Muscle & Fitness Hers

Ask the Editor

Ask the Editor

Q. Which foods are the best for getting great abs? — Sarah Whittaker, Grove City, PA

A. This is a great question with one simple answer: There is no single food that will help you reduce body fat. It’s true that certain foods (such as cayenne pepper and coffee) are known to speed up your metabolism slightly, while others (like lemons and dandelion root) can help you retain less water. But along with training hard, great abs come from simply keeping your calories-burned-to-calories-consumed ratio low. Abs are made in the kitchen, but it’s more about when you eat, how you prepare your meals, and the whole daily picture of eating, training, burning, and sleeping that really get you the results you want.

Q. What workouts help build stability? — Luana Castaneda, via Facebook 

A. Stability exercises are designed to help support your entire body through all phases of movement. They focus on core, hip, and shoulder engagement, plus stability and balance. There’s no need to devote an entire workout to stabilization, though—instead, try to incorporate movements throughout your routine. For example, do shoulder presses and/or raises while standing on one leg, or perform single-arm dumbbell chest presses lying on a stability ball instead of a bench. You can also try standing on a Bosu (round-side up) while doing biceps curls or triceps kickbacks, or lift one arm or leg while doing planks. Adding in just a couple of these stability movements will go a long way toward keeping your core, shoulders, and entire body working more efficiently.

Q. Why does my physique seem to get softer around my period? — Serena Hall, Phoenix, AZ 

A. Much of the reason our physiques get a little softer during our monthly cycles is because our bodies tend to increase water retention. A few adjustments can help. For one, stay off the scale! Weight gain here is likely only water, and it will go away soon. Next, up your cardio by about five minutes for each session. Try to choose foods lower in sodium to avoid bloating, and minimize caffeine while drinking more water. Foods that are high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, broccoli, peppers, and melon, can also help reduce bloat. And remember: Your body’s not experiencing any permanent changes, so be patient. You’ll be back to where you want to be in just a few days.

Q. How can I get rid of my saddlebags? — Stevie Magnuson, McPherson, KS

A. Reducing any body fat in any particular area is difficult—we know that to minimize belly fat, you can do 1,000 situps a day to no avail. You can lunge for a mile to try targeting fat in your glutes with limited results. The same goes for those so-called “saddlebags.” Only doing consistent cardio (30–60 minutes, 4–5 days a week) and eating mindfully will help you reduce body fat. But to target and shape the underlying muscles of the legs and glutes, invest in a pair of five-pound ankle weights. Then try this routine three times a week after doing your cardio:

> Standing leg lifts: 25 reps per leg, four sets total (with five-pound ankle weights)

> Side-lying leg lifts: 25 reps per leg, four sets total (no weights)

 

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