4 WEEKS TO A BEACH BODY
Look your best on holiday with our 4 week plan.
Get fit for summer
The holiday is booked. For muscle and weight-loss gains as guaranteed as your dodgy passport photo, follow this blueprint to looking good by the sea…
4 weeks to go
Distract everyone on the sand from the fact that your skin is causing glare issues for the lifeguard by switching your metabolic dial to ‘incinerate’. High-intensity interval training will get your month-long belly offensive off to the best possible start. A study in the Journal of Applied Nutrition Physiology and Metabolism found that it increases your body’s capacity for burning fat by 60% – boosting the effectiveness of all the exercise you’ll do in the coming weeks.
On the bike, rower or treadmill, exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then rest for 2 minutes, and repeat – that’s 2 intervals. Add an extra 2 every other workout to keep stripping those fat layers and increase muscle definition. Supplement this with 30-60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise of your choice, from the treadmill to swimming or tennis 1- 2 times this week.
Forget cliff-edge diets where calories plummet dramatically. Instead cut your calorie intake by a sixth for the next four weeks. For five days this week, cut out inter-meal snacks and evening-meal carbs. This reduction in calories avoids the metabolic slowdown that comes from dramatic dieting. Your body will react to a smaller deficit by oxidising more fat.
Top up your levels of zinc this week as recent research found this optimises your physical performance. Twice a week, tuck in to a lean 200g steak sandwich, which not only keeps you in zinc but laces your muscles with protein. You’re going to need it.
One more thing
Get out in the sun before the holiday. University of Minnesota research found that people with high levels of vitamin D (boosted by exposure to sunlight) lost more weight than those with low levels. If the sun is still refused entry to the UK, boil two eggs for breakfast – you’ll crack open almost half of your vitamin D RDA with your soldiers.
3 weeks to go
With your metabolism hitting top gear, it’s time to speed up your traditional weights programme. Explosive weight training brings rapid results because it creates more muscle tension than other types of resistance training. Aim to complete the pushing phase of an exercise in just 1 second and the recovery phase in 2-3 seconds. Research from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro found that doing this increases muscle power 3.5 times more than normal training.
Upper-body exercises most suited to explosive training involve dumb-bell routines such as bicep curls, shoulder presses and lateral raises. Failing that, try to lift your suitcase from the top of the wardrobe.
Match your work rate in the gym by giving your muscles an extended fuel-stop. Increase your weekly protein intake by a fifth from now on. Somewhere in your daily diet add the equivalent of a tin of beans, a boiled egg, and a can of tuna.
One more thing
Have a dip – according to research at the University of Buffalo, US, getting in the pool will increase your respiratory endurance by 38%, making your increased weights programme easier to handle. Sprint 2 lengths of the pool, 6-10 times with a short rest between each to emerge from the sea like Daniel Craig, rather than a whale that’s no good with directions.
2 weeks to go
Your out-of-office email is perfected and you’ve been breaking in your new snorkel in the bath. After shocking your muscles into action last week, you need to really test them if you want to turn heads for something other than your lobster-like complexion. Add a 15-minute kettlebell workout to your regular weights routine.
Unsurprisingly, a cannonball on a stick gets results – fast. Do a 15-minute workout made up of two-arm kettlebell swings, snatches and cleans, squat and presses. Aim for 16-24kg with 60 seconds between each exercise, three times a week. This workout targets all your major muscle groups.
With a fortnight to go, curb the carbs; this is one of the most reliable strategies for short-term weight loss. Dutch researchers found that eating 1 carb-free meal a day over a 2-week period increases your metabolic rate by 81 calories per day when 1 meal a day contains zero carbs and 70% protein for 2 weeks. Try 3 slices of lean roast pork with steamed green vegetables or a large salad with a 150g can of tuna. On arrival, you’ll have less to declare around your middle.
One more thing
You need to be extra-disciplined with your diet from here on, so go to sleep. A study at Chicago University found that people ate 24% fewer snacks after eight and a half hours’ kip. Drop off quicker with a bedside read that gets your neurons going. Research from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre found that using your brain gets your head down sooner. Try some genuine lateral thinking with Outside the Box by Paul Sloane and get inside the zzzone.
1 week to go
Like a marathon runner, you’ve put in the hard work and now you can only think of one thing. It’s time to take things comparatively easy. Concentrate on aerobic workouts for the last week. Research published in the journal Metabolism – Clinical and Experimental found that people who jogged at 50% pace, took a short rest, then ran to exhaustion maximised fat loss. Double-tap your work on the treadmill and vaporise the last of your midriff before Benidorm beckons.
Fancy a final fish supper before you leave Blighty? A 2009 study from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik found that a regime including 150g of cod or salmon, three times a week, promoted weight loss compared to a diet minus marine life.
But forget the portion of chips – the last thing you want to do now is undo all your hard work by eating foodstuffs that conceal your hard-won abs. Banish the following foodstuffs from your diet completely. French fries, onion rings, nachos with everything, fizzy pop, doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate and alcohol. Plus any meal that’s delivered through the window of your car.
One more thing
For a final blitz on the belly fat, force yourself under cold showers for the last week. New research from the US National Institutes of Health found that being exposed to cold temperatures increases energy used by thyroid hormones, which in turn crank up your metabolism. You’ll be shivering all the way to the beach.