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Ask the trainer: How do I make the most out of my workout?

Chris Freytag

Fitness expert Chris Freytag

Our Ask the Trainer program allows readers to submit questions to a panel of nationally recognized fitness experts.  Answers are posted here in the blog for all readers to see.  This week’s question comes from a reader who feels overwhelmed after joining a gym.

Submit a fitness question here!

Get Your Rear in Gear Reader: I just joined a gym. The last time I was in a health club there were only two exercise machines, the treadmill and the stationary bike. But now, there are so many different cardio machines to burn calories. Which one will get me into shape the fastest?

Chris Freytag: The answer is – whichever one you will stick with and do the most often with good intensity.  To get the most out of your workout, exercise intensity is the key component.  Whether you run, walk, bike, jump – paying attention to how you feel, your breath pattern, and your heart rate will insure that you are working in the proper training zone and, therefore, are getting the most out of each workout.  If you work too hard, you’re likely to injure yourself, feel defeated, and possibly, give up.  If you’re not working hard enough, you may get frustrated when you don’t see results over time.

The best measure of intensity is heart rate.  When taking your heart rate manually, place 2 fingers on your wrist or neck and count for 6 seconds then multiply your county by ten to find your heart rate. Use a watch with a second hand or you could be off quite a bit with your number.

I’m a huge fan of a heart monitor and never exercise without mine. It consists of a chest transmitter strap that you wear and a wireless watch that acts like a clock and a receiver.  Not only will it give you proper feedback as to which zone you are exercising in, but it gives you calorie burn and amount of time.   I am totally motivated by logging my daily and weekly progress.

Of course, you don’t have to go at a crazy intensity all the time, but the harder you work, the more calories burned.   To learn more about determining your heart rate zones and how to set up a good weight loss training program,  go to  For more fitness advice go to

Chris Freytag is a nationally known fitness expert on NBC-TV, the fitness expert for Prevention magazine, and author of 3 books. Chris holds a BA in Journalism and is a certified Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management consultant.  Visit her website for more information about her products or exercise DVDs.

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