Ask Scott: Muscle for runners, when to eat and advice on heart rate
Top fitness coach Scott Pearson answers your health and fitness questions.
As a runner how can I put weight on around shoulders and arms but stay lean everywhere else?
Increasing muscle mass and losing body fat happen in very different ways. For example trainers can work a particular muscle and through adaptation the muscle develops.
But while you can develop a particular muscle, you cannot lose fat from a particular area. You can't, for example, say I'd like to lose some fat from my stomach and do sit ups (or any other exercise) to make it happen. We are all genetically pre-disposed to gain/lose fat in some areas rather than in other areas. Men tend to carry weight around their middle (the beer belly), while women usually carry it on their bum and hips.
As a runner I imagine that you are naturally pretty lean to begin with as long duration aerobic activity is perfect for fat burning; so the real question is how can you increase muscle mass around your upper body? The simple answer is to do some resistance training.
There is an almost endless amount of different kinds of resistance training you can do, so choose one you enjoy and stick to it. If you like running you can spice up a session by adding in 10 press ups every 5 minutes. If you happen to be running past a child's play area use some of the apparatus and complete 10 pull ups. How about running with a weighted rucksack? Every so often remove it and perform upper-body exercises (shoulder pressed, forward raises, ets). As with all physical activity you are only limited by your imagination.
If you don't like the idea of this then you can perform more traditional weight training exercises in a gym. Bench press, shoulder press, curls, etc are old favourites. See my previous articles for more info.
Is it true that you should wait 2 hours after eating to work out?
Eating before training poses a dilemma. If you eat too long before training then your body will have digested most of it and you will be left without any energy for your session. Eating too close to a session is also bad, as the food will still be sitting in your stomach unable to provide energy for the session, making you feel sick.
Before a match I recommend that our players eat between 3 and 4 hours before playing but this is because the matches are extremely intense. Before training I usually recommend eating between 1 and 2 hours before a session. This is because we have up to 3 sessions per day and it is impractical to leave it any longer. It is important that this meal consists of good quality protein and complex carbohydrates. It is also vital that you drink plenty of water before, during and after your training session.
Should you maintain your heart rate after doing cardio before you do strength training?
Unless I am performing circuit training or some kind of integrated session I like to keep my cardio training and my strength training separate, so this isn't usually an issue for me. In the world of fitness there are no real rights and wrongs (unless health and safety is an issue), so I guess the answer to your question is it depends on why you are training.
The human body will naturally adapt to whatever stimulus it is placed under so combining cardio training and strength training confuse the body a little (as they have opposite training effects). This may not necessarily be a bad thing as it will yield a more athletic person. (This is what I do during circuits and integrated sessions though I mix it up rather than doing one then the other.)
If your goal is either to get more aerobically fit or to increase muscle mass I recommend separating the sessions. But if you are training for fitness and health then keeping them within the same session is fine. There is no real need to maintain your heart rate before you lift weights as it will be a limiting factor in how much you lift. Sorry if my answer appears a little imprecise but it really depends on why you are training and what you enjoy doing. Good luck.
Page created on February 1st, 2008
Page updated on January 18th, 2010