I have several questions, and they cover both workouts and nutrition, so I wasn't sure which of the forums would be best suited. I figured to just try my luck here, even though some of the questions are not specifically "bodybuilding and weight lifting" related.
I'll put them in simple list form:
1. How much time should I be spending in the gym? I am there four days a week, and while I work hard and don't mess around, I sometimes feel like it just didn't take long enough. On a good day, when I don't have to wait in line for a bench or a machine, I can be done with the weights within thirty-five minutes. (Legs usually take longer, and shoulders shorter.) I then spend fifteen to twenty minutes on a treadmill, but when it's all said and done, I start to worry when I'm out the door within an hour. Is it truly more about quality of time spent in the gym than quantity, or should I find a way to hang around a bit longer?
2. Is there any accurate way to estimate body fat percentage short of using a purpose-built machine or device for it? I don't have access to one of those nifty gadgets that they made us use in high school gym class, yet I'm curious about my body fat. And I take most online calculators with a grain of salt - though I was flattered to be told I have 7% body fat, I had to be a bit skeptical.
3. Is there any accurate way to estimate caloric needs? Again, the online calculators seem unreliable to me: even though I would love to treat myself to the 3500 calories that are apparently appropriate for someone my age, size, and activity level, I'd rather have an accurate measure than rely on such a clearly bloated number.
4. Is maintaining a caloric deficit enough to get cut? I really wish I didn't sound so vain in asking this question, but I will be honest: for me, gaining strength and size are secondary. I truly would just like to have more definition and less body fat. So I am tracking my calories and trying to keep well below what I'm burning, but beyond training, is there anything else I should be doing to reach my goal?
5. What's the role of cardio training? If I read ten articles about cardio, I'll get ten different opinions. It's frustrating. As it stands, I run two miles on the treadmill after every workout, and I try to keep a challenging pace - for me, it's about 7:30 to 8:00 per mile. Considering my goal to burn fat, would I be better served by running harder but shorter, or for a longer time at a slower pace? Or is cardio not useful to me at all?
I'm sure I'll think of more questions in the future. Thanks for reading my long-winded post.