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How Do You Find Balance Between Strength and Cardio Training?

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

The right balance of strength and cardio training is completely dependent on your training goals and what you hope to get out of your time, effort, and commitment to fitness.   Someone looking to compete their first 5k running race will have a different balance than someone looking to do a bodybuilding competition.  Here are some strategies to help you find balance based on your goals:


Weight Loss: 

Most people think they need to do as much cardio as possible and eat very little in order to lose weight.  However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Cardio will certainly support fat loss, but will also lead to muscle loss as well.  Finding the balance between keeping/gaining muscle, getting enough calories to support that muscle, and sprinkling in some cardio to burn fat, is key.  I have always been a big believer in cardio intervals to improve cardiovascular fitness, plus it boosts metabolism throughout the day.   Intervals should be done 2-3 times per week.  The rest of the week includes 2-3 strength training sessions and 1 longer moderate intensity cardio session. 


Muscle Building:

If you are looking to add muscle, cardio can be your nemesis.  While cardiovascular fitness is still important to heart health, it also tends to burn muscle in addition to fat.  Your focus should be great nutrition and 3-5 sessions of strength training per week.  Add to that, 2-3 days of interval-based cardio and you are good to go.  Remember, pre and post cardio nutrition will prevent muscle loss as much as your strength training sessions so, don’t skimp on nutrition knowledge.


Performance Goals:

For cardiovascular focused events such as obstacle events, 5k and 10k races, marathons, and triathlons, cardio-based workouts will always consume most of your training time.  But, you will also want to maintain your strength and muscle definition.  Cardiovascular training should make up 3-5 days of your training week.  This should be supported by at least 2-3 total body strength training workouts.  The strength training workouts will support your performance goals by improving strength and power – while still preventing muscle loss from the amount of cardio you are doing. 


Remember, both strength and cardiovascular training will always be necessary components to a balanced physical fitness program.  To be successful, Stay consistent, balanced, and focused on your goals!

Fueling Your Body- No Matter When you Work Out!

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

To have enough drive and energy to hit the gym hard, you need to fuel your body.  You also need to refuel once you are done.  But, how do you juggle pre or post-workout fuel with regular meals and a busy schedule?  Whether you prefer to get your gym time in before the sun comes up or choose to exercise after a long day at the office, these fueling options will ensure that you remain on top of your game.


Early-Morning workout:


Pre-Workout:   For most people, eating can be difficult early in the morning but, it’s important to get certain nutrients in prior to a workout (especially after a 6-9 hour overnight fast!).  To get the most of your gym session, eat something with a small amount of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats.  My go-to food is a banana and 1T peanut butter. Carbohydrates to boost energy and brain function, fats and protein in the peanut butter to slow absorption so that I maintain that energy boost throughout the entire workout. Bonus, the potassium boost from the banana will also prevent cramping!


Post-Workout:  Whip up a quick smoothie for post-workout readiness.  You can even make it ahead of time so that it’s ready to go when you are dashing out the door after your workout.  Post workout fuel should include a ratio of 1-carbohydrate to 2-proteins for maximum absorption and recovery for hard-working muscles.  Try one cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of cacao seeds (course ground found at natural food stores), and 1 sliced banana.  I add a sprinkle or 2 of cinnamon to make it extra tasty!  Recommended at least 45 minutes post workout – wait any longer and you can lose that hard earned metabolism boosting muscle.


Midday workout:

Pre-Workout:   When I work out midday, I can’t rely on the breakfast that I had 3-4 hours ago to fuel me through my workout. Plus, I am already thinking about lunch. Think of this pre-workout fuel as your mid-morning snack - to be enjoyed 1-2 hours prior to your workout.  This snack should be convenient, easily digested and nutritious.  I love a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts.  The fat and protein in the nuts keeps me satiated until the start of the workout and the carbs gives me energy needed to pull me through until lunch time.


Post-Workout:  Don’t mistake post-workout refuel for lunch.  Often your midday workout falls something around lunchtime but, soup and salad doesn’t sound as appealing right after you’ve completed treadmill sprints and weights – likely you are still a little heated from your workout.  My go-to here is a simple protein shake with whey protein powder, ice and fruit (try mangos, oranges, or pineapple –they are high in vitamin-C which is known to decrease oxidative damage from free radicals that can cause muscle loss).  Again, protein for muscle repair and carbs to aid in absorption.  Keep it light and enjoy a healthy lunch an hour or two later. 



