Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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Ask the Trainer: Heart Rate and Weight Loss

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: My cousin (who is very overweight) and I have been working out every night for the last several weeks, but she can never get her heart rate any higher than 123. If she tries to get it higher she can barely breathe. Will she be able to lose weight if her heart rate never goes above 123?

Answer: Your cousin will lose weight as long as the calories she’s burning are higher than what she is taking in. It is all about calories in versus calories out. It may take your cousin longer to burn 300 calories at the heart rate of 123 versus 140, but the duration will be the key. Your cousin may need to train for 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes in order to burn enough calories. My recommendation would be to have your cousin go to a doctor and see if there is a reason her heart rate will not go over 123 beats per minute even at high exertion. Also, if this does end up becoming an issue I would recommend better nutrition as an alternative to having to burn a lot of extra calories.  Sometimes it is easier to just eat fewer calories.

Ask the Trainer: Inches vs. Weight

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I am losing inches but not weight. Is anything wrong with me? I asked a personal trainer at my gym and he told that I was building muscle and that was healthier. Is this true?  My pants size dropped from 8 to 6 why not on the scale?

Answer: Your personal trainer is correct.  


As you can see, a pound of fat has much more volume than a pound of muscle. Hence, when you are losing inches off your waist and your weight is staying the same, you are gaining one pound of muscle for every one pound of fat you are losing. You are getting rid of the bad stuff and adding the good stuff. Also, muscle burns more calories than fat. For every pound of muscle you add you increase your resting metabolism which means you burn more calories at rest. I would recommend that you keep doing your current workout and congratulate you on the results you have seen thus far.

Ask the Trainer: Goal Weight and Target Heart Rate

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: You’ve talked about heart rate training in the past for losing weight. What if I’ve reached my goal weight? Does it make any sense to try pushing myself into higher zones?

Answer: This really depends on if you have truly reached your goal or not. I would not push myself into higher zones unless you have hit a plateau and need the extra push. Once you have hit your goal you may be able to scale back your workouts a bit to hit a happy medium. For example, you could take your cardio workout from 30 minutes to 20 minutes. A good friend of mine once told me “20 minutes to maintain and 30 minutes to lose.” This isn’t an exact number but gives you an idea of what to do to make a small adjustment.

Another thing to consider if you have been losing weight and are at your goal now is what you did to get there. Make some minor adjustments to find what you need to do to maintain your current fitness level. If you go back to your old habits and how you have always done things, you are likely to go back to how you looked as well. Focus on maintaining the good habits you have created so you don’t become a “yo-yo dieter” who loses 30 pounds and gains 30 pounds year after year. Make it easier on yourself and commit to a better way of life!

Ask the Trainer: Trimming Belly Fat

By: Jessica Vanderlinde, Personal Trainer at Snap Fitness Chanhassen

Today we have a guest personal trainer to answer your question - Jessica at our Snap Fitness Chanhassen location!

Question: I have some unwanted belly fat that I want to cut away but nothing seems to work. What can I do?

Answer: I wish I could tell you that there is a quick & easy way to do it, however we cannot spot-reduce fat. My suggestion is good old-fashioned nutrition, watching your caloric intake, doing cardio exercises to burn fat, and doing resistance training as muscle burns more than fat. Make sure to work opposing muscle groups so if one day you're working your abs and core make sure to work your lower, mid, and upper back as well.

Ask the Trainer: Cardio Workouts

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: Is one form of cardio better than another?  For example, is the elliptical better than the treadmill or bike, as far as burning fat and calories?

Answer: There is not really one form of cardio that is better for you than another. It really comes down to personal preference, boredom, and injuries. For example, I don’t personally do the treadmill that much because of a back injury and knee problems from college athletics. I prefer the elliptical because there is no impact on my joints. My body glides and no weight is put on the joints that are causing me problems and I am still able to get my heart rate up to the optimal level. I do believe that running on the treadmill will allow you to get your heart rate up to a higher level faster as you are putting more weight and pressure on your body. The bike seems like the hardest way to get your heart rate up as you are only using your legs and you have to push yourself to get your heart rate elevated. What it really comes down to is the amount of calories you burn in a day. You can burn anywhere from 200 – 400 calories in 30 minutes on any of these machines depending on how hard you push yourself and how intense you train. Also, your body may plateau after doing the same machine for a few weeks and I would recommend switching it up from time to time between the various types of exercise. Keep your body guessing, make it fun, and work out with a partner to ensure your long-term success in the gym.

Ask the Trainer: Toning Inner Thighs

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I am wondering if you could give me an idea on how to get my inner thighs more toned. This is a problem with all the gals in my family. We are all in fairly good shape, however, we all have extra fat between the legs. How can I tone the inner parts of my thighs?

Answer: I get this question a lot and it is very similar to someone who is trying to “spot reduce” an area of their body such as their stomach. The good news is that most people lose fat a little bit faster in their extremities and it works its way to the center of your body. In your case if you are eating a better diet and doing the correct amount of cardiovascular exercise, you will begin to lose inches and body fat in your arms and legs first. If you are really serious about this I would do cardiovascular exercise 4 – 5 times a week for 30 minutes. 

A generic heart rate zone would be 220 – your age (70%).  For example 220 – 30 = 190(70%) = 133 beats per minute. 

In this case I would do either a treadmill, cross-trainer, Stairmaster, etc. for 30 minutes 4 -5 times per week. By doing this you will start to mobilize fat as an energy source and the fat will start burning off. The other part of the equation is the nutritional piece. With all the hard work you do in the gym, your body may stay the same by eating too many calories. I would recommend on top of the exercise to cut about 300 calories out of your meal plan on a daily basis. It is as simple as burning more calories though exercise than you are taking in with food. Make some minor adjustments and you should start seeing results in a couple weeks!

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: 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: Your Weight Loss Questions Answered

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: For the last 3 weeks, I have been working out 6 days a week, with a variety of treadmill, elliptical, and 30 minute kettlebell workouts. I’ve also been watching what I eat very carefully, tracking what I eat and calories/fat/carbs on line, and eating more fruits and vegetables rather than junk food. Despite my efforts, I haven’t lost more than 1 lb. I only have 5-10 lbs to lose, but it seems that my efforts aren’t working. Any advice?

Answer: The only way that your body can be staying the same weight is if the calories you are consuming through food are equal to the calories you are burning through exercise. In your case you are already doing a great job working out and it looks like you are making better food choices. My recommendation to you is to look at something you are eating on a daily basis and cutting it back a bit. Maybe just one snack or switching from regular soda to diet soda. Just small adjustments. Also, I am curious if you are losing inches off your waist and other parts of your body. You are probably gaining muscle with your lifting while you are losing fat with your cardio. The scale weight may not come off as fast but the inches will. Keep up the good work!

Posts 51 - 59 of 59