It's summer time, and one of the things on all of our minds is looking great. Carving out that well earned physique for the beach.
It's time for the months of grinding through the cold whether to show!
I talk to a lot of people in my gym, and all of them give varying advice, from "cut your carbs" to "keep your carbs the same but increase your cardio".
It's hard to say for any individual what actually works, we are all so different, so to expect what has worked well for someone else to work exactly the same for you is completely naive. We should be looking and learning from others, of course, but tailoring that knowledge to fit our own body compositions.
But form reading around and talking to various people, I have decided on a few main principles than seem to be very consistent, by which I mean that no matter who I speak to these points are mentioned time and time again.
I was talking to a long time gym goer who's now in his 50's, he's been training for years, and still has a physique to admire. I said to him, I want to make more gains and loose some fat, he replied "how many times do you train per week" I said "6 or 7" he replied "thats too much, your natural which means your body is crying out for time to repair itself, so too wake up early, go to work and then train, every day, your not giving it the time it needs to recover" I thought he had a great point so I went home and researched, because I wanted to know the scientific reasons behind this theory, aside from his experience. Of course, the ultimate form of rest is sleep, so by not going to the gym on a particular day, your able to achieve everything you would do normally, but also gain another 2 hours of sleep, taking you from maybe 6 hours sleep to the golden 8 hours.
A study conducted by the NHS showed that...
"People who reported sleeping between six and seven or between seven and eight hours daily at the start of the study were more likely to lose at least 4.5kg than those who slept six hours or less or eight hours or more."
As for muscle building, its obvious that when we rest our muscles are given the chance to repair and grow... So after this conversation, I have adopted this method and have started taking one rest day in the middle of the week and one at the end of the week, but training a 2 body part split in the form of push pull... so for example. Day 1: Push (Chest and Shoulders) Day 2: Pull (Back and Arms) Day 3: Legs. Rest on day 4. and then start again on Day 5.
I'm sure you've heard of the age old saying in fitness, "its 70% diet and 30% gym" well at least thats what I have been told for as long as i can remember. And if you haven't heard that, then another is "you cant out-train a bad diet" which I believe to be 100% true. Although some people have the best genetics in the world and are able to eat rubbish day in day out and still stay lean, even those people could achieve a lot more if they sorted out their diet.
It's one thing to go in the gym and work hard, but to then go home and eat chocolate and crisps just completely undoes all the effort you have just put in.
This is where I truly believe that no matter what your goal you need to be prepared. "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail"
How can you expect to stick to a diet if you don't make preparations ?
You MUST MUST MUST have meals to eat on demand, wherever whenever. For example, immediately after the gym, you've got to have your post workout meal ready to go, otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where its just to easy to snack on something, and thats no good.
They of course need to be tasty so use our seasonings to shake things up...
Read our Meal Prep Blog for more ideas.
Finally on this point, very simply, to loose weight, you have to be in a caloric deficit, put simply, burn more calories than you take in, by doing so, you will not put weight on... simple right ?
3. Fill Up on Greens
“Add two fistfuls of green veg to every meal,” says Precision Nutrition's Brian St-Pierre, by doing this you'll make yourself feel full because they are so nutrient dense without having a high fat content.
4. Low-to-Moderate Cardio
This one goes back to touch on a point I made in point 2... The Caloric Deficit.
One way to achieve this is too do more cardio activity. Low-to-moderate aerobic activity, maintaining a heart rate of around 70% meaning you will directly burn fat as opposed to burning total calories. This means that in theory you'll be able to burn off the fat without losing all that muscle mass.
5. Supersets and Dropsets
If you've never done and intense set of supersets or drop sets, then you wont realise how hard they are. They are intense on the muscles, intense on the mind and intense for your cardio and muscular conditioning.
A very experience trainer in my gym told me that perhaps the best way to keep the intensity of a workout high is to throw in loads of supersets and drop sets. Personally, I have found that has worked VERY VERY well for me. They have allowed me to keep getting stronger while conditioning my muscles and whats more, I make sure I work to an intensity that keeps my heat rate at about 70% so yes, you guessed it, burning fat and building muscle.
6. Lift Heavy
This I believe to be one of the most important rules when it comes to not only burning fat but holding onto all that muscle. While this rule may not be directly related to burning fat, I really do feel that it must be mentioned...
The concept is very simple, and it's so true.
I'm sure you've heard people say, "if you want to burn fat and tone up, just lift lighter weight but do more reps" This, I believe to be absolute rubbish.
Think about it... why are your muscles there ? Well, in gym terms they are there to lift stuff, heavy stuff. Now answer this question... What reason do your muscles have to hang around if your not lifting heavy weight ? Yep, you guessed it, they have no reason at all, so you need to give them one. Your muscles have increased in size because they NEEDED TO, you've been increasing your weight as you get stronger and as a result your muscles are growing to keep up, so you need to make sure they keep the reason to stay... The only way to give them that reason is too put as much weight on that bar, or that machine as you can lift. (Responsibly of course), and this doesn't mean train like a power lifter, it means just train hard, lift as heavy as you can for as many reps as you can, every set! Only then will your muscles find a reason to stay... I have been told just to make sure I get more than 10 reps per set, a weight that is too heavy and causes you to do less could draw into power lifting, which we don't want for fat burning and aesthetics.
In summary, if your able to apply all of the above things too your life in and out of the gym then I'm confident that you'll see some fat loss. It's working for me, so hopefully it can work for you as well.