It’s another rainy week in New York City, but this weekend is Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer season. Time to move the jackets and sweaters into the bottom drawers and the backs of closets and move the tank tops and box cuts to center stage. No more hiding under layers of clothes. Time to show some skin and get some sun. And along with all of this comes the immediate desire for dramatic physical change.
At Empower Fitness, we’re busy helping our clients do exactly that – from our fashion models and celebrities, to our “soccer moms” and business executives - everyone’s mindset seems to have shifted to “lets do this NOW”.
I’m here to help. This is the fifth week of Empowering tips on nutrition and exercise to get you fitting into that tight speedo by the time you’re invited to the first pool party of the summer. Follow the tips I’ll outline here and you’ll be ready for the beach - whether your “beach” is the pier at Christopher Street, the pool at the Soho House or the white sands of Fire Island Pines.
If you’ve been following the program, your nutrition is solid – you are eating small, frequent meals which are comprised of good food choices. No dieting, no hunger. Just smart nutrition that is in line with your goal of a leaner, more toned body.
This week we are going to flip the switch on the nutrition, employing a trick which will accelerate your body’s ability to burn fat (instead of sugar) to produce the energy you need. This is a form of “carbohydrate manipulation”, which sounds complicated, but is actually very simple. I call it nutrition for fat-loss acceleration.
On certain days for the rest of the program, you will employ fat-loss acceleration to change the hormonal environment in your body so that you are burning stored fat all day (and night) long. Here’s a quick and simplified look at the science: Your body requires fuel so that you can move, breathe, operate your heart, brain, kidney’s etc. The body’s preferred source for that fuel is sugar. If sugar is not available, it is also possible for the body to burn fat for fuel. And this is the desired effect. But for this to happen, fat has to be available, we have to be releasing it from the fat cells. But that should already be happening because you are eating frequently which is the mechanism that allows for fat to be released.
Okay, so what do you need to do to increase your body’s ability to burn fat? It’s simple. Restrict sugar intake. Sugar comes mainly from starchy carbohydrates and natural sugar sources, like fruit. So we are going to avoid those on fat-loss acceleration days. If you need a reminder, look at my food list and cut out everything in the starchy carbohydrate list and all fruits and added sugars. Simple as that. So, if your meals were approximately one third each of starchy carbs, fibrous carbs and proteins, you will now be eating more proteins and vegetables and no starchy carbs at all. Fats are okay on fat-loss acceleration days, but it’s best to eat the “good fats” suggested on my nutrition sheets and to be careful of portion control since fats are calorie-dense, containing more than twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins.
This week, we want to employ two fat-loss acceleration days, non-consecutively, and not on days when we do the new workout. Don’t do more or less, but two days exactly as suggested. This program has been carefully tested and the optimum number of fat-loss acceleration days are built into each week of the program with the appropriate workouts.
Speaking of the workout, that is going to change radically today. The focus until now has been adding lean tissue (muscle) to your body in order to rev up your metabolism and get your body ready for this next phase where fat loss becomes the primary goal. The workout this week demands more energy be burned from the body during the workout (and for many hours after) by asking the same muscle groups to work hard for two exercises in a row, creating a need for more oxygen to be pumped into the muscles. And a higher oxygen requirement means a speeding of the metabolism and greater fat loss.
The workout will require that you do some homework as a few of the exercises may not be familiar to you. Just find a good video by doing a search on Youtube if you don’t now how to correctly perform a suggested exercise. Or if you are newer to this kind of exercise program, it might be a good idea to hire a personal trainer to teach you how to do the exercises properly.
Here are the exercise pairs:
This week, we will be doing 2 Sets of 15 Repetitions of each exercise (with a warm-up set with half of the weight you will use for the working set for the first pair of exercises). Complete all sets of the first pair before moving on to the second pair and so on. Rest two minutes between each set. Note that for exercises which are done with the left and right sides individually, like the split jump and the reciprocal shoulder raise, you will do 15 Repetitions for each side for a total of 30.
You will want to choose a weight for each exercise that allows you to JUST finish BOTH parts of each set. So, you may be able to do more weight for a squat, for example, but if after doing that you cannot finish doing the split jumps, you should adjust the weight accordingly.
When you have finished doing the 2 Sets each of the 4 exercise pairs above, it’s time for abs and a little cardio.
You will do 2 Sets of 15 Repetitions of the following abdominal exercises done back-to-back and then rest for 2 minutes. Again, if you don’t know how to perform them correctly, look them up online.
When you’ve completed those, do 15 minutes of cardio on your choice of equipment, just make sure to follow the Interval Training guidelines. If you need a refresher on that, it can be found on my downloads page.
Repeat the workout three times this week, with at least a day of rest between workouts.
You will also want to add two cardio workouts to your program this week. These should be done on days when you are not already doing the above workout. Each time, do just 30 minutes of cardio on whichever equipment you prefer, just make sure to follow the Interval Training guidelines. It is okay to do this on the same day(s) you are amending your nutrition for fat-loss acceleration
This week takes a sharp turn in the focus of our program, from both the nutritional and the exercise standpoints. For the rest of the program we are gong to focus like a laser on burning fat and producing a leaner, more toned body. Your eating should become even cleaner, if possible. If you were allowing yourself some leeway, this would be a good time to really “be good” for the next five weeks. Remember that the exercise and nutrition components work in synergy; that is, the combination of the two produces greater results than would the sum of the parts. Do both well and you will see results that are better (and faster) than anything you have done before.
NOTE: If you have a smaller frame or a more thin body type, and you are primarily interested in adding muscle to your body (and don’t have much need for fat loss), you may continue the program from last week with a small change. Instead of doing 12 Repetitions of each exercise for each set as you did last week, you will now want to do 3 Sets (plus the warm-up on the first exercise pair) consisting of 12, 10, and 8 Repetitions, respectively. Because you are dropping 2 Repetitions from one set to the next, you will be able to add one increment of weight as you move from one set to the next as long as you have finished the preceding set. If you did not complete the prior set, just keep the weight the same for the next set. You will also want to maintain the same nutrition suggested from the beginning of the program and add 250-500 calories to what you were eating each day previously. At this point in the workout, your body is highly anabolic (capable of adding muscle) and because the workout weights are getting very heavy, you will be able to eat more and add more muscle to your body without the fear of adding much fat.
I will be updating the program each week for the duration of this blog on getting in shape for summer. You will notice that each element builds on the previous one, giving you a complete program, a road-map, for getting from where you are to where you want to be. I hope you will stay with me. I am looking forward to hearing about YOUR ten-week success story.
Greg Rothman, MS PT, is a fitness professional, author and the owner of Empower Fitness Studios in NYC. He received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University and has twenty years of experience in the fitness and rehabilitation fields. He believes that absolutely anyone can have the body of their dreams once they understand how to eat and exercise in a way that supports their goals. It is his mission to Empower as many people as possible to do just that. Greg is happy to hear from you if you have questions about any topic related to fitness or nutrition, and can be found at www.GetEmpoweredFitness.com.
Greg Rothman, MS PT, is a fitness professional, writer and the owner of Empower Fitness in NYC. He received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University and has twenty years of experience in the fitness and rehabilitation fields. He believes that absolutely anyone can have the body of their dreams once they understand how to eat and exercise in a way that supports their goals. It is his mission to Empower as many people as possible to do just that. His “Recession-Proof” Fitness Programs are an affordable way to find dramatic physical change over the course of 10 weeks. Greg is happy to hear from you if you have questions about any topic related to fitness or nutrition, and can be found at www.GetEmpoweredFitness.com.