ATLETA Fitness

10 Common Heath and Fitness Questions Answered

No doubt that at some point you’ve either asked or been curious about something to do with health and fitness. Health and Fitness is often a hotly debated topic, with many people throwing personal opinion, passed as fact, into the already confusing minefield of information.

So we’ve decided to take 10 common health and fitness questions, and answer them to try and improve your health and fitness understanding.

1.What is the best way to lose weight?

Optimized-energy-balanceSimply put, the best way to lose weight is energy deficit. Everything we do in life, even when we are sitting stationary or sleeping, uses energy. The cells that make up our body are constantly respiring, or using energy, to allow us to continue living. This means we are constantly burning fuel. When we start to increase energy intake through excess processed and high sugar foods, we start to positively skew energy balance. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet with adequate energy is more important than exercise for weight loss. The general rule of thumb is 80% diet and 20% exercise for weight loss. Ideally, to lose weight you should restrict energy intake moderately, and continue to regularly exercise

2.What is the best way to burn fat?

High intensity cardio exercise is definitely the best way to burn fat. Sprint Intervals are one of the best ways to maintain high intensity exercise and finish a workout in a short period of time. 20 minutes of intervals won’t burn as much energy as a 1 hour run. During recovery, however, the EPOC (what we call post exercise oxidative consumption) will be far higher for sprints than for a standard run. This means you’re still burning lots of energy after the sprint intervals (in recovery), and will burn more energy than the standard 1 hour run over the course of the sprints and the recovery.

3.How do I get rid of belly fat?Optimized-400m sprint finish

If someone tells you abs and core exercises are the best way to burn belly fat, do not listen to any other fitness advice they may have. This is, frustratingly, one of the most incorrect and widely perpetuated fitness myths today. Belly fat is just the accumulation of body fat on the stomach region. Common causes of belly fat accumulation are excess energy intake, excess processed sugar intake, increased age and low physical activity. Burning belly fat is like burning any other source of fat: decrease your energy and sugar intake, utilise high intensity cardio workouts to increase energy expenditure, and supplement with regular resistance training to improve associated musculature.

4.How do I get toned without getting ‘bulky’?

Many people give the same response when asked if they lift weights; ‘No, because I don’t want to get too muscly’. Resistance training (weights, resistance bands, bodyweight exercises etc) is a great form of exercise with many benefits; one that should be embraced and not shunned. The simple truth is that you’re not going to get ‘massive’ just because you’ve started lifting weights. You will, however, gain muscle mass, increase muscle tone, reduce fat mass, reduce blood pressure and feel great!

5.Why have my results plateaued?

logarithmic scaleIt is natural to reach a plateau after several weeks, months and years of vigorous training. The law of diminishing returns states that the higher your level of training and performance, the smaller the increments of performance increase will become (Illustrated by the logarithmic curve). Don’t fret when you’ve plateaued though. It just means you’ll have to change your routine and increase your intensity to improve further. It is a sign that you’ve become fitter, faster and stronger; so just think of it as a new challenge.

6.How often should I exercise, and for how long?Optimized-JR Surf

Exercise is not only important to our health, but is also enjoyable and can be a form of active meditation. Ideally, you should be physically active 7 days a week. When it comes to specific training sessions though, it depends on your level of fitness experience. Those who are just starting out with regular training should train no more than 4 times a week (ideally 2-3) and this slowly progresses through to advanced regular exercisers training 5-6 times each week. Feel like exercising but don’t want to do a ‘heavy’ session? Go for a walk, have a swim, catch some waves; do something active that isn’t classified as ‘training’. You’ll still burn energy and reap the benefits of exercising, as well as being prepared and excited for your next structured session.

7.How much rest should I take between sessions and exercises?

Different exercises and session plans require different levels of rest. Let’s classify sessions into 4 categories: strength/power, resistance, intervals and continuous cardio.


You should take 2-3 days between heavy sessions, and have anywhere from 2-5 minutes recovery between sets of lifts/exercises to allow optimal performance.


1-2 days between sessions is good. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is generally most sore 24-48 hours post workout. Rest between sets should be anywhere from 30-90 seconds, but could be less if opting for a circuit style workout.


Intervals are similar in nature to resistance and power training. Running at these speeds is working your maximum aerobic power output, and hence you need ample rest between sets and sessions. A work to rest ratio of 1:2 is ideal for high intensity sprint intervals (100-400m Max efforts) or a Work:rest ratio of 2:1 is more ideal for longer duration intervals (500-1000m). You should take 1-2 days rest between sessions to allow optimum recovery

Continuous Cardio:

Continuous cardio doesn’t stress the body as much as the other 3 exercise modalities mentioned here; and hence recovery for performance only take as long as fuel replenishment takes. You’d be fine to train the following day, provided you’ve had adequate nutrition for recovery following your session.

8.What is the best time of day to exercise?Optimized-IMG_3787

Everyone has a different circadian rhythm, and hence a different ideal time to exercise. Male testosterone levels naturally peak at around 4-5am, so weight training for males can often be most useful in the early morning. However, people feel motivated and strong at different points in the day, so you’re best off training when you feel you will perform best. Alternatively, if you’re training for an event, it would be ideal to train at the same time the event will be run at. Keep in mind, though, that exercise creates stress and as a result stress hormones are released. If we train late at night we can impair the ability of our body to fall asleep as easily, so it is best to avoid heavy exercise after 6-7pm. Mornings are often the best time to train, as the exercise can help us ‘wake up’ and can kick start our energy expenditure for the day.

9.What is the importance of diet in recovery from training?

Following the completion of a workout, your body allows you a magical 30-60 minute anabolic window. In this 30-60 minutes post workout period, your body wants to absorb as much nutrition as possible. Feeding your body junk food in this window is a poor way to recover; yes it will accept the nutrition and the effect of the junk will be somewhat negated, however the recovery and anabolism (muscle building/repairing) potential will have been wasted. Within the hour following a tough session (or game) a meal with adequate protein, fat and plenty of high quality carbohydrates (roast vegetables, wholemeal pasta, sweet potato) will stimulate the greatest recovery for the next session. The anabolic window is a gift for training hard; don’t waste it on crap!

10.Why, and how, should I choose a good personal trainer?Optimized-IMG_0268 copy

There are masses of personal trainers available to anyone to choose at the moment; it is certainly a buyer’s market. Personal Trainers allow you to make the most of every workout. We are there to motivate you, correct technique, provide lifestyle advice and overall help you achieve your goals. A good PT will sit down with you and go over your medical history, lifestyle choices and health goals; then tailor their session planning and programming to achieve these goals. Research has shown greater improvements in health and fitness when training with a PT. Personal Trainers are there to help you make the most of your workout, and to help you be the very best version of you. How do we at ATELTA set ourselves above the rest? For a start, we are all university educated. Many PTs have only completed a 12 week fitness course. Sure, they can help you and tell you what to do; but we can tell you why you are doing a certain exercise, or exercise modality. As university educated fitness professionals, our knowledge and experience far surpasses that of college and diploma graduates. All our trainers are exercise science graduates or exercise physiologists, making ATLETA the ideal choice for anyone looking to start training with a PT.

Got more questions, or want some clarity and more detail on some of the above questions? Please leave comments or get in contact to ask. Want to book a free initial goal setting session? Let one of our trainers help take your fitness to the next level today.

Article by Johann Ruys

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