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How many times a week should I exercise cardio vs. muscle toning?

Jon McQueen (Vista, CA) on Dec 16, 2012
Everyone, or mostly everyone, has obligations in life, a career they’re in or pursuing, and at times their exercise and fitness is the first thing to go. For you to be as busy as you are, working out 3-4 times per week is sufficient as long as you have a detailed program that you can be consistent with. Most people exercise on a whim, without a program set in place towards their goals. If you’re able to create a program for yourself based on your availability you’ll do just fine, and get the results you’re looking for. This program also needs to have a complimentary nutrition plan to go with it. To get results one needs to have the mindset to develop muscle. The more muscle you can develop, the higher your metabolism will become, and the easier it’ll be for you to lose fat (weight) and be toned. You develop muscle through resistance training, not cardio. If your nutrition is out of sorts and you’re just doing cardio, and doing cardio incorrectly, you’re actually running the risk of losing muscle. We don’t want this. Put resistance training as your #1 priority, and cardio as a means to burn calories, extra fat. A good resistance training split would look something like this: Train on M/T/Th/F, while have Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday off or just performing cardio on these off days. Depending on when your schedule allows you to train, create a split that’ll allow you to perform resistance training 3-4 days per week. Cardio can be done AFTER your resistance training session or on your off days. Depending on your goals, your nutrition has to support it. If you’re going to kick-up your exercise/training, then increasing your caloric intake is most likely going to happen (as long as it’s done right). If you’re decreasing your exercise, then “cutting” calories will have to happen to match it. It’s all a science of the body (physiology) and nutritional science. The more you’re able to understand both sciences, the more successful you’ll become in achieving your results.
Jon McQueen (Vista, CA) on Dec 16, 2012
Everyone, or mostly everyone, has obligations in life, a career they're in or pursuing, and at times their exercise and fitness is the first thing to go. For you to be as busy as you are, working out 3-4 times per week is sufficient as long as you have a detailed program that you can be consistent with. Most people exercise on a whim, without a program set in place towards their goals. If you're able to create a program for yourself based on your availability you'll do just fine, and get the results you're looking for. This program also needs to have a complimentary nutrition plan to go with it. To get results one needs to have the mindset to develop muscle. The more muscle you can develop, the higher your metabolism will become, and the easier it'll be for you to lose fat (weight) and be toned. You develop muscle through resistance training, not cardio. If your nutrition is out of sorts and you're just doing cardio, and doing cardio incorrectly, you're actually running the risk of losing muscle. We don't want this. Put resistance training as your #1 priority, and cardio as a means to burn calories, extra fat. A good resistance training split would look something like this: Train on M/T/Th/F, while have Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday off or just performing cardio on these off days. Depending on when your schedule allows you to train, create a split that'll allow you to perform resistance training 3-4 days per week. Cardio can be done AFTER your resistance training session or on your off days. Depending on your goals, your nutrition has to support it. If you're going to kick-up your exercise/training, then increasing your caloric intake is most likely going to happen (as long as it's done right). If you're decreasing your exercise, then "cutting" calories will have to happen to match it. It's all a science of the body (physiology) and nutritional science. The more you're able to understand both sciences, the more successful you'll become in achieving your results.
Bryan Mannion (, ) on Oct 23, 2012
To better provide an answer, do you mind answer the following questions? How long do you workout at the gym when you are there? What type of workouts do you complete? How many calories do you already consume? Do you drink anything while you workout? What are your goals? What are you training to accomplish? Knowing the above information will allow me to provide far more thorough suggestions. However, I would suggest drinking some sort of a sports beverage like Gatorade or Powerade during your workout as you mention that you feel "faint when doing strength exercises". This is typical when blood sugar levels are low and simply drinking a sports beverage will help combat that fainting sensation.
