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The best way to ensure progress is with regular weigh-ins
Shed fat and show off your chiseled physique with these tips
Here are some helpful tips to get you back on track
Strategies to make your midsection a work of six-pack art
Fire up your engine and burn that excess weight once and for all



Whether you're trying to gain muscle weight or lose body fat, the best way to ensure progress is with regular weigh-ins (and later, skin-fold measurements). Here's how to do it:

1) Weigh yourself every morning at approximately the same time. Try to do it before you eat, but after you've gone to the bathroom.

2) Record your weight each time, but ignore any day-to-day differences.

3) At the end of the week, take an average of all your weigh-ins by adding each day's weight and divide the sum by seven. Compare your numbers each week to see if you're making progress. If you're trying to bulk, but you're not gaining a pound per week, up your calories by 500 each day. If you're cutting, but not losing 1-2 pounds a week, cut your calories by another 250-500 a day (but never let them dip below 2,000).

4) When cutting, it's important to pay attention to your diet and be sure that the weight you're losing is coming from extraneous body fat, not your hard-earned muscle. That's why for phases III and IV, you should seek out a fitness professional (most trainers at your local gym are qualified) to measure your body fat levels. Ask them to give you a seven-site skin-fold test once a week. Then monitor the measurements over the weeks until the end of the program.

If your body fat is decreasing, you're on the right track. If it's not budging, subtract more calories from your diet until it does.

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Shed fat and show off your chiseled physique this summer with these tips

by Dr. Darren Burke, Ph.D.

Eat more frequently throughout the day. Ideally, you want to eat four to six meals every day. This can include your three main meals plus two or three snacks. By eating more frequently you increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories throughout the day.

Try to have a good source of protein at every meal or snack. Eating protein has a greater thermogenic (calorie-burning) effect than eating carbohydrates or fat. Therefore, by eating more protein you can give your metabolic rate a significant boost. Some good sources of protein include chicken breast, beef, salmon, cottage cheese, yogurt, and whey protein powder.

Eat vegetables with at least three of your meals each day. Veggies are not calorie dense, but do contain a lot of important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Veggies will fill you up and help stop you from overindulging on the "bad" foods.

Have some 'healthy' essential fats with each meal. Yes, eat fat to burn fat. Certain fats can actually help enhance fat loss. More specifically it's polyunsaturated (which are essential fatty acids) and monounsaturated fats that have a host of health benefits and can also support fat loss. Some excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats include fish, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Almonds, pecans, olive oil, and avocados are great sources of monounsaturated fats.

Drink lots of water! Just like food, water can also have a thermogenic (calorie-burning) effect on the body. Drinking cold water has actually been shown to significantly increase metabolism. Simply put, a more hydrated body is more metabolically active.

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We all screw up our healthy eating form time to time. Especially when the nicer weather and party season begins. Here are some helpful tips to get you back on track.

by Dean Stattmann



  • Eat Breakfast the Next Day: "Starving yourself is a bad idea," says Jim White, R.D., a Virginia Beach, Va.-based dietitian. "It just slows the metabolism down." Have a high-fiber, low-glycemic breakfast like oatmeal. You'll feel full longer, making it less likely you'll overdo it at lunch.
  • Trim Tomorrow's Calories: Cut 500 calories off tomorrow's meals. It's easier than you think: Choose sugar-free instead of regular, vinegar and oil rather than creamy dressing, baked not fried, mustard instead of mayo, and fruit over chocolate. If your pig-out was especially bad, repeat for a few more days.



  • Drink Up, Again: Beyond all those calories you chugged, alcohol dehydrates the body, impairing aerobic capacity and endurance. Drink 64 to 84 ounces of water. Eat fruits like apples, blueberries, and cherries, which have a high water content, says American Dietetic Association rep Amy Jamieson-Petonic, R.D. They'll help restore fluid balance and fat-burning capabilities.
  • Eat Regularly: Go for grilled meat, plain nuts, Greek yogurt, or raw vegetables. Eating a little bit of food every three to four hours will help to prevent swings in blood sugar and speed your recovery.



  • Hit the Gym Hard: Make up for lost ground (and pounds gained) with a week of intensified workouts, says White. Shorten the time between sets, bang out more reps or add sets to your workout, and increase your typical cardio time by 10 minutes.
  • Eat Clean: "Be hyper aware of your diet," says Jamieson-Petonic. Base your meals around fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for the next few days; stick to lean, healthy proteins; and avoid sugary, high-fat treats.
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    A trio of strategies to make your midsection a work of six-pack art

    By Myatt Murphy

    Sometimes the hardest part about working your abs isn't all the exercise involved; it's figuring out which exercises best meet your momentary needs. We asked our experts for routines that address the most common ways men work out. What they gave us were three that cover the gamut.

