Ask the Trainer: Chad The Trainer's 11/20/12 Live-Chat: Building Muscle


Thank you to everyone who participated in our November live-chat on our Facebook Page! Here are the questions and answers from our "building muscle" live-chat. These chats are conducted monthly on the Snap Fitness Facebook Page at!


Glenn "What's the best thing besides steroids to build a lot of muscle? I already eat lots of protein 6 times a day."


Chad TheTrainer Glenn- Continue eating a lot of protein. You should be eating 1.5 grams per pound of body weight to gain. I would also recommend trying Creatine Monohydrate. It will increase the amount of repetitions you can do and allow you to push the envelope a bit. This should shock your system into new growth. Also you may want to drink a 30 gram protein shake immediately after your workout for best recovery. Good luck!


Lou Mahon How many times a day do you normally work out and what would you recommend my schedule to be if I wanted to build muscle?


Chad TheTrainer Lou- I think for optimal growth you should work out only once a day. Your body needs time to recover from workouts. A lot of people end up over-training and their muscles can never grow and never repair. I would try upper body on Monday Thursday and lower body on Tuesday & Friday. Rest and recover on Wednesday and the weekends.


Kimberly Kay Sherbert Marckel As a female, how do you gain muscle but lose unwanted fat?


Chad TheTrainer Kimberly- This is the trickiest thing to do because you have to balance your caloric intake with your output. Log into your site, click on my nutrition, and register on the Truestar site. You can get a free nutrition plan based on your goals. Enter all of your information including goals and it will tell you how many calories to eat each day to get there. If you then want to gain muscle you will need to burn about the same amount to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. I would also make sure you are lifting weights at least three times per week. Best of luck!


Shannon Powell What is the best exercise to build muscle around the knee? My daughter has had to sprains in the past year and we would like to prevent this from happening again with stronger muscles


Chad TheTrainer Shannon- First I would recommend seeing the doctor and making sure she has no restrictions on range of motion. Your quadriceps are the muscles that help support the knee. You need to strengthen those muscles with exercises such as leg press and leg extensions (light) with restricted range of motion. I would also recommend leg curls to build the hamstrings up to keep balance and avoid sprains. You can message me offline for specifics if you want. Thanks


Cheryl McDowell Hello Chad, what's the best equipment to use for your abs and how many reps do I need to do? I'm 22o ilb I escalated because I was doing chemo and radiation I'm trying to drop back to 17o but at the same time flatten my stomach


Chad TheTrainer Cheryl- There are various machines out there as far as ab machines that can work that area. I prefer to use the fitness balls and do crunches on them. You would sit back on the fitness ball with your legs at 90 degrees in the sit-up motion. With your hands together I would point them to the ceiling. Crunch up as high as you can and complete repetitions until failure (meaning you can't do any more). Some advice on the midsection would be that to burn stored fat in that area you will need to be doing cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times per week. Working your abs without other exercise will just build the muscle under the fat. Eat less calories and exercise 3 - 5 days per week and you will be well on your way.


Vikki Miller I used to be into body building. I eat pretty well and work out at least 5 days a week. I am 20 years older than the good ole days, okay, I'm 43 now. Can't seem to kick the tummy and shape the legs as well as back then. What can I do to BURN the FAT better?


Chad TheTrainer Vikki- I am in the same boat you are in. Let me tell you what I had to do. I used to work out on weights five days a week and finish with 20 minutes of cardio. I now workout 6 days a week and I had to increase my cardio to 30 minutes to get similar results. Another thing I have done is cut out heavy carbs such as pasta, white bread and white rice. Try to keep your carbs in check and move to vegetables and leaner protein such as chicken breast. At the end of the day we have to burn more calories than we take in to see the same results. Best of luck!


Jericka Christensen Is it better to just do cardio to lose weight and reach your goal and do strength after to tone up? Or do cardio and strength together?


Chad TheTrainer Jericka- I prefer to start with a 5 minute warm-up. This gets the blood flowing to prevent injury. Use your weight training first to burn off all of the glycogen and get your heart rate elevated. When you do cardio after weight training you already have an elevated heart rate so you begin burning calories much faster and you become more efficient. Simply put, cardio after weights.


Angel McDonald After significant weight loss (45#) and arriving at goal, how should I approach muscle building to develop and tone? I got into strength training towards the end of my weight loss, so my body has some "sunken in" areas.


Chad TheTrainer Angel- Since you are just beginning in your weight training I would recommend starting with circuit training. This entails working out 3 days a week and working every body part that day. I would work through the full circuit at your Snap Fitness. Try 2 sets of 15 per machine with 30 seconds of rest in between. After you circuit you will have hit every muscle in your body and you will burn a lot of calories doing this. Immediately after your circuit I would jump on a cross trainer or treadmill and finish with 20 - 30 minutes of cardio. Make sure you are taking a day off in-between with weights but you can come in and do 30 - 45 minutes of cardio in-between. Hope this helps.


