Q & A with Catherine
How long must I weight train before I see changes in my body?
If I stop training will my muscle turn to fat?
Depending upon genetics and how hard you work, it will take between 6 - 12 weeks before you see physical changes. You will notice strength gains very quickly, because strength gains always precede size gains.
No, muscle doesn't turn to fat. It is physiologically impossible. People who stop exercising will tend to put on extra fat because they lose muscle and tend to fall into bad eating habits.
Q: Hi Cathy,
I am a 26 female 6'0 179lbs. My goal is to lose body fat!! I have heard that doing more cardio like the elliptical, treadmill, etc., will take off the body fat. I would then start weight training after I have lost the amount of body fat I desired, is this true?
Right now I go to the gym about 3-4-times a week. I want to make sure this is the right thing I should be doing? Please get back to me!!
Thanks a lot- Jenn
“I want to get a little leaner before I start weight training.” This statement gets under my skin as much as somebody saying, I want to "tone" up. But Jenn, I do understand where it’s coming from. There is so much misinformation out there, that it’s hard for the average person to sift through the bull.
Losing body fat before you start weight training is the complete opposite of what you should be doing. Weight training is essential in losing weight properly. People who lose weight w/o progressive resistance training lose muscle also. Muscle is what drives the metabolism. The more you have the faster your metabolism is. The people who are the most successful in getting leaner are those who eat right and use progressive resistance training properly.
Cardio is, and should be viewed as, icing on the cake. It's overrated as a fat burner, because the work to benefit ratio is horrible. The only way you will successfully lose weight is to weight train and eat properly.
Q: Hi Cathy,
I'm 17 years old and I've been strength training for about a year and a half. I use 3 sets when I train, 1 minutes rest after each set, and I used to do 10-12 reps. My resting period is 6 days.
Recently I have increased the weight and reduced the number of reps to 6-8. Now here's the problem: I was talking to my PE teacher about weightlifting and she said that if you are not fully grown you shouldn't use fewer than 8 reps at each set. Is this at all true?
I have another question too, about gaining weight. I've been trying to reduce the carbs and eat more protein but should you do that if you want to increase in weight? Currently I weigh 75 kg and I want to gain another 5 kg. What's the optimum diet if I want to increase in weight.
Have a nice day,
A: First let me thank you taking the time to write.
Will lifting heavier loads performing 6-8 reps have a negative effect on an adolescent lifter? The load is not what causes the problem. The problems start with egos, especially with young lifters. Having a big ego in the gym can be detrimental. Egos are the main reason why lifters use improper form while training, which is a major cause of injury. Another reason is ignorance. Many people do not take the time to learn how to train properly. As long as you leave your ego at the door when you enter a gym and concentrate on training properly, a young lifter such as yourself should have no problem.
My advice to adolescents is to get at least a year of hard, proper training under their belt at higher rep ranges (10-15). Once they've established good training habits and have conditioned their bodies I believe it is perfectly fine to start dropping the rep ranges. Although, it is worth stating that different rep ranges stimulate the body differently. Having said that, one should always use a mix of high, 10-15 and low, 3-6 rep ranges.
Should you reduce carbs? Are you overweight? If you're not, then don't worry about lowering carbs. Concentrate on getting enough quality protein and fat. Fat is essential to health and development. You'll get fats from fresh meats, fish and monosaturated fats like olive oil. Stay away from polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated oils.