I don't pretend that this is an article of unbelievable scientific breakthroughs. These are merely a conglomerate of ideas and guidelines I've come to believe are keys to my success each summer. All of these ideas have been regurgitated, along with others, for years.
What I have done is write them down again with my thoughts and notes from years of actual experience sewn in. These are the guidelines that work and continue to work for me.
1. Cardio Timing:
Cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is best. Another good time would be anytime that your glycogen levels are somewhat depleted. However effective this might be for burning fat, there is also potential for muscle loss.
2. Night Time Eating:
Always eat before bed, but definitely keep carbohydrate intake to a minimum. A good meal would be a baked chicken breast with a fistful of nuts and then a source of fiber, such as fibrous veggies.
3. No Cardio Before Strength Training:
Do not do cardio before strength-training. On a hard cut or any calorie-restricted diet, glycogen levels are low to begin with, so any source of energy should be saved for the strength-training session.
4. Lift Heavy:
Do not stop lifting heavy. Never quite understood where the notion of lifting light for higher reps came from, but it is definitely not something I'd recommend.
Why change from a routine that has consistently helped muscle grow (heavy weights/low reps) to something fancy (high reps/low weight/high volume)? I don't quite understand that. Strength and muscle are things you lose when you don't use them. And you are using neither to optimum standards when you resort to high volume / high rep training.
5. Stick To The Big Three:
Do not stray away from the core lifts, and incessantly obsess over abdominal work. The big three (squat, bench, deadlift), or variables of each, should still comprise of the bulk of your lifts. They should be where a majority of your energy is spent each day strength-training in the gym. Abdominal work will unlikely yield additional benefits other than the few calories burnt from relentlessly doing crunches and variations of it.
6. Use Traing That Is Conducive To your Goals:
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL|
Use each style of training that is MOST CONDUCIVE to the goal at hand. In other words, do not use weight training to burn calories, and do not use cardio to build muscle. It makes me wonder sometimes watching people rest 30 seconds in between sets. They tell me they minimize rest to increase heart rate.
I'm sorry, but no matter how little you rest in between a set of bicep curls, it is unlikely to raise your heart rate above the average heart rate in comparison to... say... 1 minute of sprinting. Why? Because when you rest so little, lactic acid build up would have put a stop to your set long before the increase in heart rate makes it uncomfortable to continue.
I also see people cranking the cardio machines to very high levels of resistance. When I ask why they are doing this, they tell me they are "toning" up their legs. Again, to me that's rubbish. A mile done on a super hard level is like doing a set of super high rep squats.
How many people build legs with rep schemes of 50-100 reps? Few, correct? So if we do low rep squats with lots of power to build legs, what would lead us to believe that a mile done on a high-level resistance on any cardio machine would help us more than 3 sets of pyramid-up squats?
7. Don't Use Too Mnay Fat Burning Products:
Do NOT buy into using too many fat burning products. Stick with some good ones and do not eagerly add too many ingredients to an already "confused" body. I see people switching products back and forth; trying different things without letting one or two potent products perform their jobs with any significant time allowance.
Pick one, have faith in it, stick to it, and work hard in other areas so the product does what it was intended to do: SUPPORT your fat loss efforts. To this end, I've only used RED ACID (Controlled Labs) and HEAT (Avant Labs). Both have never failed me and I've seen no need to switch. Another few potent ingredients I have in my fat-burning arsenal are:
Read up on everything to get a better understanding.
8. Patience Is A Virtue:
Burning fat takes time. It takes practice. It takes experience. And finally, it takes heart. It is no easy task confining your stomach to hundreds of calories less than what it has become accustomed to; it is also quite a task to convince your body, any body, to start shedding the fat storage it has spent so long building up.
If you spent the last 3 months bulking, expect it to take about 3 months to shed the fat you have put on. Do not get so frustrated that you continuously question your efforts and desires. Have faith.
9. Do NOT Drop Calories By The Bunches:
If you are used to 3500 calories per day to maintain your body weight, do not drop it by 1000 on day one to start losing fat. This is common sense but it still surprises me when people do this type of stuff.
Metabolism level is so precious to a bodybuilder. Never risk letting it drop fast, or you will soon find yourself in a corner. Imagine this, going from 3500 to 2500, the fat comes off fast. Then you hit a plateau. Now what? Drop another 1000?!?
10. Moderate Your Diet:
Do NOT expect fat loss to continue unless you continue to manipulate and moderate your diet with the vision of a hawk. People get upset when their diets stop working. They wonder why it came off so fast and then stopped dead in its tracks. I ask if they've made further changes to their diet after the plateau and they look at me like a deer staring at the headlights.
Most people started dieting too dramatically to have any wiggle room when the plateaus come. Remember this:
resources necessary to get the ball rolling."
Doing so takes intelligence and planning. Think of it this way: would I rather start losing fat by giving up 200 calories of my favorite food, or by dropping 1000 calories and also starting a ridiculously difficult cardio regimen? Thank you!
11. Avoid Yo-Yo Diets:
Do NOT start bulking again as soon as you reach a desired body fat percentage. This is something I never understood either. Why oh why, after spending so much time torturing yourself with nasty foods, would you start bulking again? Yo-Yo diets are bad signs of things to come; please resist the temptation to go after that huge pizza the minute you reach 8% bf.
Let your body stay there for a while, start SLOWLY increasing calories so that your body learns to adapt. The body is a temple. Do NOT tear into it with reckless abandon.
12. Keep Your Health In Check:
A cutting diet usually involves a diet that compromises the immune system and leaves the body open to attacks from various illnesses. Keep the anti-oxidant intake high and don't forget your vitamins. Also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get them in your diet naturally.
13. Stay Active!
The more active you are, the higher your metabolism will be, and the less likely you are to abandon your diet. Simply cutting calories to lose fat is a terrible way to get in shape for the summer. Summer is a time to be outside, to explore, and to show the world results of your hard work. Don't become a sloth that can't walk up and down stairs without feeling light-headed or short-of-breath.