Snap Fitness Health & Fitness Blog

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3 Ways to Kick-Start Your Weight Loss Program

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Hello Weight Loss Challenge participants! Congratulations on getting started with the challenge and I wish you the best of luck in getting the best results. To get you started I wanted to give you some tips on how to get out of the gates.  Here are 3 ways to kick start your weight loss program:

Setting goals

Goal setting serves two purposes. The first is that it provides motivation, and the second is that gives you a specific end-point to shoot for. Get out a sheet of paper and write down exactly what your weight loss goals are at the top of the sheet. Once your goal is determined, write out three different ways you are committing yourself to achieve this goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you should have some specifics written down. You might write that you're going to get to the gym four times per week, eat 300 less calories per day, or eliminate high-calorie desserts or alcohol. Once you have carefully put this together, sign the bottom of the goal sheet and make three copies. I would post one copy on your refrigerator, one on your work computer or office, and one on your home computer.  Make sure you post it where you have to look at it each day to remind yourself of what you are committed to.

Write down what you eat for three days. In order for you to lose weight, you are going to have to burn more calories than you take in. It’s the law of thermodynamics. If you consume 2000 calories and you burn 2000 calories, your weight will remain the same. If you burn anything over 2000 calories you will begin to lose weight. Therefore I would recommend writing down exactly what you eat and drink for a three day period.  Use Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and log everything you eat from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Once you have all of this recorded I would go to and click on the "my nutrition" link.  Once you register here you can go to the calorie counter and enter all of the meals for each of the three days.  This will tell you how many calories you are consuming. Knowing this total will be a good guideline to let you know how many calories you'll need to burn to lose weight.  

Gym Routine

Get to the gym more! Now that you have determined the amount of calories that you are taking in, you need to start burning more calories through exercise. Although three days a week is a good start, I would recommend five days per week if you truly want to start moving the needle. This doesn’t mean you have to lift weights all 5 days but I would definitely get in to burn some calories on the cardiovascular machines.  An example would be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday full-body workout on the selectorized machines. Try a 30 minute circuit hitting all body parts and end with 20–30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on a cross-trainer or treadmill.  On Tuesday and Thursday I would come in and just do cardio for 30 – 40 minutes.  This will allow your muscles to rest on these days and repair.  My best advice would be to get with a Personal Trainer at the gym and get your Fitness Score session completed so you have a starting point. Working with a Personal Trainer will give you an advantage on a customized workout, nutritional advice, and Truestar supplements that can give you much faster results with your weight-loss efforts.

Best of luck during week one and be looking for my week two tips on “Eating to Increase and Speed Up Your Metabolism."

Reminder: At 12:00 p.m. CST on March 21st I will be hosting a live Facebook chat on the weight loss challenge. "Like" the Snap Fitness page on Facebook at for weight loss challenge tips, motivation, and to get in on our live chat!

Ask the Trainer: Knees Stressed During Exercise

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I am obese and knees sound like they're cracking when I try walking lunges...any suggestions until some weight comes off?

Answer: The cracking sound in your knees sounds scarier than it is. Here is a recommendation until you feel comfortable with doing walking lunges. I would start with a 5 minute walk on the treadmill to make sure your muscles are warm. Then stretch your legs out to get your quadriceps and hamstrings loosened up. Try doing stationary lunges until you build up enough strength for walking lunges. Standing straight step one leg backwards (reverse lunge) and then push up with your front leg. This will be safer until you build up more strength to support your knee joint.

Ask the Trainer: Quick Weight Loss

By: Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

Question: I just started back working out and I'm not quite sure what I love...I just get intimidated by the equipment. I want to lose 15 pounds fast. Any suggestions?

Answer: My recommendation is that you work with the manager of your Snap Fitness or a Personal Trainer and have them take you though a “Basic 8” session. It is free for all new members and takes you through 8 basic exercises on the machines and will allow you to work all the main muscles on your body. This orientation will eliminate your intimidation with the equipment and you will have a full understanding of the proper technique for each exercise. I would recommend completing a full body circuit which encompasses two times through the basic 8 machines three times per week. This will work all of your muscles one day and allow for a day of rest in-between. I would also recommend completing about 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise after your circuit three times per week. For this you can use a treadmill, cross-trainer or you can ride a stationary bike. You can also go to your site and find the basic 8 exercises there There are videos of how to complete each exercise for your viewing. This is a good game plan for you to follow, but the best recommendation I can give is to hire a Personal Trainer to customize a weight training and cardiovascular plan paired with good nutritional recommendations just for you. More exercise paired with less calories equals fast results!  Good Luck!

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.

Posts 51 - 60 of 62