Fitness Q&A

Got a question? Ask it here!

This is the place for you to pick my brain with all your pressing health, nutrition and exercise questions!

Simply use the comments box below to post your query. You can even tag your Twitter and Facebook friends if you think it’s a subject they might be interested in! Remember to select ‘follow conversation’ to be notified of receiving an answer.

Look forward to hearing from you!

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33 replies on “Fitness Q&A

  • Charli

    Hi Adam. Chia seeds are a very good source of both fibre and Omega 3. They don’t have much of a taste of their own, so they’re ideal to mix into things (such as yoghurt, shakes etc.). All in all, they’re a very high quality energy source. However, like all nuts and seeds, they’re pretty calorie dense, so should be added in moderation. Hope that helps!

  • TrainWithCharli

    @Adam B Hi Adam. Chia seeds are a very good source of both fibre and Omega 3. They don’t have much of a taste of their own, so they’re ideal to mix into things (such as yoghurt, shakes etc.). All in all, they’re a very high quality energy source. However, like all nuts and seeds, they’re pretty calorie dense, so should be added in moderation. Hope that helps!

  • Bryony P

    Hi Charli,
     
    I’m going travelling in June so have a few months to get back in shape for a great bikini body! I have a long commute and am usually too tired to do classes/go running etc after work. What kind of all body fat burning/toning regimes would you suggest that I can do on my own at home, both in the evening and my 2 days off a week (without it consuming all my time off)!
     
    Thanks, Bryony

  • TrainWithCharli

    @Bryony P Hi Bryony!
     
    This article details the most efficient way to get in bikini body shape: http://charli-cohen.com/the-benefits-of-weights-training-for-women/
     
    I have three bodyweight workouts utilising these principles that you can do at home – you can download these for free here: http://charli-cohen.com/goody-bag/.
     
    I’d suggest aiming for around 4 good resistance workouts per week – these shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes.
     
    Aside from that, stay as active as possible during the day (walking when you can etc.) and don’t forget that diet is really important for fat loss/ ‘toning up’ too. This article is worth a read with regard to nutrition: http://charli-cohen.com/calorie-calculator/
     
    Good luck and if you have any more questions just let me know!

  • TrainWithCharli

    Legs are very often one of the last areas to lean up, especially in women. In terms of building the muscle, nothing beats heavy squats and deadlifts (especially Romanian deadlifts for hamstrings). In terms of SEEING the muscle, that’s down to diet (optimised as per this article: http://charli-cohen.com/calorie-calculator/). As legs hold ‘stubborn’ fat, you’ll find that you will lean up in the rest of your body before seeing big changes in your legs. One of those frustrating things! x

  • Bryony P

    @TrainWithCharli @Bryony P Thanks Charli! That’s really helpful! Will let you know how I get on! 🙂 Bryony

  • Big geoff

    What’s best for weight loss and maintaining muscle, I do cardio,core and weights but seem to have hit a wall at the moment, can you help me 🙂

  • Charli

    Hi Geoff :). The key to maintaining muscle whilst losing fat is a) Diet, as per this article: http://charli-cohen.com/calorie-calculator/ and b) Prioritising heavy weights training over cardio. Cardio should be kept in your plan for basic health/conditioning purposes, but overdoing it is what will lead to muscle loss and potentially cause a plateau in fat loss. Ideally, I’d suggest 4 weights sessions per week on a 2-day split (e.g. alternating upper body and lower body) focusing on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, rows, chin ups, cleans, presses etc. If you’re doing these type of exercises, you’ll be getting plenty of incidental core work, so don’t need to add much extra – one specific core session every 1-2 weeks is sufficient. Then rather than doing specific cardio workouts, increase your daily activity: walk wherever possible, run up the stairs, pace when you’re on the phone etc. You can also incorporate cardio into your weights workouts, by keeping rest times short between sets and using techniques such as supersets, trisets and circuits. Hope this helps to answer your question! You can also check out my Bespoke Plans section if you decide you need a specific nutrition and training plan to progress.

  • TrainWithCharli

    @Big geoff Hi Geoff :). The key to maintaining muscle whilst losing fat is a) Diet, as per this article: http://charli-cohen.com/calorie-calculator/ and b) Prioritising heavy weights training over cardio. Cardio should be kept in your plan for basic health/conditioning purposes, but overdoing it is what will lead to muscle loss and potentially cause a plateau in fat loss. Ideally, I’d suggest 4 weights sessions per week on a 2-day split (e.g. alternating upper body and lower body) focusing on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, rows, chin ups, cleans, presses etc. If you’re doing these type of exercises, you’ll be getting plenty of incidental core work, so don’t need to add much extra – one specific core session every 1-2 weeks is sufficient. Then rather than doing specific cardio workouts, increase your daily activity: walk wherever possible, run up the stairs, pace when you’re on the phone etc. You can also incorporate cardio into your weights workouts, by keeping rest times short between sets and using techniques such as supersets, trisets and circuits. Hope this helps to answer your question! You can also check out my Bespoke Plans section if you decide you need a specific nutrition and training plan to progress.

