3325 N York St, Denver, CO 80205

Urban Pump Personal Training Studio

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need only two twenty minute workouts a week to get a buff, shapely body?

Yes. Not only can you develop a buff body with very little exercise, you can actually develop a high degree of health and fitness as well. We get the message from fitness professionals and health experts that we need x amount of cardio, x amount of strength training, x amount of stretching and so forth a week for optimal health. This is not necessarily true. There is plenty of compelling research demonstrating that very little exercise can bring about the same benefits. How can this be? Exercise simply sends a signal to the body telling it to adapt to the demands placed on it. The body will respond the the exercise during rest. If the exercise program is intense enough with the appropriate pacing between sets, very little exercise can produce unbelievable gains in strength and cardiovascular capability. Moreover, the most favorable amount of flexibility, range of motion and joint stability occurs during a lift if one were to do it with a controlled tempo through the full range of motion. There is rarely a need to do extra stretching before or after a good exercise program. Through years of fine tuning our approach, we found that doing 12 to 14 exercises per workout twice a week for twenty to thirty minutes per workout to be incredibly efficacious.

But what if I want to lose fat. Don't I have to do cardio to burn off calories?

You do not need to do a lot of cardio to lose fat. You can actually lose fat and gain muscle at the same time without relying on cardio exercise. There are some problems with looking at losing fat from engaging in cardio exercise. The first problem is that you simply do not burn very many calories from a cardio program to begin with. Figure about 300 calories or so on average. Engaging in a cardio program will on an unconscious level increase your appetite. Simply put, you will be hungrier and will most likely eat more food to make it up. Another thing that often times happen is that you will simply move less than usual if you focus on keeping your calories the same. Either way, you can sabotage your goals. This is called compensation, and it is a prime reason people struggle losing weight.
The far better strategy for fat loss is through a change in diet. The single biggest factor that promotes fat storage is chronically high insulin levels. The body produces insulin to get glucose out of the bloodstream and into both muscle and fat for storage and use. Moreover, the insulin will “lock” the fat in the fat cells so the body will use glucose first. This is a normal and healthy response to glucose in the bloodstream. The problem is when high glucose in the bloodstream is constant, thus driving chronic fat storage. This happens no matter how much exercise someone does. In essence, to see consistent and healthy fat loss, it is important to keep insulin levels low. A good way to do that is with food choices and meal patterning. There is no need to count calories or a lot of cardio exercise to be successful.

Will I get “bulky” from lifting weights?

This is a common question we get from our female prospects. They are concerned that they will look like a bodybuilder or a power lifter after we explain how important we believe strength training is for health and longevity during the initial consultation.
No. Women will not get bulky like men (and even most men cannot get the big muscles that bodybuilders get) for two reasons. The first reason is that women do not produce as much testosterone as men do. Testosterone is the hormone that increases muscle mass and strength, and men produce more of it than women do. The second reason is that men simply have more cross-sectional muscle mass than women do to begin with. That alone will lead to bigger muscles that men tend to get.
Women, on the other hand, will see more of the desired feminine look as they get stronger. More tone and definition in the muscles. More of an hour glass shape, a lifted rear end and so forth. Do not be afraid of getting as strong as you can. You will be very happy with the results.

When will my abs show?

It will take time to see definition in your abs once you start on a consistent and productive diet and exercise program. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that there is a pecking order, if you will, about where the fat goes on first…and comes off last. The first place people tend to start storing excess body fat is the mid-section for men, and the hips and mid-section for women. As more fat is accumulated, it extends to the outer extremities such as the face, arms, legs, hands and so forth. When it comes to losing fat, it comes off the opposite way. It would start from the face, hands, feet, arms and so forth before a noticeable amount of fat is lost around the mid-section. So it will take time to see the coveted ripped abs.
The other reason is that most people, even healthy people, carry quite a bit of fat and simply have a long way to go. Men need to be around 10 to 15% body fat to see some definition in the mid-section. Women can see some definition in the mid-section at around 17 to 22% body fat. Most of our clients are around or over 30% body fat when they start working with us. This is in line with the national average. So someone starting out may need to lose anywhere from 15 to 30 lbs for fat, and maybe more before he or she can see definition in the abdominal muscle. Losing 1 to 2 lbs of fat a week is a reasonable pace, and understanding that it would take a minimum of 3 months before the abs would start to show. Longer if one has more than 30 lbs to lose.

