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It seems like people are always looking for ways to improve their fit appearance, and like strong shoulders and massive biceps, an eye-popping set of abs is usually a big part of that image. So I put together a set of 20 tips for sculpting a flat stomach and broke it into two parts. This is the second part, you can see the first ten tips here.
As I mentioned in Part 1, achieving an impressive set of chiseled abs isn’t an easy process, but it’s not as difficult as some would have you think, either. Like most fitness goals, it involves knowledge of how your body works, some common sense and smart workouts, plus a healthy dose of self-discipline.
Here’s the second set of 10 tips for impressive abs. Use any or all of them, as well as combining them with the first ten I gave you. For the best results, of course, all 20 is the way to go.
We all know that any kind of stress can trigger the release of cortisol into the system. And cortisol hinders fat-burn and promotes fat storage, especially around the midsection. What you may not realize is that even minor stressors can trigger cortisol release. A study several years ago showed that even the stress of monitoring caloric intake was sufficient to cause a rise in cortisol levels in dieters. In that same study, it was determined that insufficient or irregular sleep also contributed significantly to increased cortisol in the system.
This is why we need to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night on a regular schedule. I also recommend setting a daily time by which you’ve turned off your email, Facebook, cell phone and TV, so you can wind down and be prepared to get proper rest. You can also take just 3 or 4 minutes each morning to remind yourself of the good things in your life – it helps keep a positive mindset throughout the day. You can do this again in the middle of the day, taking a ten minute break to listen to some relaxing music, meditate, pray – whatever relaxes you.
12. For increased intensity, split your workouts
Instead of a standard 1-hour workout, you can split it into two 30-minute sessions. This not only helps by breaking up the monotony, it also allows you to hit a higher intensity level because you’re getting some recovery time in between those sessions.
Besides, with a 60 minute workout, it’s too easy to force your muscles into a catabolic state, as well as triggering cortisol release. Splitting your workout will lessen this risk.
13. Measure portion sizes rather than caloric intake
Whether you measure your portion sizes by weight, volume or just by eyeballing, it’s important to measure them somehow. I’m pretty good at estimating them by eyeballing, but I still use my food scale because I think weight is the most reliable metric. Just remember, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed.
I make changes in my diet gradually. For instance, as I become leaner, I might increase a portion of fish from 8 oz to 10 oz. That’s right, I increase my protein intake as I get leaner. For the same reason, I gradually reduce my carbs as I get leaner. I might cut my 12 oz portion of sweet potatoes down to 10 oz.
I rarely bother to measure my vegetables, because I try to consume as much as I can of those – at least a cup at each meal. But for the rest of your diet, I’d say that not measuring your food with a scale is like trying to save money without ever checking your bank balance – it won’t be very effective.
14. Spend AT LEAST 45-75 minutes, 5 times per week, with the weights
If you want to see real gains at building new muscle, you need to get some volume workouts in. You can split this, but be sure you hit the minimum total per week, or you’re not going to see the best results.
15. Spend AT LEAST 20 minutes per session, 3 times per week, at interval cardio
When it comes to cardio for fat-burning, high intensity interval cardio can’t be beaten. This isn’t for sissies, but nothing strips fat off your gut faster, to get you those well-defined abs you’re looking for .
20 minutes of high intensity interval cardio will also yield more results than an hour or more of steady state cardio, so don’t waste your time. This can make it a lot easier to fit a workout into a busy schedule, as well as freeing up time for other pursuits
16. Alcohol and sweets – only on special occasions.
There’s nothing but sugar and empty calories in alcohol, and the same is true of most desserts. And here’s a shocker for you: studies have shown that a Friday night of heavy drinking will suppress your testosterone level until the next Wednesday! Wow! Are you sure you’re prepared to throw 60% of your efforts for the week away?
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat, but I suggest you avoid the sweets and alcohol except for very special (and rare) occasions. What it boils down to is deciding whether a six-pack of beer is more important to you than your six-pack abs.