Crystal Wright (Valrico, FL) on Oct 18, 2012
The best way to remain gluten free is to think fresh- no processed or packaged foods, no food from the regular super store or grocery store. You will need to get everything fresh from a whole or natural foods store or go to a fruit and vegetable stand; many have more than just fruit/vegetables there now. 3-4 times per week of working out is in-fact all you need to tone up, but remember: never work the same muscles on consecutive days; skip a day to prevent injury and allow time for muscles to grow (generally a day is long enough), if you don't want to bulk up then you must cut the calories or just think to eat more foods that are naturally low in fat like fruit/vegetables, and make sure you are lifting weight heavy enough to do no more than 3 sets of 8-12 reps. If you are feeling faint you must up your hydration and electrolytes. I would try Pinterest to find a vast number of gluten free meals and shakes that are delicious for you. Sincerely, Crystal Wright, LMT Valrico, FL 888-609-5538
Bill Ross (Littleton, CO) on Oct 17, 2012
First never cut food if you are feeling faint during workouts. This is a direct sign that you are under eating and not meeting your bodies requirements. Cardio will help you cut size, but resistance training is what will create muscle tone. Exercising 3-4 times a week is great for the schedule you have to maintain. Just make sure you are focusing on your form and not trying to perform split body workouts. When you are only exercising 3-4 times a week total body workouts need to be performed otherwise your muscle are not being utilized enough to get the desired results. I also had a hard time finding gluten free products that tasted good. So, instead I created my own line you can check it out here. www.rossfitnesssupplements.com
Jessica Riley (Coeur D Alene, ID) on Oct 15, 2012
If that's all the time you have you can get results With that about of gym time. If your not having something To eat with protein, carbo before you lift weights you will Get that faint feeling. Maintain the healthy balance of kcals to workouts. Track using pen paper or one if those great apps they have like my fitness pal, sparks people to track your intake And out put.
Travis Lott (Provo, UT) on Oct 14, 2012
It sounds like your main concern is that you want to be tone. The best way to get tone is to concentrate on strength resistance exercises along with a sound nutrition plan. If you do those two things on a consistent basis, you will tone faster as the muscle you put on will burn more calories for you at rest and a sound nutrition regime will help not only repair/grow muscle, but it should help eliminate the faint feeling as your body will have sufficient energy to exert while exercising. Hope this helps! -Travis Lott travislott@leantrition.com www.leantrition.com
Al Chu (Woodside, NY) on Oct 14, 2012
Sounds like you're going a little bit over your head as far as excercise goes. Because of your hectic schedule, 1 hard whole body workout for about an hour, or two short3r workouts, should do. Your workouts should consist of basic compound movements, focusing on squats, deadlifts,, rows or chins,, and a pushing movement. And if you're doing cardio, skip it for now. Eat as much as you can as often as you can, good food, and rest, relax, and sleep as much as you are able to. You should find yourself growing.
Ronald Panlilio (Glendora, CA) on Oct 9, 2012
You have to define your goals to know how much cardio and weights to do each week. In general long sessions of cardio will improve your endurance. Short sprints will improve your power and strength. Same with weights though, because you can design your lifting sessions to be with heavy weights and low repetitions. Or sets of light weights with high repetitions. If your getting dizzy, than you need to progress slower. You are trying to do more than your body can handle. Within a few weeks you will be able to do more. Be sure to eat after your workouts, and keep water nearby during your workouts. You only need to cut calories from your weekly food, if your trying to decrease your weight or body fat percentage. If you want to keep your weight where it is, then you can eat the same amount your are eating now. And there are other variations you can do for lifting like tempo, or plyometrics, or doing interval training. I am not big on gluten free nutrition, unless you have a allergic reaction to gluten.
Bruce Kenny (Marina Del Rey, CA) on Oct 1, 2012
The amount of times you are getting to the gym should be sufficient to achieve your goals. The question is; what kind of workouts are you doing? I would suggest HIT( High Intensity Training). This type of training requires high effort, or intensity, the most important aspect to stimulate your body to produce increase in strength and size. Are you complimenting your strength workouts with cardio? This should be included; either on the off days from the gym or at the end of your strength training workouts. Feeling faint could be attributed to what you eat before you train. You should have a small meal or drink that consists of carbs and protein. This will give you the energy needed to get through the workout. I usually have a serving of plain oatmeal sprinkled with a scoop of protein powder. Since I don't know your caloric intake, I wouldn't want to advise to cut calories. I would say that you should be eating 5-6 small meals each day. Focus on good complex carbs and high quality protein found in fish, chx and turkey. I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. The most important thing: Stick to it! This is not a quick fix. Bruce Kenny
Charles Baerman (Dayton, OH) on Oct 1, 2012
You should try to weight train 3 days a week. This could be done on a split body routine like, chest & tris, back & bis, and legs & shoulders. Say 3-4 different exercises for each body part, 10-15 reps, moderate weights. Cardio should be done everyday. But by cardio I mean something as simole as walking around the campus. Walk more than you drive. As far as glunten free, that is hard because they put gluten in everything. I do nutrition plans and have done many glunten free plans custom made for the individual. This is also very important for arthritic people. Short of have a nutrition plan done for you, you must read ALL labels. Any further questions, feel free to contact me through e-mail or call or text. Thank you.