Evening Workout:

Pre-Workout:   Squeezing in a workout between the end of your workday and dinner?  Miss fueling up first and it’s a recipe for post workout sugary snack attack disaster!  Enjoy a snack that includes carbs, protein, and fat.  Shoot for a carbohydrate-rich snack that fuels muscles and boosts energy levels, try plain Greek yogurt, with fruit and ¼ oats or granola an hour before your workout.  The protein will satiate you until your workout and the carbs will provide focus and energy to get you through the work out.


Post-Workout:  If you’ve pushed off dinner for after your workout, chances are that you are famished.  But grilled chicken and mixed greens won’t cut it after an intense workout.  You need to refuel with complex and simple carbs to replenish glycogen stores – plus, protein for muscle repair.  In the evening, there is nothing better than 8-oz of chocolate milk post workout.  Sounds indulgent if you are looking to lose weight but, it’s the right balance of carbs/protein/fat that will refuel your body quickly with fast digesting nutrients.  Plus, the calcium and magnesium in milk will help your muscles relax while you sleep.  


Friday Workout Challenge

By: Snap Fitness

Looking for a way to kick the Basic 8 workout up a notch?


Try adding in a cardio set between each strength set. Complete 10-15 reps of each strength set followed by the cardio set - and repeat for 2 sets each!


If you haven't head of the Basic 8 workout, you can check it out here.


How to Overcome Exercise Boredom

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

Even the most eager and dedicated fitness enthusiast gets bored with exercise.   Personally, I have a hard time missing a workout (mentally and physically) , both mentally and physically.  But, I’m not immune to an exercise slump filled with; boredom, lack of inspiration, or low motivation.  When this happens, I have to dig deep within myself and make a change before an exercise slump becomes a fitness derailment.   If you’re like me, you want to stay motivated, continue to get results, and enjoy fitness.  Here are some common slump causes and strategies to overcome them:


  • Can’t Get up early enough to Move? – Get a better wake-up call - Getting up early can be tough, but always pays off when you’re done.


Wear your workout clothes to bed – All you have to do is get up and go!

Change your alarm clock/phone ringer – Crazy but true, I change my ringer anytime I need a little motivation or boost to ensure that I pay attention enough to get up!

Set your coffee pot to brew ahead of time – the aroma alone could get me out of a slump!

Pack everything and have it sitting right by your bed – you’ll hear that alarm and see your gear staring up at you…let’s go!


  • Strength Routine Feeling Blah- Muscle up your Strength Routine  - Who wouldn’t get bored with exercise when you’re looking at the same machines and doing the same routine every day!


Change your type – Do you use dumbbells for chest?  Use cables or bands instead.  Do you always use barbells for squats?  Try dumbbells or bodyweight with an added jump or plyo box.

Change your order – Pre-fatigue a smaller muscle group like triceps before hitting your chest set.  You won’t make huge gains in chest strength but, you will tweak your routine enough to come back strong!

Change your focus – Do you consistently do upper body on Mondays, lower body on Tuesdays, etc?  Mix it up and try a total body strength set M/W/F – then hit your old routine again the next week. 

Start with Core/Abs – Often the most overlooked but, most wished-for muscle group.  Why save it for last?  Start with corework and use that strength throughout your entire strength routine.


  • Trouble Getting out the door and into the Gym? -  A good workout Partner or Trainer can be worth their weight in Gold -  A dedicated partner can make or break your commitment to fitness.  Partner up with someone that will pull you out of a slump when needed – just be prepared to do the same for them when they need it!  See our recent blog post on this topic.



  • Sluggish intensity or Commitment to Cardio - Make  a New Music playlist– here is a sample of my go-to list of motivating tunes:

Start me up – Rolling Stones

Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys

U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer (hey, old school is motivating!)

Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin

We Will Rock You – Queen

I’m in the House – Steve Aoki


  • Treadmill boredom This tends to be the old-standby when it comes to cardio and why not, there’s very little learning curve.  Unless you change it up, the tried and true treadmill quickly becomes the dreadmill.   When this happens, I head straight to the Stepmill.  It boosts me out of boredom and humbles me at the same time.  


Constantly mixing up a workout-routine is essential for not only our physical bodies, but also our mental state-of-mind. The more we challenge our bodies to try new things, the further we get away from the exercise rut. You may even discover a particular exercise you didn’t know you liked, or a class you enjoy. Check in with us often on Facebook, as I will be providing workout ideas to get you out of a slump and into exercise freedom!

Finding the Perfect Workout Partner

By: Jodi Sussner, Director of Personal Training

There’s no question that working out with a buddy has its benefits.  Do a Google search of working out with a partner and you’ll see what I mean.  But, what if that workout buddy is sabotaging your efforts?  What’s better than a workout partner – but, the RIGHT workout partner. 


