Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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Ask the Trainer: Muscle Soreness & Rest

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I started at Snap Fitness a few days ago and have been walking on the treadmill. I have been noticing pain in my thighs and lower legs & then also have been feeling pain on my right side. Should I stop for a while?

Answer: The pain you are probably feeling is because you are just starting exercise. This muscle soreness is expected whenever someone starts a workout program. If you are walking on the treadmill you are using your thighs and calves a lot and they will be sore at first. The pain in your side is probably a cramp that most people get when they first start working out as well. The cramp in your side will go away with time but you need to rest your muscles a day or two until the soreness goes away. If you take a couple days off and the pain increases or does not get better in your legs you should go see a doctor.  Congratulations on your fitness journey!

Ask the Trainer: Rest and Recovery

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: My husband and I always eat our regular breakfast before going to Snap and then have a protein drink before leaving the gym. I have heard that one's muscles need time to recover so you shouldn't work out daily. Do you have some tips on whether that's true, or what I should be doing?

Answer: You are hitting the two most important meals of the day. Make sure your breakfast is at least 30 minutes before your workout and continue to get your protein drink in right after your workout to help repair the muscles you just worked. As far as the recovery goes, you should not work the muscle again if it is still sore. If you continue to work a sore muscle you are training “micro-torn” muscle tissue and it will never repair itself and thus never grow. If you are training your whole body in one day I would take the next day off and work out every other day. Otherwise  you can work your upper body on Monday and Thursday and lower body on Tuesday and Friday. This would give your body more time to recover if you are sore for two or three days. It really depends on your workout preferences, but yes, make sure you take time to rest and recover your body.

Ask the Trainer: What is Target Heart Rate?

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: Can you explain “Target Heart Rate” and what specific “range” you should work out in to maximize your workout and fat burning potential? I'm working towards weight loss but want to make sure I'm in the optimal zone.

Answer: A target heart rate is the heart rate than many individuals want to train in to maximize their time in the gym. It is the amount of beats per minute that your heart rate is going during exercise. One more specific way to calculate this would be to use the Karvonen formula. It looks like this:

220 – age – RP (resting pulse)= Z
For example- 220 – 40 – 80 = 100

You then take Z times 60% and 75%, which is the recommended fat burning zone
So 100(60%)= 60 and 100(75%)= 75

You then add the resting pulse back into the two numbers
So 60+80= 140 and 75+80= 155

Therefore an average 40-year-old’s individual target heart rate for fat burning would be to stay within 140 – 155 beats per minute.

Ask the Trainer: Switching It Up

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I’m a 68 year old male who has been using my treadmill now for around five years. I try to put in 60 minutes five days out of the week. I usually do this Monday thru Friday mornings and take off Saturday and Sunday. My typical routine consists of a combination of different speeds and inclines, as well as some stretching and strength training. In summary I feel good about my daily routine but wonder if I should be mixing it up a bit? I also wonder if I should add some elliptical machine to my workout to compliment the treadmill.

Answer: It appears that you are very committed to exercise and already have a great routine. Many people find it hard to fit in three days a week of exercise and you have it down to five days for one hour. I also see that you are incorporating weights, flexibility, and cardiovascular exercise into your complete workout. I guess the question is: are you at a plateau and are you getting the results you want? If you are happy with your results then I would keep doing what you are doing. If not, you need to change things up a bit. I would recommend adding the elliptical to your treadmill program as it will give you some variety to shock your body a bit, and it will take some impact off of your back and knees. Keep up the good work and good luck in your future fitness endeavors!

Ask the Trainer: Chronic Back Pain & Working Out

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: Any advice for someone that suffers from chronic lower back pain? I need to do cardio & weights, but not strain myself further.

Answer: Many people suffer from back pain and have to work around it in the gym.  For cardiovascular exercise you want to do something that has low impact.  The worst thing you can do is run or walk on a treadmill as every time you take a step you are putting the weight of your body on the joints and lower back.  The best alternatives to this are using a stationary bike, elliptical machine, or swimming.  The goal is to put your body in motion so you can burn calories but not have pressure on the joints.  For weight training you want to keep your body as stable as possible so you aren’t bending at the waist with resistance.  I would recommend doing your workout on the selectorized machines (circuit on the floor) where you can sit down and adjust your seat and control the motion of each exercise.  I would have a Personal Trainer take you though the exercises (Basic 8 - see the exercises at and help with seat adjustments and form.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Ask the Trainer: Workout Routine

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I'm 49, relatively new to working out and have been heading to Snap 5 mornings a week, doing an hour of cardio on one of the bikes, on an empty stomach, followed by weights. I rotate different muscle groups. I have lost a good amount of inches in 3 months, but can't seem to whittle my upper thighs nor tighten up my butt. Any thoughts on what I can do better?

