There are a few steps you can take to make sure your body’s good and ready for fat-burning. Here are the most important rules for making gains while you’re still prepping your body to drop fat.
1. Don’t pig out
Extra calories only help you grow up to a certain point and extra cheat meals may sound fun now, but you’ll be kicking yourself later when you’re doing double cardio and low carbs to compensate.
2. Keep calories high
Though you don’t want to be a buffet burglar, you don’t want to go the opposite direction and start eating like a bird. Cutting season is coming up, but you can still make some great gains during the last few weeks of your bulk, off-season, or whatever you call your gaining period.
So, instead of getting your extra calories through cookies, eggnog and all the other goodies lying around your kitchen during winter, just make sure you’re getting your fill of “clean” foods.There’s nothing necessarily magical about eating a steak and potato instead of a pizza or a burger, but you’ll get filled up before you can do any serious damage. Plus, cleaning up your eating now, will make things easier once you really start dieting. Get your taste buds accustomed to your new food choices and the transition will feel seamless.
3. Keep your training volume high
When you’re cutting, you’re calories and energy levels are depleted. I don’t care if you’re still able to lose fat with relatively high carbs – the fact that you’re in a caloric deficit means you’ll have less energy for high-volume training.
So, keep on taking advantage of the surplus you’re eating now and make sure you kill set after set in the gym. You’ll make better gains and once you transition to a lower-volume program for your cut, the recovery from those weeks and months of high-volume training may actually allow you to gain a little bit more as you lose fat.
4. Lay off the stimulants and fat-burners
The pre-workout craze is in full force and sure, a bunch of caffeine or the latest supp may help you have a killer session on days you’re feeling tired, but depending on these products for every single workout can be a recipe for disaster.
This is particularly true if you’re about to start a cut. You’ll need those stimulants and fat burners more than ever when you’re eating less and feeling drained – don’t desensitize your body by abusing them now.
5. Chill out
On a similar note, you’ve got to take it easy. Dieting while you’re training heavy is hard enough on your body and mind – stress will only make it harder to recover, grow and even lose body fat. That’s right, too much stress is going to make your body horde fat.
If you want to really prep yourself mentally and physically for the rigors of dieting, make sure you chill out as much as possible between now and then. Avoid negative thoughts, negative talk and negative people. Surround yourself with positivity. If nothing else, doing so will have some great effects on every other aspect of your life.
6. Take a de-load
Not only should you relax your mind before heading into a cut – you should actually lay off the weights for a week or so. I’m not saying you should take several days completely off – who would want to?
However, you should lower your training volume and intensity for about one week. Remember, recovery is already difficult while dieting, but you can at least improve your chances of great workouts and solid recovery by taking a de-load week before you begin.
7. Start early
This one’s for all the guys who didn’t heed my first piece of advice. If you’ve already gained too much fat on your bulk or you’re still carrying some timber from last year’s, get your head right and start dieting a little earlier than everyone else. It may sound very appealing to only diet for the 12 weeks before summer, but if you can’t even see any of your abs yet, you’re going to need longer than that.
What’s that you’re thinking? You’ll just crash diet for a few weeks and reap the same results as those who take the slow and steady route? Think again. Almost every lifter loses a severe amount of strength during extreme diets. Taking things too fast might just leave you with more fat and less muscle mass than you hoped to achieve.
A slow diet will allow you to keep all of your muscle mass and retain your strength. You might even make gains in both departments. It’s not going to be fun, but you won’t be nearly as miserable as you would be if you had to survive on white fish and broccoli for four weeks to be ready for your vacation. In fact, you can probably fit in a cheat meal here and there without derailing yourself.
So, make sure you’re losing about a pound per week, but whatever you do, don’t starve yourself for faster progress. This endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint. Fast fixes never work.