Memorial Day has come and gone and that means that unofficially the summer is in full swing. For some, this means more time outdoors, more partying and of course, beach season.
In my line of work I’ve seen many people try and cram in a few extra workouts and eat better so they can get the beach body they want. Some planned ahead and are almost there with there with trim look. There are others that haven’t even started and will take some drastic measures to look good in their bathing suit.
Joe DeFranco recently talked about some summer tips he had for people on his podcast.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joe, he is the real deal as far as training goes. He is one of the first people I started watching on YouTube on a regular basis and still incorporate his “Simple Six” and “Agile Eight” warm-up routines for myself and a few of my clients.
I listen to podcasts in the car while I am driving and during my workouts so as soon as I heard he was doing one, I had to subscribe.
Anyway, on last week’s podcast Joe went over 3 tips to help maintain your gains during the summer. I wanted to expand a little on what he said an add a few of my own tips, so here we go.
1. No last minute low calorie diets.
This was Joe’s first tip and I whole-heartedly agree. Many people are looking for a diet to lose weight fast but dropping your calories too low may cause you to lose more weight but it won’t be all fat. You will definitely lose muscle if you reduce your calories too much.
“You become a smaller version of yourself” is what Joe had to say about these type of diets.
Becoming a smaller you doesn’t mean you are getting more ripped. A properly designed weight loss diet will have your body fat percentage dropping in proportion to your weight so that you are losing fat and not becoming smaller.
So skip those juice diets, cabbage diets, grapefruit diets and anything else that drops your calories too far. They don’t work long term and can be dangerous. You’re also more likely to gain all the weight back plus some.
Instead, of a last minute diet try to clean up your eating. This means cut the sugar, refined flours and trans-fats. To lose weight you should drop the calories but I would start with about 500 less than your maintenance level. Nothing too extreme.
Reducing your carbs will also help weight loss because it will reduce insulin levels in the body.
2. Don’t limit your water intake.
Reducing your water intake is something that actually makes you look more cut, but is also dangerous.
This became popular because bodybuilders sometimes do it before shows. Some even take diuretics before the show to look even leaner. Mohammed Benaziza and Andreas Munzer are two of the more publicized cases of bodybuilders dying because of dehydration.
I must admit that I have even done this before a few photo shoots, but I felt like crap the whole time and drank a lot of fluids as soon as it was over.
Remember water manipulation only will reduce weight and make you appear leaner. It does not make you burn more fat so the effects are temporary. As soon as you hydrate yourself to normal levels the weight and bloating will come back.
Summer gets hot so it’s especially important to stay hydrated. I have always used a gallon per day as a good place to start. Joe recommended 0.66 ounces per pound of bodyweight as a starting point which is more accurate. This would equate to a little more than a gallon for myself.
I would not recommend to drink all your water at once though. You can get too much of a good thing.
Dehydration is bad, but too much water at once can throw your electrolytes out of balance and lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia. This is where the blood has too little sodium in it.
Adding a little salt in your water can help prevent hyponatremia. Pink Himalayan Salt is what Joe recommends because it has some trace minerals as well as the sodium.
To make sure you aren’t getting dehydrated a good check is the “pee test.” This sounds kinda gross, but look at your pee. If it’s a lot and a light to clear color, you’re good. If it’s a too little and is a stronger color, you are probably dehydrated and need more water.
If you start to feel dehydrated than it’s too late. Plan ahead, especially if you know you’re gonna be out in the sun.
3. Stay away from Alcohol
This is a big one for a lot of people. Alcohol can derail so many fitness goals that it’s not even funny.
Alcohol also has an effect on every other tip on this list.
With more parties going on, it also means more opportunities to drink but remember you body will not burn fat or build muscle when it’s processing alcohol.
A few questions to ask yourself before embarking on the road to drunkenness. Can you have fun sober? Do you need alcohol to have fun? How much do you REALLY enjoy drinking alcohol?
As much as I try to stop or limit a person’s alcohol intake, people are just gonna do their thing so if you do choose to go down that road, here are a few tips.
Joe said “best of the worst is to drink clear alcohol.” I would agree with this. Back in the day when I drank, I did vodka. I drank it with a little lime to avoid the extra calories of mixers. Club soda also has no calories so that is another option.
There are less sugars in vodka than some other colored alcohols. If tequilla or rum are your choice, the clear versions of them would be better than the colored versions.
Avoid sugar when you are drinking. This applies other to alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, and especially the fruity mixed drinks. If you’re gonna cheat, don’t make it worse by adding extra unnecessary calories.
Make sure you stay hydrated. Like I said, alcohol effects everything else and since alcohol dehydrates you, make sure you replace the fluids you lose. This is extra important if you are drinking in the sun.
That was my take on what Joe said on the podcast, below are some additional tips to help you stay in shape during the summer.
4. Keep lifting heavy
A big misconception that people have is lift heavy to grow and lift light to cut. I would disagree with this. If you are injury free with no mobility issues, you want to go heavy as much as possible… even when you are cutting.
Your muscles will respond to the demands you place on it. If you reduce the demands the muscles will also be reduced.
You do not want to lose muscle when you are cutting because the muscle is what will accelerate your short-term results and will help you maintain your long-term results as well.
Unfortunately, if you are dropping your calories or your carbs your strength and energy will go down. This means the muscles will start to get smaller and weaker because your diet, so you need to give it the stress during your workout to minimize this.
Since your diet will cause a loss of strength, something has to give and that should be the reps, not the weight.
If you are normally lifting a certain weight for 12 reps, you may only be able to get 8 reps of that weight while you are cutting. It is normal for your strength to drop, but don’t let your workouts become too wimpy.
5. Get proper rest
The biggest effect on your results ,after your workout and nutrition, is your sleep. Some may say that sleep is even more important that your workout.
Sleep does a lot to keep you healthy and maintain proper hormone levels for fat burning.
Summertime means fun time and that can lead to some late nights. Be sure to give your body adequate rest. The exact amount of time varies per person but around 8 hours seems ideal for most.
When I lived in Hawaii, I didn’t notice too much of a difference in the length of the days, but I’m in New Jersey and the days are significantly longer than they were during the winter.
These longer days affect your circadian rhythms. The blue light from the sun tells the body it is time to wake up in the morning and stay awake at night. Try to keep normal sleeping patterns during if you live in a place that the days get longer.
Good blackout curtains can help block sunlight if you are sleeping at odd hours and orange tinted glasses can block blue light from your eyes and tell the body it’s time to sleep. When you wear the glasses people will either think you look like a Bono or a complete dork.
6. Be realistic
This is especially true for people who are starting the cut too late. Aim to be the best you can be and don’t compare yourself to other people.
If your gut hangs over your belt-line, you’re probably not getting that six pack this summer, but you can still develop good habits and look the best you possibly can.
Be happy with any progress you make but always strive to become the better you.
This realistic goals goes in reverse as well, if you look great but others around you are out of shape, don’t let them drag you down. You should still strive to be the best you, and not to conform to the crowd.
So that’s my take on the keeping in shape during the summer. Hope you enjoyed reading it but remember to take action on these tips. If you need help with anything I wrote about, feel free to contact me on the facebook group or twitter. I’m happy to answer questions to help unlock the beast inside of you.
Also be sure to get my free ebook on the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get in shape. They are very common but very fixable and I say this from my own experience.
Thanks for reading and go smash it!