Fitness 101: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail…

If you’re looking for a list of fitness related frequently asked questions and answers, you’ve come to the right place.

Starting a workout program with no knowledge or background can be a daunting task.

Back in the day, I would have paid an arm and a leg for a fitness guide for beginners.

I started working out and lifting weights during my freshman year of high school. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and knowing what I know now, neither did the people teaching me.

My main sports were basketball and baseball so I wanted to train for those sports. It was recommended that I start weight training with the football team during the summer.

We began doing tons of squats, bench press, shoulder presses, sit ups, and bicep curls.

I figured this would give me a good start.

Little did I know, I was creating huge muscular imbalances throughout my body. I was over training my quads, my chest and my abs with very little focus on the back, hamstrings and really the entire posterior chain.

We did not do anything to protect our joints, but our sports were loaded with explosive, joint stressing movements. Correct form was never emphasized during any of the exercises or within the sports themselves. We were taught to go as fast and as hard as you can, with no regard to the safety of your body.

A teammate and I both ended up blowing out our acl’s my senior year, likely due to a lack of any kind protective structure surrounding our knee joints. This was combined with a large amount of stress we would put on the knee joints cutting in and out breaks during the basketball season.

The lesson is, seek out help before you start an exercise program, especially if you are a beginner. Don’t navigate the mine field yourself if you don’t have to. You are much more likely to succeed if you seek the help from someone who’s done it before. You will be less likely to create muscle imbalances, you will avoid injury, and actually stay motivated to continue on to achieve your goals.

I constantly hear people at the gym complaining about how their shoulders, back and knees hurt. I can tell they have never sought out professional advice. They continue to carry on day after day with the same nagging injuries, never taking the time to learn what they are doing wrong in their workouts to exacerbate their aches and injuries.

Take the time to learn correct exercise and workout techniques and strategies. Learn correct form from the beginning. Once you create an improper exercise routine, it may be hard to break until it’s too late and you find out the hard way.

Step one is to take the time to understand the general fitness concepts that one should abide by when starting an exercise program.

Review the questions below and try to understand the fundamental questions many new exercisers come across. If something is not up there that you would like to learn about, leave me a question below and I will try to answer it!

Fitness 101: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How should you start lifting weights?

If you are ready to start a weight lifting program, you need to consider basic, fundamental exercises. You should do exercises that utilize elementary exercise machines, dumbbells, or your own body weight. You should select a weight that is moderately difficult to lift. I usually recommend 5 to 8 pounds for women and 12 to 15 pounds for men. Make sure you warm up prior to any workout.

Is it OK to lift weights every day?

It is OK to lift weights every day. I recommend working the same muscle group only 2 to 3 times per week. You need to allow at least 2 days of rest between workouts. If you do biceps and back on Monday, you should not do them again until at least Thursday.  Your muscles need adequate time to recover. If you are constantly tearing them down day after day, they will never have a chance to rebuild and develop.

How many days a week should I lift weights?

You should only spend 3 to 4 days a week in the weight room.  Any more than that and you’re probably just wasting and excessive amount of time in the weight room. Most of your exercises should be compound movements such as the squat, deadlift, or pushup. Spend 2 days on full body exercises, and the other 1 to 2 on isolation exercises.

Does lifting dumbbells burn fat?

Movement of any kind burns fat. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Once you put on a few pounds of muscle, it will be a much easier for you to lose or maintain your weight. If you do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, you will get an afterburn effect that will allow your body to burn fat even after you are done working out. Perform high intensity exercises with a challenging weight and minimal rest between exercises for the best fat burning results over time.

How much weight should a beginner lift?

A beginner should begin by performing bodyweight exercises. I would then move to basic machine weights or dumbbells. Women can typically do 40 pounds on machines as a general starting weight. Men can begin with 60 pounds. With regards to dumbbells, I usually recommend 5 to 8 pounds for women and 12 to 15 pounds for men.

How heavy should I lift to gain muscle?

Once you begin to feel comfortable exercising, you should select a moderately challenging weight that you can complete 8 to 12 reps before you are fatigued and cannot do another rep. As long as you lift to muscle fatigue, it will not matter how heavy the weight is. If the goal is also to gain strength, then you should lift heavier weights rather then lighter weights.

Do dumbbells help lose arm fat?

