Q.: What’s the best way to reach my personal training goals?

A.: Chunking them down.

Have you ever had a personal training or fitness goal that you were excited about … but once you got started, you became overwhelmed and dropped it? Well, there’s an easy solution: chunk it down!

This happened to my wife, Nina. She got a bee in her bonnet about running 5K races. She signed up for a handful of races, bought a new pair of running shoes, and dutifully made her way to the gym on a regular basis. But after a while, she lost interest. As she tells it, “I was on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and became bored after about 3.5. I had a great playlist, but my mind kept asking, ‘Are we done yet?’ So instead of the run being fun, it became more an endurance test of will.”

I told her what I suggested to you: that she “chunk down” her personal fitness goal.

Why does that work?

“Chunking down” involves breaking down a large project into component parts. When we focus only on the next incremental goal we can go much longer than when our whole focus is on the challenges of the larger goal far in the distance.

For example:

  • If you want to do planks for 1.5 minutes at a stretch, consider counting off in 15-second intervals. You can make it to the next 15 seconds. And the next.
  • Marathoners often don’t think of running a marathon; they think of running 1 mile … 26 times.
  • Instead of bench pressing for 3 sets of 15 reps, count off 5 reps at a time.

By breaking down your goal into manageable chunks, you’re able to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching the mini-goals. And that can fuel the fire to get you to the next mini-goal … and ultimately to the larger goal.

So the next time you’re tempted to avoid the gym because it all seems too overwhelming, think about chunking down your personal fitness goals. When you can see yourself accomplishing the individual steps, you’re more likely to reach your targets and enjoy the process of getting there.

If you’d like to get started with a personal fitness trainer to help you meet your fitness goals, contact us at Joe Carr Personal Training!

Q.: Can I exercise right after eating?

A.: I’m tempted to say that you should wait an hour after having a tunafish sandwich . . . but it really depends. It depends on how much you eat, how vigorously you plan to exercise, and how quickly your metabolism works. In short, you need to really know your body.

Some people feel more comfortable on a full stomach than others. Some have better blood metabolism than others. Suffice it to say, though, that if you’ve gorged yourself to the point of nausea, that’s not the time to pump more iron than Arnold Schwartzenegger would.

If you don’t know how to read your body’s signals, it’s wise to avoid high-intensity activity right after eating. That said, going for a light walk is usually fine—and can help enhance the digestive process.

Whatever you eat, though, do NOT exercise right after drinking alcoholic beverages.

Waiting to Exhale? Don’t.

Never underestimate the power of exhaling. Learning to breathe correctly while you’re training is essential. Because carbon dioxide in the system is what causes the muscles to fatigue. You get rid of carbon dioxide by exhaling. So the more carbon dioxide you’re able to exhale out of your system, the longer it will take for the muscles to fatigue. Yes, they’ll fatigue sooner or later if you keep exercising—no question. But it will take longer and longer to fatigue the more carbon dioxide you get out of your system.

So technically, it’s more important to exhale than it is to inhale . . . but we have to do both. 🙂



Q.: Should I work out every day?

A.: No. The body needs to rest and recover so it can get stronger. When you work out all the time, you’re not giving your body the time it needs to recover and strengthen itself.

Now, to be clear, you can do cardio exercise on the days you’re not training. (General cardio doesn’t “count” as “training” the leg muscles.) But you need to take time in between your workouts . . . or not strength train the same muscles every day. Better yet, try to take one full day off per week.


Q.: What is the biggest mistake people make in gyms?

A.:  Lifting too heavy.

You see it all the time in the gym—for example, guys on a bench (yes, it’s usually men) grunting away doing chest presses, with their back highly arched so that their feet and shoulders can help the pectoral muscles push the weight up. They may think their showing off and being cool, but they’re actually causing potential long-term damage. They’re “leveraging”: using other body parts to assist a particular muscle to do its work.

Here’s the problem with leveraging. First, the more assistance you get from another body part, the less the muscle that needs to do the work gets used. So with chest presses, your pecs are underworked, but there’s increased (and unnecessary) strain on your neck and shoulders. Definitely not the workout you want, and you won’t see the results you want from it. [Hint: put your feet on the bench so that your back is flat—that will force you to focus on using the pecs, and just the pecs, to do the chest press. Try it! You’ll notice the difference right away.]

