The whole point of working out is to get healthy and in shape, but looking good is a handy side effect, isn’t it? So, if you really want to know how to get ripped, give these tips a try:
Split Up Cardio and Strength Training
If you do cardio after you finish lifting, it may hinder your size and strength gains. Cardiovascular training can slow down your body’s recovery after an intense training session, meaning your body won’t be able to repair and rebuild your muscles after you’ve hit them hard with weight training. Instead, do cardio on a different day from your strength training–particularly Leg Day.
Give your body at least 24 to 48 hours of rest before working the muscle in a cardio session, and choose cardio workouts that WON’T use the muscles you’ve just worked out.
Dial-in that diet
Nothing is more frustrating than spending days, weeks, even months building amazing muscularity only to have some soft, puffy layer of fat AND water cover up all your efforts. While maintaining a lean, high-protein diet is certainly key to getting the right build, it’s interesting just how much fluid-retention is overlooked. Give these tips a try to help flush that fluid away:
- Limit the sodium and potassium – Both of these minerals are electrolytes, which actually encourage fluid retention. While you’re not going to completely eliminate them from your diet, minimizing their consumption is the key to prevention of excess fluid accumulation. The body needs no more than 2.5 grams of sodium per day to keep the metabolism functioning properly.
- Drink more water – As counter-intuitive as it may seem, drinking more water actually helps you lower the amount of water retained. It also simultaneously keeps your body and brain hydrated, which allows your metabolism to function more effectively, and flushes out your kidneys and digestive system.
- Increase the fiber – Fiber actually helps clean out your entire digestive tract of not just solid buildup, but excess fluids, as well. While the effects of this may be more noticeable in the midsection, it’s still a great practice no matter what your body fat/fluid-flushing goals.
- Sweat! – Besides excretion through urination, one of the best ways to get that shrink-wrapped look is to get those fluids evaporating. This also helps expel trapped sodium ions under the skin, which leads to further fluid retention, as explained above. Many athletes like to sit in a sauna and continue drink water until their sweat is no longer “salty”, indicating that they are no longer retaining sodium. For novice athletes, this method should be approached with great care, as it can lead to overheating and dehydration, if not done properly. Always be sure to take a break if you start to feel faint, or experience any other adverse effects.
Switch Up Your Workout
Don’t stick with the same workout for more than 4 to 6 weeks, because that’s how long it takes your body to grow accustomed to the exercises. Instead, switch things up on a fairly regular basis. This forces your body to work harder in a new way, and to use secondary muscles it didn’t use before.
For example, stop doing Barbell Bench Presses for a few weeks and use Dumbbell Flys and Cable Chest Raises to hit the same muscles.
Vary Your Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of the muscle-building, fat-burning process, but how you do cardio is very important. If your goal is fat burning, you should do cardio at least 3 or 4 times per week.
If you want to build lean muscle, you’ll want to minimize aerobic work–perhaps 20 minutes twice a week. Try to vary your cardio routines, switching machines every day. Go from the rowing machine to the elliptical to the treadmill to the stationary bike, ensuring that you get a different type of workout to target new muscles and prevent boredom.
Go All Out
Don’t worry about how much time you spend at the gym, but your goal should be to HIIT it and quit it.
High-Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”) for strength can help you to burn through your energy faster, while getting an AMAZING cardio workout at the same time. If you’re working on burning fat, spend less time on cardio but make it a HIIT workout. You’ll see better results with less time spent at the gym.
High-impact workouts can lead to injuries, which can lead to days away from the gym. Instead, look for low-impact workouts–swimming, rowing, cycling, and the elliptical–to help you get your cardio in without the microtrauma to your joints and muscles.
Turn Up the Resistance
When on the stationary bike, the treadmill, or the elliptical machine, don’t just turn up the speed, but dial up the resistance as well. It will increase the intensity if you work on an incline or with a lower gear, and will help you burn more calories faster.