    So you prefer holding your workouts amongst iron and steel, do you? Then you probably already know there's no need to worry about becoming too bulky by bringing weights into your ab routine. "The abdominal muscles aren't designed for size; they are designed for function," says Fred McDaniel, master trainer and co-founder of the Human Performance Center in Santa Fe, N.M. That means no matter how hard you try, your stomach muscles may get stronger, tighter and firmer, but using weights will never inflate them.

    Weights, especially cables, let you work your muscles through a variety of angles by lessening your reliance on whichever single angle gravity allows you. Sticking with the same body-resistance exercises, such as crunches and knee raises, can be counterproductive, especially as you get in better shape. "The leaner you become, the less resistance your muscles get from your decreasing body weight, leaving you with less results in the long run," says McDaniel. Adding weights can prevent this from happening, so your midsection won't suffer from your sleeker appearance.

    As for injuries, "the risks involved using weighted abdominal movements are no different than those that come into play using weights for any other muscle group," says McDaniel. "Going slow, maintaining proper form, and always choosing a weight your muscles can handle are the smartest way to lower your odds and improve your results."

    You'll need a few pieces of equipment (a high-cable pulley, a chin-up bar and a light dumbbell), but nothing you wouldn't find in any standard health club.

    Working out at home may feel limiting to some, but for others, it offers the greatest amount of freedom. Being away from prying eyes can allow you to try abdominal exercises you might otherwise feel too self-conscious to do in public-movements that may look silly, but are guaranteed to put your abdominal muscles through paces most basic ab moves can never touch.

    This at-home routine is derived from Pilates, a series of floor exercises that force you to hold specific positions which develop strength, flexibility, posture and coordination. But as esoteric as these movements may seem, "they're actually more rooted to the real-life use of your abdominal muscles than your average exercise," says Ed Morand, A.C.E., N.A.S.M., Pilates instructor at the New York Sports Clubs/Town Sports International in New York City.

    Every Pilates move requires a set of tight, strong abs simply to hold yourself in the starting position. The continual tension on your abs keeps your midsection muscles working overtime to maintain your posture, which lets you reap even more six-pack success from every exercise on offer here.

    Morand offers three positions for developing abs of steel without needing anything but a mat, a few minutes to spare, and the dedication of a pit bull.

    Maybe it's because you only see women using one, or because it looks like something Toys-R-Us puts on sale around Christmastime. Or maybe it's simply because it sounds like something made by men who enjoy yodeling and find Eucalyptus bearable. Whatever your explanation is for being afraid to use a Swiss ball, you're not alone. Seasoned exercisers share your fears, but for an entirely different reason: Nothing puts your midsection through greater, shape-shifting torture.

    Exercising your abdominal muscles with a Swiss ball is one of the best ways a guy can jump-start his routine, for what may seem unique to you is actually quite familiar to your muscles. A Swiss ball mimics movements your abdominal muscles typically do throughout the day. "The abdominal wall's greatest job isn't to curl you off the floor; it's to constantly support and stabilize your body in an upright, balanced position all day long," says Jeff Bell, C.S.C.S., N.A.S.M., A.C.S.M., co-owner of Spectrum Wellness, New York City.

    Merely positioning yourself on the ball forces all your muscles (especially your abs) to naturally contract before you even start a movement. "Doing crunches on top of a ball also lets you bend back through a greater range of motion to work more muscle fibers along a safe, supported surface," says Bell. "Trying to arch your lower back on a flat surface to achieve the same effect will only compromise the spine instead of strengthen your abdominals."

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    Fire up your engine and burn that excess weight once and for all with these surefire metabolism boosters

    by Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

    Drink More Water
    When researchers measured people's metabolic rate before and after downing about 16 ounces of water, they found a rise in calorie-burning capability. The water had a lasting effect as well: Even after 30 minutes, drinkers were using 30% more calories than those who stayed dry.

    Eat, Then Sweat
    You must eat to get lean. Digesting food and absorbing and storing nutrients requires energy. Severely restricting calories dials back your metabolic rate. Plus, starving yourself eventually drives your body to break down muscle tissue to satisfy energy needs, further lowering calorie-burning. Boost the burn by working out just after eating a meal or substantial snacks.

    And Eat Again
    Divide daily calories into three meals and two snacks. Research suggests men who eat more frequently throughout the day are leaner than those who consume meals at irregular times.

    Pack in the Protein
    Protein keeps you fuller longer. Plus, your body uses more calories digesting protein than it does breaking down carbs or fat. High-quality protein from foods such as eggs, lean meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy also ups levels of the amino acid leucine in your body, which is essential for maintaining muscle and burning calories.

    Consider Caffeine
    A Harvard study of more than 19,000 men found those who got 200 milligrams of caffeine a day (the amount in four cans of cola or eight ounces of coffee) were less likely to gain weight over a 12-year period than those who didn't. Caffeine helps stimulate fat use, especially during exercise.

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