For most people, winter means hibernation—curling up under the covers, wearing bulky clothing and eating comfort foods.
But resignation to waistline expansion is not mandatory; in fact, these dark and dreary months are the perfect time to build your bikini body.
"The end of the year can be very challenging as everybody gathers to celebrate the holidays," says 2017 Bikini Olympia Champion and GAT-sponsored athlete Angelica Teixeira. "But if you want to look good in the summer, you have to start the hard work in the winter."
Eat More, Build Muscle
Teixeira takes advantage of the down-time and extra calories she consumes during the winter months by focusing on adding new lean mass. "My body fat does go up a little bit," explains Teixeira, "but I make sure my weight stays 5 to 10 pounds over my stage weight."
Shifting her attention toward building muscle allows Teixeira to loosen up her macros during the winter season but keeps her purposefully geared toward growth and development, which is much healthier and easier on the body and the mind.
Bumping up her caloric intake off-season in the name of adding muscle means Teixeira can enjoy the holidays but still stay on track. "I keep eating 5 to 6 meals per day as I do on-season, but I'll include some additional carbs and healthy fats, as well as fruit once a day," she says.
Her favorite muscle-building extras include rice cakes, sweet potatoes, yucca, oatmeal, popcorn, peanut butter, coconut oil, and papaya.
With holiday treats, Teixeira's approach is balanced: "I don't avoid them, I just don't overdo it," she says. "I have a small bit of each food I want, then I use those extra calories as fuel to build a better physique. I lift heavier weights for fewer reps to add muscle size. That way when I start cutting for a show, my muscles are fuller and more rounded."
It may be tempting to let the cold weather keep you snugly indoors, but now is the best time to establish a consistent gym routine. The days are shorter, there are fewer distractions, and—let's be honest—Netflix will be there waiting for you when you return.
During the winter, Teixeira hits the gym five to six days per week. For each body part, she does 3 sets (10 to 12 reps apiece) of five to six exercises using heavy weight. This helps her build much-needed muscle to improve her metabolic efficiency and her stageworthy silhouette.
Since she is focused on building rather than shredding, Teixeira only does 20 minutes of low-intensity cardio each day after training. For example, she walks on the treadmill at an incline or chooses a moderate pace on the elliptical or Arc trainer. This supports heart health, flushes metabolic waste products, and burns a few extra calories.
"If I have a cheat meal, I will add in an extra cardio session," she admits. "It will usually be fasted cardio first thing in the morning to burn those extra calories, or if I had a huge cheat I may even do my workout fasted. I also make sure I eat clean the next day to detox my body."
Angelica Teixeira's Off-Season Workout Schedule
- Monday: Glutes
- Tuesday: Shoulders and Abs
- Wednesday: Hamstrings and Legs
- Thursday: Back and Biceps
- Friday: Glutes and Hamstrings
- Saturday: Chest, Triceps and Abs
- Sunday: Rest
Note: Teixeira does 20 minutes of cardio six days a week after strength training.
Pump Up With Products
Adding muscle means an increased demand for protein, so in addition to eating plenty of egg whites, chicken, lean meat, and fish, Teixeira also likes to supplement with whey protein and BCAAs to ensure her body has plenty of raw material to work with.
"I use GAT Whey Protein to feed the muscle fibers for growth, and GAT BCAAs to increase gains and recover faster after training," she says. "I take one scoop of the whey after training and another scoop either in the morning or before bed each day. And I take one scoop of BCAAs before training and another after training."
To help energize her on even the dreariest of days, Teixeira relies on pre-workout supplements, pointing out that the more stamina you have the longer and harder you'll be able to train. "I use GAT PMP and Nitraflex to increase my strength and keep me focused in the gym," she says. When she feels like she wants to shed a little extra weight, she'll throw in some L-carnitine to stoke her fat-burning furnace.
When it comes to motivation, Teixeira recommends taking weekly pictures of yourself in a bikini. She has a very simple explanation for offering this tip: "Taking weekly pictures allows you to track your progress and see what you need to work on...when I notice changes in the pictures I don't like, I work even harder at the gym and follow a clean diet until I see that my body is making the changes I want."
If you need a little extra assistance to stay the course, Teixeira suggests enlisting a second set of eyes. "Some of us feel extra motivated when we know someone is watching us and expecting results," she says. "For these people, hiring a coach or trainer is a great idea."
A quality coach can also put together a winter program that works for you rather than against you during these colder months. By monitoring your progress and taking advantage of someone else's guidance, you'll be that much closer to being in bikini shape when spring rolls back around.
"As a bikini competitor, it is important to build a symmetrical and balanced physique," says Teixeira. "It is also important to work the whole body, not just certain body parts. But as a Brazilian, of course my favorite body part to work on is the glutes! This is my favorite workout to do for that body part."
It's a Lifestyle—Live It!
Let's face it—there is no reason to use winter as an excuse. "When you live a healthy lifestyle, it doesn't matter what time of year it is," says Teixeira. "Find a diet and workout plan that works for you, because it is possible to enjoy your diet and your life and stay in shape over the winter."
No matter what time of year it is, stay positive. "Allow your body to show you the changes it can achieve," she says. "Start tomorrow and keep it going through the whole year. Next winter it will be a part of your lifestyle already, something that you can't live without!"