For those of us who don't reside in warm weather climates, the brighter mornings and longer days are the only thing we have to hold on to until this ferocious wave of winter makes its long awaited departure. So with summer slowly inching its way closer and closer, I thought this would be as good a time as any to get all my fellow muscle heads into shredded beast mode.
In order to do this with any sense of physical decency, we need to address the fundamentals in three specific segments - training, supplementation and lifestyle. Let's start with what you can do in the gym.
If you've done your winter homework, your strength and mass reserves should be peaking right about now. Put these behind you, and focus on the cuts. For the next 8 weeks, you'll need to tap into your fat stores. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, as we'll discuss throughout this article.
Weights First, Cardio Second:
It amazes me how many bodybuilders and casual training enthusiasts jump right into their cardio routine as a warm-up.
Now, this isn't to imply that a few minutes on the stationary will hurt you, but you need to remember that the energy you expel during this time will only reduce your ability to execute and complete the ultra-high rep endurance sets needed to facilitate the fat burning and toning process.
Instead of doing your cardio prior to working out, save it for after you've completed your entire workout. Not only will this increase your anaerobic potential, but it will also help you burn fat at a much greater rate of speed.
By the time you've finished your high rep sets, you will have already tapped into your glycogen supply for energy. This forces your body to use stored and brown fats as a primary and immediate source of fuel.
Do At Least One Set Of Centuries Per Major Muscle Group:
Unless you're content looking like some bloated beach mutant, your pre-summer conditioning should be all about the high reps. Clearly, one of the best ways to chisel up is to throw in at least one set of hundred-rep movements per major muscle group.
Aside from working many of the fast twitch fibers that rarely get used during your regular regimen, centuries serve as an excellent way to facilitate your body's natural thermogenic, metabolic and cardiovascular properties.
Go as low-weight as you have to in order to complete the ENTIRE set, and don't worry about who's watching you go ballistic on a set of 10 or 15 pound bells. Don't swing or jerk, and remember to keep your form controlled and fluid.
Each Workout, Add One New Move That You Never Do:
We all have our favorite exercises, and in light of that, we all equally have moves that we loathe. This is the time to do them! Muscle memory is one of the true culprits of high rep training, and it is vitally important to biologically confuse your system when trying to chisel away at any soft spots.
When you mix in super high rep movements that your body is not accustomed to executing, it opens up range of motion and literally forces muscle groups that you may have neglected for years to respond. And make no mistake; this adjustment does not have to come in the form of raw steel and cast iron plates.
Do Something As Soon As You Wake Up:
If your morning routine is similar to that of most Americans, you're screwed. So don't let it happen. The moment you rise, give yourself a quick breather to stretch and collect your thoughts, and then get a sweat going. Nothing insane, just a good 5 (or so) minutes of balls out energy-demanding cardio.
At this stage in the day, you will be operating be on zero calories, and this is unquestionably one of the best times to blast out a few minutes of cardio. Throw in a CD that puts you in the mood to destroy furniture (we all own one) and let the madness begin.
If you have access to an elliptical machine or stationary bike, great. If not, there's virutally no limit to what you can do to jumpstart the fat burning process - free kicks and punches, push ups, crunches, rope skipping, and others all work. The important thing is to break a sweat.
Regardless of what you've been taking over the past few months, this is the time to focus your energies on those that will help you lean out faster than you ever have. Coupled with the techniques listed above, the following products can get you on the road to ripped in plenty of time for that Memorial Day barbeque.
Fat burners may come and go, but Conjugated Linoleic Acid is still the undisputed king of fat burning. Aside from scouring the body for expendable fat stores and inhibiting the actions of lipoprotein lactase, CLA also helps spare lean muscle tissue from being catabolized, boosts immune system response, decreases insulin resistance and is non-stimulating.
It is one of the industry's most researched compounds, and has been shown to work remarkably in a number of human trials.
This amino acid-like compound has become legendary among endurance and fitness athletes based on its ability to target fat cells that are often extremely difficult to metabolize.
L-Carnitine works by shuttling medium and long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria region of the cell. Once there, they can be immediately converted into energy that you'll need to endure those arduous high-rep sessions. Carnitine has also been shown to expedite recovery by preventing and reducing post-workout lactic acid levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Though scores of people still refuse to believe it, your body MUST have an arsenal of good fat present in order to burn the fats that are prone to cellular storage. Omega-3s are vital to hundreds of processes within the body - many of which are closely associated with metabolic enzymes and hormones that help the body use fat for energy.
If you're taking CLA, don't eat your Omega-3s at the same time. They will compete against each other for absorption. Leave at least a 3 hour window when taking both.
That mad rush to carve off 10, 15 even 20 pounds of holiday flab can be stressful. And trust me, acute stress is the last thing you want when you're trying to rip up for summer. Dietary stress can have a devastating effect on the body's hormonal regulatory system, and when this happens, cortisol production can get out control.
Relora is a completely safe blend of plant extracts from Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense that works by attaching itself to the receptor sites of the body responsible for stress and anxiety. It's non-sedative, non-habit forming and very effective when taken as recommended by the manufacturer.
Green tea is jam packed with energy/metabolic/cardiovascular supporting compounds that work synergistically to encourage the normal process of using fat and calories for energy. Some of today's best formulas are high in polyphenols and catechins (such as EGCg) and many also serve as a natural source of caffeine for added thermogenic support.
Moreover, it's a great way to keep your heart healthy and studies have shown that green tea extracts may have health benefits that extend far beyond a trim physique.
The integrity of the American diet has been flushed down the toilet, not to mention the 600 million tons of fast food that we consumed in 2005 alone. If you eat fast and processed foods, keep in mind that your body was never designed to metabolize and digest these saturated, sodium loaded heart bombs.
And when you can't break down food, you can't truly utilize nutrients from meals. Taking that one further, many of the nutrients we get from food are used to fuel the metabolic system. Hopefully you can see where I'm going with this.
Enzymes are the chemical workforce of the body. When they're not there, everything slows to a crawl. To avoid the confusion, get in the habit of taking enzymes with your meals. They are incredibly, incredibly important.
Ok, so a multiple vitamin/mineral formula won't rip fat off your body. What it can do, however, is plug in the nutrient gaps that you don't get from your diet.
Like enzymes, many of the compounds in a high quality multiple are needed by the body not to burn fat, but rather to make sure that everything needed to burn fat is present. And in all honesty, this is the one supplement you should be taking every single day, without fault.
Getting your summer shred on, involves much more than pills, powders and punishing workouts. You need to change your mindset and day to day activities in order to hit your target goals.
Here are ten things you can put into action to help you realize your full potential.
- Get plenty of sleep each night.
- Don't overtrain.
- Be consistent in your diet and training.
- Ditch the beer.
- Eliminate all fast and processed foods.
- Visualize your results.
- Take your supplements at the same time each day.
- Do a digestive detox.
- Set realistic, clear cut goals (plan your work, and then work your plan).
- Have fun, and don't forget why you train in the first place.