HIIT (high intensity interval training) will not only help you shred your body fat faster than endurance cardio, it’s going to help you hold onto more of that hard earned muscle mass as your cutting as well. It’s the old analogy of the sprinter and the marathon runner. Look how they train and look at their body types. Marathon runners train at a steady pace for long amounts of time while sprinters train by going as hard as they can for a short amount of time followed by a recovery period to get the heart rate back down and then they go hard again. Marathon runners generally have less muscle and more body fat while sprinters have low body fat and hold an impressive amount of muscle mass. Fat burning is a strategy of hours not minutes and interval training will keep your metabolism burning fat for hours after your done while endurance training allows you to come back to normal minutes after being finished.
I have two favorite routines I use for my HIIT training when I need to get my abs ripped for a photo shoot or a competition.
30/30 – 30 seconds fast followed by a 30 second rest interval, repeat. This can really be done on any cardio machine or even on foot outside. My choice is usually the stairmill or stair climber. Start by setting the machine to it’s slowest setting and just go through the motions for the first 30 seconds. Then at the 30 second mark, ramp up the speed to as fast as you can handle for 30 seconds. It should be at speed that makes you struggle to get 30 seconds. After 30 seconds bring the speed back down to super slow and focus on catching your breath, calming your heart rate, and getting your legs back under you during this short 30 second rest. Repeat.
10 second incline sprints, 50 sec rest – Set the treadmill to a 15 degree incline and while straddling the belt, crank the speed up to a speed that’s going to make you struggle to run at for 10 seconds. When the treadmill hits the 1 minute mark, carefully step on to the front middle of the belt holding yourself with your hands until you get your stride, then pump your arms and sprint for 10 seconds. After 10 seconds lift yourself up and straddle the belt. You need to be running at a speed fast enough that you wouldn’t be able to run for 12 or 15 seconds. For the next 50 seconds, just standing there catch your breath, calm your heart rate, and get your legs back. At the 2 minute mark, get back on for another interval.
You only have to do 10-15 minutes of either of those routines at the end of a weight workout to kick start that resting metabolism for hours and hours after you’re done. If you can go much longer, you didn’t go hard enough during speed intervals.
You get all of your daily calories from either fats, proteins, or carbs. The body needs all of these to function properly and when one of them is absent you’re going to crave it like there’s no tomorrow! In the ideal diet, you can incorporate all 3 three of the macros while shredding fat and hanging onto muscle mass. I even put on 4 lbs of muscle in the last month while dieting down to a shredded 3.6% bf for my last show. These principles will also allow you to have more energy and not go brain dead while dieting. When I write a diet for myself or a client I get much more specific about percentages of carbs at certain times but for the general population these rules of thumb will work.
Protein should be the constant. Get about 40 grams (25 for women) every 2- 3 hours that your awake. For fats and carbs, don't mix them in the same meal. You need both but when having them together you increase the chance of storing bodyfat. Eat all carbs in 3 meals, breakfast, pre workout, and post workout. Guys take about 50 grams in each meal and ladies get 30. In all other meals add good fats. I use flax seed oil. Take spoonful of flax down with the 40 grams of protein your eating.
If I only have a couple of weeks to get ripped I have a couple of carb rotations that I go to but I don’t like to do those for more than 2-3 weeks.
The number one reason why people stray from their diet plan is that the good food they know they should be eating isn’t immediately available and when they find themselves starving in the middle of the afternoon they turn to a quick fix and shove down the first thing they can get their hands on. Often you’ll find that you may be craving a cheeseburger and ice cream but once you’ve eaten that healthy, scheduled meal that craving goes away. You must have meals planned and prepared before leaving the house for the day. Know exactly what you’re going to eat and when you’re going to eat it and stick to the plan. This means making a habit of cooking all food, getting them into individual containers and taking them with you.
Whatever you do, if you screw up and have an unplanned cheat meal or miss meal, get right back on track with the next meal. Too often I see people throw their whole day away because they messed up one on meal.
If you’ve built all that muscle mass by lifting heavy in the 6-10 rep range don’t suddenly cut the weights in half and start doing sets of 20 with the hopes of burning more fat. Your muscles became that size because they had to get accustomed to moving heavy weight, if they don’t have to move that heavy weight anymore they will decrease in size. Heavy training will also do a number on your EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which keeps the resting metabolism elevated, allowing you to burn fat for hours after a workout.
You’ve heard it a million times and I’m going to tell you again. Drink water throughout the entire day! Muscles are made of up of approximately 75% water and they don’t get hydrated through chicken breast and salad. Keeping hydration levels up has a number of benefits. If dieting water is going to help keep your appetite in control and also have a positive effect on resting metabolism as your body works to process all that water. It’s also going to help hydrate your muscles, which in turn keeps ATP (your muscles energy source) levels high. I add a BCAA supplement to my water a couple of times a day. Not only does this add a little flavor to that bland water, it also helps support lean muscle mass while cutting. ROCK SOLID NUTRITION makes a product called “MUSCLE PUNCH” that combines a healthy dose of BCAA’s with arginine to pump them into your muscles and taurine for a little mental clarity, and who doesn’t need more of that when their dieting! You can find that at rocksolidsupps.com. I recommend the strawberry margarita ☺. Drink 1-2 gallons of water a day depending on your size.