After a few weeks without the sweets and alcohol, your cravings will subside, so you won’t want them as often. And if you do treat yourself on a special occasion, you won’t want as much.
17. Promote fat loss by taking the right supplements
Personally, I think a person should get most of their nutrition from whole foods, but there are some studies that indicate that because of depleted soil, we’re typically getting only around 40% of the nutrients in our food. That’s a big hit, so I think supplements are a good idea for making up the difference. For instance, IC5 from BioTrust has a great insulin-management supplement. You can also keep your digestive system tuned up with probiotics, and promote overall health and fat anabolism with magnesium, Vitamins C & D and fish oil.
18. Try cyclical bulking
Cyclical bulking – shorter periods of alternate cutting and bulking – helps keep your hormones at the optimum levels for both cycles. You can take advantage of the hormonal balance present after each transition point to make your efforts most productive.
During a shorter bulking phase, you’re taking advantage of the anabolism caused by the preceding caloric deficit, then as your system becomes accustomed to the increased calories, you can shift to cutting.
On the shorter cutting phase, the increased insulin sensitivity caused by your bulking diet, as well as the optimized ghrelin and leptin levels will aid your cutting. Again, when your system begins to acclimate, you’re ready to shift back to bulking.
I’ve seen fantastic results by bulking for 2-12 weeks and then following it with 1- 4 weeks of cutting. If you like, you can grab a copy of my www.21DayFastMassBuilding.com program, to pick up the science of gaining muscle, not fat, using cyclical bulking.
19. Set a deadline
Break your goal of chiseled abs into smaller goals, like losing 1% body fat each week or by upping the intensity and volume of your ab exercises. Then assign a deadline for each, because you’re more likely to achieve something when you’re held accountable.
A training journal is critical at this point, in my opinion. You need to have a structured plan, with accountability, as well as a way of tracking your progress. Without that, you’re flying blind, and any progress you manage will be by pure luck. For maximum results, track!
10. Get a pro to help
If you’re not seeing the progress you want and you’re serious about ripped abs, stop designing your own program. A trained professional can prepare a periodized 12-month program for you, providing progressive phases and continuity to yield the best results. You can hire a coach or you can sign up for my Hypertrophy Max program – whatever necessary to get some professional guidance so you’re not spinning your wheels.
Okay, now you’ve got the second batch of ten tips for killer abs. You’re all set to put some or all of them in practice (all is better, for the best results) and you’ll be on the way to having that washboard gut you want.
Here’s a video with some more great information on how to trim your midsection and build a set of abs that’ll have peoples’ jaws dropping:
I get asked a lot how to achieve and maintain a flat stomach and killer abs. The abs are one of the features of a physique that will stand out as much as bulging biceps or massive shoulders, and they’re often considered to be one of the visual aspects of a person’s fitness. So it’s natural that most fitness enthusiasts want to sport impressive abs.
This is a two-part series, providing 20 results-oriented tips on how to achieve a head-turning set of abs. Notice that the title isn’t something like Killer Abs in 20 Easy Steps. There’s a very good reason for that: it simply isn’t as easy as some people would like you to believe.
The good news is that it isn’t as hard as some others would have you believe, either. Like any other aspect of fitness and bodybuilding, it just takes discipline, and building good habits can make self-discipline easier. Put your program in overdrive by putting it on automatic.
Getting there takes the right exercise, diet and focus and isn’t “easy”, by any means. But by forming the right habits and mindset, it can be made a lot less difficult. I’ve put together 20 tips that have worked very well for me and many of the guys I’ve mentored. Here are the first 10:
This may sound like something you automatically do whenever you’re making a major decision like what exercise routine or dietary program to follow. Actually, though, it can have as much or more impact with the small, everyday decisions we make, too. Can you skip one meal, cut short a workout or cheat yourself out of a couple of hours of sleep? These may seem like small things in the big picture, but these things can add up in a hurry.
