April’s Fools: 5 Focus Points for Better Beach Body Prep

Ah, April. Spring has arrived, marked with fuzzy bunnies and pretty eggs.  I liked the eggs the most, because they’re goddamn delicious.  The spring equinox has been celebrated for centuries, and Easter has Pagan roots.  As it turns out, April Fools’ Day is linked to the the Roman holiday of Hilaria.  That means that thousands of years ago, the joke was Scroll Blue instead of Gmail Blue.

Pranking in April isn’t a one-and-done thing; it continues throughout the month.  Maybe you’re not expecting Post-It notes or fake text messages, but it continues through the fitness world.  April marks the second coming of fitness resolutions.  It’s not nearly as potent as the New Year’s crowd, but this is when we start going into beach body prep season.  Memorial Day, aka the unofficial Official Start of Summer, is just over 8 weeks away, and for many, this means it’s time to consider exercising.

Red is "Gym Membership"Blue is "Beach Body"
Red is “Gym Membership”
Blue is “Beach Body”

This screen shot from Google Trends shows that searches for “Gym membership” and “beach body” spike at the same time, which happens to be January.  As the year progresses, people stop searching for gym membership (red ), but they continue to search for (beach body) (blue).  Does that sound like red pills and blue pills to anybody?!?

We keep searching for the dream beach body, but rather than enlisting on a program that works and leads us to that physique, we get find shoddy programs and don’t actually get in shape.  The promise of results is enticing enough that our culture embraces the ‘easy’ workout, the one that’s limited by time, or the one that lets you workout with minimal equipment from home.  We do this because we’re April’s fools.

mr_t_april_foo

April is not the time to be messing around with the workout that your bro cobbled together on BodyBuilding.com, or what your BFF posted to her Pintrest.  It’s the time to get on a program that is totally friggin’ awesome and gives you the tools to kick ass at the gym, and look awesome(r) as beach season approaches.  Here is my list of 5 tips for better beach body prep for summer.

Nutritional Awareness

Can you out train a poor diet?  Hell yea it’s possible, but it’s not nearly as likely.  There will never be a one-size-fits all diet, and a personal approach is key.  The only thing that all diets or dogmatists agree on is that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you.  Most will discuss a need for protein.  Some discuss meat as a great source of protein.  When in doubt, eat plants and animals.

That being said, most of us have absolutely no clue what we’re putting into our mouth.  Pay attention to what you’re eating and when you’re eating it.  Do you get hungry at certain times of the day?  Crave certain foods?  Extra energy, lose energy?  Pay attention.  You might be able to out train a poor diet, but you’re still going to feel like crap if you have a venti mocha latte skinnyfat mocharisma at 9am and then pick at left over chocolate eggs until you eat a low-fat soy wrap at 8pm.

Yes, I made that drink up.  Figure out what you eat and when, and replace the processed stuff with plants and animals.

Progressive Overload

You should be getting stronger, without question.  Over time increase the load on the exercises that you’re using, and focus on getting stronger over time.  While getting stronger is the goal for some in the performance world, getting stronger is the means to an end for many in the physique world.  Not everybody cares about how much they deadlift, or how many chin-ups they can do, until they realize that their backside can look a hell of a lot better when they increase their deadlift and rep out chin-ups.

chin-up

Compound Movements

Progressive overload with nearly any exercise is going to be beneficial, but you should be starting with the best exercises that you can.  The large majority of the exercises selected in your programming should be compound movements that let you use many muscles at the same time.  This allows you to get stronger while creating a greater metabolic stimulus.

