What type of exercise regime should be done to keep in shape?

It depends on many things and most importantly- What do you enjoy doing?  In the gym or outside? Is it weight training, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), just normal cardio (running, cycling…) or do you enjoy doing all kind of classes?
If you have time to exercise for 30-40 minutes 4-5 days a week (preferably early in the morning), that would be great. Full body workouts or following a split program is most common choice and it works for most people.
If you don’t know how to get started and you feel lost in the gym seek help and get a personal trainer to guide you through the movements and the process on how to get fit and achieve your goals. A well-educated trainer is a must for beginners- to assess you, detect your weak sides and develop them, to teach you how to execute the exercises correctly and to avoid injuries.

How much time should be spent doing cardio v's strength training?

It depends on what your goals are. They both help for fat loss, they both can challenge your body and test your limits and if you`re not careful you can easily overtrain with both. If you are training for strength or you are a body builder you still should keep your cardio up and a have a cardio session at least once a week. For fat loss, a combination of 50/50 cardio (also HIIT) and strength is the best choice. If you are a long-distance runner or just enjoy cardio very much still don’t forget your weekly 1 or 2 strength sessions. It`s all connected!

How important is diet when it comes to seeing results?

That’s a great question! People often underestimate the importance of the diet when it comes to results. The diet is ¾ of the process. Doesn`t matter if you want to lose weight or put on muscle mass, your diet plan must be spot on. Counting calories comes first and then choosing the type of macros you eat (carbs, protein & fats). Not eating enough could also be an obstacle for fat loss for example. When not eating enough for a long time the metabolism slows down, the hormone levels are getting low and your body is switching in to survival mode and then instead of losing weight you can hit a plateau or even put on weight (most likely body fat).

How many days a week do you recommend working out?

It depends on goals and fitness levels. Normally for heathy lifestyle  30-45 minutes of exercises every second day (approx. 3-4 times a week) is recommended. This way the body can recover and get ready for the next training session (especially if you are a beginner).

What would you recommend eating before & after a workout?

If you train early in the morning it`s better to have something light (oats, fruit, nuts, shake etc.). Also, an intra-workout shake works – especially for those who hates eating early in the morning. For afternoon or evening sessions it’s good to have your lunch or afternoon meal at least 1.5-2 hours prior the session so you won’t feel heaviness in your stomach while you are training. Preferably well-balanced meal with protein (lean meat – 150-200g), carbs (brown rice, sweet potato, green vegetables- 100-150g) and fats (vegetable oil10g) – in good proportions.
No matter how challenging the workout is, if we don`t recover properly by giving the body the good nutrients it needs to repair itself and if we don’t sleep enough - we won’t progress!
A whey protein shake with a sachet of Original Vida Glow marine collagen straight after the training session is the best and fastest way to supply the body with essential amino acids – the building blocks for the muscle, and initially start the recovery process. And then a well-balanced meal again.

How important is protein for someone working out?

The protein is one of the macronutrients and plays many critical roles in the body (structural functions, driving biomechanical reactions, hormonal regulation, immune system actions) – one of them is repair and recovery after training. A challenging workout causes microtears in the muscles and the protein helps for the repairs (structural function).  

What is your best tip for weight loss?

“If there is a will there is a way!” - that’s very true. Put your diet in place and the results will come. If you don’t know how, get a dietologist and learn from them. Remember each body is different and what works for some doesn`t necessarily work for others. Start tracking food and change one thing at a time until you find what works for your body- trial and error – and learn. Also, don`t get discouraged if you don`t see results straight away, it takes time.

What exercises would you recommend getting rid of stubborn belly fat and flabby arms? 

A combination of HIIT, Cardio and strength training will do the best job:

  • HIIT are the best in burning stubborn fats. This type of training increases the resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours. Which means that you will burn fats even after you walk out of the gym.
  • Strength training. Compound movements like deadlifts and squats are a great way to get stronger and burn more calories. By working on the biggest muscles in the body (legs, glutes and the trunk) the energy expenditure is greater than any other type of training. The other advantage of the strength training is that just like the HIIT, it increases the resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours which leads to better fat burning effect.
  • Normal cardio is also good, a bit less effective method to do the job but can help a lot – it burns local fats (mostly fats around the muscles you`re working with). It`s also more time consuming because the body will begin with burning the carbs in the body before it starts using the fats for energy (Example: around 20 minutes after you start running) and as soon as you stop the fat burning process also stops.

What workout essentials would you recommend for someone who is just beginning their fitness journey?

For a beginner I would recommend full body workouts. Starting slowly with body weight exercises and light weights and more repetitions (1-2 sets of 15-20 reps). Get the correct form of the movements first and build some endurance before lifting heavy. This phase is a must for beginners. The body needs time to adapt to the stimuli of the workout. In this phase (8 weeks at least) we`re getting the tendons and the ligaments stronger and decrease the risk of injury when you start lifting heavier weights.
And again if you don’t know how to start, get a personal trainer or someone with more experience to show you the first steps.

Tsvetomir Dinchev
Personal Trainer
The Fitness Playground