We’re going to help you plan out your number one resolution this New Year’s – Get shredded! Yeah, sure tons of people say they’re going to do it, but only few actually achieve it. We’re about to break down the most common pitfalls and, more specifically what you need to do to avoid them so you can achieve your best ever physique in 2012.
- Most people will need about 12-16 weeks to get completely shredded, depending on your current level of leanness. It’s always better to give yourself more time and drop the fat slowly and steadily as opposed to rushing to get ripped. If you do it right, you should even end up building a little muscle in the process. Athletes that rely on extreme tactics such as very low carbohydrate diets and excessive amounts of cardio can end up sacrificing some of the hard-earned muscle they worked so hard to pack on during their offseason. Cut slowly and you’ll finish with more muscle and an overall much more impressive-looking physique. To set a date, it can help to register to compete in a local fitness or bodybuilding contest, book a hot tropical vacation or schedule a photo shoot. That way you’ll always have a constant reminder to keep you on track during your diet.
- You’ve heard the expression “you won’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re at”? Well, a great starting point for transitioning into any cutting phase is to jot down everything you typically eat and drink in a typical day. That way you can objectively see where there’s room for improvement and you can make a rough estimate of how many grams of protein, carbs and fat you’re taking in on a typical day. You will want to do this every 4 weeks to allow yourself to step back for a moment and objectively monitor the game plan.
- Don’t make the mistake of transitioning into an extremely strict diet from one day to the next. You’ll end up sacrificing muscle if you try to drop your carbohydrates and calories too abruptly. Instead, after the initial “clean-up” phase, plan to make changes every 4 weeks by gradually tapering down your carbohydrate and fat intake while keeping your lean protein intake at 1.5 grams per pound of lean body weight. As a general guideline, reduce your daily carbohydrate intake by 25% (e.g, 200 grams x .25 = cut 50 grams) every four weeks if the fat isn’t coming off. The same applies to your cardio work. Start your cardio sessions at 20 minutes each, then increase it gradually by adding about 10 minutes every 2-4 weeks, only if the fat isn’t coming off (up to a max of 45 minutes, five times per week). As you get closer to your goal date and you’ve stripped off most of the fat, taper your cardio back down to 20 minutes to allow your body to fill out with more muscle.
- Every 2-4 weeks, have a friend take a few photos of you from the front, side and back so that you can objectively evaluate your progress. It’s easy to look in the mirror, under your favorite shadowy lighting, and convince yourself you’re on the right track. But try comparing photos under well-lit conditions, doing the exact same pose and wearing the same shorts every time. This will provide you with a more realistic assessment of where you’re at. If you’re making progress, it will serve as a great source of motivation. On the other hand, if you’re not on track, it will be a great wake-up call and kick in the butt to make some adjustments.
- It will be a long three months if you try to cut the fat without having an occasional cheat meal. But it’s not only to provide some psychological relief from the diet. Your metabolism can start to slow down on a calorie-restricted diet, so by incorporating an occasional meal that’s dramatically higher in calories and carbs, you trick your body into thinking it’s not dieting and your metabolism will be revving at full capacity again. Some metabolically gifted athletes can do a cheat day but for most, stick with a cheat meal after you’ve just blasted a lagging body part to be safe.