  • Ali B

    A new problem for me is that while doing cardio i’ve been suffering with shin splints – What’s a good way for me to still fit cardio in without my legs hurting so much?
    2nd problem – I have NO butt! What’s a good regime i can do every day to build some shape? 
    Hope you can help me! 🙂

  • TrainWithCharli

    @Ali BHi Ali! 
    This is a really good article on helping with shin splints: http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/ankle-achilles-shin-pain/shin-splints/shin-splints-prevention 
    That said, unless you specifically love running, I’d suggest chaing to something lower impact for cardio (e.g. cycling, swimming). You should also moderate this if you’re looking to gain a butt – prioritise the type of workouts I’m about to describe below…
    You need to be doing some heavy resistance training – I’d suggest three full body workouts per week, including squats twice per week, regular deadlifts once per week and Romanian deadlifts once per week (in addition to other compound exercises for the rest of your body). Remember, muscles grow at rest, so training your glutes every day will be counterproductive to muscle growth. This article will explain more about lifting ‘heavy’: http://charli-cohen.com/the-benefits-of-weights-training-for-women/
    You also need to eat enough to gain muscle – another article for you: http://charli-cohen.com/calorie-calculator/
    Hope this answers your questions!

  • Tara w 79

    Hi, ive started back at the gym again after 4 years. Need to lose 4 stone, and im struggling with everything. I can manage 10 mins cardio, then my legs turn to jelly and im exhausted. I know it wont happen overnight but i feel like im wasting my time. What should i be doing thats best for fat loss, my tummy and thighs being the worst part. And how can i keep my stamina up so i can get to 30 mins cardio?
    Please help, any food diet tips would be fab too.
    Im lost and feeling very low x

  • TrainWithCharli

    Tara w 79First of all, fantastic work getting back to the gym! I appreciate how frustrating it can be getting back into the swing of things, but be proud of yourself for taking this first huge step.
    With regard to fat loss, have a read of these three articles:
    http://charli-cohen.com/how-do-i-lose-my-belly-fat/
    http://charli-cohen.com/how-do-i-lose-my-belly-fat/
    http://charli-cohen.com/the-benefits-of-weights-training-for-women/

    With regard to cardio endurance, it’s a case of working up to it. Stick to the 30 minutes time, but take it as easy as you need to, going at a slow pace and stopping to rest for a few minutes every now and then if you need to. Start building this up by doing intervals – e.g. 2 minutes at a higher intensity, then five minutes slow. Gradually increase the time at the higher intensity until you’re doing it consistantly for the 30 minutes. Don’t rush it, building endurance is a slow process and it’s important not to burn yourself out or risk injury.
    It might seem like a long journey ahead now, but try to think of it a week at a time. You might also like this article on goal setting:
    http://charli-cohen.com/how-to-break-the-motivation-rut/

    Hope this helps and do keep me posted! x

  • Annie

    Hi Charli,
    I’ve started going to the gym regularly and eating a healthy diet with barely any sugar and lots of fruit/veg and grains. It’s only been about a month, but I’m a little misinformed and feel its hard to find reliable information as there’s so many mixed messages out there about what’s good and what’s not re: dieting, women’s bodies/exercise! I just read an SBC interview on here where it said fats are actually good, can you explain this? I’m also confused about weights! I’m already fairly slim but I want to lose a bit more weight without getting muscly at all, especially trying to slim my legs.

  • Tony Callister

    Hi Charli, @acal8 here. Hope you are well.
    You will have picked up a couple of my tweets regards your immense workload.
    I am a full time firefighter of 24 years service at Barrow-in-Furness fire stn. My lucky shifts allow me the time to be a part time employee for Lancashire Football Association based at Leyland and for the past 12 years I have been an elected Labour Councillor for Barrow. My workload is rather immense, and I like you don’t sleep efficiently as I should and I very rarely take advice on slowing down and chilling out !! 24 hours in a day, not 8 is a good motto. I find your tweets cool and educational…….. my training can be a bind at times, what advice can you give ? O and I play drums to ease the stress !!!!!  I might be beyond help… lol.  Thank you for your time to read this. Tony Callister. 

