May is here and for those of us who have been enduring the cold for what feels like forever, the warmer weather is finally starting to show itself. By this point in the year, many of you are within arm’s reach of your fitness goals. Whether you’ve been adding muscle and you’re ready to start leaning out or you have been chasing a goal weight and you are 5 to 10 pounds shy, these fitness hacks will help get you there.
Let’s take a look at the top 4 ways to drop those last few pounds so you can look amazing when you hit the beach.
1. Treat Yourself
No, I’m not talking about treating yourself with snacks. I’m giving you a reason to head to the spa. Massages are optional (and recommended) but one thing that is a must is the sauna. (Treat yo’self!)
Science has been steadily revealing the benefits of sauna usage over the last decade. These benefits extend to multiple areas of your health but let’s focus on weight loss. A sauna is an excellent way to trigger water weight loss. Yes, this is short term; however, it has been suggested that long term sauna use may help to trigger the metabolic response needed to burn body fat. (1-2)
Yeah, I know that a sauna membership can be pricey so an alternative option would be investing in a neoprene-based sauna suit (not the shiny plastic ones). Similar benefits at a fraction of the price.
2. Try Carb Cycling
Notice how I didn’t say carb “cutting.” For most of you out there, eliminating carbohydrates from your diet may result in backtracking. For example, you need carbohydrates to help replenish muscle glycogen, which is all but used up post-workout. At the same time, low carbohydrate diets have been shown to be effective for weight management and overall health. So why not have the best of both worlds?
Put simply: Carbohydrate cycling is when you eat more carbohydrates on your training days and less on your rest days. The type of carbohydrates that you are ingesting is also important. Here’s the breakdown:
- Focus on low glycemic carbohydrates. Examples include brown rice, sweet potatoes, and pure oatmeal
- High glycemic carbohydrates can be ingested post-workout with a high protein meal or supplement
- Low / No carbohydrates
- Focus on high protein meals from a mixture of lean protein sources such as chicken breasts, salmon, and eggs
- Be sure to increase your fat content as well – focus on healthy, all natural sources of fatty acids such as coconut oil, nuts, and seeds
Carbohydrate cycling isn’t for everyone. Yes, there have been very positive results but for some, it is going to be one tough lifestyle change. Ease yourself into it. Give it a try and see how your body responds. (3)
3. Turn Up the Heat
Most of you reading this are currently using a supplement to help you reach your fitness goals. Chances are that you have protein and a pre-workout sitting on your shelf. One supplement that may be ideal to help increase your metabolic response and support fat burning is thermogenic.
High-quality thermogenic supplements contain clinically studied ingredients that have been demonstrated to support fat burning.
4. Maximize Intensity
Regardless of whether you are going for weight loss or muscle building, cardiovascular training should be playing a big role in your program right about now. Forget the treadmill. Skip the stepper. Why waste an hour at a slow and boring pace when you can get better results at a fraction of the time?
High-intensity interval training has taken the fitness world by storm, resulting in an explosion of H.I.I.T. based training programs and classes. The basic formula for a high-intensity cardiovascular workout is simple: choose primarily bodyweight exercises targeting multiple muscle groups and perform them at full intensity without resting until the entire list is complete. Then repeat circuits 2-3 times through.
The great thing about H.I.I.T. programs is that the workouts support both muscle building and fat loss. Substitute this H.I.I.T. workout for your next cardio session and let us know your results (10).
Perform entire list before taking a break. Once finished, rest for 2 to 3 minutes and begin again. Repeat 2-3x:
- Jumping Jacks: 35
- Mountain Climbers: 15
- Jump Squats: 10
- Push-Ups: 15
- Superman: 30 seconds
- Burpees: 10
- Hannuksela, M. L. & Ellahham, S. Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American journal of medicine 110, 118-126 (2001).
- Patrick, Dr. Rhonda. “Are Saunas the Next Big Performance-Enhancing ‘Drug’?” N.D. http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/04/10/saunas-hyperthermic-conditioning-2. Web.
- Julie Y Kresta, Mike Byrd, Jonathan M Oliver, Claire Canon, Michelle Mardock, Sunday Simbo, Yanghoon Jung, Majid Koozehchian, Deepesh Khanna, Brittanie Lockard, Ryan Dalton, Han K Kim, Chris Rasmussen, and Richard B Kreider. Effects of diet cycling on weight loss, fat loss and resting energy expenditure in women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7(Suppl 1): P21. Published online 2010 Sep 15. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-7-S1-P21.
- Ostojic SM. Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players. Res Sports Med. 2006 Oct-Dec;14(4):289-99.
- Venables MC, Hulston CJ, Cox HR, Jeukendrup AE. Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):778-84.
- MU Eteng, HA Ibekwe, UI Umoh, PE Ebong, IB Umoh, EU Eyong. Theobromine rich cocoa powder induces weight loss and changes in lipid profile of obese wistar rats. Discovery and Innovation Vol. 18 (3) 2006: pp. 191-196.
- Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. A review of the human clinical studies involving Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) extract and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine. Int J Med Sci. 2012;9(7):527-38. Epub 2012 Aug 29.
- Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2003 Sep;90(3):651-59.
- Brandsch C, Eder K. Effect of L-carnitine on weight loss and body composition of rats fed a hypocaloric diet. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(5):205-10.
- Perry CG, Heigenhauser GJ, Bonen A, Spriet LL. High-intensity aerobic interval training increases fat and carbohydrate metabolic capacities in human skeletal muscle. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008 Dec;33(6):1112-23. doi: 10.1139/H08-097
About David Sautter
David Sautter is an NASM certified personal trainer, NASM certified fitness nutrition specialist, fitness workshop leader, and health and fitness writer who has been featured in NoTimeWheysted, Kutting Weight, and Workout Labs. With over 12 years of experience, David has been the driving creative force behind numerous fitness-related e-books, training guides, articles, and supplement research. You can discover more of his work at his website: WriteOnSautter.com.