If you teach yourself to analyze every single decision and activity in this light, you’ll move ahead toward your goal more steadily. And you’ll be surprised how after a short while, it becomes an automatic process – pretty soon, you won’t even realize you’re doing it.
Any decision that slows you down or detours you is something you’ll automatically avoid, once you get totally focused on your goal. Avoid bad decisions like the plague and you’ll be able to see the results in your physique more quickly.
When temptations are all around you, whether at home, at a friend’s place or out and about, it’s easier to tell yourself that just one won’t hurt. But if everything around you is a healthy option, it’s harder to make a bad decision.
At home, at least, you’re in control of your surroundings, so if you don’t bring home foods that can slow your progress toward that washboard stomach you’re aiming for, you’re less likely to jump the tracks. The more temptations we’re faced with, the harder it is to stay on the straight and narrow path, so one of the first smart decisions you should make is to remove those temptations.
Bring home healthy foods and snacks. Fresh veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts are great healthy snacks that won’t set your abs-building back. If you’re giving yourself a periodic treat of an ice cream sundae, visit the neighborhood ice cream shop to enjoy it – if you bring ice cream home and put it in your freezer, it’s just going to tempt you to overdo it.
Ben Pakulski and Charles Poliquin convinced me that I should try the meat and nuts breakfast and that’s one of the best diet tips anyone has ever given me. It’s what helped me achieve my personal best: 4% body fat for the 2011 WBFF World Championship competition.
After your overnight fasting, the first thing you eat in the morning sets the pace for your neurotransmitters. A high-glycemic food that causes an insulin spike will trigger serotonin, so you may feel great, but you’ll also be more sluggish and tired, as a result.
What you need to do is prime your neurotransmitters to trigger acetylcholine and dopamine, by eating low-glycemic foods. The meat and nuts breakfast is ideal for this. It will satisfy your food craving, while increasing your sense of focus and drive. And it’ll work to put bulge in your muscles, not in your belly.
I never eat carbs in the morning, because it can cause insulin spikes (and the crash that follows). The meat and nuts breakfast creates a very slow rise in blood sugar, preventing that.
Part of building a great set of abs is building muscle size – shedding fat to reveal those muscles is another part. The last piece of the puzzle is proper nutrition. You knew that, right?
Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is your body’s process of building new muscle fiber by the conversion of dietary protein. Those fibers are comprised of a variety of amino acids, one of the most important of which, for your purposes, will be leucine. In order to build new muscle throughout the day, you’ll need a constant supply of leucine, so eating high-protein meals several times per day will be necessary.
I’ve done a lot of careful research and experimentation with my own diet over the years, as well as with more than 700 face-to-face clients and many thousands of online students. What I’ve discovered is that the optimum program consists of consuming five whole-food meals and one shake during each day. This has been the most effective approach for 90% of my students, 90% of the time. When I tried getting my macronutrients in 2, 3 or 4 meals per day, I just found myself getting weaker and smaller.
Six daily meals is a great way to distribute your daily protein, too. You can usually get around 3 – 5 grams of leucine in every 30 – 50 grams of protein, so if you’re dividing that protein evenly across 5 or 6 meals (for example, on a 200 gram protein diet), you’re in good shape.
As far as I’m concerned, counting calories is a recipe for failure. Research has shown that all calories aren’t equal, yet there are tons of programs making gobs of money selling calorie-counting programs. This practice will probably keep the myth alive, but it won’t make it an effective strategy.
There are two basic reasons that following a calorie-based program won’t support a good program for fat loss:
Counting calories also takes a lot of time and effort, and most of us can’t be attentive enough to the process to even be reasonably accurate. Just the stress of calorie counting can be enough to elevate your cortisol level.
I have a personal rule not to give myself any treat meals unless I’m under 10% body fat, just because I think any guy over 10% is fat. Once I hit 10%, I treat myself one meal per week, but not an evening meal. When you’re 90% on target with your entire program, you’ve earned an occasional treat, and they can actually be beneficial.
