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Fitness

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Kim Lavender, the national director of team training for GoodLife Fitness, has been involved in fitness education for the last two decades. She has worked as a personal trainer for both private and corporate fitness clubs, was the cycling instructor for Bell Canada's Making The Cut and hosted Flex on Raptors NBA TV.

Earlier, Kim joined us at for a live chat to answer your questions.

12:48

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Niamh O'Doherty - Hi all, I'm Niamh O'Doherty and I'll be hosting this live chat today. Kim Lavender will be joining us in a few minutes to discuss all things health and fitness related, so send your questions in now!

12:55

Niamh O'Doherty - We've just been joined by the national director of team training for GoodLife Fitness, Kim Lavender. Good afternoon Kim!

12:56

[Comment From Kim Lavender ]

Good afternoon, and what a beautiful one it is.

12:57

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Niamh O'Doherty - Well the questions are already flying in, let's get started!

12:57

[Comment From Jim ]

For early morning workouts, should I eat a small amount first or wait until after finishing before having breakfast?

1:00

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

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For many this is a personal preference and what they habitually do. Ideally you will want something small about an hour prior to your workout, you will have some glycogen stored in your muscles, that will be used quickly, you will also benefit from ensuring you also have something within about 30minutes after your workout. Ideal sources include high quality carbohydrates and protein.

1:01

[Comment From Alex Simpson - Toronto ]

Hi, I have been consitently working out 3 to 4 times a week and have an active life style. I have gradually lost 25 lbs over 2 years. What I have noticed is that I lost the majority of weight in my legs, arms and buttocks. However, it seems the hardest to lose excess fat in my core? Is there anyway to target fat reduction in your core?

1:06

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

First off congrats and way to go Alex on your weight loss, you have worked hard to get there. Many people struggle with spot reduction, unfortunately there is not magic answer for belly fat and as we age this can tend to be an area that we gain fatty tissue in. Without knowing what you are currently doing for your exercise routine, I would suggest ensuring that you are focused on building strength to increase your overall metabolism, as you build a bigger engine (your body) you will burn more calories simply existing. Start with ensuring you work through a strength phase in your workouts, trying exercises like suspension training and those that also include balance to be firing your core muscles (stabilizers) all this time. Many people focus on the curl up or crunch, thinking that will eliminate belly fat, unfortunately not the case and sometimes ends up injuring us becuase of the frequent compression on the spine. Go for building some strength, and revving up your metabolism.

1:07

[Comment From Julia ]

Can you explain complete protein vs. incomplete protein in terms of how it impacts your strength training success? I generally don't eat much animal proteins but I have chickpeas, lentils, quinoa etc. often. I have been told that these are incomplete and I need complete proteins to see the benefits of my weight training.

1:13

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

The role of protein is to build and reapir body tissues, so asking about this in relation to strength training is a great question. Often the need for protein is overestimated acknowleding the need to build muslce. Athelets or those focused on strength training have a recommended daily allowance of 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight. A complete protein is defined as a complete amino acid, which the number one example is an egg, you can create a complete protein by combining two incomplete proteins such as meat and a vegetable, or dairy and meat, dairy and vegetable (ie legumes) fruit such as bananas, just be wary of the dairy is not too high in saturated fats as well. The goal is to combine the incomplete to form a complete, so eat them together, not just one at a time.

1:13

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

typing fast, please forgive the typos

1:14

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Just to add to the protein comment, it is always a good idea as well when you are struggling or noticing your body is reacting with low energy, or not reaching your goals to consult with a registered dietician to percribe the solution as well.

1:14

Niamh O'Doherty - No problem Kim, sounds like your fingers are getting a real workout anyway! Readers please feel free to send us more questions. Back to the advice...

1:15

[Comment From Kory L ]

I've been rather inactive the last few years and I'm looking to get back into better shape. Do you have any suggestions or tips?

1:22

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Congrats Kory, making the decision to invest in your health and wellbeing is the first big step. There is no time like the present to live a fit and healthy life. Considering you have been quite inactive over the last few years, I would start with ensuring you have a full assessment, over time when we are not focused on alignement in even every day movement, we build muscle imbalances, and mal-aligned movement patterns. If this is the case and we start exercising and continuing with these patterns and imbalances we end up injuring and bringing our good intentions to a halt. If a proper assessment is not accessible to you at this time, simply start by moving more, start with walking focus on increasing your heart rate, you should be a little challenged, also think about the primal movements, squats, lunges, push ups and pulling exercises. Also start to incorporate more activity in your daily life, park further, take the stairs, play a sport, ride a bike, whatever just move more. Find a friend with similar goals and keep one another accountable, book a consultation with a Personal Trainer, log your activity and celebrate your success. Warm up, be sure you are conscious of form and technique, get excited about being active and what you will be able to do becuase you have more energy, more strength and more stamina, HAVE FUN!

1:22

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

One more thing Kory, be patient, celebrate your minivictories on the way, and of course develop a healthy eating plan!

1:23

[Comment From Adam C ]

I don't have the posture I should. I'm currently on a two-day-split routine with cardio in between. Are there certain exercises you would recommend to improve posture (I think part of the issue is being in front of a computer almost all day at work)?