Ryan Hill I've lost 30 lbs and still having trouble with a little belly fat and my posture. I guess I need to do more ab exercises and work my lower back?


Chad TheTrainer Ryan- You are on the right path with posture and working your core. That's all of the muscles around your mid-section. Strong abs play the biggest piece in having a strong lower back. As far as your belly goes, I would check your caloric intake and add an additional 10 minutes of cardio to your normal routine.


Roger Inboden Hey Chad, I was wondering if you could recommend any full-body exercises (besides the commonly known variety) that will improve my overall functional fitness.


Chad TheTrainer Roger- Without going into detail, because it would be a whole book, I would look into two things. Check out full-body functional workouts with TRX bands and/or Kettlebells. There are tons of workouts you can do to work all body parts, keep your heart rate elevated, and focus on your core. If you don't have access to these items just message me and we can look at some other ideas.


Julie Hughes North I have lost 70 pounds and my arms are really saggy and ugly. What can I do to get rid of the flab? (I am handicapped.)


Chad TheTrainer Julie - To start with you can begin working on your triceps and biceps. If you focus on these two areas you will begin expanding the muscle so the skin becomes tighter in that area. This will begin filling in the gap where the fat was that you have lost. I would also recommend talking with your doctor about other options for your concern. Best of luck and congratulations on losing 70 pounds! That is good work:)


Seth Smith Chad, I'm 18, weigh 270 pounds and I'm six foot four inches tall. I once weighed 335 and I've lost weight down to this and I'm wondering why I'm not losing anything else? I get 30 minutes of cardio before every workout and it seems all I'm doing is bulking up more. I want to bulk up AND lose weight at the same time.


Chad TheTrainer Seth- It's really hard to bulk up and lose weight at the same time. I would like to know your overall goal? You can add lean muscle and lose weight at the same time but to bulk up you would need to eat more calories than you burn in a 24 hour period. Log into your account, click “my nutrition” and register. Once you are in the site you can enter all of the food you eat on a normal day and figure out how many calories you are consuming. You can plug in your goals in the system and it will build you a custom meal plan based on your goal. If you are trying to lose weight you are going to have to take in less calories than you are burning. To ensure you’re maintaining your muscle make sure to get 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.


Frank R Twain I work out with a treadmill and bike and I diet. How do I burn fat?


Chad TheTrainer Frank- If you are only doing cardio and eating better you are missing a big part of the equation. When you lift weights and you get sore, your metabolism increases and you burn fat for 24 to 72 hours. With cardio alone you only elevate your calorie burning for about an additional hour. If you just add 3 - 4 days of weight training to your routing you should see results pretty fast. You may also want to try upping your cardiovascular time an additional 10 minutes per day. Hope this helps.


Keith Rudolph How many days a week should an average person work out to build strength?


Chad TheTrainer Keith- To build strength you have to work on increasing the amount of weight you lift over time. You also want to keep your repetition range in the 6 - 10 range. The most important piece to this is the recovery time. If you work chest on Monday and it is still sore on Wednesday it is not ready to be worked again. Try doing a split with Chest and Biceps on Monday, Back and Triceps on Tuesday, Wednesday off, Shoulders on Thursday, and Legs on Friday. You may have to adjust the days based on soreness and recovery. You may also want to make sure you ingest 30 grams of whey protein within 20 minutes of your workout for quicker recovery.


Freddie Wallace I have lost 20lbs and 20 more is my goal. I am trying to tone up but I have a problem with burning fat from my obliques and lower abs. What do you suggested as a good workout for my problem areas?


Chad TheTrainer Freddie- This is the problem area for most guys and this is usually the last place that the fat comes off. You can't really spot-reduce that area, you can only strengthen the muscle beneath the fat. You are going to need to increase your caloric deficit. Try cutting your calories back by 300 per day and increasing your calories burnt by 200 per day. Try adding an additional set to your weight training routing per exercise or bumping up your cardio a bit.


Margaret Towers What is the best way to to up triceps?


Chad TheTrainer Margaret- There are many different exercises for the triceps area. I would warm-up on the triceps selectorized machine at your Snap. I would then move to a cable triceps push down. One thing that is important is that you are getting a full range of motion. Your starting motion is a 90 degree angle bend at the elbow. Make sure you then extend it all the way down so you can feel your triceps flex at the end. You can then move to more advanced move like dumbbell extensions over your head and TRX band triceps extensions. I would also make sure you are working your triceps twice a week. Message me if you would like some photos of the exercises.


