With summer just round the corner, it’s that time of year when everyone decides that they’re going to come off of their permabulk. They put it in their mind that this year will be their year that they get shredded and people are going to stand in awe of them as they take their top off at the beach. Unfortunately however, for a lot of people each year they say the same thing and, each year they are unsuccessful. But hopefully after reading this article you will have the understanding and motivation so that you’re the one gaining all the attention for that chiselled set of abs you worked so hard for.
First of all it’s not going to come as a surprise to most people when I say that most of your results are going to come from diet. It’s generally agreed that 70-80% of results come from how you manipulate your calories to suit you. That said, without putting 100% effort into both training and eating then your not going to get the results you so want. So without any further ado, these are my best tips to get you through your cutting cycle this summer and making sure you are the most shredded you have ever been:
Know What You’re Eating
Before you can manipulate calories, down your carbohydrate amount, up your protein, cut out sodium and all the technical stuff you first need to know exactly what you are putting into your body. Ever hear that person who says ‘it doesn’t matter how little I eat, I just can’t seem to lose weight’? Well there’s a reason for it, people have no idea how much their calorie intake is on a day to day basis. There are plenty of apps where you can scan the foods and how much you are eating so there is no excuse for not wanting to read labels.
By knowing and tracking how much your body is taking in, by looking in the mirror and using the scales you can work out how your body is reacting to different amounts of calories. If there’s a day that you eat 3,000 calories and you put on 2lbs overnight, then that’s pretty solid evidence that you are taking on too many calories. However it’s also worth noting that eating large amounts of carbohydrates will make your body hold more fluid, so don’t panic if your weight fluctuates on the scale from time to time.
Use the Mirror as Well as the Scale
This then leads me onto my next point. When shredding, some people lose their minds and panic when they don’t see what they want to on scales. Those magic set of numbers that rules peoples lives can become your worst enemy and a nightmare if you let it. Of course when your aiming to lose fat, you are also going to bring your weight down also, but the thing that matters is what you can see in the mirror. Starting to look more vascular and your abs are showing more but you’ve put 2lbs on? So what.
When you finish your cutting cycle and you want to show off your results, people don’t care what you weigh, they will comment on how far you have come and developed over the time you’ve been putting effort in. Even though it is mainly about losing body fat and looking better, a good guideline to follow is to try and lose 1 to 2lbs a week. That way you have some sort of cemented goal at the end of each week.
By losing 1 to 2 lbs each week, it will help ensure you keep that hard earned muscle you put on in the off season. If you lose weight too quickly it will sacrifice muscle as the body doesn’t care what it burns for energy, but you definitely should! The losses in weight won’t be linear; they will come in small spurts so by being patient and sticking by your plan the results will eventually come.
Don’t Throw the Kitchen Sink at it
Ever hear that patience is a virtue? It couldn’t be any truer when thinking about fat loss. It’s very easy to use every technique in the book from the very start to get all the results in the world as quick as possible. This in the long term could kill your progress. Diet, cardio, extra training sessions, fat burners are all small things that help with fat loss long term, but if you all of a sudden throw 6 sessions of cardio on top of 5 weight sessions a week with fat burners in the morning and afternoon, in between your 3 meals of a minute amount of chicken and rice then what do you do when you heat a plateau?
When you hit a plateau on fat loss, you can break through it in one of two ways. Either extra energy output from the body or a smaller intake of calories. By reducing 100 calories out of your diet a week, that will take 700 out of your weekly total and around 3100 out of your monthly total. Once you feel you don’t want to take any more calories away from your system, then it may be time to add 1-2 session of cardio in a week. By putting your body in an increasing amount of deficit of calories, you will give your body more of a reason to lose more fat.
Do things slowly, don’t race to get to your goal and try to enjoy the process, if you can. Introduce extra techniques slowly instead of overloading your body which could be detrimental to your motivation when fat loss stops early.
Get Away From the Baby Weights
If I had a pound for every time I heard ‘I want to tone up so I’m going to use low weights and high reps’ then I would be a very rich man. Because of the calorie deficit you are putting your body in to lose weight, it can be come increasingly difficult to stay strong. Couple this with going and just doing sets of 50 reps of your favourite ab crunch machine and you have a recipe for disaster. Stick to the basic compound exercises. Big lifts such as squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press and barbell row all have a large metabolic impact on the body. The larger the metabolic hit, the more calories burned, simple. Prioritise strength in your cycle, lift heavy as often as possible and keep hold of your muscle that you earned in your bulking season.
It’s been scientifically proven that weight sessions raise your metabolic rate more than a cardio session does. This is a great reason to train harder in your weight sessions before you start to think about adding those 20 minutes on the stair master into your workouts. Train bigger body parts too, training legs or back is going to burn more calories than an arms session ever could as the muscles need to use more energy to recover.
So there you have it, some of my best tips to get you lean this summer. You can have the best tips, best diet plan, best gym and workout plan but if you don’t follow them then you won’t get your results. You may be able to give 50% in other areas of life and get away with it, but unfortunately your body is far too smart to get away with it. Be consistent, eat well and train hard. Happy Shredding!
By Andrew Farrimond.
Shape Performance Ambassador