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Low Bodyfat Levels

Question: What bodyfat percentage is desirable for male and female bodybuilding competitors? I've heard 3 - 4% for guys and 7 - 8% for women, and that sounds dangerously low. Or am I wrong?

Justin Leonard: Whoever gave you these numbers was accurate. The best of the best get can obtain even lower bodyfat percentages. I usually compete at approximately 2 - 3%. Again, this is considered normal for any top-level competitor.

It is also important to note that many use the juice (steroids and diuretics) to help them achieve these near impossible physical conditions.

If you plan on competing in the NPC (especially at the state level), get used to these low numbers. You'll see slightly higher numbers in most "natural" bodybuilding competitions.

Sweating Burns Fat?

Question: Does sweating help to burn fat? I have been working out at home for a few days now but I don't sweat as much as I used to when I'm at the gym. I'm worried that the workouts I do won't be any good if I don't sweat, especially the cardio. I need your expert advice. Thank you.

Justin Leonard: It means absolutely nothing if you don't sweat during a workout. I personally never do. What is true is that the body burns fat more efficiently when it is heated.

The human body is like a car: It runs more efficiently and better utilizes its internal resources after it has been warmed up.

Good Carbs & Bad Carbs

Question: How can I tell the difference between good carbs and bad carbs?

Justin Leonard: No such thing. You need a combination of simple, complex, and fibrous carbs. They each serve different functions in the body. You can learn more about carbohydrates at the following URL: http://www.leonardfitness.com/article/carbohydrates

Biceps Training

Question: When I do curls, should I keep my biceps totally secure to my side or is it ok for them to move a little? I always keep them totally secure.

Justin Leonard: This is not required. As long as you can feel the "biceps" working, you're good to go. I personally use several unconventional training techniques in the gym. The bottom line is that they work for me.

Sprinting & Muscle Mass

Question: I am a sprinter, and I want to build more muscle mass. As a sprinter do you think getting bigger and having more mass will help me in sprinting or will it make me slower?

Justin Leonard: It depends. Some people may become affected by the gain, although I feel most will benefit judging solely on how I see Olympic sprinters train.

Getting slightly bigger [especially in the legs] will more than likely help with your speed. All Olympic sprinters work with weights as part of their training regiment. Gail Devers, one of the top female sprinters in the world, squats 300 and 400 pounds on a regular basis.

Note: Squats are considered an advanced training movement and can be dangerous if the proper form is not used. Consider safer alternatives such as leg extensions or leg presses.

Heart Rate Questions

Question: I have not been able to get an answer to a question. Maybe you can help. What exactly is the "working heart rate" as opposed to "resting" and "target" heart rates? Can you enlighten me?

Justin Leonard: The working heart rate is the speed your heart reaches and averages to do whatever you need to do.

The resting heart rate is the speed at which your heart beats when you're just sitting or going about your daily activities.

Your target heart rate is a specific limit at which you should try to ultimately or constantly keep your heart rate at to meet better your cardiovascular level of fitness.

Get Big, Keep The Six-pack

Question: How do you get big muscles and still have a six-pack if you have to eat a lot to get big and then diet to get the six-pack? How can you get both?

Justin Leonard: It's best to do either one or the other. You won't get a six-pack by eating big meals. The stomach must shrink in order to get the desired look. Once you see how the body responds to different dieting techniques, you'll begin to see the balance.

What I mean by balance is the point where you know exactly what will cause you to gain or lose weight. From there, you should be able to see what you can get away with dieting wise. For example, the size of the meal, what to eat, etc. You'll be better off focusing on one mission.

How Many Calories To Lose A Pound?

Question: How many calories do you have to burn before you lose a pound?

Justin Leonard: It takes approximately 500 "less" calories a day per week to lose a pound. For example, if your body type only requires 2,000 calories per day, then 1,500 a day (3,500 per week) would put you in weight loss mode. It's also important to note that this formula does not work in all cases.

Need Help With Abs Fast!

Question: My problem is that I don't seem to find the correct way to get a washboard stomach. I've tried the abs exercises that fitness guru Denise Austin recommends, but to no avail. NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK!

Also, I'm trying to lose weight throughout my whole body (approx. 20 pounds). I would like to know what kind of cardio exercises I can do, and for how long? Also, is eating one big meal a day, like a lot of rice, beans, and meat healthy or damaging for those who want to get a six-pack?

Justin Leonard: Ab-specific exercises do very little to define the abs. There is no way Denise Austin can be a true fitness guru because if she was, she wouldn't advocate exercise for abs. The diet is the key to abdominal visibility.

Second to diet modification, the best technique to use is cardiovascular exercise (walking or riding a stationary bike). The goal is to build up the duration to approximately 20 - 30 minutes, or more if desired. One big meal a day is bad. Several small meals works, even though your caloric intake may exceed that of the one big meal. Be sure to check out our sister site for more in-depth information on abs:


Results, How Long?

Question: By following the tips and steps on your site, about how long would it take for me to notice some results?

Justin Leonard: There is no sure way to gauge this. Much of it depends on how consistent you are, how effective your plan is, and if it's the right one for your body type. If you've noticed, I never make "results guarantees" on anything I write or sell. This is because every single person is different.

What I can say is that if your plan is working, you should notice results within 2 weeks. They may not be drastic, but you should notice something.

Weight Loss Shortcuts

Question: I have a girlfriend who has gained a couple of pounds over the past month. She works out regularly, but the excess weight isn't budging. She eats fairly healthy, but frequently indulges in sweets. She wants to shed the pounds without going on a radical bodybuilding type program (i.e. 5 - 6 meals per day, lower carbs at night, etc). What do you suggest?

Justin Leonard: I'm not going to tell you she can do other than that which you already seem to know, although she may be able to do less and see results. For example, she may not need 5 - 6 meals per day. Three small meals and a snack might do the trick.

Keeping calories, especially carbohydrates, low at night must become a habit or the plan can go terribly wrong. If she can eat most of the not so good foods before 11:00am and have the discipline to avoid them at night, she may be in luck.

Total Gym

Question: What do you think about the Total Gym with Chuck Norris?

Justin Leonard: You can find out about the latest infomercial products and what my opinion of each are at the following URL:


Health & Fitness

Question: What's the difference between fitness and health?

Justin Leonard: In my opinion these two are very similar, although "health" seems to deal more with the medical aspect of life, and "fitness" is maintaining your health through physical activity.

Women And Decline Bench Presses

Question: Do you think women should include decline press in their chest workout? It's my understanding that declines target the lower chest which I would think might give us some "lift" but some of the trainers at our gym said it will give us a look that is "not feminine." What do you think?

Justin Leonard: The trainers at your gym are somewhat correct. It sounds as if they're thinking along the lines of competitive bodybuilding. In this case, the upper breast becomes extremely hard, striated, and defined, where the lower breast pops out (like an implant).

Most women don't have to worry about ever looking like this since they'll never go on an extreme diet and have bodyfat levels low enough to see this condition.

Liquid Creatine

Question: I wonder what you think of the new liquid creatine? It seems it would be less expensive and easier to use with travel.

Justin Leonard: I like the concept of liquid creatine. It's definitely more convenient for traveling purposes. It may be less expensive because you're getting less. This may or may not be true. Ultimately you will get the same results from liquid creatine as you would from powdered creatine. Be sure to look at your cost per quantity.

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