7 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR SUMMER BODY ALL WINTER LONG
A lot of men use the winter as a time to eat more, lift heavy, skip the cardio, and bulk up. But what if you want that hard-earned beach body year-round? What if you have a beach-getaway vacation planned for midwinter? Or what if you just like to be a lean, mean fighting machine all the time? Well, then you've come to the right place. We talked with Mike Donavanik, (C.S.C.S., C.P.T), a Beverly Hills–based personal trainer and creator of the Amazon top-seller Extreme Burn fitness DVD series, who gave us some tips on how to stay ripped amid the snowflakes.
COMPLETE A CIRCUIT
"Circuit training is so effective because it combines strength training with bursts of cardio, which is what high intensity interval training (HIIT) is all about," explains Donavanik. "So, not only are you able to maximize your time by getting both strength and cardio into your session, but because you're working at such high intensities, you'll end up burning calories after you work out, too. It's the 'afterburn effect.'"
PLAN THE PAIN
To create an effective workout, you MUST plan your workout before getting to the gym, Donavanik says. Planning your workout ahead of time is "one of the best things you can do to improve your fitness," he explains. "It's the only way you'll be able to visually track your progress, avoid overuse injuries, and hold yourself accountable. If you keep track of your workouts, you're enabling yourself to be more efficient in the gym and more efficient with your time."
ATTACK THE MORNING
"I'm a firm believer in doing steady-state cardio on an empty stomach," Donavanik states. The idea behind working out in the morning on an empty stomach is that, because you're exercising without consuming any calories beforehand, "your body will be forced to use excess fat cells as its primary energy source," he says. It's also thought that it boosts your metabolism throughout the rest of the day. But the debate over the true effectiveness of the practice rages on, and Donavanik admits that "science says that's not the best thing to do and that the benefits are largely exaggerated." As Donavanik concludes, "Science has proven, though, that even though a higher percentage of calories are coming from fat cells, what matters most at the end of the day is calories in vs. calories out." Science says a lot of things, contradicting itself over and over. That's the point. Doing what feels right for your body, and what gets you the greatest results, that's your point.
(UN)REFINE YOUR DIET
If you want to get lean or stay lean, refined carbohydrates are the enemy. "Cutting out refined carbohydrates and sugar is always a good idea to help lean out, and just for general health," Donavanik says. But cutting out all carbs isn't. "Eating complex carbohydrates is essential to overall health and athletic performance . . . If you know you're going to have a high-intensity workout that day, be sure you eat carbohydrates like you normally would, because you'll need the energy for activity. However, if you think you may not work out that day or may only be doing steady-state cardio (like jogging), feel free to cut back on some carbohydrates and stick with just veggies."
KEEP IT LIGHT LATE
Everyone knows the "no carbs after 6 p.m." rule for staying lean. But, like the telephone game you played in grade school, the beginning message has been regurgitated so many times, nowadays it has "gotten really twisted," Donavanik says. "The idea started because when you don't use carbohydrates for energy, they end up getting stored as fat in your body. So, it kind of makes sense that people said, 'Don't eat carbs after 6 p.m.' because, chances are, you're not going to do a whole lot of activity at night and those carbs would end up getting stored as fat. However, that's not entirely true. After 6 p.m. (and in general), you should definitely avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar, and any 'heavy' complex carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.), but go wild with veggies! Your dinner should consist primarily of protein and vegetables. That's the best way to stay lean: Keep dinner light."
WATER, WATER, WATER
It's simple. "Always drink water," Donavanik advises. "That's one of the easiest things you can do to keep your body operating smoothly, to avoid hunger from sneaking up, and to keep your weight regular." Don't trust us? How about a recent study that found that over a 12-week period involving 84 obese adults, those who drank 500 milliliters of water 30 minutes before a meal lost almost 10 more pounds than participants who did not drink water? Yeah, drink up.
CHANGE IS GOOD
Circuit training is great for getting and staying lean. Working the same muscles over and over again isn't. "Don't always circuit train," advises Donavanik. "Mix things up. Do some steady-state cardio. Do some heavy lifting. Do some yoga. Take recovery days." Changing things up not only prevents you from getting bored with your workout but also keeps your muscle guessing, adapting, and building and keeps you from overtraining certain muscles, which can lead to injuries related to overuse like tendinitis. Another recommendation: If you're doing a circuit for weeks on end, try to make one day focused on pushing and the next day focused on pulling. Donavanik's example: "A push day might include chest press, push-ups, triceps for the upper body, along with squats and walking lunges for lower body. A pull day might include pull-ups, cable rows, and biceps for the upper body, along with dead lifts and hamstring curls for lower body. The main purpose for breaking it up into push-pull days is to make sure that you don't continue to work the same muscle groups over and over."
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