Ask the Trainer: Chad The Trainer's 12/10/12 Live-Chat: Workout Equipment


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


Christina Thoss What are the best exercises/machines for me to improve my strength for swimming?


Chad TheTrainer Christina- It’s really hard to do sports-specific training on selectorized machines. However, you can work on those muscles that are utilized most on your body when you swim. I would take advantage of the lateral pull-down machine and seated row to work on back strength. I would use all of the lower body machines such as the leg press, leg curl, leg extension, and ab/adductors. This will strengthen your lower body muscles. My best advice is to work on your core. Try using some TRX bands for core strength and stability.

Karen Miles Balut Cardio question: Is it better to go cardio for an hour or so and then go to weights, or alternate cardio/weights/cardio/weights?

Chad TheTrainer Karen- I like to do a 5 minute warm-up, lift weights first to elevate my heart rate, and finish with cardiovascular exercise. You may want to take one day every two weeks and mix it up to shock your body and break any plateaus you have.

Kathi Ann Brown At my local Snap, I notice that people use the ab/back extension machine very differently: some push or pull the handles fast and just for a short arc; others (including me) push or pull slowly and do a much fuller/longer arc. Is one method more effective than the other, especially for the abs?

Chad TheTrainer Kathi- Unless you are trying to build large abdominal muscles I would stay away from the heavy weight and low reps. I prefer a middle speed with high repetitions. Remember, you are just building the muscles up under the fat layer. Without cardio and diet the fat layer will expand with the muscle and enlarge your waist line.

Deborah Fedorchak Liberatore I can only do two pull-ups. What muscles are involved in a pull-up and how do you train them?

Chad TheTrainer Deborah- The muscles involved in a pull-up include the lats and the biceps. You could focus on increasing strength in your back by doing lat pull-downs and increasing your weight over time. You can also do the assisted pull-up machine to help you with the actual motion of a pull-up. The other exercise that will help with your pull-ups is bicep curls. Strengthening your biceps will give you that extra pull you need at the top and will give you a better grip.

Amanda Tootell What is the best piece of equipment to help with belly fat after having a baby.

Chad TheTrainer Amanda- There is no one type of equipment that is best for belly fat. It is going to take a combination of diet, exercise and supplementation to get there. Log into your account and click on “My Nutrition.” Once registered you can enter your goals and get a custom nutrition program with the exact amount of calories needed to get to your goal. You will also need to do 20 - 30 minutes of cardio at least three times per week to burn stored body fat. The fastest way to get to your goal is to attack it from every angle. Best of luck!

Susan Ann Beaudoin Fair Recently I read that doing my equipment/ strength training after my cardio isn't as effective. Why? I usually do 45 min cardio on the elliptical and then strength training. I feel good and warmed up doing it that way. Thoughts?

Chad TheTrainer Susan- It is good to get a warm-up to get your body loosened up and to get blood into the muscles. By doing 45 minutes of cardio you are completely depleting the blood sugar needed for energy to lift weights and hence build muscle. If you lift first you will use the energy to lift the heavier weight and when you are done lifting you will be depleted and your heart rate will already be elevated. This allows you to get more benefit from the cardio since you are already in a "fat burning" zone and don't have to waste the first 5 minutes elevating your heart rate. I believe this is much more efficient.

Susan Ann Beaudoin Fair Great answer, Chad - who knew!? Since I do not want to 'build' muscle, but certainly want to be toned and 'muscle-efficient' would you still recommend the same approach. I originally just do the strength-training since I understood that it is great for metabolism and calorie-burning for a good amount of time after the workout. I do not want to build too much muscle. (Even though I know it is hard to do that too) Thank you - very helpful, Chad - I have a new regime I think.

Amy Powell I have twins. What machines will make me look like I don't? Lol

Sarah Kennedy Me too, Amy... and I have the same question.

