It´s that time of the year again… time to put away the heater, woollen socks, slow cookers and those extra layers that have unwelcomely surrounded your mid section. If your efforts to achieve that toned beach body seem to frustratingly be an annual failure, before you start cursing with passion, read on.
In a bikini, everything is obviously exposed, so we need a whole body exercise / health program which will achieve the greatest amount of fat loss. To trim down you need to bump up your muscle mass, but this does not necessarily mean women will get bulky. Muscle is the bodys most metabolically active tissue and having more muscle means you are going to burn more calories, even at rest.
Before we talk exercise, let´s talk diet and sleep.
Just Eat Real Food (aka JERF)
Never diet. If you are dieting to lose weight, you are actually slowing down your metabolism.. (another curse I hear!). Eat whole, fresh food and without going too far into the nutrition side of things, basically eat like a caveman/woman for a few weeks and just see how your body feels and changes. This means no processed foods, no sugar, no refined flour/gluten, no alcohol, no stimulants, cook minimally and eat as close to organic as possible, especially your proteins (meat, poultry, dairy and choose fresh over farmed fish).
To make sure you don’t feel like you are missing out on life´s pleasures, allow one day per week where you eat whatever you feel like, but just make sure you get back on the caveman diet the next day. By doing this you regulate Leptin, amongst other hormones, making Leptin more sensitive and less resistant. Leptin gets released when we eat enough food, so if you are dieting, levels plummet which has the effect of slowing your metabolism, decreasing fat oxidation and massively increasing your appetite. Awesome eh..? To really spike Leptin levels, go for high glycaemic foods (such as oats, honey, banana), rather than higher fat foods which have a lesser effect on Leptin regulation. Note: this technique works best when you are already pretty damn depleted and worn out from training and low carb / low glycaemic eating, and if you are already fairly lean to start with yet have reached a plateau in your weight loss efforts.
It appears that lack of sleep makes you rounder, especially around the middle. With less time travelling in another realm, not only do you end up eating more food, but your body also ends up producing greater amounts of insulin and cortisol – a very evil mix resulting in blubber accumulation. Insulin suppresses fat burning since it´s task is to store fuel, and cortisol activates enzymes that store body fat as your body goes into survival mode. Your best bet is to aim to log off by 10-11pm and get into the habit of winding down an hour before bed. Things that help are killing the TV, laptop and mobile phone, ensuring your room is dark, relaxing herbal teas, stretching before bed and magnesium supplementation.
Exercises to Get Ripped
Erase from your mind that long hours of cardio will be the best method to lose fat. Slogging it out big time on cardio machines can end up slowing your metabolic rate and elevating cortisol levels. Try 10-15 min of interval training 2 times per week instead of a 60 min jog. Not only does interval training take far less time to complete, it has repeatedly shown preferable effects on body composition, insulin sensitivity and appetite suppression. Chose between sprint cycling, running, swimming or stair climbing.
Example Sprint Session
On the grass or soft sand, mark out something like 50 metres which will be your sprint distance (warm up first). If your sprint takes somewhere between 12-20 sec, you will rest for the remainder of that minute before sprinting again. If your sprint takes longer, multiply your sprint time by 3 and rest for that amount of time. You may be able to do 10 sprints in total if you feel trained up enough for it, otherwise start with 5 or 6 and work up to 10 as your fitness and speed improves.
2. Metabolic Weight Training
For the purpose of cutting down whilst toning, try a weight training program that involves short rest periods and multi-joint movements. By making your rest between sets and exercises short (30-60s), you end up training at your metabolic / lactate threshold which reduces blood pH. There is a direct inverse relationship between lactate and growth hormone (GH), so with the drop in pH is an elevation in GH, resulting in greater amounts of fat loss.
For the example exercise program provided below, we are going to use a rep range of 8-15, a slow eccentric/lowering phase (4sec) and a quick concentric/lifting phase (1sec) and 30-60sec rest periods between sets and exercises. When choosing the correct weight, make sure you can bust out somewhere around 8-15reps and do not train to failure with each set, since the short rest periods provide the intensity. Your workout will not be longer than 45min.
Sample Metabolic Training Session
Choose compound exercises such as squatting, deadlifting, pushing, pulling, pressing, crawling, climbing, jumping.
Perform exercises in a circuit, unless stated otherwise.
8-15 repetitions or time trial 30-40 sec per exercise.
5-6 exercises X 4 sets.
Zero rest between exercises and 30-60 sec rest period between sets.
Learn how to do all of the mentioned above, with my online strength training courses. Not only will you learn correct technique to avoid injury, you will also be advised on exercises that suit your individual body structure, biomechanics, level of training and lifestyle.
3. Buy that hot new bikini. Here are some personal picks..
To make sure you are looking good while working out, check out these favourites..