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Friday Mailbag: Ask A Personal Trainer

Friday Mailbag: Ask A Personal Trainer

Every Friday, we put your questions on fitness to Vickey Nolan, personal trainer, general manager, and fitness director at West Wood Club, Dun Laoghaire. If you have any questions big and small about gym plan, nutrition or any element of getting fit, just email [email protected] and we'll put them to Vickey.

I'm reasonably fit but I struggle to do more than one pull-up. Do you have any tips for improving pull-up technique and getting better at them? 

The best way to improve your pull ups is …. Do PULLUPS! Practising different aspects of the movement with exercises such as banded or assistant pull ups, lat pull downs and improving your endurance through hanging or emphasising slowing down the lowering phase of the movement will help you reach your pull-up goals.

(Trainer advice:PT and Operations Manager  Jack Williams West Wood Club Dun Laoghaire)

Do you recommend drinking coffee before working out? 

Coffee is a stimulant and before a workout has shown to be beneficial. It will improve mental focus, alertness, and endurance performance. A study in the International journal of sport nutrition and exercise has found that participants in a study who had coffee before a workout versus those who took a placebo burned 15% more calories in the three hours post exercise. I would however recommend a caffeinated pre workout drink or sports energy drink before exercise as it will also bring you the benefits of the caffeine stated above in addition to hydrating the body to maximise your workout capability. 

What are your favourite/best recommended carbs?

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OHHH carbs… well I have to say I absolutely love carbs but I’m not taking about Pizza and beer here unfortunately. I believe one of the best carbs out there is quinoa. It has less calories and carbohydrates than your traditional white rice, twice as much protein and 5 grams more fibre and its complex carb so it’s slow-releasing. So this would be super for weight loss but if my goal was to enhance performance I would choose a quick release carb such as white rice or pasta.

What's your take on crunches? If I do a 100 day for 30 days will I get a six pack?

NO !! I can’t stress this enough, check out my article on 'Abs Are Made In The Kitchen'. You cannot spot reduce you need to eat well in order to allow the body fat to decrease enough to see the muscle underneath. 100 crunches a day will of course strengthen the core, benefiting your training, but if you want to see the abs you need to drop the fat.

Is working out 7 days a week too much?

Yes, it depends but in general, working out hard for 7 days does not allow your body to recover. Cross Training can allow different muscle groups to recover for example training the upper body one day and lower body the next allows one to rest while the other works. You could do this for seven days if you really wanted to but I would not recommend it. Rest is just as important as training (as long as not every day is a rest day ☺)

Vickey Nolan is a Personal Trainer, General Manager, and Fitness Director at West Wood Club, Dun Laoghaire. She has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Health Promotion and Physical Activity and has been working in senior roles in the fitness and wellness industry for over 15 years. Follow Vickey on Instagram and follow West Wood Club on Instagram.

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Vickey Nolan

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