Life is too short to work your butt off year-round.
I am a firm believer in spurts of effort and then backing way off on those efforts and just enjoying life. Is your goal to workout as much as possible or to look and feel good? You can go periods of 3-4 months on a skeleton workout schedule and maintain an amazing physique, if you plan it out properly.
After those 3-4 months you will need to put in more time, then you can go back to maintenance mode. I’ll talk more about how to do this in this post.
[I like the idea of working hard towards a goal, like a two week tropical vacation. Kick butt in your career, get in amazing shape, and then stop and smell the roses…or in this case the coconut scent of your sunblock and the lime in your beer.]
What I’ve Learned from Watching the TV Show “Survivor”.
I hate to admit it, but I am a big follower of “Survivor”. I skipped a few seasons, but this past season (and a contestant by the name of Russell) got me hooked on the show again. He was the villain that we loved to watch. I didn’t like him at first, but the guy grew on me.
One thing I have noticed while watching the show is that the contestants keep much of their muscle tone, despite being somewhat inactive. Obviously this is due to chronic calorie restriction.
I’m Not Advocating Starving Yourself!
Don’t take this the wrong way…I think the contestants looked famished by the end. The diet is obviously extreme and it would be nuts to eat like they do on the show. What I did notice however, was that about 2 weeks into the show all the contestants still had good muscle tone while doing very little in the way of exercise.
People who have been following this blog for a while or who have downloaded my free report, have heard me say again and again that diet pays the biggest role when it comes to staying (and getting) lean.
…but You Want to Eat a Lot on Vacation?
I am with you there! In fact, in Vacation Body Blueprint, I recommend that people go into their vacation after a period of slightly more intense training than normal.
Your body will do well with the extra calories and period of rest. Enjoy all the good food and drinks that your vacation has to offer. You will put on some weight, but a lot of that is water weight that will come off after you back off on the calories again.
[I don’t want people to get the idea that I am a total TV Junkie…but this is the best show on TV in my opinion. Anthony Bordain is my hero.]
After Vacation It Is Time to Clean Up Your Diet
Usually a good strategy after vacation is to restrict the calories a bit for a week or two when you get back. This will easily allow you to drop any fat you may have gained on vacation (which will be minimal).
I went off on a tangent a bit, since 2 week vacation is a short term period. Let’s talk about 3-4 months of staying in maintenance mode…
You Can Maintain Off Very Few “Official” Workouts
The key to being lean and mean all summer is cutting back your calories a bit. You can do this and still enjoy nights out clubbing (if you are in that age group), going out to eat with friends and family, etc.
If you want to enjoy good meals and higher calorie foods, you have to eat less meals. Another way to accomplish this is to eat 1-2 tiny meals and just one bigger meal at night when it is time to go out.
I Like to Think Of “Calories Per Week” NOT Calories Per Day
This shift in thinking will make staying lean a breeze while still having an active social life. On the days where you are just working and then going home to chill-out, eat low calorie meals. When you are alone keep the meals small and bland.
Save your calories for the days in the week where you plan on being social.
This approach works extremely well! If take away one thing from visiting my site, understand that your metabolism will not slow down from skipping meals from time to time -or- having a few low calorie days in a row.
So How Many Workouts Per Week to Maintain?
Remember my survivor example? It depends upon how much you eat. I have found that most people can get away with 1-3 “official” workouts per week.
I will typically do 2-3 workouts each week throughout the summer. A key to making this work is to stay active when you are not in the gym and walk more, etc. Also, you can do intense HIIT followed by steady state cardio each and every workout…since you are training less.
Have Some Fun While You Are on This Planet!
The thing that makes me hesitant about writing fitness posts is that I don’t want anyone to become obsessed with working out.
I encourage general misbehavior, late nights, not following the rules, eating happy hour food at least once per week, enjoying a beer in a mug that is much too large, sleeping on a tropical beach, playing music that is too loud, etc.
Bottom line…have some fun…and don’t be a cheesy person that talks about grams of protein and how much you can lift when you are out in the “real world”.