Answering questions from the gym

June 8, 2013

Each week I rack my brain trying to come up with interesting material to fill the page, but sometimes I stumble upon great questions through conversations I have with people in the gym. Below are five different questions and answers I discussed with various clients this week.

Should I lock my joints when lifting weights?

A locked joint is a rested muscle, so if your goal is to burn fat and build strong and lean muscles, avoid it at all costs.

To do this you must learn to lift through the entire range of motion, stretching and contracting the targeted muscles without locking your joints at any point during the exercises. A classic example would be squatting but never completely locking your legs as you stand back up. This forces the leg muscles to continuously burn, fatiguing a large amount of muscle fibers instead of putting pressure on the knees.

Will eating too much protein make me fat?

Protein has been proven to build, repair and promote muscle growth and is a staple part of the diet for anyone who wants to build lean tissue and burn fat.

In fact, the more muscle you have on your frame, the greater capacity you have to burn fat, and since protein is the building blocks of muscle you must be sure to include enough in your diet to get the job done.

Foods such as eggs, turkey, chicken and steak are great choices as long as you pick leaner cuts and trim all visible fat.

Is muscle heavier than fat?

A pound is a pound regardless of whether it’s made of bricks or feathers but the main difference between muscle and fat is the amount of volume in each. A pound of fat is dimply, unattractive and takes up roughly twice the amount of space as a pound of muscle. On the other hand, muscle is lean, tight and a lot nicer to look at, but no matter how you look at it, 16 ounces of each is still a pound.

Do I have to have great genetics to get chiseled abs?

A very small percentage of people are blessed with the genetics to eat what they want and still have abs, but the rest of us will achieve them in the kitchen not the weight room. So if you want that chiseled waistline you’ll have to make a lifestyle change and learn to control your craving and eat correctly.

This means getting rid of the sugar, fast foods and processed carbs and replacing them with lean meats, vegetables and low glycemic carbohydrates. If you are not dedicated enough to change how you eat, you are probably never going to have abs.

How much water do I need to drink daily?

Experts say the human body is made up of roughly 70 percent water and depending on how hot it is, how hard you work out and numerous other factors water needs can vary. Since just about every bodily function depends on proper hydration from digesting food to having a strong metabolism, it's essential to make sure you are drinking enough H2O daily. Standard protocol says the average person needs eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day, but for people who spend several days a week sweating in the gym this may not be enough and you will probably need to drink more water to compensate for the fluid loss due to grueling workouts. In light of the above factors, a good rule of thumb is to drink at least eight to 10 glasses a day and adjust intake based on environmental factors and activity levels.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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