When I’m bulking, I usually give myself two half-day treat days per week, but between noon and midnight. The wife and I will step out for dinner on Thursday and Sunday, maybe hitting a movie and some treats, and that really helps control the cravings during the week, which helps me maintain a healthy long-term dietary program.
Every carb you consume should be earned, and until you’re down to 10% body fat, you haven’t earned any. You should be on a low-carb (not no-carb) diet until you get down to 10%). For some big guys, low-carb might still call for 200-300 grams per day, but that should still be low-glycemic carbs and green vegetables, focusing on healthy fats and proteins, until they get down to 10% body fat.
By beginning the day with a greens drink, you’re starting the day off with a healthy amount of the micronutrients necessary to lean down and build muscle. Plant-based proteins, plenty of vitamins and minerals and a load of antioxidants, with minimal caloric intake, is ideal. I call juicing the ULTIMATE in fast-food nutrition, because you can get tons of nutrients into your system within a measly 15 minutes.
I generally start off with a base of celery and cucumber and build on that. I really like to add kale and broccoli or spinach, parsley and some mint. You can play around with different flavor mixes to keep your taste buds in the game… just be certain to get lots of dark leafy greens into the mix.
Chia seeds, chlorophyll and aloe vera are great additions, as these gelatinous fibers help your body excrete toxins. You’ll be amazed at how quickly these super foods can put your health on a new track.
In general, it’s always wise to be cautious about creating food allergies, but even more so when you’re trying to build a flat stomach, as the bloating and slow-down of the digestive process, from induced allergies like those of gluten or lactose, can stop your progress cold.
If you feel as though you may be developing an allergy to a food, you really need to get tested. At the least, though, you should eliminate that food from your diet for a couple of weeks, just to see if you feel better. If you’ve developed a sensitivity, cutting back will generally result in less gas, swelling, bloating and fatigue.
Some of these symptoms can be experienced without having an allergy to a food, of course. A mere sensitivity or difficulty in processing a particular food can be enough to give you gas, fatigue or bloating when you consume it. If you find that eliminating it for a couple of weeks helps, you may just want to remove it from your diet permanently.
Try to never repeat the same fat or protein in one day. Rotating them can keep your diet more palatable, but it also helps ensure you’re getting a more complete variety of the healthy fats and amino acids your body needs. Try a new protein every week, by adding foods like venison or elk, buffalo. scallops or turkey to your diet. Don’t just consume chicken and beef – get some variety of different seafood, poultry and red meat into your diet.
There you go – there are 10 tips for helping you sculpt your abs, that you can try some or all of. They’ve worked well for me and for my clients, and I’m sure they’ll work equally well for you. If well-defined abs are the prize you’re after, you’ll probably want to use every tool that works for you.
I’ll soon be bringing you another 10 tips for your arsenal, but in the meantime, since we haven’t talked about workouts specifically aimed at developing a flat stomach, you may want to check out my brand-new abdominal workout program, to help you say “Goodbye, gut“: Get Ripped Abs
Cardio routines can be a big waste of time, if they aren’t effective. For a workout to be effective, it must meet these five important criteria.
If you’re like the average American, you have a friend who works out every single day, yet never seems to lose body fat. They spend hours on the treadmill or pumping weights, and it does nothing for them. This is because they still believe that burning calories is the only key to effectively losing body fat. Unfortunately, although this myth has long been disproved, people are still falling victim to it. If you want to burn fat, you have to do more than simply burn more calories than you consume. Here’s what to look for in a fat loss workout that works:
1. A clearly defined program
Effective fat loss requires a structured program. Simply jumping on the treadmill or starting a cardio routine is not going to cut it for you. In a clearly defined program, you have the ability to measure your progress. You can also make plans to change the program and increase intensity as needed for better results.
