Are you trying to lose weight, build muscle, get stronger or excel in a given sport? Maybe you’re just hoping to slow the aging process, which exercise and good health habits can surely help accomplish. But male or female, young or old–where do you start and what do you do? And if you’re already an experienced exerciser or athlete, how do you fight your way off a plateau or avoid going stale?
Start by asking Marty Gallagher!
Over the past 20 years, Marty Gallagher has written more than 200 articles for such magazines as “Muscle and Fitness,” “Flex” and “Powerlifting USA.” He has interviewed hundreds of the world’s top athletes, quizzing them on the training tactics they used to succeed.
World Powerlifting Champion and fitness expert Marty Gallagher took your questions about every fitness topic under the sun.
Marty Gallagher: I almost didn’t make it today. I was out riding the back firetrails on South Mountain in my modified Jeep. I got off on an unmarked back trail and oops I got high center. Luckily I had my shovel so after an hour I was able to dislodge my tire. I got here with 5 minutes to spare. I am hot, sweaty and distracted, but what the hell let’s get started.
Adams Morgan, DC: Marty,
I’m starting this workout you recommended a week or two ago:
Day 1 Squat, leg curl, calf raises
Day 2 Dumbbell bench press, DB incline, pec dec , tricep psh. dwn
Day 3 off
Day 4 Deadlift, pulldwn, preacher curls, concentration curls – 1×20
Day 5 off
Day 6 Seated DB press, lateral raise
Day 7 off
But I have a couple questions:
Can I combine the Day 6 stuff with the Day 3 or 4 stuff? There’s no way in hell I’m ever getting to the gym on Saturday.
What’s a “pec dec”?
Can you recommend a protein supplement? I finally did the math on my protein intake and realized there’s no way I’m getting to your .75 – 1 gms. P/P/Bwt eating canned tuna.
The Salt Lake Olympics are only two years away, I gotta get moving. Thanks.
Marty Gallagher: First pick whatever days of the week you want, but keep the spacing intact. Secondly, if you need a three day routine combine Day 6 and Day 1. Do legs first and then shoulders. Third nobody I know eats the requisite amount of protein. All heavy-duty weight trainers use some sort of protein supplement if you want my personal recommendation you can contact me at my e-mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you are going to Sydney. What’s your event ballroom dancing? surfing? My goal is to get on the U.S. Surfing Team. It’s an uphill battle since I can’t swim.
D.C.: I’ve been think of trying to boost my performance in the gym by using creatine? Is this a bad idea? Are there any health risks that I should be aware of?
Marty Gallagher: No I have never heard of anybody O.D.’ing on Creatine. Personally I think that too much is made of a lot of these supplements. Huge progress can be made just by squaring up your meal pattern and frequency. My good friend, Brad Gillingham, swears by the stuff and with an 840lb deadlift, Who’s to argue?
Owings MD: I sent you a question about body fat last week, you asked what I was doing to reduce my Body fat. I exercise everyday mostly cardio for 1 hour, I have tried to cut back on my eating. Is there any foods I should stay away. What is a good workout schedule? I can use all the help I can get.
Marty Gallagher: Well you got the hard part out of the way. If you are doing 1 hour a day of cardio, you must have terrific discipline. I would actually advise cutting back on your time in favor of increasing your intensity. Crank back to a 30 minute cardio session and see how much you can pick up the pace. This should blast you out of whatever rut you find yourself in. Cut back on fats, sweets, refined carbs and starchy carbs. Do this for two weeks and I guarantee that you will see significant change.
Cap. Hill: Marty:
I’m sure you’ve answered variations of this question before but I’d really like some help. I’m a 24 y.o. female, 5’3 about 125 lbs. Problem is I don’t feel very good about my body. I wouldn’t consider myself overweight at all but I’d definitely like to feel better about myself. I think that diet and exercise is the key to this but I don’t know where to start. I’m having an especially hard time with the diet portion. I don’t mean dieting–per say; just the kinds of foods I eat. Can you suggest an exercise regimen as well as suggestions for a healthy eating lifestyle that will get me started on feeling better about myself? It’s so hard when BBQ season comes around! I know this is a tall order. Thanks!
Marty Gallagher: I like Bar-B-Que too and I eat it, but I eat it on cheat day along with ice cream, apple pie and pizza. The trick is the other 6 days of the week. Multiple balanced meals spaced evenly throughout the day will keep you in positive nitrogen balance and allow you to feel full without stuffing. Doc Pink calls it grazing and I think that is an appropriate image. Try eating 3 small balanced meals a day and in between have a protein shake or a sports nutrition bar. This approach keeps the body fueled, but minimizes fat storage. In our balanced meals we try to include protein, lots of fibrous carbs (broccoli, asparagus), and some starch, but not too much. This approach coincidentally is used by most of the World’s top bodybuilders. The cheat day helps retain sanity and keeps the metabolism from becoming complacent and stagnant.
rockville: I’ve tired taking creatine before and it hasn’t worked for me. I’ve tried EAS’ creatine .. weiders.. and celltech recently.. is there any kind that will work for me if these do not? I have been drinking the required amounts and lifting often. thanks
Marty Gallagher: Look Buddy, how about we just forget about Creatine? There are so many other avenues of progress to “goose” that I don’t want to see you get hung up in trying to get results out of a powder. Save your money, get a new routine, tighten up your eating and get a little more intense in your workouts.
Cincinnati Kid: Your wealth of knowledge is helping people all across the country change their lives. Thank you to the Washington Post for providing this information.