Why should I count carbohydrate and not calories?

To begin with, calories do count. Let’s be clear about that. The reason why we focus more on carbohydrate than overall calories is that the prime driver of fat storage is insulin. The primary job of insulin is to get the glucose out of the bloodstream and into both the glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, along with driving the remaining excess glucose into the fat cells. This process is tightly regulated, for too much glucose in the bloodstream is toxic. Additionally, there is a limited amount of glucose that can be stored in the muscle and liver. Once they are full, the remaining glucose has to be moved into fat storage. To reiterate, insulin does this. By focusing on keeping insulin consistently low, the body is much more primed to use fat as fuel. Not only does keeping insulin levels low on a frequent basis help with fat loss, it also regulates appetite to prevent overeating as well as steady energy levels throughout the day. It is much easier to focus on keeping overall carbohydrate intake relatively low and enjoy life than it is to constantly focus on keeping calories low.

What are “good” fats, and what are the fats I should avoid?

The good fats are monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are good as well. Basically fish oil. The other good fat, ironically, is saturated fat. I know we have been told for decades now that saturated fats are bad for heart disease, but the data really does not support this. Ancel Keyes had a hypothesis that high consumption of saturated fats lead to heart disease…and set out to prove it. He did a worldwide study comparing cholesterol levels with saturated fat intake, assuming high cholesterol led to heart disease. He did find the correlation he was looking for, published his work and lectured on the topic. He was very influential and started the ball rolling for other follow up studies and the setting of public policy. The problem is he really did not prove his hypothesis. He cherry picked the data for his study, nor did any follow up studies prove that high saturated fat diets lead to heart disease. Saturated fats are good for us. The body uses saturated fats to make hormones (testosterone, estrogen and so forth), lining for cells, and as a surfactant for the lungs.
The fats to avoid would be the poly-unsaturated fats, hydrogenated oils and industrial oils. This would include vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and trans-fats. They are very unstable and rancid. These oils can cause cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.

Won't eating fat make me fat?

It is true that fat has more calories per gram than either carbohydrate or protein. Fat has roughly 10 calories per gram, whereas both carbohydrate and protein have 4 calories per gram, so fat is more energy dense. And it would make sense that eating more fat should lead to gaining more fat. However, this does not seem to be the case. Eating a higher fat diet hits the satiety button better than a high carbohydrate diet. You simply feel fuller longer. Remember when we were told that higher fat foods would “stick to the ribs”? It was on old wives tale, but it has merit. Secondly, eating fat does not trigger as strong of an insulin response as eating carbohydrate does. When you come down from an insulin rush that happens from eating carbohydrate, especially simple carbohydrate like dessert and pastries, the hunger pangs come back sooner. It’s like a roller coaster ride. Eating fat does not do that.
Having said that, it needs to be noted that eating fat with simple carbohydrate will encourage over-eating (think ice cream, fudge, etc). The way to eat that we recommend is high fat/moderate protein/low carbohydrate.

How much cardio should I do between workouts?

That’s entirely up to you. If you want to do some cardio exercise on the other days, you can. If you do not want to, you do not have to. Most people feel the pressure to do cardio exercise because we are told that it is needed to lose fat and for exercising the heart and lungs. The Hystrength(sm) exercise program is so efficient that you would lose fat and work the heart and lungs to a high degree, so no cardiovascular work between sessions is necessary. There is no obligation to do cardiovascular work outside of the personal training sessions you do with us to see results.

I injured my knee. Should I avoid leg presses?

It depends on the severity and type of injury. If, for example, you tore your acl (anterior cruciate ligament), or any other ligaments around the knee, then yes, you should lay off the leg presses for a while. However, if you strained your knee, or injured it years ago and rehabbed it, you should do leg presses. We find that the leg press is one of the best exercises to help rehab, strengthen, and stabilize the knee after injury. That is because the leg press is a compound movement (uses more than one muscle group, i.e. the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings), and the knee is in a stable position to do the lift.
The exercises that need to be avoided or approached with more caution are the leg extensions, lunges, barbell squats and so forth.