Everyone’s body is different. It does not matter how you are exercising when trying to target weight loss in a certain area of your body. Your body is going to burn fat in the areas of your body based on your DNA. If your body wants to burn fat from the abdomen first, then it will. If your body wants to burn the fat on your arms or legs, it will go there first. If you do arm exercises, you will tone and tighten your arms up. Your body may not choose to eliminate the fat in your arms until other body parts lose the fat first.

Do you have to lift heavy to get toned?

As long as you are lifting a moderately challenging weight close to fatigue, at least twice a week, you will see toned muscles. You will need to burn fat in certain areas like the abdominal region to see the muscle underneath. Stay consistent, supplement with protein, hydrate and recover, and you should have no problem get muscle tone throughout your body.

Do you have to lift heavy to build muscle?

You do not have to lift heavy to build muscle. You just need to select a moderately challenging weight and lift until you cannot do another rep. This should happen in the 8 to 12 rep range. Select a heavier weight if you are surpassing this value. If you want to build muscle, you need to also take at least half your body weight in protein, hydrate, recover, and possibly add a creatine supplement.

Check out my article: 6 Basic Rules for Building Muscle Mass

How much should I lift for my weight?

A male beginner weighing 180 pounds should be able to bench press 95 pounds and 280 pounds as an advanced lifter. A male beginner weighing 180 pounds should be able to squat 120 pounds and 370 pounds as an advanced squatter.  A female beginner weighing 180 pounds should be able to bench press 50 pounds and 185 pounds as an advanced lifter. A female beginner weighing 180 pounds should be able to squat 70 pounds and 225 pounds as an advanced squatter. 

How do you start an exercise program?

If you are an absolute beginner, you should think of starting an exercise program like building a house. It’s something you probably shouldn’t do without the help of a trained professional. At first you are going to do everything wrong and probably quit after the first 2 weeks due to a lack of motivation.  You need to hire someone to guide you and motivate you. Get a personal trainer or at least find an online fitness/video program to lead you.

What are the benefits of an exercise program?

There is an endless number of benefits associated with an exercise program. Some of the benefits include improved strength, endurance, muscle tone, energy levels, sleep quality, relaxation, balance, mobility, and flexibility. An exercise program can help you lose weight, reduce your risk for chronic disease, improve bone density, reduce pain, and increase mental clarity and memory.

What should a fitness program include?

A fitness program should include a fitness plan strategically tailored to meet your goals over a certain length of time. It should include resistance, cardio and flexibility training. There should be a structured plan for healthy joint maintenance and an eating plan customized for the nutritional needs of your body. It should incorporate warmups, cooldowns, and rest days.

What are the 10 best muscle building exercises?


  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Row
  • Pull Up
  • Pike to Rollout
  • Lunge
  • Hamstring Curl
  • Bicep Curl to Shoulder Press
  • Clean and Jerk

Check out my article: The Top 10 Muscle Building Exercises

What type of exercise burns the most fat?

The best type of exercise for burning the most fat is going to be exercises within a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. By doing short, intense exercises followed by short rest periods you are going to burn more fat than a traditional workout.  Try to stick with compound movements that use multiple joints to complete each exercise such as a dumbbell squat to shoulder press.

How can I reduce fat quickly?

If you want to quickly reduce body fat, you need to stick to some mathematical principals. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories. Create a caloric deficit to lose weight. You can do this by eating fewer calories throughout the day then you regularly consume and by burning calories with resistance and cardio workouts.  If you typically consume 2000 calories per day to maintain your body weight, reduce that to 1400 calories per day. Do a resistance training and cardio workouts that burns 600 calories per day. You now have a 1200 calorie deficit. You should burn 1 pound of fat every 3 days.

What is the best exercise to burn fat?

The best exercise to burn fat will be anything high intensity. This can be a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout, jogging, swimming, jumping rope, Tabata training, skiing, rowing. boxing, sprinting, wrestling, running, hiking, biking or cycling. Anything that requires short burst of intense exercise are going to be the best exercises for burning fat.

Summary: Fitness 101: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Starting an exercise program as a beginner should be done with great care. You need to understand basic fitness and fat loss concepts before you dive in to something you’ve been motivating yourself to do. Seek the advice of professionals so you can accelerate the process and avoid major pitfalls along the way. Exercise is something everyone needs in their life. Do it right to begin with and it will be easier for you to add fitness to your weekly lifestyle regimen.

Is there a question I missed that you would like answered? Let me know below!!

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