My feet get sore when I use the leg press. Why does that happen, and what should I do to prevent it? —MIKE C., BOISE, ID
Pushing through the toes—a mistake that I see many of my clients make—is a possible cause of soreness since it engages the plantar flexor muscles that attach to the bones in the arches of your feet. Flat feet could also be a cause. If your arches are fallen, they can put additional stress on your bones, ligaments, fascia, and plantar flexor muscles.
4 Tips for Sore Feet:
Push through with your heels.
Train calves two to three times a week to make sure the supporting muscles and tendons are strong.
Roll a tennis ball under your arches, and stretch your calves daily.
Get inserts for your shoes.
—CHRIS FINLEY, C.P.T., is an ACSM-certified personal trainer.
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My back hurts when I squat. What am I doing wrong? —DYLAN K., FORT COLLINS, CO
In addition to not using proper form—knees tracking over your toes, chest up, and head straight—you may not be bracing your core. Imagine someone is punching you in the stomach. This sensation can help you remember how to tighten your core so your legs are lifting the weight without putting stress on your back.
—JULIA LADEWSKI, C.S.C.S., is a strength and fitness coach in Highland, IN.
Creatine has been shown to be more effective when taken cyclically, as your muscles have a saturation threshold. Combine 5 grams of creatine with 93g of simple carbs post-workout, taking three additional 5g doses per day for five days. Take one week off before repeating the process. This may increase creatine levels by as much as 60% more than creatine alone, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
—TOBY AMIDOR, R.D., is a nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen.
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What are some ways I can help keep my appetite in check? —SAM S., MIAMI, FL
For starters, eat a healthy and filling breakfast—a few eggs with avocado on a piece of sprouted grain toast, or steel-cut oatmeal with a tablespoon of nut butter topped with berries or bananas are both good options. Additionally, studies from 2011 and 2014 that were published in Nutrition Journal found that protein-rich snacking may control appetite; try noshing on snacks like string cheese, fruit, vegetables, lean protein, or nuts, which help you feel full and assist with weight loss. Also, aim for 16 ounces of water with each meal, and continue to sip throughout the day.
—JIM WHITE, R.D., A.C.S.M., is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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Lean & Mean
Is fasted cardio really more effective? —JOE Y., DALLAS, TX
First, it’s important to note that gaining or losing weight is a matter of energy intake. That being said, performing 30 to 60 minutes of fasted cardio early in the morning can tap into your fat stores more effectively, as your body burns fat for fuel when you sleep as opposed to carbs. Fasted cardio continues this process. According to a study from the British Journal of Nutrition, a fasted control group who performed cardio on an empty stomach burned 20% more fat than they did when they ate prior to cardio.
—NGO OKAFOR is the fitness director for Clay Health Club + Spa in New York City.