Ashley Foreman If trying to lose weight should I work on just cardio until I lose the amount of weight I want, then do strength training or do both every time I work out?  


Chad TheTrainer Ashley, I would recommend working both every time.  It’s all about burning more calories than you take in over a 24 hour period.  If you are only doing cardio you may only burn 200 – 400 calories.  If you add in a great weight training workout you will burn an additional 200 – 300 calories.  Therefore you would have burned up to 700 calories in your workout.  3500 calories equals one pound of body weight.  The more calories burned, the faster you will see results.

Jose Alas Jr When building lean muscle , is it better to do cardio before or after weight training Chad?


Chad TheTrainer Thanks  Jose- I like to do cardiovascular exercise after my weight training workout.  Use your energy on the weights so you have more strength to add additional lean muscle.  Once your body is depleted of glycogen you can jump on cardio to burn more stored fat efficiently.


Tana Helsham Hi mate, is doing low reps of heavy weights with long rest periods the best way to get the bulk muscle gains? And what does that kind of training do for strength? Should I mix it with training that contains more reps but less weight? I'm looking to bulk but increase strength too.  


Chad TheTrainer Tana-  If you are trying to bulk you want to continue with higher weight and less reps.  Your rest time between sets needs to be about 90 seconds to get most of your recovery back.  You want to have the most energy available so you can continue to lift heavier weight over time and grow.  The main thing is that you get enough rest between workouts so you can fully recover.  I would throw in a lighter week once out of every four weeks for added recovery.


Davin Turner How do I get rid of love handles and lower belly fat and lose 15lbs by Christmas?


Chad TheTrainer Davin-  You can’t spot reduce your mid-section.  Fat loss generally works from the outside-in so you will see inches lost in your extremities before your mid-section.  In terms of losing weight before Christmas you should be shooting for a goal of about 8 – 10 pounds.  You can only really lose 2 pounds of body fat per week.  You are going to have to ingest 1000 calories less per day than you burn. Try dropping your calories by about 300 per day and increase your cardio by 10 – 15 minutes per day.  You can also log into your site under "my nutrition" and get a custom nutrition and workout plan done for you.  Just enter in all of your statistics and your goal and it will give you a workout plan and a custom menu plan.  Best of luck!


Sean Greaves For biceps is it better to do light weights with a lot of reps or heavy weights and fewer reps??  


Chad TheTrainer Sean-  The best thing to do is shock your body.  This means mix it up a bit.  Go heavy for a week followed by light weight high repetitions for a week.  I would also recommend doing heavy weight with the straight bar for 8 – 10 repetitions followed by sets of 15 with the dumbbells.  Make sure you are standing with the dumbbells hanging by your side with palms facing you.  Keep your elbow stationary and bring them all the way up to your shoulder.  This combination will allow you to emphasize the upper portion and lower portion of your biceps as well as your forearm.


Christopher Mason If I'm not sore the next day am I doing something wrong? I'm increasing weight and keeping reps the same. And how do I lose chest fat – got to get away from the moob look?  


Chad TheTrainer Christopher-  If you are trying to build strength and size on any part of your body I believe it is important to feel soreness the next day.  You are breaking down your muscle and your metabolism is increasing as you are recovering from the workout.   Try keeping your weight the same or lowering it and increase the repetition.  You can try either increasing the repetition range or you can add one additional set per exercise.   To work on your chest I would make sure you are working it from all angles.  Make sure you are incorporating a flat chest press, incline chest press, and some type of pectoral fly. You need to hit it from all angles if you are trying to add mass at every point.   One thing to remember is that diet and cardio have more to do with your chest definition than the weight training does.  Make sure you are doing cardiovascular exercise about three days a week for at least 30 minutes at a high intensity.  You will also have to look hard at your caloric input so you are not adding additional fat which may be adding to your chest size.  Really, the best advice I can give is balancing your weight training, cardiovascular exercise, and nutrition.  Best of luck!


Donna Reed What is the best exercise for belly fat?


Chad TheTrainer Donna- The unfortunate thing about belly fat is that you cannot spot-reduce any one particular part of your body.  Fat tends to come off first on your extremities and last on your mid-section.  You are going to have to take in less calories that you burn each day to lose weight and will need to focus on training in your fat burning zone to burn stored body fat.  Try keeping your heart rate in the 70% to 80% range of your max heart rate three to four times per week.  Also make sure you are doing weight resistance exercise at least three days a week to increase your long term metabolism.  Log into your site and click on “my nutrition.”  From here you can register for a customized nutrition plan and custom vitamin plan that can help you get to your goal in the least amount of time.  It takes balance to get there; don’t try what everyone else does and do sit-ups alone.  Keep it balanced and see results faster!


Laina Dunn My upper abs are in great shape but I can't seem to get my lower ones firmed up. Any suggestions?  