Rather than focusing on exercises for each muscle in the body (there’s a lot of them,) approach exercise selection by movement pattern.  Movement based training will simplify the exercise selection process, and should help avoid any bias that we have for training specific body parts.  Yes, that’s you, Guy-who-doesn’t-train-back and Girl-who-only-does-abz.  We can simplify exercises into five movement patterns.  Here are some examples:

  • Bilateral lower body – Back squat, front squat, trap bar deadlift, conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift, hip thrust,  good mornings, glute bridges, kettlbell swings
  • Upper Body Pull – Chin-ups, pull-ups, inverted rows, Pendlay row, dumbbell rows, cable row variations
  • Upper Body Push – Push-Up, Overhead Press, Bench Press, dumbbell pressing variations, push-up variations
  • Unilateral lower body – Split squats, reverse lunges, forward lunges, Rear foot elevated split squats (RFESS), single leg deadlifts, single leg glute bridges
  • Core stability – Plank, side plank, Pallof press, farmers walk, suitcase carry, ab rollouts, off-set/asymmetrical variations of the exercises above.

If you walk into a gym without a set workout prepared for you, it’s hard to go wrong by selecting one exercise from each of those 5 categories.

Training Frequency

How often you train is often misconstrued as total time spend exercising, but by training frequency I mean how often do you train each movement pattern/muscle throughout the week.  If you’re on an old-school body building split that requires 6 days per week in the gym and one body part per day, you’re only training once per week.  A strength and conditioning or fat loss model usually requires training 2-4 times over the course of the week.

Increased training frequency is going to allow you to boost your total volume through the week, and for most people, this is going to create a more potent effect for body composition.  You’ll maintain or build more muscle, and burn more body fat.

My three favorite strength training splits allow people to strength train 2-4 times per week along with appropriate conditioning.

Appropriate Conditioning

It’s hard to think of “conditioning” as inappropriate, but it can be.  If your goal is to lose 100lbs, then running sprints is not the place to start.  If you’re implementing a low carb diet, then high-frequency HIIT might not be the best idea.  If you’re strength training 4 times per week for two hours at a time, then long duration aerobic work might not fit into what you’re doing.  Conversely, if you’re only strength training twice per week, additional conditioning workouts will be more appropriate to establish the same changes.

hill-sprints1
Hill sprints are usually a good idea, but not always.

Training twice per week with equal conditioning may look as follows:

  • Sunday – Full body strength
  • Monday – Full body conditioning
  • Tuesday – Off/Walk/Yoga
  • Wednesday – Full Body Strength
  • Thursday – Off/Walk/Yoga
  • Friday – Full body conditioning
  • Saturday – Off/Walk Yoga

Training three times per week may look as follows:

  • Sunday – Full body strength
  • Monday – Off/Walk/Yoga
  • Tuesday – Full body strength
  • Wednesday – Off/Walk/Yoga
  • Thursday – Full body strength
  • Friday – Full body conditioning
  • Saturday – Off/Walk Yoga

Training with an upper/lower split that includes conditioning may look as follows:

  • Sunday – Sprints/Lower body strength
  • Monday – Upper body strength
  • Tuesday – Off/Walk Yoga
  • Wednesday – Lower Body strength/Sled Pushes
  • Thursday – Upper Body strength/conditioning
  • Friday – Off/Walk Yoga
  • Saturday -Off/Walk Yoga

Each of these templates allow you to strength train each body part between 2-4 times per week, allow for appropriate conditioning 2-4 times per week, and can be varied based on your personal dietary approach.  If they’re filled with compound exercises and you focus on progressive overload, you have the tools to prepare a better beach body than you had last summer.

skinny_guy_beach_body_guide_b

TL;DR.  You want to have a rocking beach body; who doesn’t?  As you’re training to the stud or siren of the sand, here are 5 things to focus on:

  1. Knowing what you put into your mouth, and when you do it.
  2. Picking up heavy shit.
  3. Moving that heavy shit an appreciable distance.
  4. Creating a strength training stimulus 2-4 times per week.
  5. Balancing conditioning with your diet and fitness levels.

 

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16 thoughts on “April’s Fools: 5 Focus Points for Better Beach Body Prep

    1. The exercises in the “Sleep Sexy Arm Workouts” video on your landing page is what I recommend against doing. Pick up heavy shit and be brilliant at the basics, not high-rep, light weight frou-frou toning exercises. Come on now.

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