The progress of your program can be measured in a variety of ways. Perhaps you’ll measure by duration or reps, or maybe distance or speed will be the measurement. It doesn’t matter how you measure, as long as you are measuring. Without a plan, you can’t push yourself to become more effective and get the results you want.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the key to effectively burning fat. If you tackle cardio and stay at a steady state, you won’t succeed. Multiple studies have shown that interval training is crucial to burning fat. A 2007 study also showed that HIIT training increased the metabolic rate for an average of 12 to 20 hours after exercise. This means continued calorie burn even while at rest, which leads to greater overall fat loss.
In one study, a team of researches led by MacPherson took a group of 20 men and women to test this theory. Some of the individuals started a six-week steady-state treadmill program, while the rest began a HIIT treadmill program. The steady-state group exercised for 30-60 minute intervals, while the HIIT group only exercised for 20-30 minutes. Interestingly, those who were participating in the HIIT group lost 13 percent body fat, while those who exercised at a steady state lost less than 6 percent.
3. Measuring more than weight
When you’re exercising, seeing the number on the scale hold steady or even increase is discouraging. Yet, it’s natural for weight to fluctuate, even when you’re losing fat. If you’re gaining muscle mass while burning fat, your weight can increase quite a bit while you are exercising, even while your body is getting trimmed and toned. Your body fat percentage is a better indicator of how effective your workout is. Find a workout that helps you lose 1 percent of your body fat per week – if you can’t achieve that, your program is ready for a change.
4. Adaptable for frequent changes
Your workout must be adaptable. You need to be manipulating the workout regularly to increase intensity and effectiveness. This is called periodizing. For example, if you’re running, you can increase the speed, the incline on the treadmill or the distance to increase the intensity of the workout. Constantly adapting your workout will help you burn more fat, and will also help prevent a dreaded plateau, so choose a workout that’s adaptable.
5. Works with your hormones
Your body is driven by hormones, and if you try to fight them, you won’t lose fat. Cortisol is one of the principal hormones that impacts fat storage. If you perform a prolonged cardio program, you’ll increase levels of cortisol in your body, thus promoting more fat storage. That means you’ll be fighting an uphill battle in your attempt to lose fat. Understand your hormones and how they affect your body, and then choose a workout or training program that will promote the right hormonal balance.
Fat loss programs are a dime a dozen. Some work, and some don’t. Choose one that fits these five criteria, and you’ll be much happier with your fat loss results.
Getting stuck in a plateau stinks – there’s just no other way to put it.
When you’re doing everything you can to push though and transform your body, and your results essentially stop, it’s easy to get discouraged. This point is critical, as it is where many athletes give up. They either jump ship and start working another program, start slacking or give up altogether.
Everyone experiences plateaus now and then and you just have to find a way to get through it. You have to dominate all aspects of your training, including the inevitable plateau.
Through my work, I’ve found several ways to blast through plateaus. These methods are things that everyone can do. Some come from well-known names like Charles Poliquin and IFBB pro, Ben Pakulski. Others come from what I have seen in the people I’ve trained. Still others come from my experience in fine-tuning my own body. All of them will help you not only get back on the bandwagon, but also start seeing gains again. They also should cause you to rethink your approach to training.
1. Change the Tempo
Time under tension is measured in a 3-number ratio. The first number refers to the number of seconds in the lowering, or eccentric, phase. The second is the number of seconds you pause, and the third is the number of seconds you lift, or the concentric phase.
You can change your tempo by increasing or decreasing the concentric part and increasing the eccentric part, such as 8:0:4, 3:1:3, 4:2:1 o 6:1:3. These are all slow tempos. For a faster tempo, consider 1:0:1 or 2:0:1. For something in the middle, consider 2:1:1, 3:1:1 or 3:2:1. The point is not a specific ratio, per se, but rather making a change to your existing ratio.
2. Swap Sets with Reps
Swapping sets and reps gives you the same number of reps, but may trick your body into better results. For example, if you are doing 8 sets of 4, change to 4 sets of 8. This changes your routine from intensity training to volume training. If you’re looking for muscle size, you want volume training. If you’re looking for strength, you want intensity training.
