Summer is when you lose fat. When beach holidays and sunshine means definition takes precedence over size. But colder weather means layers, which cover up all kinds of sins. Now’s the time to focus on building pure muscle, to lift big and eat bigger, so you’ll have something to uncover when winter leaves and takes your forgiving clothes with it.
“The best way to do this is with basic barbell exercises,” says Greg Smith, personal trainer at City Athletic. Strong men have shifted heavy metal for centuries. They tend to swerve ab machines and cross trainers. So should you. You also need to lift more today than you did yesterday, a concept called progressive overload, which means your muscles grow back bigger to cope with the new weight.
“Add weight to the bar every time you train,” says Smith. “Combined with proper nutrition and adequate rest this approach will have you filling out T-shirts and stretching the sleeves on your shirts by the time summer rolls around again.” By ‘proper nutrition’, he does not mean salad.
“If you want to make some serious gains, you’re going to need to spend as much time sat eating at the kitchen table as you are in working out at the gym,” says Smith. He recommends 18kcals per pound of bodyweight, per day. For an 80kg man, that’s around 3,100 calories. Which is a lot of chicken. “Divide your total calorie intake evenly between proteins, fats and carbohydrates.” The less processed those calories, the better your results. A chicken breast with sweet potato and nuts beats the same calories from a Big Mac.
You’ll also be pleased to hear it’s time to kill the HIIT. “Cut back on any high intensity activity that eats into your reserves and creates an additional demand for calories,” says Smith. If you want to keep your fitness – and six-pack – add in one slow, 60-minute run a week. Then start counting down the months till beach season.
The Big Lifts, Big Muscle Workout
“This workout features a selection of exercises that allow you to train the entire kinetic chain with heavy weights, which will add an appreciable amount of muscle to even the slightest of frames.
“Warm up with some foam rolling and stretching, then perform each of the exercises in the order prescribed.”
5 Sets Of 5 reps
“This brutal but effective exercise is pretty much a workout on its own and it will add dense, functional muscle to the thighs, back and core. Make sure you squat all the way below parallel – the crease of your hips should be below your knees.
“If you can’t do it, reduce the weight until you can and work your way back up from there. Take plenty of rest between sets – you’ll need it.”
How To Do It: Set up in a squat rack, with the weight across your shoulders. Squat down, keeping your back straight, until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Drive back up through your heels and repeat.
5 sets of 5 reps
“Performed properly, with heavy weights the bench press is a surefire way to pack on slabs of muscle to the upper body – particularly the chest, shoulders and triceps.
“When performing the exercise, keep your shoulder blades pinched together throughout the movement and make sure your elbows are positioned at 45 degrees to your body. This will allow you to lift more weight whilst reducing the risk of shoulder injury. Make sure the bar is lowered all the way down until it touches the chest before pressing it back to the start position.”
How To Do It: Lie down on the bench press and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Lower it, squeezing your shoulder blades together, until the bar brushes your nipples. Drive it up using your chest – make sure you don’t roll your shoulders forward. Pause, then repeat.
1 set of 5 reps
“This may not sound like much, but a maximal set of heavy deadlifts is more taxing on your body than a 400m sprint.
“Be sure to warm up by performing single reps, increasing the weight on the bar by 5-10kg until you reach your target weight. To help prevent injury to your lower back, make sure your brace your abs hard and drive your hips toward the bar by squeezing your glutes.”
How To Do It: Stand with a barbell on the floor, in front of your shins. Crouch down and grab the bar with both hands, keeping your weight on your heels. Drive up to standing, pause, then lower.