Bonnie Holzman (Miami, FL) on Sep 30, 2012
I would recommend for you to do strength training 2 to 3 times a week for 30 minutes, and try to do at least 30 to 40 min. of cardio everyday. the cardio does not have to be all in the 40 min. you can do 10 min. and throughout your day another 10 min and so on. The amount of cal. to intake depends on your workout sch. and what your goal is as far as your body fat or BMI. I believe your weight is just a number. The focus is how do you feel in your body. What can you do to improve. The body fat for women your age is 15% to be healthy anything, over 30% is unhealthy.
Bonni Wildesen (Austin, TX) on Sep 30, 2012
First and most important, you aren't sustaining enough calories during your workout. Which is typically why someone will feel faint in the middle of a workout. Either that or dehydrated. You should only have a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories. You want to have a cardio workout 5 to 7 times a week - and strength or restistance training 2 to 3 times a week. Your gym routine is good for your strength routines. Cardio can be as simple as dancing around the house, in a club, or going for a walk. If you're getting these in you're doing a fabulous job! My suggestion for a gluten free protein shake is to use coconut milk yogurt shake (or yogurt with water/fruit). You can find this at many of the grocery stores nowadays, or Sprouts/Whole Foods. Good luck! Bonni
Angela Kielar (Farmington, MI) on Sep 30, 2012
Without knowing whether or not you are male or female, and your height, I am unable to answer your questions.
Eric Negri (Van Nuys, CA) on Sep 30, 2012
Congratulations on your internships and your industriousness. Your body type and how often you engage in resistance training are factors to consider as to the optimal amount of exercise you need to “be toned.” But since I don't know those variables and your weight is not a concern, working out 3 to 4 times a week is great and is probably enough. You could do resistance training two times a week and cardio 2-4 times a week ( doing cardio after resistance training is beneficial). It sounds like you're not be fueling yourself properly to support your workouts. You should not cut calories and engage in regular exercise. You need to have balanced nutrients in your body to fuel it, otherwise, your body is catabolizing or using muscle as an energy source instead of fat or carbohydrate. Eat a balanced meal a couple hours before a workout or a very small one 30 minutes before. Also, be aware of drinking plenty of water leading up to, during and after a workout. You could be dehydrated. You may also be depriving your muscles of enough rest to repair themselves after resistance training. An easy way to tell if you're over-training is if your heart-rate is taking longer than normal to return to its normal resting beats per minute following an exercise. I would recommend you eat whole foods to get your protein, but if you feel you need a shake, look for one which is sweetened by stevia not sucralose, as its natural, not chemical and choose grass-fed whey, which you will have to go on-line to purchase. As far as taste of the shakes, everyone is so different, therefore, I wouldn't recommend one over another.
Nicholas Prukop (Newport Beach, CA) on Sep 29, 2012
More than enough! Training should help you relax and feel better about your physical being - not worse. Cutting calories while engaging in a fairly rigorous exercise program is not recommended. Your intake should be sufficient to replace what you burn and the optimal frequency is 4-5 times per day with a focus on dense, calories deficient food - food that is filled with what your body needs. Getting faint is never a goods idea - you need to be properly HYDRATED and prepared before you begin your routine. Proper rest, hydration, and intensities and duration are recommended. Rest if you need it!Recovery and is always a part of a proper training program
Melissa Erliech (Lakemoor, IL) on Sep 28, 2012
My first concern, is why are you getting faint? That is not a normal response to weight training. Please see a doctor and make sure he/she clears you for working out. 3-4 days a week is sufficient. Try mixing your cardio in between your weight lifting sets. Don't be afraid to lift heavy. It is a myth that women will get big from lifting heavy weights. You simply don't have the hormones for that to happen. Mix it up a little bit and add a spin or kickboxing class. Both are great for toning and build great cardio.
Shane McLean (Dallas, TX) on Sep 28, 2012
Yes, this is enough exercise. You should consider combining your cardio and resistance training into the same workout. For example do a pushup followed by a leg exercise then 30 sec of interval cardio and repeat. You will get more bang for your buck. If you train like this 3 days a week is more than enough. ]Now cause you are feeling faint during exercise you may need to eat some simple carbs like an apple, granola bar or yogurt 30 min before exercise. Eating simple carbs before exercise has been shown to burn more fat. Try these tips before cutting calories. I hope this helps.
