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Kathleen Trotter
Kathleen Trotter

Your fitness questions answered Add to ...

Whether you're just starting to work out or you hit the gym regularly, Kathleen can help you reach your fitness goals.

Get tips from her on how to take your workouts up a notch, how to address injuries and how to manage your nutrition while exercising.

Kathleen answered your questions earlier today. Below is the transcript of her Q/A session.

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Rasha Mourtada: Hello, everyone. We launched personal trainer Kathleen Trotter's six-week boot camp today to help get you ready for summer. She's here to take your questions on the program as well as your general fitness questions.

Kathleen Trotter: Hello, I'm here!

Amanda: Hi, I am a 25 yrs old female, I weight 125 pounds, measure 5'4 and I work-out 5-6 times a week at high intensity (spinning for 45 minutes twice a week, sports conditioning class that involves plyometric, weight training and anaerobic training twice a week for 45 minutes), and I usually run at 6 miles per hour for 45 minutes once a week, and I'll do a workout video a few mornings per week (Jilian's 30 day shred or one of Jackie's dvds). Yet my muscle tone is not what I'd like it to be. What should I do - more cardio, or more weights?

Kathleen Trotter: I would suggest incorporating more weights on your own - not in a group settings. I suggest this because often group classes do higher repetitions and lower weights. Participants often use five to eight pound weights and do lots of reps. If you have been doing these classes regularly your body is used to this weight lifting routine. You have to mix it up. Try working out on your own and lifting heavier weights and doing less reps. For example do pyramid sets where you do a set of 12 reps to warm up and then a set of 10 reps then 8 reps and finish off with a set of 6 reps.

Reader: Hi Kathleen, what's better, morning or evening workouts?

Kathleen Trotter: The best workout is the workout you enjoy and you can fit consistently into your schedule. If you always find excuses not to workout after work, then go before work. If you are not a morning person, go after work. Consistency is key. Too many people work out for two weeks and then stop because they have been unrealistic about scheduling their workouts into their lives. Figure out what you can maintain over the long term and stick with that.

Alison: Hi Kathleeen, I'm a 26 year old female and I workout pretty regularly with some cardio and weights (your holiday bootcamp was amazing!). I'm not a runner but I'm trying to get better at it. I started slowly and am now at the point where I only need to walk for a minute between 8 or 9 minute stretches of slowly jogging. After 40 minutes of this, I'm totally exhausted; when I get home and relax a bit, I am so tired that I often fall asleep, even in the middle of the day! Why does this happen, and can I prevent this crash after running in any way?

Kathleen Trotter: I am so glad you liked the boot camp!!! I love when people tell me that! I hope you find the summer boot camp useful as well. Congratulations on starting a running routine. You will love running especially in the spring and summer. That much exhaustion is a sigh you are either not eating correctly post run or you are pushing yourself too hard. I would suggest two things. 1. Make sure you are eating correctly post run. Maybe check with a sports nutritionist. Proper post exercise nutrition helps with recovery. 2. Maybe you have tried to increase your running too quickly. Scale back. Try 5 sets of 5 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking. This will take you thirty minutes. Once you can run for thirty minutes and you don't feel exhausted you can run longer.

Dragana: Hi Kathleen. I've been working out consistently for the past 5 months and have managed to lose 47lbs. I still have another 38 to lose. I am playing for a club rugby team this summer. Is there anything else I should be doing outside of running 3x a week, weight training 2x a week and cross training on the other days (with 1 rest day) to get me in the best shape possible for rugby?

Kathleen Trotter: I am assuming that if you have lost that much weight you are paying close attention to your nutrition. If not, that would be the first thing I would suggest. You are doing a lot of activity - which is fantastic - just make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to help your body recover. Are you doing any speed work within your running routine? If not, I would suggest incorporating some. With rugby, as with most team sports, you need to be able to quickly stop and go. Try this workout. Warm up for 10 - 15 minutes of light jogging. Then do ten "pick-ups" where you run for 45 seconds and then sprint for 15 seconds. Then do five to ten sets of 2 minutes sprints followed by 2 minutes of recovery jogging. Also, are you doing any flexibility work? You could incorporate a yoga class or try doing a dynamic flexibility warm up before you run. (I demonstrate a few dynamic flexibility exercises on the Globe site). Lastly, try using the foam roller to massage out your sore muscles. The roller will help with muscle recovery and relaxation.

Meghan: Can you ever get flat abs after giving birth? How long should I expect it to take to be able to get back to my pre-baby body (if ever) after I give birth in July?