While finding a partner can be difficult, your time is worth it.  So is your commitment to your goals and your ability to achieve them – the right workout partner is invaluable!   I am a triathlete who does the bulk of training on my own.  Recently, a friend with a mutual drive for winning and I did a bike/swim workout together.  Our strengths, weaknesses, and mutual focus were so in-tuned that it inspired me to take another look at training with a partner.  It also forced me to question what I would really look for in a quality training partner.  After all, finding a great workout partner is like finding a great personal trainer – here’s how:


Choose a workout partner that has the same goals that you do

This might seem obvious but, you’ve got to really get down to the details on this.  It has to be more specific than, “you both want to lose weight”.  For example, if you are competitive in a sport, do you want to place in your age group or simply complete the event?


Choose a workout partner that is at the same fitness level

I’ve trained clients that are at completely different fitness levels and no matter how creative I get with their workouts, someone is always left either not getting enough or being pushed too hard.  The end result, someone is either left in the dust or left frustrated.  You don’t want a workout partnership to turn a friendship into a fight. 


Choose a partner with the same focus

This is different from having the same goal.  Often, a partner might have the same goal but, their level of commitment and focus to that goal are very different from yours.  Do they spend half the workout time dawdling or talking between sets?  This dips into your precious, focused time…move on!


Choose someone you can compete against (a little)

By choosing a workout partner that compliments your strengths and weaknesses, you will ultimately be helping each other more.   This partner pulls you where you are weak (for me in the triathlon, that would be the run – for my partner, I push her harder on the bike).  A little healthy competition can only make you better.  Maintain the balance or adjust to someone new.


Choose someone that you can count on and holds you accountable

They show up for training sessions, on time and ready to go – ensuring and motivating you to get yourself there as well.  If your training partner is a consistent canceller, don’t waste your time.


Now you are ready to hit the ground running and find the RIGHT workout partner for you! 

Ask the Trainer: Seeing Ab Progress

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: Abs - need some exercises to really build them, and not just burn them out. I'm already doing many forms of sit-ups and other ab machines at the max weight - so why am I not seeing progress?


Answer: It sounds like you are already doing everything needed to build your abs! I am curious as to what your body fat percent is. I bet you already have good abs from what you have said - however, you need to be 10% body fat or lower to really start seeing them. Another thing you may be doing is over-training them. If you are doing them every day it is too much. Try taking a day off between workouts and you will notice a new soreness and better pump.  Hope this helps!

Ask the Trainer: Workout Routine

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I have been looking to develop my own workout program and am very familiar with weights and working out, but not so much with putting together a program. What is the best way to work out as far as weights go? Doing each muscle group 1 day per week? Pairing back/biceps, chest/triceps and legs for a 3 day a week workout? Or just splitting upper body versus lower body and alternating daily? Or is there a better way?


Answer: There really isn’t a better way to go about it. It depends on your goal. I would recommend alternating the different routines every few weeks. Do upper/lower for a month and then switch to two body parts per day with a day of rest in-between. If you're a new member, be sure to set up your free Basic 8 or Fitness Score session with a personal trainer to get you started with a workout program that fits your needs. You can also go to and click on "My Workouts." You can register and build a custom workout through the website.  Either way make sure you are mixing it up to shock your body into results.

Ask the Trainer: Workout Soreness

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: When I'm sore the day after I work out, do I need to push through it, or rest?


Answer: When your muscle is sore it is from muscle being broken down in the workout. Think of it as micro-tears in the muscle body. To get stronger you have to give your body time to heal and provide it with adequate protein to help repair. I wouldn’t train the muscle until the soreness goes away as it is still in the repairing process. This is often referred to as overtraining as you try to work the body harder and harder and see no results because your body can’t recover. Hope this helps!

Ask the Trainer: Inner Thigh Workout

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: Is there a masculine way to hit the inner thigh, other than with the cable machine?


Answer: You are already hitting it a little bit when you do leg presses and squats.  Any other type of movement would be adduction to the body.  (Bringing the leg towards the body.)  There is an ab/adduction machine in most clubs that probably looks more masculine than standing there with a cable. Here are videos demonstrating:





Ask the Trainer: Starting out with Cardio

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I weigh 230 pounds and have hypertension, and haven't been doing any regular exercise for 2 years. Recently I tried to go for a walk/jog, and less than 2 minutes was already enough to make me puff. Is it still suitable for me to keep jogging or doing the cardio?


Answer: I would continue to exercise with a fast walk until you work your way up to a jog. You need to allow your body to adjust by keeping your workouts basic and working up to a full jog over the next 30 days.

Posts 81 - 90 of 136