Chad TheTrainer Amy/Sarah- There is no one machine that will do it. It is a combination of nutrition, weight training, and cardiovascular exercise. If I had to recommend a cardio machine it would be the Octane elliptical. Octanes are easy to use and the new Lateral-X is great for burning lots of calories fast. For machines I like the Matrix line of selectorized equipment. I would recommend getting with one of the trainers and working on some new and exciting programming. See if they have TRX bands and Kettle bells. Best of luck!

Dawn Wagner Hornacek What machine or exercise would you recommend to tone the glutes?

Chad TheTrainer Dawn- There are a few exercises that are key to hit the glutes. Try incorporating squats, lunges, and the abductor machine into your workouts. These three exercises target that area. See if your club has the new Octane Lateral X- This machine has a side-to-side motion that focuses specifically on the glutes and thighs. Try doing intervals on the Lateral X. Do two minutes at normal standing pace and then switch to grabbing the middle handles and squatting back with legs at 90 degrees. Do two minutes standing and 30 seconds squatting. It will fry your glutes:)

Sarah Desjardins I want to lose fat so is it better to do larger weights or smaller weights with more reps?

Chad TheTrainer Sarah- Typically for toning and firming you would stay with lighter weight and higher reps. At the end of the day however it is about taking in less calories than you burn. If you are consistent with weight training and cardio to burn more calories then you can just make a small adjustment on your food intake. Hit it from all angles! Cardio, weight training, and good nutrition.

Paula Atkins I am a 52 year old female. I haven't exercised in years. I also have a meniscus tear in my left knee and can't afford the surgery anytime soon. I would love to be able to start working out to lose weight and get in shape. Is there any exercise equipment that I can use to lose the belly fat and firm and tighten my thighs that wouldn't cause anymore damage to my knee?

Chad TheTrainer Paula- Other than swimming, which would be the best option, I would work on an elliptical or seated bike. The reason for this would be to avoid heavy impact and overuse of the joints. The worst type of cardio you could be doing is the treadmill. It puts the most amount of pressure and impact on the body. I would try to get 3 - 4 days a week of cardio on an elliptical for about 20 - 30 minutes. Start with 5 - 10 minutes and work your way up however. Best of luck!

Doug Ludmann Our gym has calipers to test body I need to fast beforehand?

Chad TheTrainer Doug- It's not real important with calipers as it is with bioelectrical impedance because of the hydration issue. I would do it prior to exercise and make sure you are always checking it at the same time of day for consistency.

Christopher Mason Why am I not sore some days even if I go hard the day before?

Chad TheTrainer Christopher- This is probably because your body is getting used to the same routine or you aren't getting proper muscle recovery after you train. Try mixing up your workout every other week. For example – on leg day start with extensions, then lunges, and finish with squats. Just go in reverse order. See how sore you get from this. Also make sure you are getting in 25 to 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after your workout for recovery. Cheers

Savannah Dolezal Which equipment is the best for blasting ab fat?

Chad TheTrainer There is really no best equipment for blasting ab fat.  There are machines like the ab coaster and ab machine that will help you build your abs and you can always do leg lifts and crunches to build the muscle. The best recommendation for getting rid of belly fat is to do cardiovascular exercise which burns stored fat and to limit your calories to prevent yourself from adding additional fat.  Continue to work your abdominal muscles to strengthen your back and core but focus on your workouts and nutrition to get rid of the mid-section.

Debra Merkel We have a new Ladder machine and I usually do the elliptical. Is one a better cardio work out then the other?

Chad TheTrainer Debra- You probably notice over time that it gets harder and harder to get your heart rate to where you want it. You body adjust to "plateaus" over time and you have to mix it up. Try switching over to the stair master for a week or two and then switch back. You should notice an instant change in your heart rate. Mix it up and have fun. It’s really about personal preference and burning calories.

Growler TruckerBear I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I want to gain about 80 lbs. but, it seems everyone is worried about losing weight and that is what most programs are designed for. I just turned 45 and I have back problems from professionally driving and I.B.S. Any help on gaining some weight? Food goes right through me.

