Frequently (and not-so frequently) asked Questions

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Topics covered on this page currently include:

1. Eating to Boost Metabolism
2. Getting back into “college” shape
3. Exercises for the “six pack”
4. 68-year-old desires strength
5. Working forearms, abs, and legs every day
6. Are running and Tae Bo equal?
7. Will creatine stunt fat burning?
8. The Zone and Atkins – what’s legit?
Different types of exercise machines
10. Confused regarding protein drink timing
11. Rotating exercise routines to avoid plateaus

Topic: Eating to Boost Metabolism

Q: I am a 22 year old male. I am about 5-10, weigh approximately 200lbs..and work full time.  What kind of foods should I be eating to speed up my metabolism..I currently work out in the gym for about an hour…But for example, Chicken?? I heard you on Zeta on Friday talking about simple Sugars . . .but doesn’t almost everthing have Simple sugars in it . . . Please HELP ME!!!!!


ANSWER: OK.  Help is here!  Metabolism is the result of several components, namely production of throid hormones, body composition (muscle vs. fat), and rate of oxidation or the speed with which your body burns through food.  Let’s assume your thyroid function is normal.  Your workouts should stimulate increases in muscle and decreases in fat.  Since muscle is the part of your body that actually burns calories, that in itself will offer a metabolic advantage.  The food part . . . that’s the tricky part!  I’ll summarize some metabolism boosting nutritional concepts here.  If you truly want to master this, consider investing in my TRANSFORM! Program.


Simple sugars are the sugars you’d find in cakes, ice cream, candy, etc.  They are called simple sugars because they are single molecules of sugar, all absorbed into the bloodstream at once.  Complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, and whole grains, are called “complex” because they are actually chains of sugar linked together.  When you consume a simple sugar, the sudden spike in blood sugar limits fat release and messes with your energy levels.  You want to avoid those foods.  While many foods contain simple sugars, not ALL of them do!  Begin to read ingredient labels and you’ll find words such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, molasses, barley malt, honey which all indicate the presence of simple sugars.  In order to speed rate of oxidation, try to get a supportive meal frequently.  Chicken breast is an example of a lean protein.  In each meal you should attempt to get a lean protein, a starchy carbohydrate, and a fibrous carbohydrate every time you eat.  You should try to consume such a meal every 3 – 3 1/2 hours.  Lean proteins also include turkey breast, fish, egg whites. Starchy carbs include those complex carbs I mentioned earlier plus sweet potato, corn, peas, tomato, whole grain pasta, cream of rice, and oatmeal. Fibrous carbs include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, peppers, etc.


A supportive meal therefore would be a nice grilled piece of mahi-mahi, a baked potato, and a nice green salad with a mix of veggies.  You might opt for a ground turkey breast burger on a whole grain bun with spinach and sprouts.  Tuna mixed into a salad containing corn or brown rice.  Once you develop a sense for what a supportive meal is, supportive nutrition becomes relatively simple.


There is an ever-growing recipe resource which details supportive meals in my members area.  Membership is only $9.99 a month and will pay for itself in value hundreds of times over.  Another resource for supportive eating is my EAT! recipe book available for $24.95 at my on-line store.


I look forward to hearing of your nutritional shifts….and your new metabolism!

Topic: Getting back into “college” shape

Q: I’m a recent graduate who has just started in the work force.  In college I had the time to make sure that I ate correctly and had the time to work out.  Since I graduated I have had to eat out quite a bit and I having a hard time finding time to work out. In college I was 6’0″ tall and I weighed about 215-215 lbs., with a 32-34 inch waist.  Since I graduated I have gained weight, I now weigh 240 lbs.(and believe me it is not muscle!)and a 40 inch waist. Can your program get me back to where I was in college even though I’m in the office 40-60 hrs. a week?  Also, is it the fact that I’m not working out as intensely or as often the reason I’m gaining so much weight?


ANSWER: Of course it can!

The TRANSFORM! program comes with a recipe book called EAT! which is a tremendous aid in teaching you how to make supportive nutrition work in the real world!  It covers everything from “Quickie Meals” to ordering in restaurants.  As far as working hard, I’m on the road 3 out of every 7 days and when I’m in town my workdays begin at 7 and run often until 7 PM.  I certainly understand the challenges that come with being busy.  The good thing about my programs….you don’t have to do it perfectly.  You just do it to the best of your ability and you’ll see progress.


