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One of the most famous sets of abs on Instagram has offered Bodybuilding.com her advice on the most effective ways to lose fat and carve out a chiseled torso of your own.
Kyla “Lean Queen” Ford may be just 20-years-old, but the baby bodybuilder has risen to social media fame for her enviable midsection and generally low percentage of body fat.
The MusclePharm Athlete recently spoke to Bodybuilding.com and gave eight professional tips on how you can also build a body worth strutting this summer.
1. A Gallon A Day Keeps Fat Away
Hydration is a fundamental component in bodybuilding, aimed at replenishing the reserves of a resource that accounts for roughly 60% of a man’s body, and 55% of a woman’s.
According to Ford, a little less than a gallon of water per day is the recommended amount, while it’s best to structure this intake before, during, and after your biggest meals:
Drink at least 4 liters of water daily. Water flushes out your system, keeps you feeling full longer, and ensures that you don’t suffer from a dehydration-related reduction in performance.
2. Workout, Thy Name Is Intensity
A relatively obvious tip, but one that people tend to neglect all the same: exercise intensity.
While we may not agree completely with Ford’s advice to “leave every workout winded”—some studies even suggest training to failure can be counter-productive—it’s true that training with more intensity is generally the optimal route.
The meaning of intensity can often be misconstrued, and some people may think they’re the bee’s knees for completing a three-hour session in the gym, but what have you done in that time?
Depending on work rate, you’d probably get just as much done in a 30-minute circuit with minimal rest, where you at least know you’re going balls to the wall (not literally, ladies).
3. Quick & Easy Cardio
Just as you would look to be as efficient as possible with your time spent lifting weights, the same applies to cardio, and Ms. Ford reinforces the notion this is about quality, not quantity.
High-intensity interval training can be far more advantageous than steady-state cardio, because it revs up your metabolism and elevates your body’s ability to burn fat long after the workout ends.
Exercises such as sprints and rowing not only involve more muscle groups than, say, jogging or incline walking, but also make you expend energy more quickly—provided you’re performing them with sufficient intensity.
While low-intensity cardio may be effective while training for a marathon, shorter but more intense cardiovascular exercises are more beneficial to building the kind of physique most of us are after.
4. Whole Foods Are Queen
The supplement industry has many of under the impression that whey protein and energy bars trump all when it comes to nutrition, but whole foods can never be replaced in that regard.
Ford recommends staying away from processed foods (duh) and says whole foods provide an optimal source of dietary fiber, vital for digestion and staying fuller for longer.
Need inspiration? Some of the former cheerleader’s favorites include green vegetables, leafy greens, beans, oats, and brown rice.
5. Protein Peak
All this talk of leaves and green things brings us neatly to the next step to Lean Central: protein.
One lean source of protein per meal is Ford’s recommendation, although that could prove a little excessive—not to mention costly—for those of you out there who are eating up to or more than six meals a day.
Those hoping to get lean may start to think the fewer calories, the better, but protein helps preserve muscle mass so that when your caloric intake eventually does dial down, there’s a rippling frame underneath just waiting to be unleashed.
The tried-and-tested “one gram of protein per pound of body weight” rule is still reliable.
6. Fat Fuel
Eating fat does not mean getting fat, a concept many in the fitness world still struggle to wrap their heads around.
If you’re eating an excess—remember, anything is bad in excess—of carbohydrates AND fats, then you’re asking to put on unwanted weight, but some fats, particularly the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are “critical,” as Ford puts it.
You can get your fill of healthier fats from a host of sources, too, as Ford lists fish, shellfish, flax, chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Happy dieting!
7. Be A Sleeping Beauty
The obsessive among us will often see sleep as the one thing that can be sacrificed in order to reach our bodybuilding goals, but the fact is rest and relaxation is a fundamental part of recovery and repair.
Imagine it like this: If you somehow had a super-caffeine tablet that could keep you awake for the rest of your life, you could work out 24 hours a day, but the lack of sleep would be extremely detrimental to your body.
Strive the best you can to get eight hours of sleep per night, Ford says, along with some very helpful tricks on how to get the rest you need:
Keeping your bedroom cool, dimming bright lights at least an hour before bed and turning off all electronics can help you fall into a deeper sleep faster, promoting better recovery.
8. Respect The Rest
As someone who once went through a very unhealthy eight-month period of working out twice per day and averaging four hours of sleep per night, the need for proper rest days cannot be stressed enough.
Less can very well prove to be more, in fitness as much as any other sector of your life, and is a crucial part of being consistent in the way you eat, sleep, and train.
Dedicating one or two days to rest every week will help force you to attain maximum intensity on the days you do train, as well as promote the understanding that it’s okay to be less than 100% some days.
That’s without mentioning the fact it’s important to maintain a positive social life away from the gym, giving yourself a chance to switch off thoughts about the iron and enjoy a sweat-free life for a while.
Follow Kyla Ford on Instagram: @theleanqueen.