Jessica Beauchemin (Corvallis, OR) on Sep 28, 2012
The latest ACSM recommendations for physical activity are a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous cardiorespiratory exercise. That's 5 days of 30 minutes per day--biking, swimming, jogging, etc. In addition, you should be getting 2-3 days per week of strength training. That's what will give you the muscle tone you're after, as well as help you gain muscle mass and strength. You can do body weight exercises, lift weights at the gym or do other resistance training activities. Leave at least 48 hours of rest between each strength training session. If you're feeling faint when exercising, be sure you are eating enough calories. "Enough" differs for everyone. There are some online calculators to help you figure this out. Be sure you are drinking enough water before, during and after exercise. Try eating an energy bar or other small snack before you work out. There are also recovery drinks you can consume after working out to help keep your body adequately fueled. A personal trainer or nutritionist at your college campus or gym can give you more specific recommendations based on your own personal needs. Good luck!
Aaron Cobb (Kentwood, MI) on Sep 28, 2012
I am going to answer based on the info here not knowing your sex, bodyfat and exercise/medical history or how many calories you are currently consuming. I would not recommend cutting calories based on your busy schedule assuming you are eating clean (no fast food!) I would do a circuit consisting of a total body workout with little rest between stations to keep the heart rate elevated. I would also encourage high rep-range 12-15 reps doing the circuit 3-4 times and a bout of cardio either before or after weights, shooting for a 45-60 minute limit. As for gluten free protein there are a bunch out there that can be found at GNC, Vitamin Shoppe etc, just google it. I hope this helps!!
Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Sep 28, 2012
Hi. The recommended amount of cardio is 30 minutes, 5 days per week. The recommended amount of strength training is 30 minutes, 2 days per week. I'll need to know more, but it sounds as if you need to weight train a bit more and INCREASE your calories. Please write back with more details.
Nichole Rozendaal (Garden Grove, CA) on Sep 28, 2012
3-4 times per week at the gym is fine - as long as you are using your time wisely! Ideally, you'd be doing resistance training 3 times per week for least 20 minutes, even if it's just doing some squats or push-ups at home. If it's tone you're looking for, the resistance training is key! You can also do 20-30 minutes of cardio before or after resistance training, or take a class at the gym that integrates both. As for calories, I can't answer that without more specifics. Typically, if you are holding steady at a certain weight and you're fine with it, you don't need to cut calories. To avoid getting faint, make sure you eat a carb-rich snack about an hour before you work out. Carbs are what supplies the body with the energy to complete a work out. A banana with some peanut butter is one of my favorite pre-work snacks. The potassium will help prevent cramping and the peanut butter will give you some of that protein you're looking for. Post workout is when you want to load up on protein - your body needs it to recover from resistance training.
Elain Rinehart (Los Angeles, CA) on Sep 28, 2012
In order to increase lean muscle mass, you must do strength training, (muscle toning, as you put it.) "Cardio" training is good to include as a warm-up, exercising the heart and lungs increases your VO2 max. But with your tight schedule, you want to use your time at the gym on weight training and abdominal work. 10 or 15 minutes of cardio when you are at the gym is plenty. And be sure you eat enough carbohydrates before you work out. Carbohydrate and fat are the primary fuels for physical activity. During low-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, fat is the body's preferred fuel source. As exercise intensity moves from low to high, the mix of fuels burned moves gradually from fat to carbohydrate. Once the store of carbohydrate is exhausted during sustained, high intensity exercise, the body goes into a protective mode, holding on to the stores of fat cells and burning protein (from lean muscle mass). You dont need to be at the gym to get a good cardio work-out. A fast walk or slow jog, no faster than 4 miles per hour, will burn fat. And at that pace you can easily do an hour a couple of times a week.
Gregory Doyle (New York, NY) on Sep 28, 2012
The ACSM reccommends 3 days of resistance training a week, with at least 48 hours in between each session, as well as 3-5 days for cardio. If you are very busy, why not combine cardio and resistance training on the same day. I would also perform circuit style workouts when performing the resistance workouts. 3-5 exercises that you move from one to the next with no rest in between exercises. This not only will add strength, but will also get your heart rate up, adding a cardio effect. Do you have celiacs disease? just wondering since you mentioned eating gluten free.
Tracy Bloom (Fairfield, CT) on Sep 28, 2012
This depends on your fitness goals and your body type. There are so many different ways to exercise.