3. Do a Giant Set
Most training protocols teach you to rotate between body parts during your routine, but a giant set does just the opposite. With a giant set, you do a 6-12-25 set of three different exercises for the same body part back-to-back-to-back. This requires all three of the primary muscle fibers to work out, giving you better growth and definition. It puts low-rep strength, hypertrophy and endurance work all into one series.
This is not an easy approach. When I did a YouTube video series on it, I went through the workouts myself. They’re tough. However, they’re worthwhile and will help you improve, so don’t be afraid to try them, provided you’re experienced enough to handle it. It’s not for beginners.
4. Use a Stopwatch
Unless you have a stopwatch, you can’t be certain how long you’re resting. Those 30 seconds go by quickly when you’re pushing yourself hard. Wear a stopwatch and time your rest periods, so your workouts are honest and consistent. Make the most out of every second of your workout. This starts by learning to count those seconds.
5. Work Yourself Like Crazy, then Rest
At Charles Poliquin’s 5-Day Hypertrophy Boot Camp, I worked myself almost to death. This was the hardest week of my life, working every body part three times daily, for a full five days. I learned 15 unique workouts and some of the best methods, none of which I’ve seen published anywhere for all of the 10 years I’ve been doing this.
When we left, we were told to take five days off. It’s a good thing I listened, because my body was wasted. What surprised me was what happened during those five days of rest. I gained five pounds of lean muscle mass while not doing anything. In fact, all 17 of those who participated in the boot camp also gained, with the average gain being five pounds.
From this I learned that pushing yourself to an extreme will create super compensation, if you give your body rest and recovery time. You can do this yourself. Work every body part three times per day for five days total, then take off the next five days. If this is too ambitious, start with two workouts a day.
This will shock your body and blast you through your plateau. We now teach Poliquin’s method to our own Hypertrophy MAX students here at IFBB. We teach it because it works really well, so go ahead and give it a try.
6. Rotate Protein Sources
Your body can quickly get used to protein sources just as it does workouts. If you’re eating the standards of chicken, eggs and steak, you need to stop those for a week and try something new. Also, make sure you don’t eat the same protein two times in the same day. Don’t neglect the dairy and plant-based proteins, like beans, quinoa and yogurt, when making your choices.
7. Focus on One Part
Finally, if you’re trying to bust out of a plateau, start by focusing on just one part. Pick the body part that needs the most work, and work it as hard as you can two or three times a week for a period of three to six weeks. This will trick your body into developing that body part. Then, resume normal frequency so the body part can super compensate. Don’t specialize in this way for more than six weeks, though. Resume your normal frequency, and watch the plateau disappear.
There’s 7 good ways for you to break through a plateau, so monitor your tracking carefully, so you can spot one as it starts, and you’ll avoid a lot of lost time and wasted effort.
Remember that forum post you read that told you all you have to do is eat big, lift big and get big? Maybe you already figured out for yourself that it was a bunch of baloney. That stuff only works for a few genetic freaks, which I’m betting, you’re not. So stop beating your head against the wall – you can’t force your muscles to grow.
Force-feeding yourself won’t build muscles – you just end up looking bloated and puffy. You need to learn how your body works, and work with it! That’s the way to get predictable and sustainable results from your muscle-building campaign.
Here are some pro tips to help you add that lean mass you want.
Pro Tip #1: Break big goals into small mini-goals
A lot of novice muscle-builders get an image in their mind of what they want to look like, and as time goes on, and they haven’t hit the mark yet, they get discouraged and either give up or start hopping from one method to another.
That “after” picture takes time to achieve and the changes are often so gradual that you can’t really see them from day to day. On top of that, muscle growth isn’t slow and steady – it comes in spurts. Some people think that as long as they stick with their program, working out for a few months, then cutting for a few months, they’ll achieve what they want. And some will. But do you have any idea how many opportunities they miss in the process, to speed things up considerably? A LOT!
