Summer is here. The pool is packed and the coolers are full. Smoke from the grill and the scent of sunscreen are in the air… along with the feeling of utter despair.
If you’re looking in the mirror and still have a one-pack (even under the best overhead bathroom lighting), you know the summertime panic I’m talking about.
The good news is you still have time to get in shape before your beach vacation without doing something stupid like a lemon cayenne juice cleanse or two-week water fast.
It won’t be easy, mind you: you’ll need a lot of determination and focus to slim down over the next four to six weeks, but it can be done if you follow these steps.
Disclaimer: I DO NOT advocate using the following strategies year-round.
If you follow the advice in my book or on this blog, your beach bod is glistening and ready to go. But for those of you who’ve stumbled and need a last-minute fix, I’ve got your back.
Step 1: Stop Drinking
Look, I get it—this step sucks. But if you want to a beach bod, this is where it starts.
I can’t tell you how many times “drinking one night a week with friends” has been the culprit when people have asked me about “plateaus” and “progress stalls.”
Booze hijacks your fat burning and thus has no place in this process. Trust me, I’ve tried for years to make boozing and hacking work together and they just don’t mix.
Think about it like being pregnant, only for six weeks instead of nine months.
Once this process is over, you’ll get to enjoy a few Mai Tais on your vacation.
Step 2: Clean Up Your Diet
For this step, I’ll remind you of three rules we’ve covered extensively on this blog:
- Fitness is 85% diet and 15% exercise.
- When it comes to your diet, garbage in = garbage out.
- Your body is too smart for you to cut corners with your fat loss.
If you need a crash course on hacking your diet, check out this post, and then do the math in the next section to see how many calories you should be consuming.
Step 3: Lower Your Activity Factor
If you’ve calculated your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) before, all you need to do is change your activity factor from 1.2 to 1.15 for the next six weeks.
If you’ve never done these calculations before, TDEE tells you how many calories you need per day, and to get that number we first need to determine our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Your BMR tells you how many calories you need every day just to live:
- Men = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
- Women = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
We usually multiply your BMR by an activity factor of 1.2 to determine your TDEE.
In this case, we’re dropping it to 1.15 to cut the number of calories you’re consuming.
Step 4: Give MAX Effort in the Gym
I’ve spilled tons of digital ink on this blog explaining why compound lifts are the most effective and efficient way to burn fat. For this beach bod blitz, they’re even more important.
During these six weeks, you can’t cheat yourself at all in the gym.
You must lift to the point of failure on every set and make sure you’re tracking your lifts.
Step 5: Add Strategic Cardio
I know—I’ve preached against the evils of cardio on this blog and in my book, but desperate times call for advanced strategies I wouldn’t normally suggest.
The key is successfully integrating cardio into your lifting schedule.
There are two times during the day when your body is primed for fat burning:
- After a 12-16 hour fast when all your body has left to burn is body fat. On a rest day, if you mix in some cardio after a fast, you’re guaranteed to burn straight body fat.
- After a heavy lift when your fuel tank is empty. If you throw in 30 minutes of HIIT cardio after you lift, it’ll melt your body fat since it’s the only available energy source.
Be sensible with your strategic cardio.
Doing an Insanity Plyometric workout or running a half marathon is not some super hack—it’s just super dumb. You’ll submarine your lifts if you overdo it with the cardio.
Step 6: Optional Advanced Strategies
I debated whether to include these advanced strategies as they’re not for the faint of heart, and if you overdo it with either of them, you’ll most likely get burned out.
Only add these if you have incredible self-control and desperately need a final push.
Whatever your lifting schedule is, add strategic cardio several hours before or after your lift.
On a rest day, do a fasted cardio session in the morning and once again in the evening.
Eat Stop Eat
Take a page from intermittent fasting (IF) godfather Brad Pilon’s book and throw in a 24-hour fast once or twice a week to slice off a few more of those calories.
Here’s a primer we did on IF and Eat Stop Eat if you’re up for the challenge.
Step 7: Quit While You’re Ahead
Remember: these strategies are temporary quick fixes.
When it comes to long-term fitness, slow and steady always wins the race.
But if you need a beach bod before the summer sun fades away, give this process a shot.