Training for the Summer of Shred

Whitney Reid and Chris MacKenzie summer of shred
Before I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of BPI Sports, working in the supplement and fitness industry seemed so glamorous…  The thought of converting my passion for the gym into a great “professional career” really has been a dream come true…  but the truth is that the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business the size of BPI (things like budgets and forecasts, managing supply-chain and inventory, sales calls, etc.) often eclipse the burning passion for fitness which brought me to this point.  So it’s time to let my inner meathead out!

In the following paragraphs I’m gonna lay out some of the strategies, must do exercises and other crazy shit I’ve always done in anticipation of summer!  Bear in mind that I grew up in New Jersey and went to the shore every summer (mostly Belmar, a little Pt. Pleasant).  This meant that I needed to bring out the shreds every summer; and at 50 years old now, I’ve still got the shreds – so do yourself a favor and take this blog seriously!

Here's the secret… 
Intensity is King!

Honestly I could stop now, because if you make sure that every workout, every day for the next eight weeks is as intense as possible, you’ll be in for the best “Summer of Shred” you’ve ever experienced.  But it’s more logical to lay out some of the things which bring the intensity than to stop the blog now, so here goes:

Lift heavy

 Lift Heavy!  I’ve never been a “big guy” so since high school I’ve been conditioned to think that I needed to lift heavy so my muscles could keep-up with the genetically larger dudes at the gym.  Truth is, all this heavy lifting didn’t necessarily make me HUGE, but it did push my muscles to their max.  I’ve relied on heavy lifting as the key trigger for muscle soreness, which I use as an indicator that the workout will force my muscles to recover and come back stronger.

All too often I think people confuse lifting heavy with pure “Power Lifting.”  Power Lifting (which I love) focuses on three specific exercises, requires long rest periods, mathematical weight increases, insane amounts of technique, and so much more…  if you’re seeking shreds for the summer, I’m just telling you not to be scared to put weights on the bar; and not to fear sets of five-reps, three-reps, or even
One-Rep-Max sets.

Do the big lifts first, then move into Super-sets.  Picking right up on the Power Lifting thing above…  In my opinion, if you’re not doing Squats, some sort of Bench Press, and most importantly Deadlifts, then you are doing yourself a disservice.  Here’s how I like to structure a workout to facilitate maximum intensity. 

After warming up (a topic which deserves a Blog of its own) I like to go straight into the biggest exercise of the workout: so if it’s Back-n-Bis, Deadlifts is first-up.  I approach the deadlifts with the intention of pulling as much weight as possible for a few good sets before changing the strategy and pace of the workout.  Once I work my way up to some heavy stuff, maybe even attempt a new PR, I then look to do a little high-volume work (more on that to come in the next section).

Once that first exercise is done, the pace of the workout needs to accelerate.  Super-sets and/or Giant-sets are a great way to increase the intensity and pace of the workout.  In technical broscience lingo, a Super-set is doing two exercises back-to-back before taking a rest while a Giant-set would be three (or more) exercises back-to-back.  To continue with the example of Back-n-Bis, I might do Lat Pulldowns / Dumbbell Rows / Barbell Curls for several “Giant-sets” with slight increases in the weight between rounds.  For me, this gets the heart pumping which I equate to calorie burning!  This is the “build muscle and burn fat moment” that puts the shreds into the summer bod.  If your muscles are straining, and you’re out of breath, then you are 100% doing it right!


Incorporate High-Volume Training

 Incorporate High-Volume Training.  Back in the Belmar days my training partner and I used the mantra “Everything Heavy Always!”  But “Everything Heavy” is not just for low-rep ranges.  One strategy I’ve always leveraged in workouts is to use a moderately heavy weight – but take the reps to the MAX…  I mean the absolute MAX, like where I feel like I’m either gonna pass-out, puke, explode, or all three at once.  This is a great way to keep MAX intensity in the workout.  (Now for legal purposes I must say that I never would encourage anyone to exercise outside of their comfort zone, so you need correlate this to your own personal scale).

So with that disclaimer said, let me give a real world example…  Back to the deadlifts, on my way up the pyramid, I usually hit 405 lbs for five to eight reps…  So after the heavy sets are completed, I’ll often hit 405 for as many reps a possible.  Proud to say that hit over 25 reps here – and it was brutal and awesome.  And for me, this MAX effort checks all boxes needed for a summer shred.

Outdoor beach cardio

Do your Cardio (and enjoy the summer weather).  I have always relied on Cardio to help with the shreds.  I am an old-fashioned believer in calories in v.s. calories used as the best way to “burn body fat” and burn up calories is added Cardio.  Considering that the weather is nicer in the summer, outdoor cardio is my go-to.  Fast walks, jogging, bike rides, running hills, etc. – and ya can catch a little tan while you’re at it.  It goes without saying that the structure of your workouts with the high-volume sets, giant-sets and hard-nosed grinding on heavy compound movements also increases the cardio demand on your body…

I personally like to include a Cardio session as a second workout in the day, timed several hours away from my gym time because I feel getting the heart rate up, at two points in the day, has additional metabolic benefits.

Get your Diet and Supplement-strategy straight.  A lot of people would say that Intense workouts and extra Cardio will not do anything for you if your diet isn’t right, but I personally think that’s bullshit.  Again, I am a believer in calories in v.s. calories used, so upping the intensity and cardio should result in increased caloric demand…  But if you’re looking to achieve total shredded awesomeness for the summer, there’s no denying the importance of a proper diet.   I would refer you to other blogs on the BPI site which go in depth on diet strategies, but there some key micro-nutrients that I’ll introduce for your consideration as SHRED ACCELATORS:

Grains of Paradise is an exciting herbal compound which can help your body burn stored fat for energy to support weight loss.

The three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), leucine, isoleucine and valine work synergistically to reduce muscle breakdown and support lean muscle growth.

Citrulline can help to improve blood flow, ensuring nutrients and oxygen reach the muscles to keep them performing at their best.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is known to help preserve lean muscle and curb lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which may prevent fat storage.

Carnitine helps maximize the amount of freed-up fat cells you can burn by transporting the fat cells directly into the mitochondria.

Tea Extracts like Green Tea, White Tea and Black Tea can have caffeine and catechins, like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (in green tea specifically) which are linked to fat burning.

One study found that white tea was able to stimulate fat breakdown and prevent new fat cells from being formed. Another study suggests white tea may boost your metabolism by an extra 4-5%, which could burn an extra 70-100 calories per day.

Additionally these herbs can boost the growth of healthy gut bacteria and form metabolites that may help to control liver energy metabolism.


BPI Sports supplements

In conclusion, Summer is awesome!!!  And you can make your summer even more awesome by being SHREDDDDDDDDED!  So make 2022 the ultimate Summer of Shred buy upping your intensity in the gym, cleaning up the diet, and having an amazing Memorial Day to Labor Day!

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