Summer Holiday Challenge – Get Ready for the Beach, Boys

Summer is nearly upon us and that means shorts, flip flops and tops off to show that body that you have been working on for the last 12 months. Everyone on the beach won’t know what has hit them with that lean, mean fighting machine physique with the wash board abs, big pectorals and huge arms. Does this sound like you? Well, realistically for 95% of men this really is not the case but don’t feel down beat about it because it is never too late to begin training or if you do have the body that I have described, then maintenance is the key.  Some work-out ideas are on the LA fitness website, but here I am going to describe 3 simple tips to improving your overall health, boost your confidence, and improve your energy levels; with the main focus on you enjoying that sunshine, beach and any holiday activities that are on the agenda.

My advice is based around the health triangle which incorporates diet, exercise and sleep/relaxation; shall we begin…

Tip 1 Diet

Men tend to carry more belly fat and have ‘love handles’, although this ‘endearing’ term can be avoided with the correct diet. Losing % body fat is 90% diet and 10% exercise; as the old saying goes “you are what you eat”.  Bearing this concept in mind, just follow these simple guidelines for reducing body fat:

  • Reduce the number of calories in each meal.
  • Eat smaller portions, carbs should be the size of your fist when on your plate.
  • Track meal content, portion sizes and nutritional content.
  • Use the optimal method for preparing foods e.g. steaming your food and not frying.
  • Reduce the bad fats such as saturated or trans- fats and switch to good fats high in omega 3/6.
  • Reduce sugar, processed and baked foods.
  • Give the takeaways a miss!
  • Eat fresh fruit and veg; with a rainbow of colour of vegetables with each meal.
  • Eat plenty of protein as this is important for muscle growth & repair, boosting your metabolism, preserving lean body mass, stopping the citation of hunger and can help weight loss. The recommended amount of protein is between 10g and 25g or 0.9 g per kg of body weight.
  • Eating clean carbohydrates fuels the glycogen stores in your muscles and used for energy whilst training. Avoid white bread and white pasta, substitute with brown rice
  • Curb your alcohol intake as these are empty calories which the body can’t use.
  • Set yourself a realistic target for weight loss before your holiday, to remain motivated and on track.

To lose body fat and increase lean body mass, a rule of thumb is 10 calories per pound of body weight. Although you need to monitor your calorie intake, do not consume fewer than 1,000 calories per day as this can severely hinder your metabolism by slowing it down and storing fat. To keep your metabolic rate revved up, eat five or six small meals throughout the day rather than two or three large meals; start with breakfast and try not to eat carbs late during the day.


To keep yourself on target with your weight loss, you will need to regularly assess your progress, if you feel that progress is slow try making periodic drops to your calorie intake and add cheat meals to help reset your metabolism.  As the % body fat decreases, the body will regulate its metabolism around set points, and is going to battle with you to hold onto the stored body fat. A strategy to counteract this negative mechanism is calorie cycling between very low and higher consumption, this stops your metabolism from stalling. Good practice is to consume more calories on days on very energetic days and lower them on less energetic days. This should prevent plateaus, keeping you motivated, positive and on track. With the right calorie diet you should start seeing results; when combined with the right food groups and goal setting strategy.

Tip 2 Exercise

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is specifically the training method that I would recommend to shred fat, improve muscle tone and improve general cardio vascular function.  It is a very demanding, hard core and a super effective workout. It will burn the same amount of calories as running for 30-50 minutes in a fraction of the time, but you will be working at a much higher intensity and see your abs a lot sooner.  Basically, this training method consists of a massive blast of cardio work followed by times rest intervals. It is very similar to the Swedish fartlek training, however due to research; volume, intensity and duration can be tailored for the individual to strip off the fat. HIIT has the opposite effect of steady state cardio and can increase mitochondrial biogenesis, which forms cell energy, increases testosterone and GLUT 4 levels.

An additional bonus is that HIIT increases the concentration of myofibrillar cells, which muscles require to grow along with other fibres. HIIT is an excellent training method and will compliment any weight training program, and should be undertaken a least three times a week. Mix and match your weight training and HIIT days, this stops your body from regulating around a set point, it also keeps your metabolism high throughout and post training sessions.

HIIT training should be no longer than 12 minutes, for the best fat burning results alter the amount of high intensity, moderate and rest intervals for each of the twelve minutes. You can use this technique on a treadmill, bike, rowing machine or any training mode that you are undertaking. As you progress, look at delegating more time to the higher intensity cardio blast with less moderate and recovery times. This again will stop a plateau in the % body fat loss and keep you on track.

Tip 3 Relax & Sleep

Sleep is important to maintain good overall health for optimal physical and mental performance. Sleep affects physical health, emotional well-being, mental sharpness, productivity and athletic performance. Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, you will not achieve quality sleep, which will affect your performance in the gym.

Sleep researchers are discovering that sleep deprivation can have a massive impact on our basal metabolic rate and not getting adequate sleep can reduce glucose metabolism by as much as 40%. Human growth hormones (HGH) are attenuated during sleep debt, having an important function in tissue growth, HGH is also very important for the following reasons:


  • Increases body fat metabolism
  • Improves energy conversion
  • Better Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and enhanced sleep patterns
  • Improves energy levels


Levels of cortisol are higher during sleep deprivation periods, which have been linked to impaired recovery in athletes. Studies of sleep deprivation and athletic performance have indicated that there is a link between elevated levels of cortisol and a reduction in tissue repair and growth.

There it is: the triangle of health a variety of methods to feel ready for the beach whatever your level of expectation.

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