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Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting right for the summer

By Samson
So the groundhog said spring will be here sooner than later. If you’re like me you can already smell the aroma of hot dogs fresh off the grill, only topped by the hint of charcoal flavor. And whether it’s a cookout with your people or a beach trip, nothing washes it down quite like one of those beers you pull from the cooler with a nice cold sweat running down it and that mist that chills your teeth a little bit when you take your first swig.

And if you’re also like me, these thoughts serve another purpose. Sure it’s nice to stay in from the cold weather and dream of better days, but a man who thinks ahead will also use this time as a Two Minute Warning, and take the proper steps to get in shape so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. You don’t have to turn into a linebacker, but you definitely don’t want to stroll the beach looking like Larry Holmes, flabby and sick.

With some attention to detail and discipline you can see some pretty good results in a short amount of time. You’ll want to tweak these suggestions to fit your own goals and circumstances, but a lot of this is universal. I followed these guidelines last year and reaped the benefits on my vacation in Panama. My wife was impressed, family members couldn’t help but notice and I caught eyes from the many Panamanian and Colombian women on the resort. You’re going to want to get on this now instead of playing catch up later.

In general I’d advise you to get in five quality workouts per week. You can do six if you’re up to it, but just make sure you give yourself a rest day. Your muscles need it to recuperate and you don’t want to wear your mind out either. When you get burnt out you tend not to stick to something.

Lift heavy weights in the gym, knocking out three to four sets per machine or station that you’re targeting. There are tons of sample workouts you can find with a quick Google search that will accommodate your needs. If you’re working out by yourself you can easily get a great workout in about 40 minutes or so. Make sure you work your legs also. Some people just build their upper body because that’s where all the “pretty” muscles are. A little known fact is that your body pumps out more human growth hormone (HGH) in your legs, so building your lower body will make you bigger all around as long as you’re putting the work in up top also.

Don’t neglect your cardio. A lot of guys just want to see how much they can bench press and dead lift and neglect their cardio workouts. Not only is cardio good for your heart (duh) and endurance, it also helps you trim the fat so those abs and cuts can show. If you want to look like a bouncer, that’s cool, but as far as beach bodies go, definition is just as important if not more important than bulk.

Find something fun to do on your cardio days. I haven’t played organized sports in a few years, so a boxing workout to me is more fulfilling than working a treadmill for 30 minutes. Racquetball is one of the best types of cardio that you can do. I have a few gigs of video workouts saved on my PS3 hard drive so that I can get my cardio in from home if I can’t make it to the gym or just don’t feel like leaving the house.

Remember this: working out without eating right doesn’t make a bit of difference. Get in the habit of stocking up on groceries instead of running to fast food. Yes, eating out is convenient, but preparing and eating your own food is healthier and a lot more cost efficient.

Your goal is to build muscle and cut fat. To do this, you’ll want to regularly eat plenty of meats; lean beef, chicken breast, fish and a lean steak cut are excellent high protein low fat meats. If you have a Foreman grill you can get in the habit of preparing these meats with ease. Feel free to eat plenty of eggs also, as they’re another great protein source. If you’re a bacon eater, switch to turkey bacon instead or pork. It’s a lot lighter and low in fat, while still providing a ton of protein.

Mix in some leafy green vegetables bought fresh, and any other kinds that you prefer. I found that the frozen steamers selection of vegetables allows me to get my proper servings of veggies at a fraction of the preparation time. You simply pop the bag in the microwave until they’re finished and you’re good to go.

Avoid sugars and processed foods. Foods processed with high fructose corn syrup not only cause you to put on fat and gain weight, they make you lethargic and crave more junk. Fructose can only be stored as fat. When you eat these foods, you also get an insulin spike, which increases hunger. So basically, when you grab that Whopper with cheese, you know it’s going to store more fat than it will provide nutrients, and the insulin spike will only make you hungry again in an hour. This hunger will make you eat more, on top of the food you just ate, which will only be stored as fat (remember that fructose?). It’s a vicious cycle.

This is especially important at breakfast. Too many supposedly healthy cereals (think Special K) are really no better for you than your typical brand. They’re packed with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, while providing a low amount of protein and fiber. When you browse the cereal aisle, think high protein and fiber and low sugar. This will keep you full longer, help build muscle and won’t pack on fat via sugar. There are plenty of whole grain options in the breakfast aisle that fit the bill.

Stick to plenty of water and diet green tea instead of soda and juice. Yes, juice has fruit, which is obviously good for you, but it’s packed with about as much sugar as a soda. Grab a Diet V8 splash for your fruit juice fix. For breads, cut out white bread and go for wheat. My personal favorite brand is Nature’s Own Honey Wheat. It’s more flavorful than your typical wheat bread and still healthy.

Definitely reduce your alcohol intake. We all like to have a drink or two, but alcohol is all calories without the nutrients. If you just have to have a drink, try to significantly reduce it so that it’s more of an occasion than norm. Cutting out sugars and alcohol will get you noticeable results quickly.

The most important supplement you’ll need to take is protein. On your grocery trips, be sure you grab a big tub of whey protein. I use a type that packs 52 grams every two scoops. Taking protein with breakfast, directly after workouts and before you go to sleep will go a long way to help you get the protein you need for your health and to maintain the muscle you put on from your workouts. The rule of thumb is to get 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Let’s say you weigh 180 and use the protein I described above. That’d be one scoop with breakfast (26g) two scoops after your workout (52g) and another scoop before bed (26g). That’s 104g of protein without even taking into account the protein you got from food during the day. With food you’ll effortlessly get the amount you need.

I also suggest investing in a bottle or two of Fish Oil caplets. Fish Oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which helps facilitate testosterone production, among many other healthy benefits. Throw this in with a men’s multivitamin and you should be good to go.

The key to this whole process is a positive state of mind. Have a goal and stick to it. For instance, me and my lady are going to the Dominican Republic in May, so I want to see some significant progress by then. If you set a goal for yourself you have more of a measuring rod for whether you’re slacking or not. At the end of the day, ain’t nothing to it but to do it. The last thing in the world you want is to want to look better, procrastinate or BS it, and by the time summer rolls around you’re kicking yourself. If this is something you know you want to do, put in the work and get it done.


Ray said...

Good tips, Samson. There's nothing more motivating than seeing results. Also, I've found that taking in a lot of protein first thing in the morning helps give me energy all day.

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