How should I eat and work out to shred?
I have gained some weight and want to turn it into muscle – what guidelines should I follow?
Chances are you have just completed a traditional bulking phase and now you're looking to shed the fat while keeping the muscle. This can be done by adjusting your caloric intake, staying committed to your training, and adding in some essential elements.
The first thing you'll want to do is the exact opposite of the first step of bulking: Time to slowly reduce your caloric intake. The last thing you want to do is go from 3,000 calories a day to 1,500 calories as this will put your body into starvation mode. Week by week, reduce your caloric intake in small increments. 200 to 250 calories per week is enough for a safe and slow adjustment period. Use the guidelines in the article, The Right Way to Bulk to calculate the number of macronutrients you should be getting per meal each time you reduce.
Now it's time to evaluate your training. Contrary to popular belief, you do not want to scale back your workouts. Continue with your normal strength training routine, making sure to add variety to your exercises every 4 to 6 weeks. This will help your body avoid reaching a plateau. The classics (squats, deadlifts, overhead press) should still play a dominant role in your workouts.
The one thing that you must start adding back into your workouts is a cardio routine. Typically, when bulking, cardio is removed completely or greatly reduced. Instead of wasting time by mindlessly jogging on a treadmill for an hour, incorporate a high intensity cardio workout into your routine. Research shows that a 20 - 30 minute high intensity cardio session is the most efficient at shedding fat. This should complement your strength training on opposing days. A high intensity cardiovascular workout is made up of the following:
6-10 compound bodyweight-based exercises
Perform them in rapid succession
Once the last exercise is complete, take a 60 to 90 second break and begin again
2 to 3 sets for beginners
4 to 6 sets for advanced lifters
Perform a HIIT program 2 to 3 times a week along with your normal strength training
Now for a few quick tips while shredding:
- Listen to your body - If you are experiencing extreme fatigue, mood swings, or other abnormal behaviors, then this may be a sign of overtraining. Give your body time to rest, repair, and adjust.
- Stay away from "miracle pills" - It's hard not to have the latest "fat-burner" shoved down your throat, but try to avoid the temptation. More often than not, these pills are filled with ingredients that you do not want in your body. What's more, any weight loss that happens while taking the supplement is usually short lived.
- Keep track of your progress - Pictures, workout journal, and measurements are all great ways to track your progress from bulking to shredding.