Chad TheTrainer Laina-  Great work on your upper abdominals.  It’s great that you are seeing results on the upper extremity but what you might not know is that you can’t spot reduce.  You are working your lower abs but you just can’t feel the isolation.  Try hanging from the bar and doing knee tucks.  Simply pull your knees up with your legs bent to your chest and let them down slowly.  Do this two or three times until you feel the burn.  You will begin feeling and maybe seeing more definition in this part of your abdominal area but the only way to really see all of your abs is by getting your body fat percentage to a very low level.  Congratulations on the work so far.


Samantha R Bailey If trying to lose a lot of weight, say 40 to 50 lbs, is it best to cut carbs?


Chad TheTrainer Samantha-  It’s not really about cutting carbohydrates, it is more about cutting overall total calories.  If you can burn 1000 calories more than you take in over a given 24 hour period you will be able to lose about 2 lbs. of body fat per week.  If you do cut your carbohydrates a large amount you may drop more pounds early due to water loss. Carbohydrates hold a lot of water so when you cut them out you lose that weight. What will happen in the long run is that when you go back to eating carbohydrates you will gain the body water back again. Try writing down what you eat over a three day period.  You can use a calorie counter to see exactly what you are taking in per day.  Once you know that you can make a small cut in your calories such as 300 per day.  On top of this you can add additional minutes to your cardio routine and add extra sets and reps to your weight training routine.  Try adding an additional 10 minutes to your cardio routine and try adding one extra set to each of your exercises during your workout.  Eating less and working out more is a simple equation.  Make sure to not focus on the latest fads but focus on the basics for long term success.  Best of luck!  


Ashley Lucas What’s the best kind of diet for a girl who is building muscle?


Chad TheTrainer Ashley-  This is tricky when you are trying to build lean body mass and keep your body fat percentage low.  I really have to recommend the nutrition program we have available in your account.  Log in and click on “my nutrition.”  Register and begin your Truestar custom menu and vitamin program.  Make sure to be honest when answering the questions and type in very specific goals.  It will tell you exactly how many calories to take in, your perfect protein, carbohydrate, and fat percentages, and will create shopping lists for you.  After this it will look at your health conditions and create a custom vitamin program based on your goals.  People don’t like to hear this but losing weight is easy – work out more and eat less!  What’s hard is lowering body fat and gaining lean muscle.  Stick with this and you will see success.  


Christina Stavrou Bachman My belly fat I attribute to age and stress. I am 54 and the belly fat is sudden. Please recommend exercise for the older group.  

Chad TheTrainer Christina-  As we get older unfortunately we genetically lose muscle mass and our metabolism slows down.  Because of this when we continue to eat like we did even 10 years earlier many of us begin putting on additional pounds. Because of wear and tear on our bodies we are not able to continue to work out at a harder pace each year so we are left with modifying our diets.  It is much easier to eat 300 calories less per day to see results than it is to work out on a piece of cardio for an additional 30 minutes per day.  Make sure you are still exercising at least 3 days per week and start making minor cuts in your daily eating habits to see results.   Also make sure to do a thorough warm-up and stretching to avoid injury and set-backs.


Glenn Salas Jr. When is the best time to eat carbs when trying to build muscle?


Chad TheTrainer Glenn-  The best time to eat carbohydrates is with each meal.  You want to make sure to get the proper percentages of protein, carbohydrates, and fat with each meal.  The most important time to get carbohydrates in with your workouts is about 30 minutes prior to lifting.  You need to build up your glycogen levels so you have the proper amount of blood sugar and energy during your workout.  More important is getting in 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of body weight after your workout.  I recommend a protein shake within 30 minutes of each workout.  Check out your site under “my nutrition.”  You can register and get a free custom menu program that will tell you the exact calories needed and exactly how many carbohydrates you need per day and per meal.  Use this technology and get the best program for possible based on your goal.  Best of luck in your future fitness goals!


Dana Sartin I have type 2 diabetes. I need to lose all over but my mid section is the worst. What can I do in the gym to get results in this area.


Chad TheTrainer Hi Dana – I get this question most often. Unfortunately you cannot spot-reduce, and because we tend to lose from our extremities first, the midsection tends to be the hardest for most people. Doing traditional ab exercises, along with lots of cardio and lessening your caloric intake will all help slim you down. With your special dietary needs, as I keep mentioning – log into your site, free for all Snap Fitness members, and click on “my nutrition.” Fill out your profile on Truestar, mentioning your health condition, and it will customize a meal plan to fit your specific goals and needs. Best of luck with your fitness journey!


Be sure to join us for our December live-chat on Facebook on Monday, December 10th at 12:00 PM CST! The theme will be "Workout Equipment."

GUEST BLOGGER | Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

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