With summer around the corner and countless outdoor events and pool parties on the horizon. I often get asked about how to get ripped and look cut up. The biggest mistake people make on this front is not leaving enough time to achieve their desired results. Cutting fat and getting lean does not happen overnight. It is a long process that involves displacing your bad habits and loose nutritional guidelines with on point diet, cardio and body sculpting exercise with an eye for overall fitness and core activity.
In the battle to look ripped, trim fat and be as fit as possible, nutrition is the utmost determinant to your success. What you do in the gym means nothing if you leave and go straight for the cheeseburger and fries. I am not personally one for counting calories (though this method works for some) and instead recommend ADDING healthy habits to your diet and lifestyle as opposed to restricting others.
Learn these Healthy Habits-
1. Small Meals. The appearance of your midsection is determined in part by the literal size of your stomach. Eating frequently shrinks your actual stomach and keeps your metabolism burning.
2. No Refined Sugars, No Starch. Avoiding refined sugars and starchy carbohydrates like white bread and pasta WILL help you cut fat. This step can not be stressed enough. If it’s not bad enough that refined sugars and starchy carbs will soften your waistline, remember that these foods are inflammatory to your whole body and are terrible for your overall health. If you miss pasta too much, try quinoa pasta; it’s a non-glutinous grain pasta that just might scratch that carb itch without all the health detriments and guilt.
3. Meat, Fish, Eggs and Veggies. These are the staples of a lean diet. Lean cuts of meat, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon and cage free eggs are the building blocks of a high protein, low fat diet that will have you strong and cut. If you are not eating kale in your regular week, then you are missing out on the most nutrient rich food there is. Packed with nutrients, kale is an absolute must. Hot peppers are also known to boost the metabolism and are great for adding flavor and spice without adding the unnecessary sugar or preservatives of a sauce.
4. The Grain Question. People fall on all sides on this issue as to whether we should be eating grain at all or if whole grain is healthy. The fact is, if you must eat grains, go with whole, complex carbohydrates.
5. Snacking. Being prepared for a snack craving will save you a lot of regret when you finish that bag of chips that was just sort of hanging around your pantry. The keys are: don’t keep anything in your house that isn’t conducive to your overall health and fitness goals. And secondly, I recommend nuts like almonds and walnuts as they are a complete and balanced food with some protein, some carbs and some healthy fat.
At the end of the day, losing pounds is a battle of calories. If you eat more than you burn, you’re keeping some of those residual calories. Cardio is boring, I get it, but if you want to look ripped, it’s time to come up with some creative ways to get cardio into your life. Swimming is of course the most effective overall body cardio exercise, but hiking and trail running are my favorite. If your climate allows for it, running outside in nature can be one of the most rewarding ways to forget you’re even exercising at all. Take in a view, climb a mountain, it’s all part of a fit, mobile lifestyle that is conducive to looking and feeling fit.
Shock your body
As far the resistance training portion of your routine goes, my most important advice would be to avoid routine at all costs. A training regiment that is anything but routine is one of the most effective ways to continually keep your body guessing and prevent reaching a plateau. Many athletes who abide by a strict routine of exercise will reach a strength plateau and have difficulty surpassing that level of fitness. This happens essentially because your muscles are bored. A lifestyle of consisting of constant movement, varied exercise, plyometric and weighted exercises along with cardio will yield the best results.
1. Keep it Fresh. Never let your body grow accustomed to your work out routine. Constantly challenge your body in new ways.
2. Constant Movement. If your body is constantly in motion, your metabolism will keep up pace. If this means taking 5 minute breaks during your workday to keep your blood pumping, then so be it. Find a quiet room and knock out some push ups. It doesn’t take long.
3. Full Body Focus. Adding core and compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups are a great way of training your body’s endurance response while training. My favorites are: burpees and muscle builders.
While professional body builders may limit water intake to increase the striated, ripped look of their muscles in the days or weeks before an event, if you’re just trying to look good for summer, this is not recommended.
1. Drink up. In reality, increasing your water intake may help you control your appetite. All too often, we mistake our body’s thirst response for hunger.
2. Cold Water First Thing in the Morning. Did you know that beginning your day with a large, COLD glass of water kick-starts your metabolism and gets all of your body’s natural processes off and running? This is a simple, easy to add, good habit that can help you begin your day on the right foot.
Get a tan
There’s a reason professional body builders get sprayed up before an event. The fact is, a good bronzing does a great deal to show off your hard work in the gym and in the kitchen. So, hit the beach, the booth or the tanner, whatever you have to do to stop the blinding effects of your pasty skin in the sunlight. You’ll thank me later.
No single one of these methods is going to do it for you. These are simply a list of good habits that when added to your life can displace some old ones that are holding you back. Instead of restriction, think of the addition of good habits. Getting fit and looking ripped is an ongoing process, the result of literally thousands of decisions you make every day about how you will train and eat. Is one cookie going to ruin your progress? No. But is the habit of having a cookie every night after dinner holding you back from your physical potential? Definitely. Look hard at all of your diet and exercise decisions throughout the day, does each one contribute or detract from your goal of cutting fat and looking fit?