Getting Your Body Ready for Fat Burning Season
It may be the middle of winter, but soon enough summer will be upon us! And if you want to be ripped and ready for the beach by June, you’re probably going to need to start dieting around March. Sure, you could start cutting the fat in May or June like most guys, but by the time you really get lean, we’ll almost be back to the cold weather, and you’ll have little opportunity to show off that hard-earned physique.
So, do you need to switch gears now and start dieting? Should you put your mass gains on hold until next fall? Probably not. However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your body’s good and ready for fat burning season when the early spring rolls around. Here are a few of my top tips for making gains while still prepping your body to drop fat when the time comes.
Don’t Pig Out!
First of all, if you’ve been using the cold weather and layered clothing as an excuse to pig out, stop now! Extra calories only help you grow up to a certain point, and if you’re eating way above maintenance, chances are you’re just putting on way more fat than necessary. You’ve had your fun for the holidays, but it’s time to clean things up. Extra cheat meals may sound fun now, but you’ll be kicking yourself later on when you’re doing double cardio and low carbs to compensate.
Keep Calories High
That being said, you don’t want to go the opposite direction and start eating like a bird! Cutting season is coming up, but you can still make some great gains during the last few weeks of your bulk, off season, or whatever you call your gaining period.
So, instead of getting your extra calories through cookies, egg nog and all the other goodies lying around during winter, just make sure you’re getting your fill of “clean” foods. No, there’s nothing necessarily magical about eating a steak and potato instead of a pizza or a burger, but you’ll get filled up before you can do any serious damage. Plus, cleaning up your eating now will make things a lot mentally easier once you really start dieting.
Keep Your Training Volume High
When you’re cutting, you’re low on calories and energy. I don’t care if you’re still able to lose fat with relatively high carbs – the fact that you’re in a caloric deficit is going to mean less energy for high-volume training. So, keep on taking advantage of the surplus you’re eating now and kill set after set in the gym! You’ll make better gains now, and once you transition to a lower volume program for your cut, the recovery from those weeks and months of high volume training may actually allow you to gain a little bit more as you lose fat.
Lay off the Stimulants and Fat-Burners
The pre-workout craze is in full force, and I’m frankly not a fan. Sure, a bunch of caffeine or the latest supp may help you have a killer session on days you’re feeling tired, but depending on these products for every workout is a recipe for disaster. This is particularly true if you’re about to start a cut! You’ll need those stims and fat burners more than ever when you’re eating less and feeling drained – don’t desensitize your body by abusing them now!
On a similar note, you’ve got to take it easy! Dieting while training heavy is hard enough on your body and mind, and stress will only make it harder to recover, grow and even lose body fat. That’s right, too much stress is going to make your body horde fat! If you want to really prep yourself mentally and physically for the rigors of dieting, make sure you chill out as much as possible between now and then. Avoid negative thoughts, negative talk and negative people, and surround yourself with positivity. If nothing else, doing so will have some great effects on every other aspect of your life!
Take a Deload
Not only should you relax mentally before heading into a cut – you should actually lay off the weights for a week or so. I’m not saying you should several days completely off (and who would want to?), but you should lower your training volume and intensity for about one week. Remember, recovery is already difficult while dieting, but you can at least improve your chances of great workouts and solid recovery by taking a deload before you begin.
This one’s for all the guys who didn’t head my first piece of advice! If you’ve already gained too much fat on your bulk – or the one last year, or the one the year before that – get your head right and start dieting a little earlier than everyone else. It may sound very appealing to only diet for the 12 weeks before summer, but if you can’t even see any of your abs yet, you’re going to need longer than that!
What’s that you’re thinking? You’ll just crash diet for a few weeks and reap the same results as those who take the slow and steady route? Think again! Almost every lifter loses a severe amount of strength during extreme diets, and taking things too fast might just leave you with more fat and less muscle mass than you hoped to achieve.
On the other hand, a slow diet will allow you to keep all of your muscle mass – possibly even gain some – and retain or increase your strength. It’s not going to be fun, but you won’t be nearly as miserable as you would be if you had to survive on white fish and broccoli for four weeks to be ready for your vacation. In fact, you can probably fit in a cheat meal here and there without derailing yourself.
So, start dieting in February if you’re already too chubby for your liking. Make sure you’re losing around a pound per week, and whatever you do, don’t starve yourself for faster progress! This endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint, and fast fixes never work.