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Here are some frequently asked questions that people ask Mike often along with his professionally written articles on various subjects. Click on the question to reveal answer.

3 Common Fitness Mistakes That Can Harm / Damage Your Body Written by Mike Nguyen (Most Viewed)

Cardio Abuse: If you are performing more than 40 minutes per day of any cardio workouts or participate in several marathon events per year in an attempt to “lose weight”; then you are on the verge of or already considered a cardio abuser. The body is designed to achieve balance one way or another. If you go from inactivity to suddenly engaging in high amounts of “calorie burning” aka “energy burning” activities; your body will experience a crash in either hormonal or metabolic function. The only type of people who needs that amount of cardio sessions are endurance athletes who would need to eat/rest more to properly recover their bodies. For most of us who are looking to strictly lose fat or maintain good health, performing anything more than 40 minutes of cardio will eventually lead to adaptations by the body by burning less and less calories for the same amount of work done. If you or someone you know has done high amounts of cardio and yet still have not achieved your desired body fat goals, then the first step is to completely stop doing cardio for 1-2 weeks. This is what I’ve recommended for every client I have ever worked with and will help recharge their metabolism to allow greater fat loss for later on.

Wrong Training Techniques: Like I have mentioned before in the past. Weight training is by far the only and best method for achieving a healthy and lean physique. However, proper weight training for the unique individual is a different story. A properly performed weight training session combined with appropriate intensity should actually produce noticeable results in appearance, shape and/or performance every 7 days. If you have been training with weights and have not seen noticeable changes every 1-2 weeks on a consistent basis, then you are definitely not getting the most out of your workouts. Secondly, if you are ever feeling any kind of tension or soreness that feels unnatural or at the wrong places, you either need to eliminate that exercise or adjust the form until it is completely correct. Each person depending on their overall height and length of torso, arms and legs will require their own unique range of motion for optimal results. This is why some exercises that work well for others may not work for you. Continuing to perform the “not so suitable” exercises will eventually lead to joint and muscle injuries at any given time which will then be too late. Be responsible, look over your plan and make the adjustments necessary.

Under-Eating/Unhealthy Diets: The first thing many people do in an attempt to lose fat (I don’t blame them) is to drastically restrict calories/ eat less or follow super restrictive fad diet programs. This is already the first mistake that will lead to weight re-gain and extra bodyfat production later on. Like mentioned earlier; the body will find a way to balance itself one way or another. If you are eating 2000 calories a day, then follow a 1,000 calorie diet; you will lose weight. However, after 2-4 weeks, your body will then slow down its metabolic function to conserve its energy due to the drastic sudden reduction/ loss of calories which will basically make you store more fat  than you did before. You are basically training your body to store more bodyfat by doing this and this is why people “yo-yo" with their weight each and every year. Losing fat will require different levels of adjustments to follow for each person. Due to something I call “individual metabolism set point ”; every person has a different body-fat set point and metabolism rate based on their genetic makeup. Healthy food swaps, small calorie reductions, food timing and proper food combining are all of the steps that can optimizes one's fat loss goals. Some people might just need to switch from less junk food to more healthy foods and they will lose weight. Others might require eating healthier foods combined with a small reduction of total calories simply because we all have different metabolisms and natural fat levels that our bodies are born to be comfortable at. Just like how some people naturally have better skin complexion than others without too much effort. Access yourself and if you realize you might not have the best genes for staying very lean, then work towards it, find the right information and make that extra effort to build and shape the body you want just like anything else worth working for.

5 Things to Maximize Recovery, Reduce Soreness and Prevent Overtraining written by Mike Nguyen

“Mike! My arms, chest, legs and/or entire body are so sore. What can I do to recover faster or reduce this pain so I can train again in a few days? This is one of the first questions that I receive from every one of my clients that I train with in San Diego and because of that; I decided to cover it all here for those who might be wondering the same thing.

Soreness Overview: Muscle soreness is something that is a result of how much breakdown you have caused on your muscles and waste build up that accumulates in the areas. Once the body starts the recovery process, its first thing is to trigger a hormonal response activating your body to adapt and rebuild. The goal is to remove the waste products, use protein and calories from the foods you eat to turn into new muscle/replace damaged muscles, and then finally finish the process by strengthening and or making it bigger than before. However, continuing to train a muscle that has not yet fully complete its recovery process may weaken your body, produce negative stress hormones, increase body fat, lose muscle tone and higher risk of minor infections. The harder you train, the more stress on the body, the more results you produce but only if you are properly supporting to recovery 100%. Train not as hard and you won’t have to worry about recovery but your results will be slow and/or be non-existent.