The second (and more devastating) problem with “leveraging” is that you’re not just having an adverse impact on your muscles. Your joints come into play. Muscles can get stronger. Joints, however, don’t. In fact, they get weaker. So when you’re 22 and think you’re Superman lifting all that weight, the truth is that you’re doing damage to the joints—damage that can’t easily be repaired as you age.

Here’s a YouTube example of how NOT to weight train:

Q.: Why should women lift weights?

A.: Talk to me about the benefits of weight training for women as it pertains to bone loss and osteoporosis.

Strength training—weight training/resistance training–is a vital part of any overall fitness program. But it has special benefits for women. Osteoporosis (decrease of bone mass) is a major cause of disability among women, especially those over 50. Studies have shown that strength training can help you develop strong bones. In particular, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. In turn, you’ll be rewarded with a reduced risk of spinal problems and broken bones.

It’s never too late to start!

If you’d like to get started with a personal fitness trainer, contact us at Joe Carr Personal Training!


Q.:  I’m a woman.  If I weight train, will I get big?

A.: Women frequently express concern about weight training.  They’ll say, “I don’t want to become a hulking big freak.  Will that happen with weight training?”

For the most part, NO. Helping a woman get stronger through weight training will not get them appreciably bigger.  If they’re “body-building big”—like Arnold-Schwarzenegger-as-Mr.-Olympia big—that’s the result of abnormally high amounts of testosterone in a woman’s system . . . which, more often than not, got there through supplements or steroids.



Q.: What’s Joe Carr’s “8½ Theory” of Fitness Training?

A.:  You want your workouts with a personal trainer to be challenging. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, they should be not too hard, but not too easy. Ideally, your fitness trainer will motivate and test you without overwhelming you.

I call it my “8½ Theory”. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “I haven’t a molecule of energy left in my body,” my goal is to for clients to hit an 8½ in terms of physical exertion. When a client finishes a set, I’ll ask for a rating. If they tell me, “It was a 7,” I know to increase the difficulty for the next set. If they tell me “It was a 9,” I know to decrease it. Eight to 8½ is a real good place to be.


If you’d like to get started with an experienced personal fitness trainer, contact us at Joe Carr Personal Training!

Q.: Where do trainers get their training qualifications?

A.: In addition to strong certifications, good personal trainers have an athletic background.

Look at it this way. I love my wife. As a lawyer, though, she’s been a “desk jockey” her whole career. If she suddenly decided to leave law and become a personal trainer, sure . . . she’d probably ace all the exams (she’s brilliant when it comes to studying). But would she have had the real-world experience of both coaching people and being coached that she needs to have the fullest perspective as a trainer? No.

Take a good look at the life experience your personal trainer has had when it comes to athletics and fitness. Has he or she:

  • Competed on athletic teams?
  • Had a long-standing commitment to his/her own physical fitness (no one wants a fat trainer!)
  • Coached sports teams or groups?
  • Been involved in fitness internships?

If you’d like to get started with an experienced personal fitness trainer, contact us at Joe Carr Personal Training!


Q.: What should I know about a fitness trainer’s qualifications?

A.: There are a lot of options nowadays for working with personal trainers. Fitness trainers may work:

  • As employees of a chain of gyms
  • By training private clients in private training gyms (like we do at Boss Gym)
  • With private clients in the fitness facilities in their buildings
  • In people’s apartments, with or without fitness equipment
  • Group bootcamp sessions in the park

But what do you really know about them? And how do you know that they know their stuff? In a word, ask.

Make sure you ask about their qualifications. At the very least, you’ll want your personal trainer to be certified with one of the top accredited personal training certifications. These include:
• NASM—National Academy of Sports Medicine
• NCSF—National Council on Strength and Fitness
• ACSM—American College of Sports Medicine
• NFPT—National Federation of Personal Trainers
• ACE—American Council on Exercise

If you have special needs or concerns, such as age, disability, injury, or pregnancy, you’ll want to ask if your personal trainer has gone to college or done any advanced studies in what’s known as “special populations.” A college degree in exercise physiology, kinesiology, anatomy, or related subjects is a definite plus!

If you’d like to get started with a qualified personal fitness trainer, contact us at Joe Carr Personal Training!

Contact Joe Carr Personal Training:

joecarr11@yahoo.com or (917) 207-0902

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