Kathleen Trotter: That depends. Every one is so different. The answer depends on so many factors - genetics, how fit you were before the baby, how fit you stayed during the pregnancy.

Guest: What is your view on Heart Rate Monitors? It is always a recommended tool to monitor target heart rates and calories burned, but not sure if it's worth the investment.

Kathleen Trotter: It depends on your goals. If you are training for an event - for example a marathon - a heart rate monitor is useful. If you do most of your training in the gym you can use the monitors on the machines. Or take your pulse manually.

Guest: I'm thinking of having a baby in this year. What should I do fitness wise to ensure that I can keep my figure after I give birth

Kathleen Trotter: I am so glad you are focusing on becoming active. When you are pregnant the biggest indicator of how active you can be during the pregnancy is how active you were before the pregnancy. If you get into a regular routine now you can stay much more active while you are pregnant which will keep you fit and trim. First, make sure you are eating properly both now and during the pregnancy. Seconds, try to be active more days of the week and make sure you are weight training. You need to be strong to pick up and cary around your baby. Also, take a pilates class and ask the instructor to teach you how to do pelvic floor exercises.

Guest: I am 22 and about 25 pounds over my healthy weight - I started working out at least 2-4 times per week back in November and have varied workout with running, weight training, hot yoga, and some zumba (YEAH!), each for at least 45 minutes to an hour. I've lost about 25 pounds and a few inches, but I'm noticing that I'm at a plateau right now - I am also vegetarian and eat fairly "clean" about 80% of the time and always try to get a lean protein in my diet. I've found that my weight loss has been extremely slow - no more than about a pound per week, and closer to 0.5 pounds per week over the last month. I haven't changed my diet drastically and I do "count" calories fairly vaguely - is there something I'm missing or doing wrong?

Kathleen Trotter: First, congratulations on your weight loss. Second, do not get frustrated. .5 - 2 pounds per week is healthy. You don't want to lose more then that per week. The faster the weight comes off the faster it will come back on. Third, you will probably have to count calories more diligently. I am sorry!

Guest: I'm a 5 foot 11, 125 Ibs male (underweight). How can I gain muscle/mass effectively?

Kathleen Trotter: Weight training and proper nutrition. I would talk to a nutritionist and have a professional create you a detailed nutrition weight gaining plan.

Rod: Hi Kathleen. I am a 43 year olds and I work out Mon to Fri mornings before work. I have 1 routine for Mon, Wed and Fri and a 2nd routine for Tues and Thurs. Both routines start with 45mins of cardio followed by some weights and stretching. I also play hockey twicw a week. Is it poor practice keeping a routine or should you switch things up frequently?

Kathleen Trotter: Routines are good as long as you switch them up every four to six weeks. Make sure you are not working the same muscle groups two days in a row. Also, when you switch your routine every four to six weeks don't just switch up the exercises you are doing. Switch the goal of the routine. For example, work on power during one four to six week program, strength the next and endurance the next

Meghan: I was in great shape last year until I suffered from a meniscus tear in my right knee. After several months waiting for arthroscopic surgery, I'm finally in recovery mode. How can I effectively strengthen my legs without overdoing it?

Kathleen Trotter: Did you go to physio? If not, start by working with a physiotherapist for four to six weeks. Then create a routine for yourself (or get the therapist to give you one) that strengthens all the smaller, stabilizing muscles like the glute medius (outside bum muscle) and the inner knee muscle. After these muscles become stronger start back with leg presses and squats just take it slowly.

Guest: Hi Kathleen, I'm going to start your summer boot camp (which looks awesome, btw). Is there a correct size for an exercise ball in relation to my height (I'm 5'3")?

Kathleen Trotter: Great! I hope you enjoy the boot camp. Yes - the balls come in 3 sizes. You would probably be the 55cm one but make sure before you buy it. Sit on the ball when it is fully blown up. Your legs should be at a 90 degree angle or slightly higher. If you are lower than ninety then the ball is too small.

Rachel: I tend to store my weight gain in my stomach. After a long winter of pasta and junk food. How can I work on my mid-section as the weather turns nicer?

Kathleen Trotter: Nutrition!!! Proper nutrition is key. You can work out twenty hours a week but if you eat badly you will not see the results. Also, do core work such as planks and side planks and make sure you are doing cardio. When you do cardiovascular work make sure you incorporate some interval training.

Rasha Mourtada: That's all the time we have for today. We invite you to submit questions to Kathleen through our Ask a Health Expert centre. See her page here. And don't forget to check out the summer boot camp. Thanks, everyone!

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