Warning Signs: While avoiding training a muscle that is still sore is a good idea, sometimes there can actually be other things that indicate you are not recovering properly from week to week. If your appetite decreases suddenly, if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, if you are getting sick more often, if you notice your strength and energy level is decreasing, if your joints are hurting/very stiff and/or if you have depression or irritability; then most likely you are in a state of over training/ under recovering. You should adjust your plan and apply some of the following things as exercise should make you become better and feel better rather than making you tired, irritable and injuring you later on.

5 effecting ways to maximize your recovery:

1) Protein Boost: This is obvious, but a more accurate way is to make sure you eat enough “complete” protein sources with each meal. Complete protein foods are those that contain all the amino acids that closely match our muscle tissues. These come only from eggs, lean meats, milk products, seafood and proper whey protein powders. For vegetarians, a good choice with be quinoa as it is the only grain/seed that has complete protein makeup. Proteins from any other foods are not the same and will not provide your body any benefits. Half of the protein bars on the market do not even have complete protein sources so be sure to check the ingredient lists. Every meal you eat should have a complete protein source.

2)Eat your fruits: Have 1-3 servings of fruits when you are suffering from extreme muscle soreness and need to recover asap. They contain specific antioxidants that work by improving the elimination of waste products that are built from intense training. Now it wouldn't be like me to just end it here. I’ll take it to the next level and say you should aim for berries specifically blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries as their antioxidants properties are much higher and effective in helping muscle recovery than any other fruits.

3) Up your Vitamin C: Have more vitamin C from foods are supplemental form. Vitamin C helps through the hormonal pathway by reducing the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is naturally produced when the body is under any kind of physical or mental stress and the longer it takes for you to get rid of cortisol, the longer it takes to heal overall. Taking a high potency multi-vitamin/mineral is also highly recommended.

4) Stretch and Massage: From the physical pathway, performing light stretching and getting a weekly massage will also speed up the rate of your muscle recovery. Remember my article in the past; only perform stretches once your body is warm. Do not stretch when you are cold as this will damage/cause unhealthy tears to your muscles. Perform some cardio or light jogging to warm up, then do your stretches

5) Sleep Well: Getting enough rest is obviously helpful to restore your body. This is where most of the recovery takes place and all the steps before this will be much more effective if combined with proper sleep. 6 hours minimum and 10 hours’ maximum. If you are sleeping less than minimum and still able to "feel fine" throughout the day, it does not mean it is enough. The truth is your performance in strength, fitness and recovery will be far from optimal or reaching its full potential. So try your best to sleep in the proper range as often as you can. If you need more than 10 hours of sleep for any reason, you might be sleeping just a bit too much.

* This information was taken from and written by Professional Trainer and Double-Certified Nutritionist Mike Nguyen.

Why is proper nutrition so important for my results?

Nutrition is the process in which the body takes in and utilize food materials. The process converts food into structural and functional body compounds like muscle, skin, and hair. Nutrients are required for growth, maintenance of body functions, body repair, immunity, energy, and health.

It’s a fact that people need to blend both nutrition and exercise in order to achieve the results they desire. Whether they want to gain muscle, lose fat, or live healthy, the limiting factor usually lies with their poor nutrition menu. Good nutrition will not only maintain muscle mass and energize the body, but it will also shed fat! An individual can be 100% on top of their training and only make half the results if they are lacking the right nutrition for their body type and goals.

Envision exercise and nutrition as two wheels on a bicycle. If one is missing then the bicycle will no longer be functioning correctly. One must combine the two for the fastest results.

Most people assume that a Personal trainer is also an expert on nutrition which is often a misconception. Although some trainers are knowledgeable on nutrition, they should be certified in nutritional sciences or have a degree in nutrition to properly educate individuals on what they should eat for better performance and physical changes.

