11 Tips For A Shredded Summer
Drink More Water
To many, this may seem like a no-brainer to many, but DRINK plenty of water. Not only does water occupy quite a bit of real estate in your stomach, thus allowing you to feel more full when you are in a caloric deficit, it also assists in burning fat, albeit in a tiny way (See: Aggregation of Gains). You see, drinking water not only helps your body cool itself, but it also hydrates your muscle to be which is integral in performing optimally (Not easy to do in a caloric deficit, after a long period of time.)
I typically take in about 1 gallon or 128oz of water per day, however, this can vary from person to person, and is based on total caloric expenditure + perspiration levels (i.e. are you moving a lot throughout the day? Or are you sitting at a desk? This is purely anecdotal, but I would recommend men and women alike to take in no less than 100oz of water per day. That’s the equivalent of drinking 12.5–8oz glasses of water. Or 1 glass of water per every waking hour.
Track Yo’ Macroz
Again, this is another No-Brainer to many, but is mission-critical in attaining that master-shredder, abs-on-display look — Track your macros. There is a plethora of apps out there that you can use, namely MyFitnessPal, or even Mike Vacanti’s app. It’s important to track your macros, especially when you end up tapering them down, or manipulating them in quantity. After all, dieting really is trial and error until you find the sweet spot that allows you to drop fat and retain (in some cases gain) muscle. That’s like the holy grail of dieting.
One important aspect to recognize, that some do not, is that your body does not require the same amount of macronutrient during your off/non-training days, as it does when you are training.
Light Vs Heavy/High Rep Vs Low Rep
I have to admit, earlier in my modeling career/20’s I subscribed to the notion that the way to get ripped was increase reps and decrease rest periods, all while maintaining a ketogenic diet.
Now, it makes me gag when others go on ad nauseam about the only way to get ripped is to train as mentioned.
It is not necessarily wrong! But it is not the only way. What I have found, and others will concur, is that a mixture of heavier weights (80–90% of 1RM) lower reps (3–5), and longer rest periods (2–3 minutes). Lighter weights (40–75% of 1RM), higher reps (12–20+), and shorter rest periods (1 minute or less) typically works best. On one hand, you have heavier weights. This will force your muscle to adapt to heavier loads by increasing or maintaining in size. Secondarily, with higher reps, you will have a longer time under tension which in most cases can increase GH output while sleeping, but you also have an increased EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption)
Increase your protein! But not too much.
Many times, you may see bodybuilders talk about how high their protein intake is (Sometimes 500g+), but the reality of the situation is, they are not natural. The way their body metabolizes, and more importantly utilizes this particular macronutrient is vastly different than someone who is relying on a less optimal hormonal-state. In many cases, both anecdotally and non-anecdotally, I have noticed that 1.2–1.5g/lb of bodyweight seems to work best. Meaning, if you are a male that weighs 200lbs then you would multiply your bodyweight by 1.2 to 1.5, which equals 240–300g of protein. HOWEVER, there certainly are exceptions. No one person has the same genetic makeup, hormonal profile, stress levels, sleeping habits, training frequency, etc. It is all dependent upon what is optimal for you. In that same breath, the only way to hone in on your ideal protein intake is through trial and error. It’s important to note that the other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats are of equal importance for various reasons, namely the maintenance of hormones that burn fat/retain muscle.)
Without a doubt, macro’z or macronutrients have stolen the show and become quite the buzz word within the fitness community over the past few years, with the emergence of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), but of equal importance, and much less tout, the micronutrients.
Micronutrients are vitamins like A, B, C, D, and E. Which in turn, have their own complexes (e.g. B3, B6, and B12; Other examples of micronutrients include: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, as well as biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and thiamin.)
Micronutrients are instrumental in the overall functioning of your body, especially when it comes to hormonal optimization, which from my experience, can make or break your physique.
An easy way to achieve optimal levels is supplement your existing diet with Athletic Greens or any other vitamin supplement that includes a cocktail of the aforementioned micronutrients.
Although it seems fairly intuitive to hop right into 30–45 minutes per day of steady state or running, many a time, it can be detrimental. Much like tapering your calories, inversely, you gradually increase your cardio.