Answer: Sounds like you are doing well but it is time to change things up.  There are a couple different things you can do to mix up your workout and break through your plateaus.  First, your body needs carbohydrates as an energy source to use as fuel.  Think of it as gas for a car.  I would recommend getting some simple carbohydrates in your system about 30 minutes prior to your workout.  You could eat some type of fruit or drink some juice.  If you keep the portion small such as one small glass of juice, it will give you the energy needed for exercise and allow your body to burn calories more efficiently.  The second thing I would recommend is doing your weight training before your cardiovascular exercise.  Here is the order of operations- Small glass of juice (about 150 calories) 30 minutes prior to workout, 5 minute warm-up on the bike, complete your 30 minute weight training workout, and finish with your hour of cardio at the end.  Your body will use up the energy from the juice during the weight training and elevate your heart rate prior to your cardio workout.  Since your heart rate is elevated when you begin cardio you can probably get away with 45 minutes at the end instead of an hour.  It is all about efficiency! 

To answer your question about the legs and glutes you have to look at two different things.  First, you are going to continue to burn fat through cardiovascular exercise and that will eventually begin taking off the inches in these areas.  More importantly, there are a few different exercises that target these areas.  I would recommend squats on the smith machine, leg extensions, leg curls, and lunges.  If you are limited on time I would focus more on the squats as they tend to hit all of the muscles in the glutes and quadriceps.  Overall, it is going to take a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise to see results.

Ask the Trainer: Stuck Behind a Desk

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: What can I do while at work to get some activity into my day?


Answer: The main thing you can do at work to burn more calories is to be more active. Many people work in offices where you sit at a desk all day. Here are some ideas to help you burn some calories:


  1. Ban the elevator. If you have an elevator try taking the stairs instead. It is the equivalent of doing the Stairmaster at the gym.
  2. Use your 15 minute breaks and/or lunch to take walks. Most companies have these breaks built into your schedule. Get outside and take a walk and get some fresh air!
  3. Use your lunch break to work out. Go to the gym or run outside for 30 minutes. It will refresh you and release stress at the same time!

Ask the Trainer: Getting Started on a Workout Plan

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: What are the best exercises to do if I’m just getting started with an exercise program?

Answer: The good thing about starting an exercise program is that anything works because you have been doing nothing. The fact that you get your body moving will “shock your body” into seeing some results. This doesn’t mean throwing around a ton of weight but it does mean putting your body in motion. It really depends on your goal. If you are trying to lose weight and you have been at a plateau for a long time, you need to burn more calories though exercise than you take in through food. It’s all about energy in versus energy out. Therefore, if you are planning on eating the same way and your weight has been the same for a long time I would recommend starting out with 20 – 30 minutes on a treadmill. If you do this consistently you will burn more calories then you take in and should start seeing the pounds come off.

Ask the Trainer: Outdoor Workouts

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: Now that’s it finally starting to get nice out, how can I transition some of my cardio and strength training to the outdoors?


Answer: It’s that time of the year when the snow has melted and the temperature outside is rising. This is a great time of the year to get yourself outdoors for some variety and excitement in your workouts. Although going outside is a great alternative to indoor exercise, make sure you don’t lose sight of your strength training. If possible I would recommend spending about 3 -4 days a week in the health club to keep your muscles developed and to ensure you don’t lose muscle mass with a cardio only workout. Plan on taking 20 or 30 minutes to complete your weight training in the gym and then head outdoors. Many individuals in the summer time prefer to do their exercise outdoors and are very successful in doing so. Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Running or jogging- Take your indoor cardio workout outdoors and get some fresh air. Make sure in doing so you are still getting in your time allotment and keeping your heart rate elevated enough to see results. Also, make sure to stretch and stay hydrated as the sun can play a toll on your body and your hydration.
  2. Outdoor boot-camps- Many health clubs and Personal Trainers offer boot-camps or group training outdoors. Keep yourself motivated by working out in a team environment and having a Personal Trainer keep you motivated while doing so.
  3. Cycling- If you are a “spin class” person you can take your workout outdoors. Find local groups or pair with a friend and burn your calories on the road.
  4. Any sport- If you play soccer, tennis, football, baseball, or any outdoor sport, you can do things that are fun for you to burn extra calories. Use recreation as a means of exercise and have more fun in your life and in your fitness goals.
Posts 121 - 129 of 129