Q: Which has the better fat-burning effect: jogging in the morning on an empty stomach or jogging post-workout (after lifting)?

A: When you wake up in the morning, your body is in a fasting state. This is a good time to do cardio because you can tap directly into your stored bodyfat, but I don’t believe it’s the safest or most efficient way to train. After approximately 30 minutes of jogging without eating something light first, the body starts to use muscle as an energy source, which can lead to dizziness, overexertion and dehydration. I recommend jogging after lifting weights because weight training is anaerobic by nature and therefore depletes muscle glycogen. That’s why a postlift jog has a similar effect on fat-burning as a morning jog on an empty stomach.


Q: At what point do you let a cold keep you from training?

A: Many workout enthusiasts wonder whether training affects the severity or duration of cold symptoms. Although research on the subject is limited, moderate exercise doesn’t appear to have any effect on the common cold. I generally use this simple rule of thumb: If your symptoms are above the neck and you have no fever, moderate exercise is probably safe. If you plan to train at a high intensity, I recommend waiting until a few days after the symptoms have dissipated. Remember to always listen to your body. If you feel like a day or two off would help you feel better and recover more quickly, don’t be afraid to take a temporary training hiatus.


Q: When I bench press, should I keep my elbows pointed out or in close to my sides?

A: On the standard bench press, your elbows should neither flare out nor be tucked in close to your sides. Ideally, your upper arms should form angles about 40-60 degrees to your torso. If your elbows are out too wide – say, at 90-degree angles to the torso – you’ll hit the pecs extremely hard but at the risk of your rotator cuffs’ health. If you tuck your elbows into your body at 20-30-degree angles, you place too much emphasis on your triceps and deltoids and not enough on your chest. If you want to specifically target your triceps, however, bench-pressing with your elbows in close to your sides is advisable, in which case you’ll also want to narrow your grip width for close-grip presses.

Jim Ryno, CPT, is owner of LIFT, a private personal-training facility in Ramsey, New Jersey (, and former trainer to professional athletes Herschel Walker (NFL), Ron Harper (NBA) and Tommy Maddox (NFL).