As a coach/trainer to athletes, bodybuilders, and all divisions of the physique sport, I try to not only have my clients be in great shape for shows, games or photo shoots, but all year around. In other words, I do my best to instill the discipline in all those I work with to continue to eat clean and do their cardio in the “off season,” so as to remain no more than 8-15 lbs. from “optimal” condition.
However, not everyone can be as dedicated as my clients 365 days per year. Most trainees prefer to bulk up more during the winter months and then begin to trim the fat around the start of spring, hoping to be in top shape when bathing suit season hits.
The following is a list of 10 “tips” and “tricks” that will assist you in more quickly and efficiently dropping your body fat into the single digits, so that when the summer arrives so will have your 6-pack.
Each week leading up to summer try pulling about 25 grams of carbs from your diet, while adding in about ten grams of protein. This will help the body better use fat for fuel, increase the thermic effect of food, maintain muscle, and assist in shedding excess water.
EMPTY STOMACH (AKA FASTED) CARDIO
While research is conflicting as to whether cardio is more effective done in the fasted state, I firmly believe this is the very best time to burn fat. I have seen it work on the hundreds of clients I have prepared for competition, and on myself as well.
Every morning, the first thing I do when I wake up is take a thermogenic fat burner, or at least 200 mg caffeine, and drink down about 10 grams of BCAA’s. Doing this before fasted cardio will not only increase the fat melting effect by raising the metabolism, but will also help keep muscle mass intact and give you the energy to power through your workout. FITSTRONG Supplements has a quality and effective line that can be used to achieve any fitness goal, including the summer shred. Use promo code Modern for 20% off your order!
SUPERSETS AND DROPSETS
When the main goal is dropping body fat it is a great idea to make your weight training sessions more intense via the use of supersets and dropsets. These techniques are not only terrific for stimulating muscle growth, but also will raise your heart rate, increase your metabolism, burn greater calories and push natural growth hormone through the roof!
If your goal is 60 minutes of cardio for the day, for example, you will have better results splitting that time between 2 or even 3 sessions than doing it all at once. You may wake up and do 30 minutes of cardio fasted, another 15 minutes post workout, and the final 15 before your final meal. This strategy will keep the metabolism elevated all day long, which turns you into a fat-burning machine.
You will burn a heck of a lot more calories, as well as stimulate greater levels of natural hormones that destroy body fat if you focus your workouts around compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bent rows, bench presses, pull-ups, etc., than machines or isolation movements.
SKIP CARBS AT BREAKFAST
In the morning, our cortisol levels are at their highest point (aside from right after training). Research shows that while cortisol breaks down muscle tissue, it is even more catabolic to fat cells upon rising. The longer you keep carbs out of your system the more profound the effect of cortisol will be, and it will make fasted cardio an even more powerful tool.
Some studies indicate that HIIT cardio is more effective at burning adipose than steady state, while others show the opposite. The truth is, both types of cardio work and thus both should be a part of your program. What I find greatly effective is breaking my cardio up, as suggested earlier, into a 30/15/15 scheme (if the goal is one hour daily) with the first session being steady state and the next two shorter ones HIIT.
While the notion of keeping your home a bit chilly is uncomfortable for some, this is actually an effective way to stimulate BAT, or brown adipose thermogenesis. Of course, using this practice is not going to melt away pounds of fat a day, but is just another way to take advantage of how the body works.
Lets face it…being in a calorie deficit, which is necessary for getting lean, is not always a walk in the park. There are times where your blood sugar will drop, your tummy will cave in, and you will be tempted to eat a giant bag of M&M’s for relief! However, the result in that case is certainly not very beneficial when the goal is 6-pack abs in a short time. I have found the best way to kill off hunger and bring energy back to normal is to consume a huge glass of cold water with 5-10 grams of powdered BCAA’s mixed in. Many companies put out flavors that taste almost like Kool-Aid so this is actually an enjoyable treat.