1:27

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Funny you ask as we all huddle over our key boards right now. As you sit reading these responses sit up straight in your chair, reach around behind you and stretch your chest. Indeed what we do day to day can leave us with a string of postural imbalances. Being aware of it is the first step, when you are at the keyboard be concious of taking stretch breaks and your posture as you type. Ensure you have your chair, keyboard and screen set up ergonomically correctly. Now let's leave the office.......ideally you want to ensure you stretch chest, front of your shoulders and strengthen your back. Rowing exercises can help coutner balance that tightness in the chest and shoulders. I would also recommend doing suspension exercises, that ensure you are firing your deep core muscles to stabilize, that combined with proper stretching and perhaps Yoga will help you bring more awareness (although I think you are already there) and a greater focus on ensuring you are able to enjoy good posture in all that you do. Stretch Front, strengthen back.

1:28

Niamh O'Doherty - Hope you're all taking that advice guys! i know I will! on to the next question...

1:28

[Comment From Guest ]

Hi, I am trying to add lean muscle mass, and regularly hit the gym 4 times a week for strength training. Day one is back and biceps, day two is chest and triceps, and I do cardio and leg weights the other two days. Should I be working out my upper body muscles more than once a week for each area?

1:29

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

PS: if you are sitting at a desk right now, get up, reach up to the sky, place your hands on your lower back, squeeze elbows together....mini stretch break for all of us:)

1:34

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Great question we very often combine these muscle groups as from a movement perspective it makes sense, what I am going to encourage you to do is MIX it up, perhaps a different focus of a Push Lunge day, then a Pull Squat day. Mixing it up will continue to challenge you, keep it interesting and change the muscle stimulus. Remember to truly build strength and mass, max lifts should also be kept to low repetition to reach max, which means no greater than 6 reps and no more than 3 sets. Perhaps throw a Power day in as a substitute for your cardio, (this will jack your heart rate, provide a new challenge, power movements combine elements of strength and speed, therefore increasing your heart rate. Ensure you are matching your meal plans to your goals as well.

1:35

[Comment From Julie ]

I know lifting weights is not supposed to bulk women up but for me it seems to be doing just that. I do plenty or cardio and lift weights a couple of times a week and my new muscles are making my clothes too tight. Any suggestions for building a leaner look?

1:36

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Hi Julie,

1:38

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

oops hit sent too fast. Some women can build a slightly bigger muscle belly, rarely do women bulk too quickly. Of course bulking up is a relative term to us all, I personally think you would look strong, and athletic, If you are looking to lean out your look, try Yoga (perhaps hot yoga) and or pilates, these activities focus on strength, and LENGTH. Don't stop what you are doing though, I am going to guess that you can skip up a flight of stairs, and carry your groceries with ease. Let's just lengthen those strong muscles of yours.

1:39

[Comment From guest ]

Hi Kim, I am a 20 year old male and lift weights and/or go rock climbing around 2-4 times a week. what sort of diet would you recommend to lose fat and put on muscle?

1:42

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

You are at an age where with the right activity and dietary habits will bring you what you are looking for. Ensure you are getting the proper amount of protein, 1.7 grams per kilogram, and ensure that you are cutting back on saturated fats, increase your water intake as well, many of us forget that component, (focus on strength and build for your weight training, refer to the question above for rep max) Avoid low value high calories like alchohol, sugary juices, pop etc. Enjoy a variety of high quality carbs, grains, and legumes.

1:43

[Comment From guest ]

Sometimes I work out with weights for 45 minutes or so, and then do 20 minutes of cardio. In your opinion, is this good or should one dedicate a workout to either weights or cardio?

1:48

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

This is an age old question with both research along with anecdotal evidence. It also depends on what your fitness goals are and how many times a week you are exercising, rest etc......In my opinion, start with your cardio, my reasoning is when you are working through your strength training you are using important stabilizer muscles that are tapped into when you start with cardio, such as walking or running on a treadmill, this way when you get to your strength training those important stabilizers that help with alignment and posture have been activated, muscles are warm and you can then reach your max and exercise the overload principle to build strength, without "saving" some for your cardio.

1:49

[Comment From Guest ]

Hi Kim, I'm trying to lose weight but I hear building lean muscle is my secret weapon. I have a great routine for my lower body. However my upper body (shoulders, arms, etc) are quite weak comparatively. What sort of exercises would you recommend for an upper body training beginner like myself?

1:53

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

ahhh the secret is OUT:) You are right on the money, by increasing our strength and lean muscle mass we rev up our metabolism. To target your upper body, try exercises like push ups, rowing exercises, and presses. I am a big fan of suspension training, superset some of this with your basic strength training exercises, ie chin ups, then row with a suspension trainer to your max. If you are just in a build and strength phase, remember keep your reps low, resistence high.

1:54

[Comment From Mike ]

Hi there, I am a 35-year old male in fairly good shape, and workout about 5 times a week. Is it possible to work out too much, and should you ever give your body a break for a few days?

1:59

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Hi Mike, yes you can work out too much and not give your body enough rest time to rebuild. 5 days a week is manageable if the activity is light to moderate, if you are excercising at a high intensity 5 days a week, you may be overdoing it. You can also judge this on what you are feeling and results you are acheiving or in some cases not acheiving, if you are feeling tired, or lethargic, or not reaching your goals, at a standstill not seeing changes, or perhaps decreasing strength it is time to take a rest. Enjoy proper nutrition on those rest days for sure, ensure water consumption is adequate. Remember the recovery and rest principle become more and more important as your workouts become more intense or stressful. Listen to your body.

2:00

Niamh O'Doherty - Thanks so much Kim! On that note, everyone, we'll bring this live chat to a close. Thanks for all your questions, sorry we didn't have time to get to them all. Happy training everyone!

2:01

[Comment From Kim Lavender]

Thanks so much Niamh, my pleasure, be fit, eat healthy and love living your life!



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