Last winter you told yourself that you'd look your best come summer, but the happy hours kept calling, work or school stood in the way, and numerous things sidelined your goals. Before you knew it, spring came, and you still thought time was on your side for ditching the spare tire. May arrived, and two words now describe your response: panic mode!
Never fear. Some of the Bodybuilding.com community's leanest and meanest have you covered. Stick it to body fat with these proven tips and techniques! These are real folks who have achieved real results. To learn more about them, simply go to their BodySpace profiles and check out their amazing, self-documented journey toward their physique goals.
Eat Clean, Eat Small, Eat Often
BodySpace user Jimmy Everett (Jeverett14) considers this headline his personal mantra. It translates into a daily practice of eating whole, non-processed meals that gets him about 80 percent full every couple of hours. This eating strategy helps most folks spread out the upsized number of calories from protein, carbs, and fat they must eat each day without feeling like they swallowed a 50-pound dumbbell.
Hovering between 5-8 percent body fat, Jimmy clearly thrives on eating multiple meals over the course of the day. The key to implementing this successfully is to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. This ensures that a nourishing snack or meal is never out of arm's reach when hunger strikes. Sure, you might have to put up with co-workers heckling you for eating rice and beans out of a plastic container, but they'll be the ones who look silly with their jaw agape when your results set in.
Keep Your Diet Natural
You'd better check yourself before you wreck your insides with foil-wrapped, processed junk masquerading as "all-natural" foods. Following up on the previous tip, Jimmy likes to "eat foods from Mother Earth." You need only to step outside during the warm summer months and meander through your local farmer's market, where it's open season on a cornucopia of fresh produce.
There's really no excuse to not be able to reap in the bountiful summer harvest of fresh fruits and veggies, so prioritize making most of your calories come from fresh produce, as well as whole foods like non-genetically modified raised eggs and meats. Buy local and in-season for the best prices and freshness.
Plus, all of these are naturally more satiating than those 100-calorie packs of biscuits you might see skinny-but-not-lean people nibbling on, and they're the perfect way to keep your fat loss goals zipping along.
Sprint Your Way Lean
You must think lean individuals spend all day and night handcuffed to the treadmill, but you can rest easy knowing you owe no debt to any cardio machines. Instead, sprint intervals on a track or uphill are shown to stimulate fat loss in half of the time.
"Not only can you get a killer workout in half the time, but you can also enjoy the weather outside," says Dave Dreas (Dredubb01). Dave recommends that you slowly ramp up the intensity and vary the distances to keep your body and mind fresh. Try not to do more than 2-3 interval sessions per week; these bursts of intense activity can be taxing on your central nervous system. You may want to start out with only 3-5 intervals per session the first couple times you try them to avoid injury.
Sure, maybe no amount of nagging and promises of fat loss could make a non-runner suddenly love running, even if they're short sprints. Luckily, you track-shunning exercisers can do intervals on the elliptical, rowing machine, or stationary bike, too.
Small Changes Can Make a Difference
Plateaus happen and, yes, they suck, but they're part of the process. Liven up languishing weight loss by changing your routine. I'm not suggesting anything drastic, but implementing new intensity techniques like supersets into your existing workouts, or switching from machines to more taxing barbell movements, can make a big difference.
Your body is an extremely adaptive machine, so difficult workouts will eventually become easy. Once that happens, those workouts won't be so metabolically taxing, and they won't drive your body to greater change. At that point, it's best to introduce new training techniques, consider adjusting your cardio from low to high intensity, and push your body out of its comfort zone.
"I'm a firm believer that the more you mix things up and try new workouts, the more your body will change," says Nick Opydo (Opydo25).
Fat Loss is a 24/7 Endeavor
The moment you sign up for a fat-loss campaign, you've made a daily commitment. Going to the gym and eating the right foods are a good start, but you should always be looking for little ways to get more activity in throughout the day. After all, the gym doesn't hold the sole rights to burning calories. You can do that anywhere! Things like fidgeting as much as you can, taking a two-minute stroll through the work office every hour, doing calf-raises at the check-out line, and bounding up the stairs all contribute to your daily calorie burn.
"Take advantage of the nice weather by biking, walking, or running to your destination whenever possible," says Cody Ivey (Codei88).
The more you consciously make an effort to burn extra calories, the higher the overall tally of exterminated calories will be at the end of the day. If you dedicate only one hour to activity in the gym but remain sedentary throughout the remainder of the day, you do your fat loss goals and your health a disservice. Get up and get moving, stat.
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