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With summer approaching fast, beach bbqs, boating and pool parties, its almost unavoidable to escape being seen in your swim suit. Pause....and think about how you feel about wearing a swim suit this season…….in public…..

Do you feel comfortable, and confident? Or do you feel like you’ll be covering yourself up as much as you can? Think about what you want to be able to do with your body this summer. How do you want your body to look and feel? What kinds of things do you want to be able to wear…

Okay, everyone has different goals, so here are some secrets of the pros that might help you feel better about your body as well as get it stronger and healthier for whatever summer activities you’ve got up and coming. If you want the beach body of a pro bodybuilder or bikini athlete, than you need to eat, sleep, train and think like a pro.

IT ALL STARTS WITH YOUR FOOD- First things first, Let’s talk NUTRITION. Starting with breakfast, bodybuilders do not skip breakfast!! Ever! In fact, they don’t miss or skip any meals. They never “forget to eat.” In fact, each meal is carefully planned out. Bodybuilders always have a plan. If you want to have the beach body of a body builder, you have to become an expert planner. Using an app like My Fitness Pal is definitely a secret weapon of most bodybuilders. It tracks everything, precisely. No more guess work. My Fitness Pal will tell you everything from how much sugar you’ve consumed on a daily basis, how much fat, carbs, protein and your total calorie intake. In order to be specific, body builders also weigh and measure out their food in grams. Get a food scale if you don’t own one. Bodybuilders always know what they will be eating next, and how much. Most Body Builders eat 5-6 small meals everyday, with about 3 hours between meals. They always have a plan and if they are going somewhere, they are prepared, with a cooler. They dedicate a few hours every week to meal prepping.

So what do body builders eat? Most of them stick with the same foods most of the time. They choose high quality protein, which is essential for building muscle. Remember, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Hint: Egg whites, turkey, chicken, white fish and lean beef. Body builders love their carbs. NOTE: Carbs are not bad!! They choose healthy carbs for fuel like sweet potatoes, rice cakes, rice, and oats. Fats are essential to life, bodybuilders choose almond butter, nuts or avocados. And they eat a ton of veggies like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Most bodybuilders will give themselves a cheat meal, indulgence meal or refeed meal, once per week. This meal is usually planned and looked forward to. It’s One meal, anything they want- whether it be a burger, pizza or french toast! And there is no guilt, the meal is enjoyed thouroughlly. It’s important to give the body a little love after being strict all week and to restore glycogen as well. This indulgence meal also allows them to enjoy something they are craving without them going off the deep end.

HYDRATE LIKE A BODY BUILDER- Industry standards have suggest drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. That means, a 160 lb woman (which is the average weight for a woman) should be drinking at least 80 ounces per day. Competitive bikini athletes and body builders are usually all drinking around a gallon per day!! So, get used to peeing A LOT and also getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Its a pain to get used to, but makes for better health in the long run. Even your skin will start to look better. Get yourself a cool water bottle and get used to taking it everywhere. Or start with a full gallon jug in the morning and that way you can see how much you’ve got left as the day goes on.

SET A GOAL- You don’t have to be training for a fitness competition to benefit from this type of training. But it does help to have some sort of a goal in mind. Set a goal that is attainable and then tell someone about it. By telling someone else, it will hold you accountable. Write it down, and then don’t deviate. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself of it everyday. How many times do we look at our phone screens everyday? Put a photo of your goal as your screensaver on your phone as a constant reminder of what you’re working on. Commit, and then don’t quit. Body builders don’t quit. Remember, everything worth achieving won’t be easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. Know when you want to reach your goal by and know which things you’ll have to give up in order to reach your goal. Check in with yourself daily. Take progress photos every week for visual proof. Photos do not lie!

GET ADEQUATE REST- If you want to look and feel your best, sleep is required! Sleep is actually necessary for proper recovery. Muscles rebuild while our body is asleep. Its recommended to aim for 7-9 hours per night. Listen to your body. Rest as hard as you train. Don’t overtrain, which is a huge mistake of many amatuers in the gym. Overtraining could mean training too often, performing too many sets, too hard or too soon when the muscles aren’t fully recovered (which can in fact be ignorant). The point of training is to build muscle, not tear it down. In the gym, you’re tearing muscles up. Eating repairs the muscle and sleep is where the growth happens. Take power naps if you can. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and free of clutter for optimum sleeping. Body builders go to bed early and don’t spend too many late nights out partying.

LIFT HEAVY- Basic exercises work. Squats, lunges, rows, presses, deadlifts. Higher reps with lighter weight or fewer reps with heavy weight? It all depends on what your goals are. Do you want a skin-splitting lean physique or want to build more size? With so much conflicting information on the web, its hard to tell what exactly is the right thing to do in the gym anymore. For everything out there, there is almost something contradicting it being said. For instance…Do you incorporate a full ab day or skip abs because doing them can make you look boxy? Should you take a rest day or work those glutes everyday? Drop sets? Supersets? Its best to hire a professional personal trainer in the beginning if you’re just getting started. Start by training specific muscle groups. Train till exhaustion. A good rule of thumb is to struggle, feel as though you couldn’t possibly do anymore when you’re done. Remember its not really leg day unless you’re crawling out of the gym. The important thing is to get to the gym, 4-5 days/ week minimum. You’ll learn as you go. Make friends, and ask questions.

DO YOUR CARDIO- Again should it be fasted cardio, low-intensity steady sate (LISS) cardio like walking slowly on a treadmill at a very steep incline or is HIIT training where its at?? Treadmill or stair stepper? What about spinning, hiking or walking the dog? All cardio is not created equal. What’s important is to pick the one that motivates you to do it. Pay attention to how you feel. Mix it up if you can, its important to get out of the comfort zone. Train until you feel like puking every once in a while. It doesn’t always have to be all out. You’ll see a lot of body builders grinding slowly and steady at a pace of 3.0-3.5 on a treadmill at an incline of 15%. This kind of training is all about working smarter, not harder. Its gentler on the knees, and is also burning fat without burning muscle. Do cardio that is specific to your goal. Remember if you’re trying to build muscle, low-intensity steady sate is your best bet. Cardio won’t strip your gains if you do the right kind and the right amount.

BE CONSISTENT- The success of the people with the best bodies lies in their daily habits and routines. Its what they do most of the time that matters. Its not easy in the beginning, but you will get used to it. Always have a plan. Meal planning can take lot of time in the beginning, but ends up saving you time in the long run. Learn to devote a day or two to it and you’ll have it down to a science in no time. Make sure you have food containers to carry your food around with you. Stay focused on your goal but Remember to have fun with it. Get outside when you can. Surround yourself with like minded people with similar goals. Limit your alcohol intake. Be mentally tough. The body is so much stronger than you know. Its the mind you have to convince. To accomplish goals you’ve never done before, you must do things you’ve never done. Eat well. Sleep well. Get to the gym, and believe in yourself.

Tara Wallace is an ACE certified Personal Trainer available for Personal Training at Natural Fitness Gym


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