John Meadows wrote a fantastic article on this very thing a few years back (Regular Cardio Will Make You Fat)but the over-arching message is that in order to achieve optimal fat-loss, your cardio is ideally HIIT (fast and torrid) or slow, very slow and potentially regenerative. While I am not advocating that you eliminate running or other activities that force you to remain in a steady state of movement for long-ish periods, I am saying they are typically less effective when shedding the most amount of fat, while retaining or building muscle. (Side Note: Almost always should be the goal, as there are a tremendous amount of advantages in gaining/keep muscle; most notably the increase of metabolic rate, which allows you to keep the fat off, if proper nutrition is in place)
Examples of Cardio that burns fat, retains/builds muscle:
Walking on Incline
Sprint Row (Concept 2 Rower)
I recognize that many strength/physique coaches are proponents of different paradigms of thought, but my belief is that when you are on a diet, the diet needs to be something that you can maintain for 12–16 weeks, sometimes even more. The goal is to eat the necessary calories in order to perform optimally in the gym, all whilst whittling away at your bodyfat.
The one bit of advice I would note, is that your peri-workout (The windows of time before, during, and after your workout) nutrition is of the utmost importance, and typically where you want to ingest most of your carbohydrates so they are more likely to increase protein synthesis, and less likely to convert into fat stores.
Chill, bro. Don’t be so rash
Often times, amidst the “grind” of dieting, when life throws you curveballs and stress surmounts, it is easy to become derailed by poor nutritional choices (e.g. binge eating or not eating at all); While I have found that a slip up here and there are usually not enough to detail progress, it is the habitual offending of your nutrition, training, and sleep habits.
We all have to maintain perspective; life is a series of ups and down. Much like Summer turns into Winter, we all have expansions and contractions. Nothing lasts forever, so stick to your plan, achieve what you initially sought out, and then reassess.
Blame It On The A A A A Alcohol
Although some would disagree with me on this particular item, mostly IIFYM subscribers, I abstain from alcohol completely. Not only is it an unnecessary sugar and carbohydrates, there are also ramifications to your hormones, that can sometimes last up to two weeks (such as lowered testosterone levels, and negatively affect your body’s ability to synthesize protein) Furthermore, as I am sure most of us know, when you have had a few drinks, you tend to make poor life decisions, such as gorging yourself on Pizza, and various other items. My belief, save this for the off-season, or when you are not trying to rid your body of fat. Ultimately, in order to achieve a rock-solid, high-performance body, it is necessary to limit your alcohol intake.
When you are not cutting, check out John Romaniello’s video (How To Make Dem Gainz & Still Drank)
Get plenty of sleep! Okay, yes. I get it. Everyone’s schedules are slammed, and sleep is often a rare commodity that is coveted by many. However, it is a pillar in achieving optimal fat-loss. Without sleep, your body will not recover, nor will you secret precious hormones like GH. Much like abs are made in the kitchen, progress is made in the bedroom (double entendre J )
For some, it is hard to sleep anywhere but the friendly confines of their own home, but for the lucky people like myself, who can fall asleep just about anywhere, lunch breaks are a great opportunity to catch up on your sleep, even if it is just 15–30 minutes.
7 to 9 hours of sleep throughout the day is recommended, but this may mean 5 to 6 hours of sleep with a 1 to 2-hour nap. You can break it up however, you like, but I try my best to shoot for 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep; uninterrupted sleep in a dark room (no light whatsoever) that is typically cool (optimal ranges according to various sources is around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, where temperatures below 54 and above 75 have the propensity to negatively impact sleep quality.)
Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
I call these the 7 P’s, but in relation to dropping bodyfat and being a Greek God in real life, it simply means anticipate, schedule, and adhere to your nutrition and training.
I wrote an article about this last year, but it is paramount to your success that you are consistent in eating your meals and getting the training in.
I spend Sunday prepping my meals, and planning my week. Although my week doesn’t always go accordingly, I make sure that all of my meals are with me, and that if I am supposed to train that day, I do.
For better tips on how to schedule and manage your week, check out my article on LinkedIn → Sunday Management by Zachary Troyer
Honestly, I could go on ad nauseam about the various ways to help you achieve that shredded summer look, but it’s about discipline and consistency. Furthermore, it’s about running a marathon, instead of trying the achieve results that have taken others years, in weeks.
Give these 11 tips a try, and you’ll be on your way to lookin’ sexy AF nekked.