Summer is the time to show off your hard work in the gym.
Beaches, pool parties, barbeques, festivals; the list and opportunities (to show off) go on.
It probably comes as no surprise that some of our busiest months at Ultimate Performance fall between March and June as our clients work as hard as possible to get into the best possible shape for summer.
But what about when you’re in shape, summer starts, and your social calendar gets fully booked?
If you’re lean for the beach in June, how do you stay lean for the pool party in July, and the festival in August?
1. Have A Plan
The key with any fitness goal is planning ahead. Summertime is no exception.
If you’ve worked hard for 12 weeks in the lead up to summer, do you really want to throw it away in a week? Of course not.
That’s why having a plan of action after you finish dieting is so important.
It’s likely that by the end of your diet, your calories will be low and your cardio will be high.
Going from this to suddenly high calories and no cardio will be a recipe for rapid fat gain.
To prevent this happening, spending 4-6 weeks after dieting to gradually re-establish a normal calorie intake while reducing cardio will allow your body to stay lean after that.
After this initial phase, start planning your training and diet around social occasions you want to enjoy on the calendar.
What we tell our clients at Ultimate Performance is to lower their calories in the days between any parties or events, and then enjoy themselves at the function.
This will help create a ‘mini-buffer’ so that any overindulgence (which will often happen!) is counterbalanced to some degree.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s weekly calories that matter, so if you can shift your days around to allow more ‘flexibility’ on days you want to enjoy, it will help keep you in shape.
Remember, we’re now shifting to maintaining our results while living our lives. Using this sensible approach to eating is the best way to do it.
2. Follow the ‘5 Habits’
What we’ve found over the years is that the clients of ours who succeed long term are those who continue to base their diet on the foundation of these five habits:
- Eat every 2-4 hours
- Make sure every meal contains a source of protein
- Eat veggies with each feeding opportunity
- Consume a mix of healthy fats daily
- Ensure the majority of your carbohydrates are consumed either around training and/or at night.
If you’ve been pushing hard for the last 12 weeks, you’ve probably been on some form of a meal plan with macronutrient targets. While that’s great for short term blasts, in the long run, it’s habits that will keep you in shape for summer and beyond.
To read more about following these habits, click here.
3. Train Hard
By now, training hard should be part of your lifestyle. And it’s now more important than ever to keep this up, no matter how busy you become.
Training hard will keep you insulin sensitive, burn a lot of calories and keep your metabolism ticking over.
With the extra food you’ll be consuming, your performance will likely skyrocket too. Take advantage of this and start setting goals around getting stronger on some key lifts and use this as a focus during the summer months.
4. Keep Up Your HIIT
HIIT can be a highly time-efficient strategy to stay lean throughout the summer. Whilst we did speak about reducing cardio, it’s always useful to keep some throughout the year if staying lean is your goal.
HIIT involves alternating between very intense bouts of exercise and low-intensity exercise.
For example, anywhere from 10-30 seconds all-out, maximum effort, as fast as you can, followed by 40-120 seconds rest or lower intensity work.
The work-rest ratio you use doesn’t matter too much. The key is to get your heart rate up as high as you can for a short burst, followed by a period of letting it come back down.
The benefits of HIIT include:
- Increased work capacity
- Increased lactate threshold
- Raised metabolic rate
- Improved insulin sensitivity
If you’re coming off the end of a transformation, you’re likely no stranger to HIIT with a high level of fitness.
Performing 10-20 minutes of HIIT, between 1-2 times a week should suffice to help keep you lean through the months after.
And remember, it doesn’t have to be on a bike. If the sun’s shining, find a hill and try hill sprints. If you’re on a beach, try beach sprints. And if you’re by a pool, make swimming your HIIT.
5. Watch Out for Liquid Calories
The biggest hurdle for many of our clients is alcohol.
Summer is the time for cold beers, margaritas and mojitos.
The problem with many of these drinks is that they can be quite calorific if you’re not too careful.
While we’re not telling you to go sober (although it will really help), if you want to stay lean you need to keep an eye on your intake of alcohol.
As well as the ‘buffering’ strategies mentioned earlier, you can also modify your drinking strategy so you can enjoy yourself and look after your waistline.
For example, asking the bartender to cut back on the sugar in the mojito, or switching to a classic margarita on the rocks can reduce calorie intake dramatically.
Sugar is usually the enemy here, so simple things like Diet Coke instead of Coke can go a long way.
Even if you’re going clean and sticking to spirits, too many heavy nights of drinking can quickly undo a lot of your hard work, so pick your days wisely.
6. Stay Hydrated
Drinking 3-4 litres of water a day should really be an extension of the five habits discussed earlier. It’s that important, and is something you need to focus on all year round.
During the summer though, it becomes even more critical given the warmer climates.
Water will help mitigate the delirious effects of alcohol, as well as quash any cravings.
If you’ve got a potentially heavy night ahead of you, always go to the event hydrated, and stay hydrated throughout and after.
You’ll feel a lot better for it, and be much less tempted by the excess around you.
7. Stay Active Outside
While the sun’s out, make the most of it by getting outside more.
Exercise doesn’t need to be limited to your training in the gym.
Start taking more walks, meeting friends outside, playing outdoor sports and generally building more movement into your daily routine.
This ‘non-intentional’ exercise is an important component of your energy expenditure, so if you can be conscious of staying active, you’ll be able to stay leaner throughout the summer.
Summer can be one of the most exciting periods of the year, especially if you’ve spent a few months in advance to get yourself into great shape for it.
Instead of letting the joys of summer undo your hard work, implement these seven strategies and stay lean throughout!
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