone once asked me what I thought the largest misconceptions are in today’s fitness industry. I told them that one of the greatest myths I’ve ever had to dispel is that women who weight train will automatically develop the bodybuilder physique, or get “bulky”. Plain and simple, for most recreational weight trainers, this is just not the case.

It’s been documented that due to hormonal differences, most women have a more difficult time than men when increasing their amount of muscle mass. Even without these gender hindrances, most men who seek larger muscle mass have to work their tails off to see this growth. With beginning strength training in males, it’s been found that it takes close to a minimum of 8-weeks of consistent strength training before muscle size has been shown to noticeably increase. Even after this initial growth, great dedication and specific exercise protocols are required to continue this adaptation.

Long story short, the benefits of strength training are so prevalent that there should be no reason not to begin a program, especially considering that your likelihood of achieving an undesired figure is so small. Just make sure that you’re healthy enough to begin a resistance program and that you’re completing effective, safe exercises. Your LifeSpan Fitness Club account has entire resistance exercise programs that you can utilize for free, dropped straight into your exercise calendar.


Thanks again everyone for submitting such great questions!
As always, best of luck to your health and fitness!
Your LifeSpan Fitness Coach,

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One Comment

  1. Very nice points. I’ve made progress personally with HIIT treadmill exercises. I do this of course after putting in a hard weight training session. With reduced calories, the pounds seem to melt off!

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