Chad TheTrainer Growler-  I would try to limit your cardiovascular exercise to 5 minute warm-ups and focus more on increasing your weight week-over-week to add muscle mass. I would recommend starting slow and focusing on core workouts to strengthen your back muscles. Focus on strengthening your abdominal area so your back is more stable. Once you have done that you can begin lifting heavier and should be able to start gaining weight.

Angela Halford What's the best way to train for a 5k run?

Chad TheTrainer Angela - According to the best 5k programs include high intensity strength training sessions performed prior to running. These sessions improve running performance and decrease risk of injury.  The goal is to gain muscle strength without gaining more weight. Check out the whole article and references at  

Ray Toto Okay so I’m trying my first bulk and the frustration keeps building. How do I truly gain massive amounts of muscle and how big can I really get? I started at 165 and I’m 180 lbs, 5'8”. My genetics are apparently amazing and I’m an endomorph. My goal is to have the big bulky look with wide lats, shoulders arms, chest, etc. How long could it really take to have a physique attainable like that?

Chad TheTrainer Ray- It sounds like you are already on your way.  However, depending on your end goal and body weight you could be looking at years. If you look at a goal of gaining at most one pound of lean body mass per week you are looking at 4 pounds per month or 24 pounds over 6 months.  This may seem slow but it is the fastest you can gain muscle “naturally” in a window of time.  I would shoot for a goal of being over 200 pounds in the next 6 months.

Shirlee Ann I recently was diagnosed with diabetes and also have fibromyalgia. I have started losing weight – I do carry a lot of weight in my thighs and upper arms and belly area. What do you recommend to tone up? Also how much does it costs for a membership at snap fitness?

Chad TheTrainer Shirlee-  Many people decide to avoid exercise due to the pain caused by chronic fibromyalgia. However, with the appropriate program, consistently followed, it can relieve pain, strengthen connective tissue and increase flexibility and blood flow.  Your workout plan should include a good warm-up, stretching, strength & resistance training, and cardiovascular exercise.  If you are brand new to the club I would recommend working out for 15 minutes per day until you can get up to full 60 minute workouts. One you can do is 20 minutes of cardio. I would start with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday workout.  Begin each work-out with a 10 minute light warm-up on a treadmill or elliptical.  Work a full body circuit so that you are doing 1 set of 15 repetitions with each selectorized machine to hit each body part.  Check out the circuit on the Basic 8 workout on I would finish each workout with 20 minutes of “low impact” cardiovascular exercise. Try starting slow and working your way up and you will also see a drop in your diabetes.  Best of luck Shirlee!? Regarding membership costs, as all our clubs are individually owned and operated, pricing will vary by location. Visit for the website of the club nearest you and click on “memberships” or contact the club directly for specials!

Brad Crumb I'm on night shift from 7-7 and I've been going to the (Snap Fitness gym) @ 5pm daily. What would be good times for eating throughout the day? I'm trying to tone up.

Chad TheTrainer Brad- I would plan on eating either a snack or meal about every three hours. However, two very important meals are the ones before your workout and the ones after your workout. I would plan on something small about 30 minutes before to get your blood sugar up but give it time to digest a bit. I would plan on a protein shake about 30 minutes after your workout. Once these two are dialed in I would plan every three hours on either side. I would also make sure you are getting protein and carbohydrates when you get up. Breakfast is key to kick-starting your day and your metabolism.

Stephanie Williams Hi, I have been trying to get rid of my belly. I have been eating and doing some sit-ups but it’s not working so what can I do to get rid of it?

Chad TheTrainer Stephanie- Although you need a complete program that incorporates weight training, cardio, and nutrition, I would spend most of your time looking at what you are taking in for calories in a day. Log into your account and click on “My Nutrition.”  From here you can register for a free nutrition program that comes with supplement recommendations and menu planning. There is also a “My Workouts” section that you can click on to get a custom exercise program. My best advice would be to hire a personal trainer at your local Snap Fitness that can do the thinking for you and help you get to your goals in the least amount of time.