Note* Proper nutrition is more than just cutting calories and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. It involves the right ratio of nutrients and intake of protein, carbs, fats, water, and vitamins and minerals for daily health, energy and metabolism. By having a specific nutrition plan for yourself, you can see twice the results than just exercising alone.

What is your personal nutrition plan like Mike?

My nutrition plan is focused on eating high nutrient-dense foods with the right type of nutritional shakes used as a healthy meal replacement. In addition vegetables are included and limited fruit servings as well. In terms of nutrients, I follow a plan that is moderate in healthy fats, moderate to low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Here is a an exact eating plan that I follow for most of the year (unless I am getting ready for a competition which changes a bit) along with the daily supplements I take. For those just starting out, you do not need to eat this many meals (3-4 will suffice), this plan is just what I follow for myself and recommend for clients to eventually follow. Portion size should be different for each person.

Meal 1 - 2 scoop superior whey isolate protein shake and 1 cup mixed berries (Supplements: 1 Superior Multi, 2 Probiotics Excellence, 2 EFA Lean)

Meal 2- 5 oz talapia fish (lean protein) with 1 cup rice ( carbs) and 1/2 cup vegetables 

Meal 3- 5 oz skinless chicken breast(lean protein) with whole wheat pasta (whole grain carbs) with 1/2 cup vegetables(fiber)

Pre-Workout Supplements- 1 Scoop Pre- Workout Drink (or NO Enhancer) with 1 Serving Fuel & Repair Amino Acid Tablets

Meal 4(Post working out)- 2 scoop whey isolate protein shake with a carbohydrate drink  plus 1 serving C3 Creatine Matrix 

Meal 5- 5 oz lean sirloin steak (lean protein) with 1 cup mix vegetables 

- WHEY ISOLATE PROTEIN SHAKES is better to have for after workouts instead of food because it does not require full or mechanical digestion before entering the muscles. Your digestive system needs blood to digest whole foods, but after workouts they are drawn to the muscles that you trained which inhibits maximum digestion.

Extra Note* Even with a near perfect diet; I still take a multi-vitamin to ensure I get enough of it. Fish oil is also used to help support lean body composition and Probiotics for digestive and gut health.

Note 2* If I am training for a competition or looking to burn maximum fat, I still actually follow a similar plan just like this. However, the only thing that changes is that I am exercising more than usual (1 hour of weights and 30 minutes of cardio everyday) . Because of this, my body will be much more depleted than non-competition training so what I would do is maybe double up on the compete multi, drink more water and also add in an energy supplement to support my intense training.

Do I have to workout everyday to see results?

You do not have to work out every day because it would actually be counterproductive doing so. In fact, If you know how to exercise and get the most out of every movement, results can be seen in just two days of training per week. Three sessions of 30-45 minutes a week would be the maximum amount of time any person would need to train once they have obtained the proper training techniques and form.

Should women be weight training too? Will I get bulky or too muscular?

These questions have been the stigma of weight training for women throughout the world. The truth of the matter is that women won't gain the big muscles unless they are training extremely heavy and eating a high amount of calories. The women bodybuilders with bodies built like men are a result of illegal performance enhancement drugs. The female body naturally does not form bulky muscles due to the low levels of testosterone( up to 10 x less than a man) ; therefore, a woman’s body will never build muscle size as a male body. In fact, weight training will sculpt and add shape to your body while producing those desirable curves women strive for. In addition, if you add a bit of tone muscles to your body you will be able to eat more in teh future without ever gaining weight.

Is cardiovascular training the best way for reducing body fat?

This topic of aerobics versus weights has always been a hot debate in the fitness world. The truth is that "aerobic" activity is not the most effective form of exercise for fat-loss. Most people who engage in a weight loss program want to be able to keep the weight off and reshape their bodies, but they tend to be misinformed on the benefits of the exercises they endure. Activities such as running, cycling, dancing are considered steady state exercises and do not burn as much calories as weight training due to the intervals of intensity. The key component to a fat-loss program is the maintenance of muscle tissue while fat is lost. Strength training is the only reliable method of maintaining and building muscle tissue. Every pound of muscle added to the body will burn an extra 75 to 100 calories a day even at rest.