My question is this: Can a person train for power and endurance at the same time? I do not mean in the context of an Olympic lifter like Shane Hamman running a 4-minute mile, but is it feasible to be able to run 10 miles and still bench press 400 pounds?
Marty Gallagher: Run 10 miles and bench 400 lbs absolutely! You just about have to be able to do that to be a modern Navy Seal. I would say highly unlikely if someone could bench 500lb and run a marathon in 2.5 hours. As I jog my memory I can come up with quite a few hardcore rock busters who could bench 400, 500 or even 600lbs and run 10 miles. You could do it Hampton if you trained for it.
Arlington, VA: Hello Marty! I really enjoy your chats and advice! I am a 26 year old female, 5’7”, 118 lbs. My general forms of exercise are walking (3 miles/day) and biking(to work once or twice a week). I have never seriously lifted weights. I have a very slender figure and would like to keep it that way, but I am noticing that I am not quite as firm (especially in the hips and thighs) as I used to be. I maintain a healthy diet (3 solid meals) of mostly veggies, carbos, and some meat (I generally have 2 snacks of fresh fruit during the day). Will lifting help me get more firm, or should I just do more cardio and clean up the diet? Thanks!
Marty Gallagher: Weights would make you a new woman. In my opinion you are an A-1 prime candidate to make sensational gains in a short time period. You already have a disciplined and well-thought out approach to your cardio and nutrition. A little high intensity weight training 2-3 times a week for 30-40 minutes would morph you from Joan Benoit into She-Ra.
New Carrollton MD: I’m not sure how I’ve done this but, over the last year and a half I’ve really slacked off the gym. I got on the scale last week and I weight 18 lbs. more than I did 1 1/2 years ago however I wear the same clothes! I know it can not be muscle mass because I have lifted a weight in a long time. How is that possible. I’m pretty sure muscle is tighter and heavier than fat.
Marty Gallagher: Dear Nikki,
This is a physical impossibility. Whether it’s muscle or fat you are going to have dimensions change in some part of your body. If it’s muscle, thighs, arms, back, chest will be tighter against your clothes. Your belt notch will stay the same. If it’s fat, you will expand likely all over, but you can’t gain 20lbs and not have some expansion somewhere unless you are going to featured on the TV show Unexplained Mysteries.
ss, MD: Hey marty.. your chats r great .. thanks for putting the time in.. I was wondering what’s the best way to gain lean muscle and lose fat at the same time. I’m eating approx 5 small meals a day. lifting 5 days a week and doing the elliptic machine at the end of my workouts 4 times a week.. could u give me an idea of how my eating habits should be. Thanks a bunch
Marty Gallagher: Well you are right on track. The optimal metabolic state is when the athlete is able to gain muscle while simultaneously losing bodyfat. It can be done and is done by thousands of competitive bodybuilders each year. The discipline is so complex and subtle as to be beyond the abilities of normal people, with normal lives, working normal jobs. In a nutshell they keep their protein intake high while eliminating sugar and refined and starchy carbs. They keep their fat intake to no more than 5-10% of their total calories and do more cardio than a Tour De France cyclist. They lift with manic intensity 4-5 times a week and typically sleep 10-12 hours a night. Plus they will usually take a nap in the middle of the day. Precision eating, high-intensity training, expert nutritional supplementation and perfect discipline. It’s possible, but very difficult.
Waldorf, Md: Pls help settle a dispute between my wife and I about eating and exercise. I am only about 15 pounds overweight and my wife says to do situps. But my answer is no, I have to also cut back on eating dinner at 8 or 8:30 then going to bed where it just sits in my stomach like a lump. She says this is not the case and all I have to do is Situps. Help I cannot win. Thanks for the help.
Marty Gallagher: Reminds me of the old saying, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” I back you up 100% buddy, but likely she heard this misinformation from some TV Guru out to sell a bellybuster Ab machines for $99.99. Now I will say this. If you are out-of-shape and haven’t done any exercise some crunches and leglifts wouldn’t hurt you a bit. Don’t subpoena if this ends up in divorce court.
Arlington, VA: I’m a 30-year-old woman. I play volleyball competitively, and would like to take my game up a notch. What exercises are best to increase my vertical and strengthen my abs? I have a strong upper body, so I’m not as worried about that.
Marty Gallagher: Squat like your life depended on it. You need to squat deep and use compensatory acceleration. Pick a foot spacing that most closely approximates your volleyball block spike take-off. With the barbell on your back lower yourself slow and in a controlled fashion. Hold the bottom most position for a beat and then explode upward pushing as fast as you can. Be careful not to throw the bar off your back. After a thorough warm-up, maybe 2-3 sets, load the bar for one 10 rep maximum set. When you switch from pause to ascent think speed. Between sets practice vertical leaping, maybe 5 successive reps, trying to touch the wall higher each time. Stretch your thighs thoroughly after the session. If this doesn’t give you 3-5 inches of additional vertical leap, I will eat a Voit Volleyball.
Washington DC: Marty, I’ve just discovered that I love soy milk. Can I use that for those between-meal mini-meals that you recommend? Thanks.
Marty Gallagher: Yeah, but how about throwing a little protein powder in it.
Cap. Hill: Marty: You made an interesting comment about the body builders. Is it important to get that much sleep (10-12 hrs.) when working out that hard? Of course, I’m not a body builder, but now I’m rethinking my 7 hrs. a night routine thinking it may make an important difference.
Marty Gallagher: Unless you are an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, 12 hours a night is excessive. A lot depends on the quality of sleep you get. Do you feel tired? If not, I wouldn’t worry about on the other hand if you find yourself nodding off and continually feeling run down then extra rest might be the ticket.