Q What’s optimum resting time between reps? I see some people taking ages between reps, even reading a book, while others hardly have a break at all? – Mark, via email
There is no right or wrong answer here because rest times help to increase or decrease intensity depending on your goal. For example, if you were working on your strength (so rep ranges 1-5) it would be vital to be able to always output maximum force; this is taxing on the central nervous system, which takes a while to recover from big lifts, so we would want to rest for 3-5 minutes to ensure you are strong enough to do another full set. For those of you interested in hypertrophy (body-builder type muscle), less rest is needed because we want your muscle to be exhausted (this causes your muscles to grow by increasing the volume of liquid nutrients available to it in the muscle) and around 60-90 seconds works well for this. For fat loss we would want as little rest as possible, this is to cause a huge spike in lactic acid, which in turn stimulates a release of growth hormone to build muscle and burn fat, the massive effort of the intense exercise will also cause calorie burn for days afterwards, helping with fat loss.
Q How often should I be changing my workout routines? Alex, via email
This can vary from person to person, it’s really up to each individual. I’ve known people using the same old routine with the same exercises for years on end who are in amazing shape and there’s nothing wrong with that. Personally, I find that varying my workouts prevents an onset of boredom. I would begin to feel pretty stale very quickly with a routine like that, so I try and change mine every 4-6 weeks to help keep me motivated. A good rule of thumb to follow is this: change your rep ranges/weight every three weeks and change the exercise every six weeks. This will ensure you keep getting stronger as you challenge the muscles in different plains of motion as well as working your core in different ways too!
Q I decided to jump on the movember bandwagon and grow a moustache, but since then i’ve decided to keep it and have now started to grow a beard. what advice would you have for up keep and helping me through the growing stages? – Ant, 29 via email
Great to hear you’ve grown fond of your facial fuzz. My first tip would be, if your tache is a bit bushy, trim it down to make sure the length isn’t too different to your beard. Secondly, use a beard oil or lotion that will help to strengthen the hair follicles and encourage healthy beard growth. Lastly, don’t be shy to trim your beard weekly, rather than just letting it go. Keeping it neat while it catches up with your top lip will look much sharper.
Q I am a semi-professional tennis player but my tennis elbow injury is preventing me from playing, is there anything i can do that you can suggest please? mark, via email
A Technically, this condition is called epicondylitis and it’s caused by inflammation of the tendons that attach the muscles into the elbow joint. Occasionally there is a slight tear, which complicates the injury. It can be slow to heal and I usually suggest a combination of a strap to relieve the stress on the tendons, some massage either at home or by a qualified therapist. There are also several things you can do to reduce the inflammation. Applying an ice pack for ten minutes once or twice a day, rub in anti-inflammatory herbs such as boswellia or capsaicin. You can also take ½ a tsp of turmeric powder twice a day.
Q I am getting married in the early half of this year and wondered what grooming treatments you might suggest so that the bride isn’t the only one getting pampered before our big day? – Tarek, 36 via email
I’m glad you’re open to the idea of some pre-wedding pampering. Many guys these days treat themselves to some relaxation – and you could even drag your best man along for some company. I would suggest a men’s manicure to make sure your hands and nails are neat, soft and clean for the big day. Also, a hot towel shave and hair trim at your barbers will have you looking fresh-faced for the occasion.
Q Do you have any suggestions for people suffering from lymphedema and have swollen limbs? – Alice, via email
A Regular exercise and lymphatic drainage with massage can help. You may find yoga or Pilates helpful. A diet low in sodium and salt and high in potassium, which is found in fruit and vegetables in abundance, is undoubtedly going to help. Watermelon is your best source of potassium. Eat it as it is or blend it into a smoothie, you must include the seeds though as they are highly nutritious, and drink plenty of water… eight to ten glasses a day would be ideal.