We know why you work out, and it's got nothing to do with aging gracefully, preventing osteoporosis, for having the strength to lower yourself into a chair without going "oof!" While those are all nice bonuses of regular weight training, you didn't come to us to read about them--if you did, better keep cruising down the rack for some other fitness magazine. Here at Men's Fitness, we have your values at heart: You want to know what it takes to look good naked, or at least in your swim shorts, and that's where we can help you.
Introducing "The Beach Workout Plan," a four-part series devised to get you in phenomenal shape--buff, strong, and ripped to shreds--by the Fourth of July.
That's right, we're focusing on the best trifecta in fitness to leave you at your physical peak just in time for a beach party, poolside BBQ, or wherever else you want to celebrate. (Just make sure you have an excuse to take your shirt off.)
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
Start doing the workouts in Phase I now, and eat according to the rules of Beach Workout Plan Nutrition. Over the next three months, we'll bring you phases II, III, and IV, with special instructions on training and eating right up to your big event. However, this is the only time we'll run all the directions for the program, so save this issue for the general information you'll need to complete the entire process.
We assume that most of you will want to beef up a bit before etching in muscle detail (if you feel you're already as beefy as a Texas longhorn, see Personalize Your Plan), so we've devoted the first two phases to "bulking"--shameless feeding frenzies coupled with classic bodybuilding routines to help you pack on solid muscle mass, the raw material for a great beach physique. The last two phases will show you how to "cut," that is, diet off muscle-obscuring body fat and attain a truly shredded look through manipulation of your water, sodium, and carbohydrate intake. (Don't worry, it's safe, natural, and totally effective.)
In five months, just when everybody thinks it's safe to return to the water, you'll be stepping onto the sand with a body that will impress the girls, intimidate your enemies, and inspire your friends. We think that's as admirable a fitness goal as any.
PERSONALIZE YOUR PLAN
Even though our Beach-Body Program focuses on bulking in Phases I and II and cutting in Phases III and IV, you can customize it to suit your goals simply by tweaking the eating plan with the guidelines that follow. The workouts will be equally effective no matter what your goal is, as they're designed to work as much muscle as possible in each phase. That means they'll stimulate your muscles for maximal growth when you're bulking, and protect them when you're cutting (ensuring the weight you lose is pure fat).
GETTING STARTED First, you must determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, using our calorie calculator on the next page. Keep in mind that no formula can perfectly predict how many calories your body needs. But we think we've provided a good barometer. Once you know how many calories you're starting with, we'll show you how to adjust your intake to target your individual needs.
The final result (line G) is an estimate of the total number of daily calories you require to maintain your weight, factoring in all physical activity. (This is your "maintenance intake.") By shifting your total calorie intake above or below this number, you'll be able to control your diet according to your goals. Follow our program guidelines to the "T," or choose the calorie intake that best fits the changes you want to make, regardless of the recommendations for each phase. (If you're overweight, follow the workouts for Phases I and II, but reduce your calories as prescribed in Phases III and IV. If you feel you've bulked enough, just maintain your calories until you reach the last two phases--you shouldn't gain or lose much weight, but merely change your body composition to a more muscular body weight.)
Phases I and II
Add 500 calories a day to your maintenance intake. This is for gaining serious size. You should expect to add about a pound of muscle a week. Most guys will put on some fat as they pack on the muscle, but you'll strip off any fat that you gain (and then some) in Phases III and IV. Bottom line: Don't be afraid to chow down, or your gains will be limited.
Phases III and IV
Subtract 500 calories a day from your maintenance intake. This will provide about a pound of fat loss a week. If you feel you have an excessive amount to lose--say, more than 10 pounds--you can subtract up to 1,000 calories a day. One caveat: Keep your total intake above 2,000 calories a day; dropping any lower may slow your metabolism, and your progress.