In my program, I would never have anyone performing more than 30 minutes of aerobic activity if their goal is fat loss because extreme durations may be more detrimental than beneficial. The only people who should train to that extreme would be competitive athletes or endurance marathon runners who need to train their cardiovascular system to endure long lengths of running. In fact, most people would be happy to hear that they can do less cardio and burn more fat from weight training for just 30-40 minutes a day for a few sessions under my supervision.

How much water do I really need to drink per day?

Water is not only essential to overall health but also a powerful way to help your body prevent fat gain/ increase fat loss . Your kidney requires a certain amount of water each day to remove toxins and wastes from the body. If you do not drink enough, the liver is forced to assist the kidney in removing these toxins. We do not want this because your liver is what controls the rate of your metabolism( speed of fat burned daily). If the liver has to work overtime, then your metabolism slows down and makes it easier to store body fat while burning less fat from exercise. For general health, you should be drinking 40% of your bodyweight in ounces. For fat loss and performance gains, I recommend you aim for 50-60% of your bodyweight per day. If you weigh 100 lbs, your should be drinking 50-60 ounces of pure water for optimal and long-term performance. You can expect to lose an additional 1-3 lbs of fat per month/ or prevent 1-3 lbs of potential fat gain just from drinking the proper amounts of water for your bodyweight. Doctors usually recommends 8 cups of water a day, but this is only for the general. To take it to the next step, it should be based on ones bodyweight and activity levels . Combing this application with an intense exercise program and proper nutrition, your results can come much more dramatically.

Why do you train clients at World Gym, San Diego?

I believe in the saying “You become like the people you surround yourself with” therefore the place I choose to train my clients at is of great importance to me.

World Gym is located in Pacific Beach San Diego and has been regarded as the best place for serious fitness and health seekers in Southern California.

The gym members are all extremely supportive and are always willing to help or offer advice. There are some occasions where you might forget to bring your food, but there are members who would offer you some of theirs since they know the importance of having the right nutrition before and after workouts. There is even a recreational area with a sofa and TV along with a microwave so you can relax and eat before training! Everyone that has trained with me at World Gym agrees that this place provides a whole new environment which they have never experienced at any other gym.

The Membership fee is very simple with no contracts, no processing or activation fee. Members only have to pay for the month they are using the gym with no obligation or fine print requiring long term commitments. They have a great amount of equipment for every body part, and you will never have to wait for a machine to use. In addition, the gym facility also contains a sports nutrition supplement store, chiropractic, and massage therapy. I simply picked this gym for my clients because of its inspiring environment and supportive members who will bring out the best in them.

Note* I am not affiliated or endorsed by world gym in any way. It’s a great gym that I personally train myself at for competitions and where I feel my clients will benefit most from.

What are the benefits of supplements? Do I really need them?

Something that I have always mentioned to my clients and fitness seeking individuals is that you can only become as strong, fit, and healthy if your body has the proper support to allow it to happen. This basically means that you can exercise as often and as hard as you want, but if your body is lacking any specific nutrients from the diet, then it will naturally hold you back from performing and achieving your best. From my personal experiences a fitness athlete and professional, having a nutritional deficiency is almost impossible to avoid in these modern times. Stressful lifestyles, overcooking, consumption of processed food, aging, environmental pollution, and intense physical activities are all factors that greatly destroys our chances of getting in the required nutrients and naturally increasing our need for it. Supplements will fill the gap to help you overcome nutritional deficiencies that can prevent us from optimal health and performance. Athletes and active individuals can especially benefit from the use of supplements due to the fact that they put their body through more physical stress than a normal sedentary person would. Older adults also tend to have nutrition deficiency due to the decreased hormone levels of the body from aging and therefore naturally producing fewer nutrients on a daily basis.

Honestly I would say that the best investment you can make for your long-term health would be high quality multi-vitamin/mineral and a fish oil omega 3 supplement for your healthy essential fats. Those supplements will come a long way making sure your metabolism, heart, and body functions at its best.

For those seeking body sculpting, weight management, and fitness; I would suggest a high quality whey protein product that is made from pure whey protein "isolate". Whey isolates contain are low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugars than other cheaper lower quality proteins. In addition, Whey isolates are 99 % lactose free which makes it good for anyone lactose intolerant.

Lastly, for athletes and people who are seeking maximum fat loss and performance, more advanced supplements such as amino acids, energy products, fat burners, and creatine can be used as long as the quality and dosage is correct.