You’re much better off setting some short term goals and deadlines. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to “bulk up”… that’s not a goal. Telling yourself you’re going to add 80 pounds of lean mass is a goal. But an even better goal is to break that into mini-goals of adding 10 pounds of lean muscle each month. That’s easier to deal with and shows you definite progress toward your main goal.
And by the way, don’t think for a minute that 10 pounds of muscle per month is impossible – it’s not. My 21-Day Mass-Building System will show you how to strategize your workout routines and diet to achieve it.
Pro Tip #2: More muscle gain with smaller training cycles
Just as you break your goals down into smaller goals, you should break your training cycles down into smaller cycles. The first few weeks of a new program will often yield great progress, but as your body gets accustomed to the program, progress slows and you finally plateau. The human body adjusts very quickly to a new environment, and that quick progress demonstrates that your body is responding to the change with growth.
There’s an old saying among muscle-builders: Almost everything works, but nothing works forever. In other words, don’t expect to make continuous progress with the same training program – sooner or later, you’ll plateau. You need to keep your body stimulated with new activities in order to see sustainable progress.
That doesn’t mean to keep changing things up all the time, though. That will just confuse your muscles, because they need to have time to adapt to new activity before the real results start kicking in. Ideally, you shouldn’t change until your progress begins to flatten, signaling a plateau.
In short, change is a good thing, but it needs to be planned and it needs to occur at the right time. Let each phase of your program deliver before changing up. This will usually happen in about three weeks, for most people.
Pro Tip #3: Calorie Cycling Delivers Maximum Muscle Growth
Bodybuilding competitors normally go through calorie cycling in order to gain lean muscle mass. They diet like crazy to get ripped for a competition, then afterwards, they cram to regain the lost weight, creating several pounds of new muscle in the process. That’s why they manage to get larger and leaner with every competition.
Where this becomes a problem is when they pay no attention to the nutritional aspects of their diet. You see, just like your body gets accustomed to the same exercise routine day after day, it can also get accustomed to the same nutritional intake over time.
Several research articles have been published on the topic of calorie cycling for fat loss. For instance, Forbes et all conducted a study with a group of adult females that converted from a standard maintenance diet to 21 days of 1200-1600 surplus calories per day. Their blood tests displayed a progressive increase of IGF-1, insulin and testosterone, the three most powerful anabolic hormones. But those gains were also accompanied by impressive gains of solid muscle mass.
Sure, they picked up a few pounds of fat, as well. But then, they weren’t working out at all, and they weren’t getting a lot of extra protein in their diet. Just think what kind of results they might have gotten if they had.
The bottom line is, your body will release more anabolic hormones when you greatly increase your caloric intake, which results in shifting those calories to muscle growth. This effect will last around two weeks before the body gets accustomed to the higher calorie content and muscle growth plateaus. That’s the time to back off the high intake and get primed for another phase of rapid growth.
Pro Tip #4: Your Diet and you Workouts Must Match
This is short and sweet – great workouts won’t compensate for a lousy diet. If you want to train to build mass, you need to eat to build mass, too. That means boosting your caloric intake and getting plenty of healthy carbs like vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. The synergy this creates is what delivers the awesome results we all want.
Pro Tip #5: Shoot for Constant Progress
Don’t try to be perfect in your training – nobody is. You may backslide on your diet now and then or miss an occasional workout, but the world won’t end. If you berate yourself for it, you’ll just end up discouraged, possibly giving up.
Instead, focus on maintaining steady progress toward your goal. Dr. John Berardi said that there’s virtually no difference between sticking with a program 90% and 100%, and I’ve seen that to be very true in my fitness experience.
Having that 10% margin of error in your program allows you to forgive those slight deviations from your plan and keep making progress. In more than ten years in bodybuilding, believe me, I’ve given into my cravings for some junk food or skipped a workout now and then. But I’m able to keep moving toward my goals because I’m always at least 90% on track.
So my advice is to just stay focused on maintaining steady progress. Don’t beat yourself up over a couple of little stumbles. That’s the way you’ll be able to see your ultimate physique transformation and muscle building goals getting closer and closer.