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When it comes to obtaining that ripped look that many crave, the inevitable downside is that in becoming lean and ripped, you often loose strength and your energy levels flag somewhat. While some accept this as being “just the way things go” I’m here to tell you otherwise. Strength loss isn’t inevitable if you follow these five top tips.
During a cut many lose strength however, if you follow a structured plan which is aimed specifically at maintaining strength you can bypass this unfortunate side-effect. Examples of appropriate strength-maintain moves include squats, deadlifts, bench pressing and overhead pressing. Don’t overdo it and try and cram them into one workout, choose one at a time, incorporating that one into one workout, switching to another choice for subsequent workouts.
Do choose the weights which will have you working the hardest but don’t overdo it. Maintaining strength while staying lean is two parts science, one-part art. Overdo it and you could end up injured and benched!
Additional strength maintaining exercises such as bodyweight squats or push ups may be added to your routine but must be exercises which concentrate primarily on calorie burning.
Maintain Heavy Lifting
Don’t make the mistake that many make which is to get that ripped look / feel and then switch solely or mostly to calorie burning. This won’t maintain the progress you’ve already made and will most definitely have an impact on your strength and energy levels.
This is the time to really hammer on with the big lift exercises. Warm up properly and include lifts of ten reps or more but add sets with only a few reps each in order to keep the burn going, raise the metabolism, work those muscles and yet encourage recovery.
Don’t forget to work with a spotter who knows and understands what you are trying to achieve here as a good spotter, particularly when it comes to those times when you start to tire, is essential.
Rethink Your Cardio
Cardio is important, it is essential and yet it doesn’t need to form the bulk of your workout each and every day. There are many who have reached their lean and shaped goals who choose to jump on a cardio machine or really work cardio hard only when they need it or want a boost. Constantly hammering it makes cardio, for some people, less effective. This isn’t something you want happening to you when it comes to ensuring that you keep your strength and energy lessons up.
It might also be wise to alter or mix-up your cardio routines to include faster paced cardio workouts such as HIIT as well as medium-speed / intensity cardio.
Look at Your Food
Yes, you do still need to eat, and eat well despite having reached that physical condition that grins back at you from the mirror and shouts “you did it”. If you want to maintain that look and the way it feels you need to look at enjoying the right type of carbs at the right time.
Carb cycling, (carbohydrate cycle) refers to a (possibly specific) time, a day, week or month during which that specific time window should be dedicated to consuming only complex carbohydrates (your pasta, bread, etc.).
These are great for helping to build up glycogen stores in your tired muscles which will, if ingested at the right time, help you keep going throughout your workout.
Remember, while you are trying to maintain the lean look you’ve fought so hard for, you’re also trying to maintain your strength so don’t drastically cut calorie intake if your fat loss seems to have slowed or stalled. These calories are essential to power your way through your workouts.
Choose Supplements Wisely
To minimise muscle loss, maintain strength, to help loose fat stores and to aid metabolism you need to be consuming high quality (whey) protein. This is key as it also helps one to not feel hungry. It might also be advantageous to have something ready for when you feel like having a snack. A protein bar such as "Grenade Carb Killa Caramel Chaos" will certainly keep your body fuelled without the need for fast acting and yet quickly diminishing snack foods like some junk snacks will.
When training hard your body needs to have extra branch chain amino acids which will help improve metabolism and reduce fatigue.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are and I applaud that. Just don’t celebrate too hard of let go of the reins because for one, it is easy to get complacent and find yourself losing muscle and gaining (unwanted) fat stores and secondly, you need to keep working out (and right) to ensure youenjoy both being lean and enjoy max strength and energy levels.