Summer is on the horizon, and the time has come to kick back and relax under the sun. It's time for beach days, barbecues and pool parties, and for any serious weightlifter these activities also mean one thing: it's time for the shirts to come off and to showcase that rock-solid physique they've been working on all year. No one wants to be walking around with a soft, smooth and flabby body, and for the next month or two, all of those serious lifters will be shifting into "get ripped" mode.
How do they usually go about this?
They lighten up the weights and perform higher reps.
This has always been a widely accepted method of "cutting down" and if you ask most trainers in the gym they'll tell you that "heavy weights bulk up the muscle and lighter weights define the muscle".
Do you want to know the reality behind the "light weight and high reps" method of obtaining a ripped and defined physique?
It is completely, totally and utterly DEAD WRONG.
It couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, there is no logical basis for this way of training whatsoever, and whoever dreamt up this downright ridiculous way of thinking has caused the vast majority of lifters to waste their time and impede their progress in the gym.
Let me clear this up once and for all: you CANNOT spot reduce. In other words, it is physically impossible to target fat loss from a specific area on your body. Performing bench presses with light resistance and high repetitions will not magically burn fat off of your chest or cause it to appear harder and more defined.
Every single time you wrap your hands around a barbell, dumbbell or cable, your goal is to stimulate as much muscle growth as you possibly can. There are no special, secret weightlifting exercises that will "define" your muscles or cause them to become more "ripped".
Training with weights builds muscle mass, end of story.
So how exactly do you "define" a muscle?
The only way to "define" a muscle is by lowering your body fat level in order to make your muscles more visible. Body fat reduction can be achieved in two ways:
1) Modify your diet.
You should lower your overall caloric intake to around 15x your bodyweight and focus on consuming smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. This will keep your metabolism naturally raised at all times and will keep your body in a constant fat burning state. Limit your intake of saturated fats and simple sugars, and focus instead on consuming lean sources of protein and low glycemic carbohydrates. It is also very important to keep your water intake high at a level of around 0.6 ounces per pound of bodyweight.
2) Perform proper cardio workouts.
Let go of the traditional method of moderate intensity cardio in 30-45 minute durations. If you want to maximize your body's fat burning capacity and also minimize the muscle loss that inevitably accompanies a fat burning cycle, focus on shorter cardio workouts performed at a high level of intensity. These types of workouts will shoot your resting metabolism through the roof and will allow you to burn maximum amounts of fat even when you are at rest. I recommend 3-5 high intensity cardio sessions per week, spaced at least 8 hours away from your weight workouts.
That's all there is to it, folks. Take the notion of "light weight and higher reps" and throw it right out the window, down the street and around the corner. Following this misguided method will only cause you to lose muscle mass and strength, and will not assist you in burning fat or defining your physique.
All you need to do to mold those rock-solid muscles for the summer time is this:
1) Train with heavy weights and low repetitions to build maximum muscle mass.
2) Modify your diet and implement cardio workouts to eliminate body fat and create visibly harder and more defined muscles.
End of story.
I'll see you at the beach!