If you are anything like me, you want to look good all year long. There are no few weeks where you want to look great, and then accept looking fat the rest of the year, nada. You want to look jacked all the time. If you had to take your shirt off then you could at any given time and feel proud of yourself. Yep, that is who this article is for! Here are a quick 10 tips to get you there and keep you there all year long.
#1 – Never stop doing bodyweight exercises
Although I don't strictly do them, I always incorporate them at times in my routines. I never completely get away from them. Think about everyone you've ever seen doing pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups on a routine basis. They are never fat guys, they are always in decent shape. They may not be huge but they are usually very proportional and have some degree of strength and stamina. I bought this book a couple years ago called Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade and it's a pretty good book with lots of different bodyweight exercises in there, and there are some only a very select few people in the world could ever do.
#2 – Rarely eat until you're full
Eat until you're satisfied, but not stuffed. There should always be room for more food if you had to eat. Once a week its OK to eat until you're full by having a cheat meal, but do this very minimally. Eating until you're stuffed, meal after meal, is not going to speed up your growth. The work to digest that food takes effort for your body, creates stress, and can just be a downright pain in ass. The only exception to this is a younger guy or a newer guy who is not used to eating as much, as he needs to grow, and the amount of food needed is not yet comfortable to him.
#3 – Get your waistline to where it was in high school
For you guys a few years out of school or even you guys 20+ years out of school, there is no reason you cannot get your waistline back to what it was when you were younger. My waistline right now is where it was in 8th – 9th grade, and I'm 210+ lbs right now. IT CAN BE DONE! Keep watching that belt, if it's not getting any tighter then add in some cardio (or more cardio) and adjust calories as needed.
#4 – High intensity cardio
Pick 1 day a week where you do something for cardio of high intensity; swimming, running, cycling, kayaking, etc. Hit it hard for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, there is no way you can be fat while having to perform an activity like this on a weekly basis. Just because it's only 1 day a week doesn't mean your body won't adjust to it. It will get you leaner! The other couple days moderate cardio will suffice. I would keep cardio at 3 times a week unless you're extremely overweight. I like to use cardio solely to keep metabolism firing and to stimulate appetite, but I don't live on a treadmill.
#5 – Take a group class – something like yoga or martial arts is good
These activities promote flexibility and stretching, and the more flexible your body is then the better it can perform other physical activities. Also, this helps with injury protection, relieves mental stress, and it changes the routine up so its not always just weights, weights, weights, sometimes that can burn you out and can actually make you regress if you're not careful. “WHAT? Wait a second, so you're saying that someone who only hits weights 3 times a week and spends his other 2-3 days doing high intensity cardio, or martial arts or yoga, could actually be bigger and stronger than some die hard gym rat who is slaving away at the iron 6 days a week?” YEP, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I'M SAYING!
#6 – Find a diet you can live with
You need to find a way to eat that you can manage all year long and slow and steady wins the race here. Are there times where I turn up the heat and get super strict with my diet? Yes! But for the most part there is a little wiggle room in my diet. If you need to eat a whole wheat bagel with light cream cheese for breakfast instead of 12 egg whites then do it, if that is what keeps you going. If you want to add in a Greek yogurt a few days a week then by all means do it, if it helps keep you on track. Some of these guys in the bodybuilding world today can get jacked and ripped on bran muffins if they had to, genetics are a huge role in this and I see no point in limiting yourself all the time when you can be just as good eating a little more variety here and there. Just find something you can manage and realistically stick to!
#7 – Start getting better sleep
Most of the body's fat burning takes place during sleep. Sleep promotes less stress and the body grows and changes better in a low stress environment. Ditch the social media or other distractions that keep you from getting in bed at a certain time each night. Make it a point to be in the bed by a certain time every night! If you want to watch TV or read a book then fine, but at least have yourself in that bed by the same specific time each night! Shoot for 8 hours of sleep. Most guys are so blind sometimes, they wonder why they aren't getting the results they want, and before looking at all other factors, the first thing they want to do is go find something they can take.
#8 – Train abs year round
Think about this one for a second, is it harder to do a sit-up when you're in shape or when you're fat? If I can bust out 5 sets of 25 on decline sit-ups with my hands behind my head then I know I'm not getting too fat. If I can still do hanging leg raises for 4-5 sets of 25 then I know I'm not getting too far off my conditioning. If I step away from training abs for a few months, come back weighing 15 lbs more and having trouble completing these sets, I've gotten too fat! Training your abs is a good indicator of where you're at, almost like a reference point you can use year round. If you're not training abs on a regular basis then I'd suggest starting.
#9 – Low calorie day or intermittent fasting
Take 1 day out of the week and lower your calories or only eat in an 8 hour window with intermittent fasting. Take that day and maybe don't eat until 12 noon and cut it off at 8 pm. Your body is not made to constantly shovel calories in every 2-3 hours, it's made to go for long periods without food if you had to. Feast or famine is pretty much how the body is made to operate. I'd suggest taking 1 day a week and changing something up, cut your protein intake in half, lower your calories, let your body filter things out almost like a new air cleaner.
#10 – Drink more water
I'm not saying you have to be one of these guys or girls who carries around a gallon of water with you every place you go (which I think is ridiculous actually), but try to have a few extra glasses of water a day. Most people do not drink enough water, and as a bodybuilder it's even more important because you're taking in so much more protein and nutrients and you're also building up so many waste products from breaking your muscles down. That water is needed to help flush your system. Also, keep in mind that your muscles are actually made up of about 75% water. When water intake is too low then nothing is going to happen in the growth arena.
Follow the above advice and you can't not get lean! Even for someone who knows nothing about weightlifting or how to lose body fat, this is a perfect start! Even with a half-assed diet, if you can put most of the above into practice you're going to look great!
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