Can I do strength training after the age of 70, and can I gain some muscle back?

Strength training is a must no matter what your age is. Even if you start late in life, it would be very beneficial to do so. We lose muscle mass from the age of 30 throughout the rest of our lives, even if we are active. This is called sarcopenia, and it is that loss of muscle mass that makes us less mobile, daily activities harder to do, and makes us more prone to injury. There does come a point where if you do not use it, you lose it. But even then, starting a strength training program will preserve the muscle you do have and make them stronger. To reiterate the point: strength training is critical to do for overall health and fitness, no matter what age!

Can strength training make an injured joint, ligament or tendon worse?

This question is similar to the one about leg presses for an injured knee. You can do strength training with these injuries, but you have to use caution. Use a slow and controlled tempo and pain free range of motion. Moreover, the repetition range should be higher with lighter weights until the injured joint or tendon heals. By doing so, the joint, ligament or tendon heals faster because it is getting more blood flow from the exercise, giving it the nutrition it needs to heal.

Should I stretch before I workout?

There is no need to stretch before you start your exercise routine. As you perform a lift through a full range of motion, you actually both strengthen and stretch the muscle. Moreover, there is a lot of research that demonstrates stretching before a workout slightly decreases performance and can increase the potential for injury. Personally, I do not believe a light stretching session before or after a workout will be a problem. However, an aggressive stretching program like what dancers and yoga practitioners tend to do can be harmful because once a ligament is over-stretched, it stays that way permanently leading to unstable joints. Our position stand is: do a moderate stretching routine if you feel the need. Just don’t over-do it.

I am in rehab right now. Can I do strength training while I recover from the injury?

Yes indeed you can. The strength training program would need to be customized to avoid further injury, and many times strength training can help speed up the recovery from injury. As an example, if someone has a herniated disk, he could still do most of the lifts he could before but he should stay away from the lifts that would impinge the nerve. These would be exercises like dead-lifts, squats, and any overhead exercises such as shoulder presses. Moreover, he could do exercises that re-engage the Transverse abdominus and do traction after the workout (traction is what can get the herniated disk to take pressure off of the sciatic nerve which brings relief).
Another example would be knee surgery, such as acl reconstruction. The trainee can work the whole body, and even the opposite leg to build and maintain strength and muscle mass. Once he has clearance from the physical therapist, he can do light weight/high rep training and isolation work to strengthen the muscles of the injured body part. Before long, his strength will be back up to par with the noon injured limb.
There are many examples but the point is that in most cases, one can…and should do a strength training program while rehabbing from an injury.

Will strength training help me be a better athlete?

There is no doubt about that. Strength training will make a big difference. The main reason is that as you get stronger, you improve your force production capability. You can jump higher, run faster, and have better endurance and recovery. Moreover, you will be less prone to injury. Why is this so? Because you develop the fast twitch muscle fibers from strength training. These are the fibers that, when developed, produce considerable force, much more so than the slow twitch fibers ever can. So, for example, swinging a baseball bat or tennis racket, sprinting to get to a ball, jumping up for a rebound and so on, will happen with much more force. This will tip the odds in your favor in any sport you play over the athlete who does not engage in a good strength and conditioning program.

How do I know if I am gaining muscle, fat, or both?

Weighing yourself at any point will only tell a part of the story. You also need to know what your body fat percentage is as well to get a clear understanding of fat and muscle loss/gain. For example, say someone is starting a diet and exercise program and he takes his measurements which show that he weighs 190 lbs with 28% body fat. 53.2 lbs of that weight will be fat, while the remaining 136.8 lbs will be muscle, bone and other tissue. Moving on, if he takes his measurements 6 months later and it shows his weight to be 175lbs at 22% body fat. He will have 38.5 lbs for fat and the remainder is muscle bone, and other tissue. Then you compare the two measurements to asses muscle gain/fat loss.
An interesting insight I learned over my years of fitness training is that as my clients got more fit, the fat loss/ muscle gain was not very equal. It is generally assumed that we can gain muscle pretty fast, comparable to how fast we can lose it.