At the moment my clients are now thinking towards the Christmas party season and those little party dresses.  Top of the Santa list is, “lose a few pounds and tone up”.  When women say they want to get toned, what they mean is that they want to see definition and sculpt with little fat covering it up.  This requires two things to happen : Increase the size of the muscle cells and reduce excess body fat that may cover up the muscle.  Let me share with you the secrets of  getting you that lean, toned physique by December.

Lift weights

You wont get bulky by increasing muscle but you will get sculpt and you will reduce your body fat.  Muscle increases your metabolism and helps your body burn fat by up to 93 percent.  Furthermore, your body can handle sugar better due to increased insulin sensitivity which results in managing your weight better long term.

Train the largest muscles in the body

Compound exercises touch as squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench & overhead presses, chin ups and pull downs need to be incorporated into your workout. Work your upper and lower body for instance do a bench press followed by rows.  Maximise your time by reducing recovery and putting two exercises together.

Lift heavy

Lift weights that are between 65-80 percent of the maximum that you can lift.  For example if you can squat 60 KGS one time, then your working sets or reps should be at least 40kgs.

Run fast

Sprints are amazing at improving body composition due to the afterburn effect.  Your metabolic rate increases for a full day afterwards which helps stimulate muscles and reduce body fat.  If you are a beginner try running at a moderate pace for 60 seconds with 60 second rest.  Intermediates can do five 30 second flat out intervals with 3 or 4 minutes recovery.

Reduce calories

Dropping calories should be done slowly and there is plenty time until the little black dress season.  When you drop calories too quickly below your resting metabolic rate , your metabolism becomes sluggish to preserve your fat stores. For example the minimum calories a 5ft 5in woman aged 40 weighing 10 stones needs is 1381 calories. This is just at rest, calories need to be increased when activity level is higher.

Increase Protein

 For me, proteins greatest benefit is that it curbs the appetite whilst helping the body repair muscle tissue and increase its size.  Research show that we should be eating 1.6 g of protein per KG of bodyweight.   If your not seeing changes in your body, you can go higher.

Carb timing

Aside from replacing bad carbs (bread, cereal, pasta, etc..) with good ones ( vegetables, fruits, wholegrain) its also important to eat your carbs at certain times to ensure they are used as fuel and not stored as fat. For example having your carbs post workout instead of having them at breakfast.  I find that cycling carbs by getting a higher intake on training days and eating less on lower volume training days or non training days can help you get leaner.

Consume healthy fats

Fats are not your enemy, stay away from low fat diets!  When you are on a low fat diet your body is not creating adequate hormones from the cholesterol in your fat .  Balanced hormones are also required for metabolism, muscle repair and fat burning. Balanced Cortisol is also essential to reduce stress and keep the waistline slimmer.

Plenty sleep

Not enough sleep can impair your ability to lose body fat.  It impairs muscle breakdown and increases hunger cues to the brain.  Sleep allows us to be more productive during the day and helps us deal better with stress.

Be Consistent

The greatest saboteur to fat loss and lean body goals is the lack of consistency.  Commit to a training plan for the next ten weeks, schedule the time of your workouts whether you go to the gym, a class or do a home workout.  Be consistent with your nutrition, a diet where you eat well 5  days and binge eat at the weekend doesn't entitle you to that lean body.