Getting that Summer Body

By Luis Gutierrez

For most of us, spring break is over. We went to the tanning salon or to the beach and we enjoyed a week of fun in the sun. Many of us also realize we need to do a little bit more work to get our bodies ready for the summer. It feels like this is a never-ending cycle: spend the summer bronzed and beautiful, go back to work and gradually taper our fitness into the fall, then the temperature drops and our layers of clothes increase, we cuddle up in the winter and gain weight over the holidays, and then spring break hits and we start over… lather, rinse, repeat. But if we want to be sexy and fabulous for every season of life, how can we get there?

Some of us are lucky enough to be stationed by the beach and thus have a year-round excuse to look great. For the rest of us, we are focused on that one time of the year when we can take some leave, party by the shore with some margaritas in our hands, and dance shirtless (or in bikinis) in the middle of the day. So why talk about summer bodies in March? Because now is the perfect time to start working on those abs so that you’re ready for the beach this summer.

As a community, we’re generally not shy. We like to show off our bodies at the clubs, at the pool, even at the gym. And while the stereotypes may not apply to everyone, it’s safe to assume that if you like to show off your goods (abs, arms, legs…don’t get ahead of me), you know that it’s a constant battle between happy hour and your date with the gym. As service members, we often feel like we have to work twice as hard so that we maintain the illusion that yes, our bodies were born this way.

To get on track for the beach body you want, you must start with the core — the abs that everybody wants but almost nobody has. I see people every day at the gym working on abs exercises, often falling short of the results that they want. When it comes to those tricky muscles, there are two major things that play a role. The first one is genetics, and this is something that you cannot change. Everyone knows somebody who was born with a nice, even six-pack that shows up as soon as they are under around 15 percent body fat. For others, you can be at 6 percent body fat and, at best, have a flat stomach.

The second factor is your body fat percentage. You can spend an hour every day working on your abs and not have anything to show for all that work. This doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong, as you are most certainly building muscle. Unfortunately, all that muscle is hidden under the subcutaneous adipose tissue, so the only thing that you are succeeding at is making your waist look bigger. There is no such thing as a spot-reducing exercise, so when you exercise your abs, the energy that you are consuming is coming from all over your body, not just your waist line. If you want your abs to show, you have to lower your body fat percentage. This only happens when you maintain a calorie deficit diet, meaning that you have to burn more calories than you consume.

If your aim is to lose body fat, the best method for an adult is to eat about 12 calories per pound of body mass, so a 180-pound person should be eating around 2160 calories per day. This can vary by gender, but tends to vary more based on your amount of physical activity. Harvard Medical School has some useful health publications that can help you assess the right number of calories to lose weight, but with any program, consult your physician or nutritionist to make sure it’s right for you.

Once you know how much you are supposed to be eating, the next step is to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which, essentially, is the number of calories that you are burning by being alive. There are many convertors online, but the results that they provide are not always 100-percent accurate, since most of them do not take in consideration muscle vs. fat mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, if you want an accurate reading, most bases/posts have staff members in their gyms that can help you determine your BMR.

Once you have your BMR, calculate how many calories you burn at rest each day and subtract that from the amount of calories you consume. That number (assuming it is positive) is the number of calories you must burn via exercise in order to maintain your current weight. You must burn more than that number in order to lose weight.

The easiest way to burn those extra calories is by adding some type of cardio exercise to your routine. Here are some examples and the approximate number of calories burned by a 180lb male:

Walking: 268 per hour
Playing Golf: 367 per hour
Dancing: 442 per hour
Bicycling: 489 per hour
Basketball: 490 per hour
Zumba: 643 per hour
Running: 652 per hour

Once you start operating in a calorie deficit, you’ll begin to see your much more progress from your ab workouts. This issue’s workout will help you make those abs pop and get you ready for a summer at the beach. With the OutServe Summit in Florida this year, you’ll be ready to show off your hard work to all of your OutServe friends.

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  1. March 30, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    And let’s NOT FORGET the benefits of yoga, meditation, and “breath work” for a HOT mind as well.

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