This is a guest post from my friend Vic Magary – fitness coach, U.S. Army Infantry veteran, and creator of the 40 Days Fit program.
So often we want to get fit and get fit now. Whether it’s for that beach vacation or little black dress, we want to transform our body composition from soft and flabby to lean and strong as quickly as possible. And although it can’t be accomplished overnight, it can be done faster than many people realize. The pictures below were taken exactly 40 days apart:
For my rapid body transformation, I didn’t spend hours in the gym. And I didn’t give up eating my favorite foods including pizza, ice cream, and red wine. But I did follow the 7 keys to rapid body transformation listed below:
1. Focus on the food. Yes I did eat pizza, ice cream, and other indulgences… but I damned sure didn’t eat them all of the time. The vast majority of my diet consisted of lots of vegetables, some meat (to include fish and eggs), and small amounts of fruit and nuts. This is often called the Paleo diet, and I have found it extremely effective for getting lean and strong for both myself and my fitness clients. Too often when people want to get in shape they look for the magic workout. There is no magic in the training - the magic is in the diet.
2. Redefine hunger. I’m going to make the assumption that the body transformation you seek involves losing some weight. And that means you are going to have to eat less food. Learn to enjoy a slight rumble in the belly. As long as your energy levels are good and you are not experiencing headaches or having difficulty focusing, your caloric intake is just fine. Forget about the often toted “eat every 3 hours” crap. A little rumble in the belly probably means you are on track to meet your body transformation goal.
3. Lift heavy weight. Now “heavy” is a relative term. All it means is that the weight you select should be difficult to move for more than 5 repetitions. And yes I am referring to free weight training here. Specifically, I prefer the basic barbell movements of deadlifts, squats, and standing overhead presses. Are they absolutely necessary? No, of course not. But if you want my first exercise weapon of choice for rapid body transformation, strength training takes it hands down.
4. Crank your heart rate. Heavy strength training is definitely my first choice for exercise, but followed closely behind is high intensity interval training. Again, what constitutes “high intensity” must be considered against your current fitness capacity. For some people that will be 100 yard sprints repeated for 20 minutes. And for others, just walking to the end of their driveway to pick up the newspaper will pose a challenge. The key is to always push just outside of your comfort zone.
5. Forget ab exercises. All of the sit ups, crunches, and leg raises in the world will not give you “six pack abs”. Seeing the definition in your midsection is a factor of one thing – reducing your body fat. And dropping body fat is going to happen primarily through diet with a little extra help from strength training and interval work.
6. Write it down. I’ve been helping people lose weight and get in shape since 2001. And 9 times out of 10 when a client says that they are not seeing results, they are not keeping a food journal. Write down what you eat, when you eat it, and an approximate quantity. I don’t think calorie counting or weighing your food is necessary, but keeping a journal of your food intake is crucial. Keeping notes on your training is also important. When it comes time to make adjustments to your diet or fitness training you want to be able to make those changes based on data and not simply on how you “feel”. And the only way to do that is to create a record by keeping a diet and training journal.
7. Expect to get very light. If you really want “six pack abs” and you have never had them before. . . you are going to have to get much lighter than you expect. Sure, you may build muscle at the same time you are losing fat and muscle is denser than fat. But I’m telling you – you must release your notions of what you feel is too light for your body if you really want to be ripped. If I showed you my “after” picture at the beginning of this post without revealing how much I weighed, would you have ever guessed I was at 146 pounds?
So what does rapid body transformation come down to? It comes down to focusing on diet, lifting heavy weight and cranking your heart rate, writing it all down, and releasing preconceived notions of your ideal body weight. No magic supplement potions or cheesy late night infomercials required. :)