  • Charli

    Hi Tony! I definitely sympathise with struggling to fit in the training. My advice for time-efficiency is to keep sessions short but super-high intensity. 3 really solid 30 minute resistance sessions per week (any time of day you can fit it in) plus as much lifestyle activity (walking, cycling, generally ‘moving’) as possible will keep you on track with fitness/physique goals. You can shorten resistance sessions by using supersets and circuits – keep resistance challenging and rest times short. Hope that helps and keep me posted! Cx

  • TrainWithCharli

    Tony CallisterHi Tony – you’re right – the reply is in my dashboard but not appearing live on the site! Here we go again: I definitely sympathise with struggling to fit in the training. My advice for time-efficiency is to keep sessions short but super-high intensity. 3 really solid 30 minute resistance sessions per week (any time of day you can fit it in) plus as much lifestyle activity (walking, cycling, generally ‘moving’) as possible will keep you on track with fitness/physique goals. You can shorten resistance sessions by using supersets and circuits – keep resistance challenging and rest times short. Hope that helps and keep me posted! Cx

  • Tony Callister

    TrainWithCharli Tony Callister Hi Charli, Thanks for the sound advice. Hope that makes me tired !! Thanks for your time in replying, much appreciated. x

  • Abi Edwards

    Hi Charli, thanks so much for emailing the goody bag. Quick question re arms. I’m not a member of a gym but do a Body Blast class twice a week, run 5k 3-4 times a week, do 20 mins hula-hooping 3-4 times a week, and do a 10 min arm DVD with 3kg dumbbells every other day. (I am also eating clean, as per James Duigan’s Clean and Lean book, with good fats etc). My arms are slowly changing, but is 10 mins every other day enough? Thanks, Abi

  • TrainWithCharli

    Abi EdwardsHi Abi! It’s great your diet is on track – this is a key part of ‘toning up’. As for your arms, rather than doing isolated arm work every other day, I’d suggest doing 2-3 fullbody resistance workouts per week with either heavier weights or bodyweight – stick to compound movements that not only work your arms but all your other major muscle groups. The resistance/intensity should be high enough that you can only manage about 8-12 reps per set. Have a read of this for further info on resistance training: http://haveyourcakeandeatitdiet.com/the-benefits-of-weights-training-for-women x

  • Tony Callister

    TrainWithCharli Tony Callister Hi Charli, I have tinkered with my activity times and content. I have include the solid resistance sessions alongside taking to the roads on my push iron. Certainly do feel fresher for mixing the routine up.  Once again, great advice, it certainly beats what I have locally ! Thanks for your time. TC.x

  • Yogi32

    Hi charli!! I would love your advice!
    What would you recommend for someone (well me!) who wants to gain weight healthily and gain lean muscle? I can’t however train with weights at the moment as I am too underweight!! I am also rather petrified of carbs, as there is so much out there about not consuming them or only after a work out, which isn’t helpful if you can’t work out!! I do eat a good diet in terms of natural foods, fats, protein and quinoa or a small sweet potatoe in the evening but I am not being very successful!! Any help you could give would be so appreciated! Clara xxxxx

  • TrainWithCharli

    Hi Clara, thanks for getting in touch!
    First of all, until you’re cleared to use weights are you able to train using just your bodyweight (either with no equipment or with bands/TRX)? If so, this would be a great thing to incorporate, but you must of course go with medical recommendations where this is concerned.
    Diet wise, your priority should be eating enough calories with a good balance of protein/fat/carbs. Don’t stress about timings or ‘good’/’bad’ labels. Aim to have the majority of your diet including natural whole foods – it’s all about healthy balance and doing what you need to do to meet your nutrient requirements each day. If you’re not gaining, gradually increase your calorie consumption at a rate you feel comfortable with – diet is always trial and error.
    I hope this helps – it’s not a cut and dry solution but it’s the best advice I can give without knowing doc’s recommendations and your specific circumstances.
    You’re welcome to drop me an email via the website contact form if you’d like to discuss further – it comes directly to me.
    Charli xxx

  • Sarah

    Hi Charli,
    I’m a third year fashion marketing student and I’ve recently decided when I graduate I would like to specialise in merchandising fitness and sports wear. What is the fashion/fitness market like right now? Have you found your PT qualification a big help in your chosen career path? Which PT qualification did you take, and was it while you were studying for your fashion degree?
    Big thank you in advance for your help!
    Sarah
    xox

  • David

    Hi Charli

    I tend to snack on almonds and buy ones from the wholefoods section of the supermarket. However I noticed a better deal in the baking section. They looked the same and seem similar – any idea of a difference if any? Thanks.

  • katiehom40

    I try and eat very healthily day to day (with the occasional treat now and then) but I think I still eat too much especially when it comes to snacking! Do you have any advice on portions and how much I should be snacking in the day? Thanks, Katie.

  • TrainWithCharli

    katiehom40Hi Katie! Meal frequency/snacking comes down to how much you’re eating overall during the day (so if you’re eating small/low calorie meals you can snack more and vice versa). There’s no real right or wrong, it’s more about getting the balance right for YOUR own schedule and energy levels. This article should help you guesstimate you total daily requirements: http://charli-cohen.com/calorie-calculator/ – from this, you can break it down into the number and size of meals/snacks you’d prefer to have during the day. Hope this helps! Charli x

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