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The same thing happens every year, you wake up one morning and realise that spring is in full effect and that there is only a matter of 12 weeks or so until summer is here.
Your first reaction is that of contentment, you think of barbeques, outdoor pools, the beach, holidays etc … and then all of a sudden it hits you. Your bedroom is covered in pizza boxes and you’re 5kg fatter than you were last year.
You need to get jacked before summer and you are running out of time!
But luckily for you, this article is targeting sufferers of this exact issue, we will look at how you can lose fat and build a bit of muscle in time for summer.
If you are prepared to work hard and be consistent you will be very pleased with the end result.
Tip #1: Sort Your Diet Out
If you want to shift that body fat you will need to start taking control over your diet, you need a plan.
You need regularly scheduled food shops that buy ingredients for healthy meals because one of the biggest failures for most diets is an empty cupboard – because this leads to takeaways and ready meals.
Giving up booze, junk food, and high-calorie meals full stop is not going to work, but you will definitely need to cut down.
Try scheduling a cheat meal once or twice per week, and spend the rest of the time eating healthy.
Look for lower-calorie versions of your favourite snacks, fat-free Greek yoghurt instead of regular, chicken sausages instead of pork, high protein cheese (yes it exists) rather than regular.
Tip #2: Track Calories Properly
The most common mistake that lifters make when they are attempting to cut is to estimate calories or “give up carbs“. This is not enough (particularly when you consider how important carbohydrates are) and will leave you with poor results.
You need to have a good idea of what your average calorie totals are before starting, what they should be (check google for useful equations), and what you need to lower them by to lose weight.
Once you have this information you should start tracking the calories you are consuming each day using a calorie tracking app (such as MyFitnessPal).
This will not only ensure that you stick to your targets each day, but will give you a good understanding of what food to avoid and what foods to add to your diet.
Lowering calories should be done on a week by week basis rather than all at once, this will not only be easier to manage but it will also prevent you from potentially catabolising muscle for energy.
Assess your progress at the end of each week so that you can adjust your calories if required. For example, if you are losing weight too fast then you can raise calories slightly, or if you feel that you haven't made enough progress recently you can decrease calories more severely.
Tip #3: Consume A High Protein Diet
When dieting the trick is to keep your protein intake high, as it is required for muscle protein synthesis.
If you are cutting correctly you should be exercising as often as you always do (sometimes even more) and to prevent your muscles catabolising you need high levels of protein .
Consuming high amounts of protein will protect your muscles whilst you lower your body weight and fat percentage .
Changing the ratio of carbohydrates to protein will help to improve your body composition whilst dieting (provided you exercise regularly) .
It is crucial to spread your protein intake throughout the day, rather than just take the majority of it with your evening meal  so look to increase the protein to carb and fat ratio at breakfast and lunch, and improve the protein content of your snacks.
Tip #4: Get In The Gym
With such a short time period to get in shape, you are going to need to be in the gym at least three times per week (ideally four).
Strength training with cardio thrown in at the end, known as concurrent training will really help maximise fat loss .
Try performing 3 big exercises per session (deadlift, leg press, bench press) and adding in 2 smaller exercises (lat pulldown, long arm crunches), before finishing off with some High Intensity Interval Training.
This is just an example, there are lots of training methods that you could utilise for fat burning. This just happens to be a very effective method that will burn a lot of calories and not make your sessions too long.
You can train with high reps for the smaller exercises, low reps of the 3 big exercises, and the HIIT can be of your choosing. Either treadmill sprints or TABATA would be good.
You can either train full-body, follow a bodybuilder split, or perform upper body exercises one day, lower the next. Or even adopt a push-pull method.
Fat loss seems to work very well with full-body though, so bear that in mind when making your choices.
Tip #5: Get Some Sleep
One of the most underrated ways to lose weight is to improve your sleep quality and sleep duration.
This can have beneficial effects on weight loss by improving your hormone production. A bad night can lead to increased hunger hormones and a reduced amount of satiety hormones (which causes overeating) .
Bad sleep can also lower growth hormone and testosterone levels , which can reduce the positive effects of exercise on your muscles.
Studies have shown that increasing your sleep can help boost testosterone and also improve physical exercise the following day. It can also increase muscle protein synthesis – which will give you bigger, stronger muscles.
Tip #6: Drink Lots Of Water
No, you don't need to drink 6 litres of water per day, you just need to stay hydrated.
This is because water can lower cravings whilst being dehydrated can increase feelings of hunger . That's because dehydration and hunger are very similar to your body and it sometimes struggles to differentiate.
So make sure that you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated and you should be fine.
Tip #7: Supplements
You don’t NEED supplements to lose weight and build muscle, but if you are looking for a 12-week turnaround, then you need to be optimal in everything you do. And taking certain supplements can do this for you.
Fat burners that rely on high doses of caffeine can definitely help increase your metabolism.
Sadly you can definitely have too much of a good thing when it comes to caffeine, as you quickly build up a tolerance. To prevent this you should try to cycle caffeine. In other words, there should be periods where you abstain (or severely limit your intake) and times when you supplement it in mid to high doses.
It makes sense to reduce caffeine whilst bulking as you don't need the increased metabolism or fat-oxidation at this point (though the performance benefits would be welcomed).
So once you are cutting you can get the performance benefits (which could counteract the lack of sleep that people get when cutting calories) and the benefits of increased metabolism and fat oxidation.
Whilst on the subject of caffeine, and coffee. One study found that drinking decaffeinated coffee was an excellent way to lower cravings when on a diet . It does this by increasing satiety between meals, so maybe try adding decaffeinated coffee to your shopping basket next time you're out.
Whey protein shakes will also help you increase muscle mass, and will help you maintain muscle during your diet.
You can also consider creatine monohydrate to improve your muscular strength and endurance, and perhaps some testosterone boosting ingredients (natural ones).
You have a short amount of time to make changes so don’t waste a second, be decisive and act fast.
Don’t expect miracles, if you’ve been buying XXL t-shirts for the last 10 years you probably won’t be rocking a six-pack at the end of this. But you’ll be infinitely better off if you work hard, diet right, and recover properly.
You’ll be happier, more confident, and deep down you’ll know that you did everything that you could, which is a great feeling.