The reason you’re gaining weight is a shift in the caloric balance.  You’re likely eating as much, or if you’re not eating as cleanly, more calories, and by laying off the exercise, you’re burning few calories.  Your body thinks it’s doing you a favor by storing the surplus as stored fuel.  Unfortunately, without a few lifestyle shifts, it’s hard to access that stored fuel.  My TRANSFORM! program will definitely get you moving back in the right direction.  The first week you’ll have to find a way to develop some new nutritional habits.  You’ll only have to exercise for 12 minutes a day!  The exercise sessions do of course increase.  If you invest in a few pairs of dumbbells, you can perform all of the exercise at home.


To order, call my office (305) 824-5044 or go to my on-line store, accessible through


Topic: Exercises for the “six pack”


Q: I am about 5’11” and weigh about 190.  I would like to lose weight and get more of a “six pack.”  Please tell me some at home exercises I can do.   Also please send me some information on the cons of steroids.


ANSWER: To get more of a “six pack,” you must have a concern for three components, supportive nutrition, moderate aerobic exercise, and resistance training.  Nutritionally you’ll want to eat balanced protein/carb meals frequently throughout the day.  As far as the resistance training, if you have a few pairs of dumbbells at home, you can combine squats, bent over rows, chest presses (more effective if you have a bench), shoulder presses, curls, and tricep extensions to stimulate muscle growth.  While I know you said you want to focus on the abs, when you increase overall muscle mass, your body has the capacity to burn more fat.  The way to get a six pack is to have your fat low enough so those abs become visible.  Working the major muscle groups will help you to develop an overall lean look, including the “six pack.”  You might also want to do an ab routine daily combining crunches, and variations of leg raises.  The ab work will not help reduce fat, but will develop the rectus abdominus (the primary abdominal muscle) so when fat levels are low enough, those abs will have definition and sharpness.


It’s also important to note that the rectus abdominus, while it does form the “shape” and “look” of the “six pack” (due to bands of connective tissue), it is actually the transversus, a deep abdominal muscle, that assists in developing and supporting a “flat tummy.”  The “core” abs are worked by including leg raise movements where the hips are raised and leg raise movements performed in a suspended position (hanging leg raises).


As far as the cons of steroids, I’d suggest you go back to my site MENU and follow the link for “Steroids.”  There are several steroid related questions to which I offer some pretty complete answers.


My TRANSFORM! book or program will detail the specific path, exercises, nutrition program, etc. to bring you the body you want.  It does cover the drug issue as well.


Topic: 68-year-old desires strength


Q:  I am a male 68 years old weight 170 lb.  I would like to lose 10 lbs.  My muscles have lost strength.  I have had back surgery – lower back – five vertebrae for decompression.  Would to like to strengthen leg muscles and arm muscles.  What can I do?


ANSWER: There is plenty you can do!  The challenge lies in finding a series of weight training movements (you can do them at home with dumbbells) that allow you to target the various muscles of your body without affecting your lower back.  To begin, you can perform squats, 20 repetitions, 3 times per week, holding on to something sturdy, such as the back of a heavy chair, and squatting down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, then returning to a standing position.  Be certain to maintain the natural arch of the lower back during the movement.  You should be moving only from the hips and the knees.


For the arms a combination of bicep curls with dumbbells and tricep extensions should do the trick.  You can find a complete weight training regimen in either of my books, The Answer ($24.95) and the very complete and detailed TRANSFORM! ($39.95).  They both show pictures and instructions for a series of movements that can be performed at home.  You should also develop a concern for highly nutritious low-fat, low-sugar meals and begin a walking program starting at only 10-12 minutes and increasing gradually.


I’d suggest making an appointment with a fitness professional at least once so they can set up some parameters for your personal program.  It wouldn’t hurt to have the trainer speak with your physician.  If you would like additional assistance in any of these areas, call my office (305) 824-5044 or in Broward (954) 389-0280.


Topic: Working forearms, abs, and legs every day


Q: I have heard as many theories on weights as I have hairs on my head. I trust your opinion. A buddy of mine said it is ok to work the forearms, abs & legs everyday. That they, unlike other body parts, do not need the rest…true????


