Who hasn’t dreamed of those chiseled abs, popping veins and clean-cut lines of a mighty muscular frame to show off during beach season? Well, if you’re willing to put in some serious lifting effort, change your eating habits and rethink your lifestyle, you just might greet the first rays of sun with a physique that cuts through glass.
1. Cut the carbs
The typical western menu pretty much revolves around all kinds of carbs, especially those that are completely void of any nutritional value, just empty calories that love to be stored as fat in love handles and muffin tops. Kick all the sugar-laden sodas, overly sweet foods and ultimately all carbs that you don’t need during the day.
Instead, opt for carbs that are low-glycemic, meaning that your body will slowly release healthy glucose levels into your bloodstream, such as oatmeal, vegetables, barley or brown rice. But timing of these carbs is equally important – eat them in the morning, for breakfast, and another, smaller portion after your training session to replenish your muscles with glucose, but no carbs necessary in the evening.
2. Eat for gains
Proteins, otherwise known as the building blocks of life are also the essential muscle material, so turning your menu towards protein-rich foods will help you build the much-needed muscles to burn all that extra fat. Up to two grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is the healthy limit for serious lifters, but you can work your way up to slowly replace the carbs with more protein in your meals.
The type of protein is also very important. You’ll want to stick to lean sources such as chicken or turkey breast (no skin), grass-fed beef, dairy, fish, legumes such as beans and other plant-based proteins. Having trouble getting enough of these nutrients in your diet with such a tough exercise routine? You can easily introduce protein supplements meant precisely for those chasing a healthy way towards a shredded physique.
3. Boost your fats
On the other hand, healthy fats, such as the essential omega 3 fatty acids, are very satiating and extremely useful for those who aim to get rid of body fat. Foods that are high in these healthy fats are in fact your best bet in the battle for more muscle and more burning potential, because they will help you boost your metabolism, keep you full for longer and they have an anti-inflammatory effect that will protect your cardiovascular health.
Once again, turn to fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, but you should also stack up on nuts and seeds, including walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, which can improve the taste of smoothies, breakfast oatmeal or even serve as a snack.
4. Hulk up to bulk up
Strength alone is one hell of a motivator to enter the weight room instead of religiously staying on the treadmill for hours. But for those with this specific goal in mind, resistance training should become your number one priority, even over cardio, as it simultaneously builds lean skeletal muscle, increases your body’s ability to burn fat and it pushes you to burn calories long after you leave the squat rack.
For best results, train your muscles for endurance and hypertrophy with less resistance but higher reps to get that definition, but also get ready to stack up the barbell up to 90-95% of your maximum strength. That means you’ll have to have at least one compound exercise in your daily routine that will be focused on low reps but high weights. Think deadlifts, squats, military presses and bench presses.
5. Go for HIIT
After wrecking your central nervous system with those heavy weights, it might be tempting to simply throw in the towel, rest and recover, and do no cardio whatsoever. Unfortunately, while traditional jogging will do very little for your shredding aspirations, high-intensity interval exercises are a true asset in the pursuit of a Greek statue-like figure.
So, don’t trust your treadmill telling you that you’ve just entered the fat burning zone with the 65% of your maximum heart rate, and aim for short bursts of much higher intensity with brief breaks between your sets. That way, your afterburn effect will last well into the next day as you’re enjoying your egg-white omelet breakfast and watching your favorite show.