Spring is here and you’re probably thinking about buying some board shorts or a bikini for that summer vacation. But are you “summer body-ready”? Many people want to be ripped, but cannot accomplish the goal. What makes that beach body so elusive?
Are you one those people who, for the part three summers, has been saying, “this time, I will finally reach my aesthetic goal”? If you’ve wanted to achieve a nice summer bod, and you’ve blamed bad genetics or lack of time for not getting it done, you’re clearly missing the point.
I’ll give you a little hint—actually five of them. As a physique alteration and contest prep coach, I see the same mistakes being made year after year. It never ceases to amaze me how many people consistently do exactly what hasn’t worked and still have no clue.
Here are the top five mistakes people make when working on a summer body:
1. They eat too much
Many people who say they’re working on their summer body eat far too much in relation to their goals and their exercise output. I don’t care how much you work out or lift, eating too much will wreak havoc on your summer body. The old adage “you can’t out-train a poor diet” has merit.
Unless you’re Micheal Phelps putting in 6-plus hours in the pool every day, there’s no justification for thinking an extra 15 minutes of cardio will do the trick.
In many of the instances when you overeat, you do so mindlessly or carelessly. For example, thinking a few hot wings with your buddy after work is OK because it’s “just one meal” will ruin your goals. Just one meal can add over 1,000 calories. If you’re trying to slim down for summer, having 1,000-calorie meals is not the way.
2. They wait too long to implement an action plan
There’s a reason bodybuilders and physique competition athletes have, on average, 12- to 16-week contest prep plans. It takes time. If you think you can start eating right in May to have your beach body ready in June, you’re grossly mistaken. Losing weight is a process. To truly reach your potential, you must be patient. It took Einstein his entire life to be considered a genius; it’s safe to say you’ll need more than four weeks to hit your peak.
3. They make too drastic a change in far too little time
You realize it’s May, and your beach vacation is four weeks away. You tell yourself, “now is the time” to start working out. Well, I hate to ruin it for you, but that ship sailed quite a while ago. For healthy weight loss, you don’t want to lose more than 1 to 2 pounds a week. Losing weight too aggressively can actually backfire by causing muscle loss. If the vacation is four weeks away, your range of safe weight loss is 4 to 8 pounds. I’m discrediting 4 to 8 pounds, because any weight loss can be a challenge, but thinking that you’ll be ready in four weeks is lofty thinking at best.
4. Their training doesn’t complement their goal
What is the look you’re going for? Lean? Muscular? Swimmer? Physique competitor? Unless you have an idea of what you want, how will you train for that look? Not knowing what you want is like studying math for a biology exam. If you want to look like a physique athlete, you’ll need to lift a great amount of volume and arrange your workouts into split routines. If you want to look lean and toned, you may be better off doing three or four total-body workouts and keeping the pace up to burn more calories. Useful resources like STACK can give you insight on how to build muscle.
5. They don’t have a game plan
Championships are not built on compromises. Neither are great physiques. Behind a great physique is a well-implemented game plan. That physique was carved out of countless hours of training, early morning workouts, food preparation and plenty of hard work.
“If you want the prize, you gotta play to win,” is what I tell my clients. To create a solid game plan, you must take into consideration the time you have to implement your plan, your resources available and most importantly, you have to establish the right mindset. Planning ahead gives you time to make slow and steady weight loss progress, which will preserve as much muscle as possible while allowing you the flexibility to adjust if you hit any speed bumps along the way.
You need to get your head in the game. Waiting until there’s only four weeks left is definitely not getting your head in the game—matter of fact, the game is over and you lost.