Denise Davis Chad, what is the best way to get rid of the belly pouch...I have been going to SNAP for 2 years now and while everything else is improving that is staying the same...

Chad TheTrainer Denise - You cannot spot-reduce fat on your body.  When you lose body fat it tends to come off beginning in your extremities, working its way to your mid-section. Continue to do what you are doing and if you are seeing results it is just a matter of time until you get there. Cardiovascular exercise mobilizes stored fat as an energy source. Therefore make sure you don’t make the mistake of doing low intensity cardio and weights only. Try upping your cardio sessions per day by about 10 minutes. Also, take a look at your diet. Are you eating too many calories? Cut your calories a bit, keep your current weight routine, and increase you cardio. See how this works!

Brandon 'Beef' Everman Chad, I was wondering what would be the best stomach workout for someone of my build? Also if you could tell me the number 1 workout for biceps and triceps and chest, I would appreciate it. I want to add mass rather than just tone. Thanks!

Chad TheTrainer Brandon- I like to train abs every other day of the week to ensure recover time on the off days. There is no one best exercise but I like to do crunches on a Bosu ball and leg lifts to focus more emphasis on the lower part of your abdominals. For chest, I would incorporate a flat press of some sort, an incline press to focus on the upper part of the pectoralis major, and a chest fly to help with definition. For biceps, start with a heavy straight bar which will emphasize the upper part of the biceps, and finish with a dumbbell hammer curl with your palms facing your body. This will hit the lower part of your biceps and your forearm. For triceps try an over-the-head dumbbell press with your hands crossed underneath the end of the dumbbell. Finish with some sort of triceps pushdown.  I also really like doing triceps on the TRX bands.  These are just some of my favorite exercises but there are hundreds out there.

Gary Dewyn Being a truck driver I do not have much room for equipment. Any suggestions for the mobile micro-space?

Chad TheTrainer Gary-  I would check out TRX bands.  You could probably attach them to the side of your truck and do many different functional training exercises.  When you are done with the bands they roll up and can be put in a small pouch.  Check out for a listing of various products that they make. You could also travel with a small set of kettle bells.  You could get a pretty good workout with a combination of TRX and kettle bells.

Edgar F Greenwood I’m trying to get rid of the fat around my chest, biceps and lower abs. I have lost a lot of weight and I need to find out what exercises I should be doing to focus on my trouble spots?

Chad TheTrainer Edgar-  The best way to burn more fat in these areas is to exercise your entire body to all muscle mass and increase your long term metabolism. This paired with 3 – 4 days a week of intense 20 – 30 minute cardio sessions will help you burn fat twice as fast as trying to spot-reduce. As I stated to someone else today, I prefer for chest to incorporate a flat press of some sort, an incline press to focus on the upper part of the pectoralis major, and a chest fly to help with definition. For biceps, start with a heavy straight bar which will emphasize the upper part of the biceps, and finish with a dumbbell hammer curl with your palms facing your body. This will hit the lower part of your biceps and your forearm.  You have probably lost a lot of weight because you have figured out your nutrition.  Keep up the good work and best of luck in your goals!

Kimberly Money How often is a minimum per week to maintain weight loss?

Chad TheTrainer It really depends on how many calories you are consuming. The less calories you take in, the less amount of exercise you will need to get there.  I would however recommend between 3 – 5 days a week of weight training with cardiovascular exercise. Try weights Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with 20 – 30 minutes of cardio after.  On Tuesday and Thursday try doing 30 – 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and let your muscles rest.


Be sure to join us for our January live-chat on Facebook on Wednesday, January 9th at 12:00 PM CST! The theme will be "Upper-body Exercises."

GUEST BLOGGER | Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

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