Winter is finally coming to a close and everyone’s best seasonal superpower – the ability to hide excess pounds under a thick jumper is going fast, the summer sun will be high in the sky much sooner than you think which means shirtless weather is coming in fast and hot.
Don’t get caught unprepared! If you wanna reveal a shredded six-pack come summer and lose that winter belly now is the time to plan and prioritize your weight-loss goals.
Here are six tried and tested get lean strategies to help you prepare to take your shirt off and bare all when the sun comes out to stay.
Many people will instantly default to high-intensity interval training or HIIT cardio when it comes to getting lean. The intense metabolic demand HIIT places on your body is like nothing else and when done right, can take several days to recover from. This means that you are in a heightened calorie-burn both during the workout and as you recover.
I prefer to do HIIT in short, sharp bursts. Performing 30-second sprints on the treadmill or rowing machine, followed by 30 seconds rest for 10-15 rounds. I don’t stop there though, I actually follow that up with 15-20 minutes of low-intensity cardio to help remove metabolic byproducts that accumulate during high-intensity exercise which allows my muscles to recover much faster and gets me ready to train all over again.
This approach combines HIIT’s fat-burning ability with the recuperative benefits of low-intensity cardio, basically giving you the best of both worlds. I even sometimes add in a little extra steady-state when I want to burn more calories as it doesn’t need much in terms of recovery.
A quick tip, when you are walking on a treadmill, try setting it to a one% incline, this better simulates running on a proper road surface, making your body work that bit harder to keep pace.
I love to go out for an early morning, pre-breakfast power walk. This helps me to start my day on a positive note while allowing me to save the energy I need later in the day for weight-based workouts.
That morning jaunt also allows me to do more than just take in the sun, it also burns around 300-400 extra calories meaning I can eat more food during the day and who doesn’t enjoy that?
Many people think that to get shredded and lean you need to lift more reps per set and really feel the burn but this is not necessarily true. Your nutrition and cardio should do the cutting for you and your lifts should help to maintain your muscle mass and strength. To that end, I stay in the range of 6-8 reps for all lifts when getting lean. This allows me to keep muscles full and strong, potentially adding a bit of new size and hit an ideal short-term hormone release.
Just because I focus on low reps does not mean I skip volume. I do 4-5 sets for each exercise rather than a standard 3-4, this increases the overall time under tension for each body part, burns more calories and contributes to overall far loss. I also tend to front-load my workouts with at least two compound movements, these require a lot of energy. Once i’m depleted, I finish up with a few isolation movements.
When it comes to shredding, I love including giant sets, basically circuits for one body part or multiple exercises performed back to back, especially for my legs, which respond well to high-rep, high-volume work.
I usually do two compound exercises in a row, things like squats and leg press, then hit my legs immediately afterwards with isolation exercises like leg extensions and curls. This then forces my muscles to work 3-4 times as hard and 3-4 times as long per set compared with a straight-set format.
This extra time under tension caused by giant sets leads to more muscular exhaustion, a greater energy demand and more fat burned post-workout as those muscles try to recover.
An Example Shredding Training Split
I am a very big fan of forced reps, when your partner helps you lift beyond what you would be capable on your own for leaning out. Forced reps push you much further than you would go on your own, driving adaptation and producing an additional calorie burn that a straight set does not provide.
Pick a weight where you will fail after around 6-8 reps. Once you feel like you can’t push out anymore reps then have a partner help you squeeze out 3-5 forced reps with the same weight. I guarantee you’ll push yourself to places you never thought possible.
If you are training alone, try using the double-rep method (DRM) for cutting. Set yourself with a weight where you fail at 8 reps. Do a set of 8 with that weight, rest for 5-8 seconds and then do another 16 reps broken down into several mini-sets.
Use the rest-pause technique, performing as many reps as you can and then taking short, 15 second rests to get through that second double set. DRM training really pushes the envelope of both your pain threshold and your muscular endurance. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed the theme yet, it also helps burn more calories.
Carefully planned nutrition is everything when trying to cut and knowing how to manipulate your macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat is essential when building your get lean plan.
Many people will choose to cut carbs to get lean but this is where I do things a bit differently. I like to keep my carb intake steady year round to keep energy levels high which allows a harder workout. To trim a bit of fat from my body, I simply trim some fat from my diet.
My usual fat intake is around half a gram per pound of body weight which is comes out at around 100 grams of daily for me. As I get closer to my goal date or the time I want to look my best, I taper this number down until it reaches around 50g per day.
This little change gives me just enough of a caloric deficit to burn fat while still leaving me with enough calories from dietary fat to power my essential bodily functions. To compensate for this deficit, I also normally increase my protein intake from 1.3-1.5g per pound of body weight, this keeps my hunger and cravings at bay and prevents catabolism or muscle breakdown.
If you are unsure of where you have been, how do you know where you are going? I like to keep detailed records of my calories and macronutrients from every diet I have ever done. This gives me plenty of information to compare and allows me to assess the best plan of action to meet my next goal based on my current condition.
When mapping out your own personal plan, give yourself plenty of time to make adaptations. As an example, I usually step it up when I want to be really shredded and give myself at least 10-14 weeks, there is no good to be had from rushing.
No matter what your timeline is, write down everything as you go through the process, what you ate, how it affected your physique and even if it did anything to your body’s level of detail or your overall mood. Then next time you want to lean out, you’ll have an accurate and exact way of what worked and what didn’t.
Getting lean is by no means an easy task and supplementing your nutrition can help with cravings as well as energy levels. I love having a protein shake with my oats after every tough workout to kick-start recovery, spur muscle growth, satisfy a sweet tooth and help me stay full.
I also like to take something like the Grenade Ration Pack daily to ensure I get all my essential fatty acids and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that could be missing from my whole-food diet. When it comes to travelling, I also carry a protein bar to make it easy to sneak in meals, even when things get busy.
All of the methods mentioned above will help you lose that belly and strip away any excess layers of fat you may have built up over winter. Click here now to take a look at a program that will offer even further tips to aid in losing fat from your body and getting into the best shape of your life.
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