Judgment Day is coming. No, not the end of the world, but the beginning of summer-which, if you're not in shape, can feel like the same thing. Assuming you plan on leaving the house this season and attending the occasional barbecue or beach party, much of the fun you have is going to depend on how you look (and feel) in your T-shirts. That means if your arms dangle from the sleeves like cooked spaghetti on a fork, or your gut bulges out like an expectant mother in maternity wear, you're not likely to have as good a time as you deserve. But not to worry-it's MF's job to prevent you from looking pathetic whenever possible, and over the next eight weeks, we're going to make sure you not only fill out your shirts but also stretch the seams (in the right places), all while getting leaner and stronger. In fact, come the Fourth of July, when your verdict's in, we promise you'll be more than pumped.
PUT THE "V" IN YOUR TEE
The T-shirt Body Workout focuses intently on everything you started lifting weights for-the chest, biceps, abs, and other "trophy muscles" that comprise the ideal summer body. However, the priority will be your shoulders and trapezius muscles- the large, diamond-shaped muscles that run between the back of your shoulders and reach up your neck. Not only are the "traps" two of the largest and most important muscles in the upper body (working to raise your shoulder girdle up on shrugs, lower it on pullups, and pull it back on rows), when properly developed, they form the immensely imposing "yoke"-the appearance of a thick rim of muscle that erupts up from your shoulders and supports the neck-long considered the truest sign of a serious lifter and all-around strong guy. You'll find plenty of fellas on the beach with big pecs and arms, but an awesome set of traps will set you apart from the pack instantly, helping you fill out your shirts and making you look bigger overall (even if other muscle groups are lagging behind).
After your traps, the second mostworked region in this program is your arms. You'll do plenty of curls (as if we could stop you) and compound exercises like the pullup and dip, all of which lead to sleeve-splitting biceps and triceps. Finally, we also have you performing a good deal of isolated forearm work-in the form of regular and reverse wrist curls with both barbells and dumbbells. Often your weakest link on heavy strength exercises, your forearms and grip will benefit from the direct attention, preparing you for more intense loads on more complex exercises as the program goes on.
Still, despite the emphasis on upper body, we aren't neglecting your lower half- not only because we expect you'll be wearing shorts this summer, but because leg exercises generate muscle growth all over. Heavy, testosterone-releasing moves like the squat and deadlift are key to success on our program, keeping your body in balance and your progress moving forward. Furthermore, three days a week you'll perform cardio or some other calorie-burning activity. This is essential for searing excess fat from around the midsection and completing the taper from your (soonto- be) wide shoulders down to a narrow waist, carving out a classic V shape that looks great in a tee and even better when your shirt comes off.
Custom fit the way you eat to your fitness goals
Every guy fits into his shirt a little differently. And while our workout is appropriate whether you're looking to gain muscle or lose fat, you'll need to adjust your diet according to how much bulking up or leaning out you want to do. For example, if you're beginning the program as a skinny guy who needs another set of arms to fill out his sleeves, your daily menu will be much different from that of the guy whose shirt can barely contain him. Follow the guidelines below to determine how you should be eating.
FIND THE CALORIES YOU NEED
A rough but good estimate of your caloric needs-what your body needs just to maintain your current weight-is easy to determine. Just multiply your body weight by 15. So, for example, a 170-pound man would need approximately 2,550 calories a day.
TO GET BIGGER
Add between 100 and 500 calories to the number you just calculated, and strive to consume that amount each day, adjusting accordingly as you gain weight. (The man in our example would start out eating 2,650-3,050 calories per day.) Let these calories come mostly from carbs, relying on starches such as potatoes and rice.
TO GET LEANER
Subtract between 100 and 500 calories from the number you calculated above, and strive to consume that amount each day, adjusting accordingly as you lose weight. (The man in our example would start out eating 2,450-2,050 calories per day.) Let most of the calories you cut come from starchy carbs; replace them with more slowly digested carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread, and more fruits and vegetables.
No matter what your goal, the remainder of your diet should consist of foods high in protein (aim for about a gram per pound of body weight a day), moderate in fat (30% of your total calories), and rich with fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you're cutting carbs or adding them to your diet, remember that it's best to consume the bulk of them in the morning and around your workout, when they are less likely to be stored as fat.
» Eat every two to three hours, and include vegetables with every meal.
» Eat a variety of protein sources. Consuming egg whites, fish, lean beef, and cottage cheese, for instance, will provide a wider spectrum of muscle-building amino acids than relying on protein shakes and chicken breasts alone.
» Let 20% of your fat intake come from unsaturated sources like nuts (such as almonds and walnuts) and oils (such as olive and peanut).
» Drink at least two liters of water every day.
» Drink a protein shake right after your workout - and make sure it has a carbs-toprotein ratio of at least 2:1 (you can use more carbs if you're trying to get bigger). Check the label as well: The carbs should come mainly from maltodextrin, a rapidly absorbed sugar that will help your muscles recover and soak up protein.
» Avoid mixing starchy carbs and fat in the same meal. Food combinations such as steak and potatoes and peanut butter with jelly cause rapid rises in insulin, a hormone that has the potential to store fat.