A: Somewhat true.  The amount of use your calf muscles, abdominal muscles, and forearms get throughout the course of a day, with walking, twisting, reaching, and using your hands to grip things being “active” stimulation, acquaints those muscles with frequent use.  Is it OK?  Yes.  Necessary?  No.  Notice also that I referred to “calf muscles” where you referred to “legs.”  Quadricep and hamstring muscles need at least 48 hours to effectively recuperate from progressive weight training.  As a matter of fact, the quadricep is the largest muscle group in the body, thus will likely require the greatest stimulation and the greatest recuperation


Topic: Are running and Tae Bo equal?


Q: This may seem silly but I find it is easy to think I know something when I may not so here goes…..Is running (jogging really) equal to aerobics or Tae Bo or whatever? I am running 4-5 miles a week now and really enjoying it! I usually do between 1-2 miles every other day. The in between days I do resistance training.


A: Your heart will respond in an aerobic state to extended movement that utilizes large muscle groups.  Running is fine.  Aerobics as in aerobic classes can be equal, less, or more beneficial depending on many factors including frequency, duration, intensity, and specific movements.  The key indicator is your heart rate.  If you are entering your Target Heart Zone during aerobic exercise, and are able to maintain it for 15-20 minutes, your heart won’t care very much whether you are running, aerobicizing, or jumping up and down on your bed.  I find that most people stick to aerobic programs they enjoy, so think of your enjoyment of the exercise and the number one factor as to whether or not it’s “the best” one for you.


Topic: Will creatine stunt fat burning?


Q: For a guy my size (I have plenty of excess around my waist though I do my sit ups, including side sit ups, regularly) I am interested in the Creatine. A friend of mine has been using it for 4 months now and results are terrific. If creatine feeds my muscle therefore allowing me to lift more therefore working the muscle deeper…..will this have an adverse affect on my body? I understand that I will gain muscle weight and don’t have a problem with 220lbs of muscle but do not want to stunt my fat burning (and fat weight losing) ability. Your thoughts?


A: Creatine will not stunt your fat burning, however, it will lead to retention of water which is in great part the reason for creatine’s cell “volumizing” effect.  It is one of the few supplements I place in the “valid” category, however, for you right now, there isn’t any need.  Down the road, if you are leaning out and hit a plateau in muscle development, creatine can act as an aid.


Topic: The Zone and Atkins – what’s legit?


Q: How do I decipher which of the information in The Zone or Atkin’s New Diet Revolution regarding the “bad” nature of carb eating is legitimate.  I’ve heard you speak against low carb diets, yet I’ve also heard you express some of the virtues of avoiding certain carbs.  Help!!!


A: Avoid simple sugars and the refined and processed carbs such as bleached or processed flours.  Easy on the fruit.  Complex starchy and fibrous carbs are very supportive and valuable if consumed as part of complete meals.  The recipes in my EAT! book as well as the recipes offered to members in the “members only” area will give you a great amount of direction.  If you really want to understand the whole Atkins thing, the truth about diets, the differences between carbs, etc., order the Body Transformation videos for $39.95.  It’s a 3-hour seminar I conducted in which I cover “all of it!”  As far as the Zone, while much of what Dr. Sears writes about is valid, he relies too heavily on the concept of glycemic index, a concept correlating foods with their tendency to elevate blood sugar.  In order to know the glycemic index of foods, you’ll always need a reference book handy.  If you are going to eat supportively, you would have meals that combine carbs, proteins, and some essential fats which pretty much renders glycemic index meaningless.  Potatoes?  Great!  Spinach, mushrooms, green beans?  Fantastic!  Unsweetened un-buttered grits?  Wonderful!  A power bar, Nestle’s crunch or a very ripe banana?  Different story!


Topic: Different types of exercise machines


Q: At my gym you can workout on 3 different types of equipment, Keiser, Nautilus or free weights.  What is the benefit or difference between working out on the different equipment or is there a difference at all?


A: Nautilus equipment got its name because of the shape of the “cam,” a component of each machine which resembles a Nautilus shell.  Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus, developed the cam resistance mechanism to keep resistance consistent throughout the range of motion in correlation with the muscles natural predisposition for strength.  In other words, conceptually, where, in its range of motion, the muscle is strongest, the Nautilus machine will offer the greatest amount of resistance.  This was a revolutionary concept in the 70’s and Nautilus has stood the test of time.  Interestingly enough, as we enter the 21st century, Nautilus’ newer contributions to the marketplace are quite similar to Body Masters, Cybex, and other leading manufacturers.  The original Nautilus concepts asked exercisers to perform 8-12 repetitions to failure on each machine achieving a full body workout in a short period of time.  I find that today those advanced exercisers who use Nautilus use it more for personal machine preference than for it’s unique cam or for adherence to the original Nautilus concepts.


Keiser was another innovation in that it uses air pressure rather than weight.  In theory, your bicep does not know or care whether it is resisting 25 pounds of iron or 25 pounds of air.  The absence of weights made Keiser a bit less intimidating to seniors and women who felt weight training might be too strenuous or difficult.  Some unique advantages of Keiser machines include the ability to modify the weight in the middle of a set and the ability to alter resistance to perform “negative repetitions” or “forced reps” with the absence of a spotter.  While these are interesting and sometimes beneficial ideas, I have never met an athlete who developed his or her body exclusively with Keiser equipment.  While the air pressure theory of muscle development works, I’m not certain it translates into reality if optimal muscle development is a goal.


Free weights are going to be the best for optimal muscle stimulation.  When you use a machine, Keiser, Nautilus, or any other, the “path” through which you move the machine is pre-determined and guided.  You don’t use any “stabilizer” muscles.  Most machines don’t allow you to isolate specific muscles bi-laterally, for example, if one side of your body is stronger than the other, the muscles on that side will wind up doing most of the work on a pre-guided unilateral machine.  With dumbbells it’s “every muscle for itself!”  That doesn’t mean the machines aren’t good.  As I’ve illustrated, Nautilus machines certainly have their value as do Keiser.  If you want optimal results however, don’t neglect free weight training.


Topic: Confused regarding protein drink timing

Q: I’m following your Answer program and seeing fantastic results in only days.  I’ve been reading some of the GNC ads and have become a bit confused.  Should I have some kind of protein drink before I exercise, or after I exercise?



A: Simply follow the supportive eating plan outlined in the program.  Far more important than what you eat before or after a workout is what you do consistently throughout the day.  With that said, if muscle gain is a goal, you might consider using a post-workout drink that contains a mix of predigested proteins and glucose and fructose within the 45 minute period just after you complete your training.  You can either buy Twinlab’s Amino fuel (which sort of tastes like transmission fluid) and also Ultra Fuel and mix the two together in a dilute post workout drink.  The sugars in Ultra Fuel mask the nasty taste of the Amino Fuel.  Or . . . one of the best post-workout products I’ve seen is Metaform Hyperdrive 360 available in any health food store.  Never have a protein drink immediately before a workout.  The exercise will interrupt digestion so you will not efficiently use what you ingest.


Topic: Rotating exercise routines to avoid plateaus


Q: On your radio show I have heard you recommend rotating exercise routines to avoid plateau and muscle loss problems.  I’ve been following your advice for several weeks and am already noticing great improvement.  Is this rotation of exercises an important issue for a “beginner” like me?


A: Yup!  For everyone!  Muscle increase and fat loss are responses to stimulus asking the body to “adapt.”  Once your body adapts to a specific stimulus, without a modification in training, you’ll “plateau.”    While this is a much neglected concept among advanced exercisers frustrated with their lack of progress, I believe it’s best to develop the complete technology right from the beginning.  Even for beginners, variations in routines and methodologies will prevent plateaus and keep improvement consistent and ongoing.  This concept is built in to my 17-week TRANSFORM program which actually makes it a “Lifetime” Program.  You begin by spending four weeks boosting metabolism using a combination of basic exercise moves with dumbbells designed to stimulate each and every major muscle group.  While this is result oriented for beginners, it’s quite challenging for those who have already developed some impressive muscle strength.  Throughout the first four weeks, you modify the training routine every week!  This is followed by a two week regimen of Strength & Growth training.  Before you run the risk of over training or hitting a plateau, you move to another methodology that asks you to combine isolation movements (exercises that target a single muscle) and compound movements (exercise that utilize combinations of muscle groups) in a set and rep range targeting the “slow twitch muscle fibers,” those muscle fibers most prone to develop endurance.  This is followed by a fat liberation phase.  By developing such a regimen, you avoid ever hitting the point where your body adapts to a routine and becomes stale.  An abbreviated version of this concept is inherent in my 17 Day Program!  

He’s been called The Father of Personal Training, The Master of Body Transformation and America’s Most In-Demand Fitness Professional. But what truly defines Phil Kaplan is his undying defense of the Fitness Truth, unwavering support of Personal Trainers, and undeniable passion for helping people improve their lives.

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