How To Get The Beach Body You've Always Wanted
By Tyler Woodward
Tired of being afraid to take your shirt off? This is the year to get the beach body you've always dreamed of... In this guide we'll tell you everything you need to know to get beach-body ready this year.
Table of Contents:
- What Is The Beach Body
- The Calorie Deficit
- Building The Beach Body
- How To Build The Beach Body
- Muscles Simplified
- The Summer-Shred Workout Split
What Is The Beach Body:
In order to get ready for beach season, let’s define what the beach body actually consists of:
- Visible Abs/ Flat Stomach
- All-around defined/ toned muscles
- Visible Abs/ Flat Stomach
- V- Tapar
- All around defined/ toned muscles
- Perky Butt (bigger emphasis)
So now that we have defined what the beach body, we can discuss how to go about attaining the glorified “beach body”
Disclaimer: I’d like to note that attaining the ever-so glorious beach body is not for everyone. It can be very stressful to the body to achieve that level of leanness and is not necessarily “healthier”. It also takes consistent time and effort to achieve this physique and is by no means necessary other than to look good in a bathing suit. With that being said, if you’re still looking to get ripped, let’s get into it…
The Calorie Deficit:
Without a doubt the most important part of the “beach body” is having a low body-fat percentage, so that your muscles appear as defined or toned. The only way to achieve this is by putting your body into a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you are burning on a daily basis. Remember that a calorie is a unit of energy and everyone burns a given amount of calories on a daily basis based on their “metabolic rate” or “metabolism”. For more information on weight loss and calorie deficits, I recommend checking out my article, “The only way to lose weight”. But in short, we will define metabolism as “the sum of the chemical reactions that take place within each cell of a living organism” (Kornberg, Britannica). There are three parts that make your metabolism or how many calories you burn on a daily basis:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - BMR makes up about 70% of your metabolism. It is the amount of energy you expend in order to maintain homeostasis. If you didn’t move an inch throughout the day this would be the amount of energy your body uses. Your basal metabolic rate will vary depending on your age, height, weight, amount of muscle mass, genetics, among other factors
- Non-Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis (NEAT) - NEAT makes up about 20% of your metabolism. It is the amount of energy you expend doing small movements throughout the day, things that you don’t normally think about using energy. This includes walking throughout the day, talking, typing, cooking, fidgeting, etc..
- Exercise - Exercise accounts for about 10% of your metabolism (if you exercise). It is the activity that we usually account for doing things like resistance training (weightlifting or calisthenics), running, swimming, walking (for exercise), etc.
As long as you are consuming fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis (a calorie deficit), then your body will be forced to use its stored energy, resulting in weight loss over time. Fat is our body’s go-to energy source when it needs extra energy. Our body preferentially stores energy as fat when we have extra energy (calorie surplus) and it will preferentially use our fat stores when we are low on energy (calorie deficit). Some of our protein and carbohydrate stores will also be used as “fuel” in the calorie deficit, but this will be pretty minimal for most people that are not in too aggressive of a calorie deficit.
In order to calculate your metabolic rate, there are a ton of great online calculators or I usually use the estimation 15 calories * current body weight ~ Total daily maintenance calories. I then subtract between 200-300 calories off this daily total in order to calculate my calorie deficit
Beach Body Myth #1 Targeted Fat Loss
One of the biggest myths in the fitness industry is that by working out a muscle group you can “tone it up” or target fat-loss in that area in order to make it look more defined. Muscle tone is typically defined as the amount of muscle active at rest, when you are not actively moving or contracting the muscle. The only way to actually increase this is by gaining the amount of muscle we have, so literally there is more muscle activated at rest. In order to get the desired “toned” look of the “beach-body”, we need to reduce the amount of body fat covering our muscles in order to make them more visible. Again, we do so by putting our body into a calorie deficit.
Building The Beach Body:
Now that we have covered the getting lean half of attaining the beach body, the second half consists of putting on muscle in strategic portions to build the desired “v-taper”, perky butt, and all-around defined muscles. Building muscle comes down to one formula which is: Stimulus + Recovery = Adaptation. Stimulus being the work/exercise done on the muscle in or out of the gym. Recovery is the nutrition, sleep etc, everything you do outside of training. Lastly, adaptation is the end result of physical changes occurring in your body like muscle growth.
Beach Body Myth #2 Training Guys vs. Girls
Despite what just about every “FitFluencer” would leave you to believe, there is no actual difference in training between guys and girls. Now, this is not to say that we’re all the same. Every person is physically slightly different, we’re all born with variations in our structure which will predispose certain people to be very fast, strong, or jump high, ect. But at the end of the day, our muscle fibers and the individual cells within them are nearly identical and should be trained the same way. Due to significantly higher levels of testosterone, men are able to gain way more muscle than women, but the way we go about training the muscles does not change. The only real differences in training men and women are the muscle groups they want to grow/train and the type of training they have been predisposed to. Women “fitfluencers” tend to bias more circuit style or HIIT (High-intensity interval training) work involving a lot of exercises in a short period of time, while men tend to focus more on “pump” style training for muscle-growth or heavy weightlifting for strength. None of these training styles are inherently better than the others for muscle-growth and in fact, everyone should continually rotate between these train-styles in order to keep making progress.
***I’d like to preface this section by saying that building muscle while trying to lose weight/fat is like fighting an uphill battle. If you are trying to gain muscle, it is insanely more efficient to do so while eating in a calorie surplus in order to supply your body with extra energy to fuel this muscle growth. Beginners and intermediate lifters may be able to gain some muscle while in a calorie deficit, but again it is really inefficient to do so. I personally made this mistake for years and barely made any progress because I did not understand the importance of being in a calorie surplus for muscle-growth.
How To Build Your Beach Body:
I’d like to argue that the “idealized” male and female physique are pretty much identical, the only difference being the amount of muscle. For example, the “V-taper” of a wider-back and shoulders makes your waist appear smaller. Women tend to focus more on building their legs and glutes, but this is also a big part of a well-developed male physique. In order to build your beach body as fast as possible, we want to choose exercises that are “optimal” or really efficient for building muscle. Without getting too complicated, “optimal” exercises involve a few key characteristics:
- These exercises will take the target muscle group through a large range of motion
- The resistance of the exercise will approximately match the force that the muscle group is capable of producing
- The exercise is relatively easy to progressively overload
Without further ado let’s get into it…
1. The V-Taper
Building the V-taper consists of growing your back, shoulders and chest in order to create the illusion of a smaller waist. Specifically this involves a few key muscles groups:
- The Chest (Pecs)
- The Shoulders (Front, middle and side deltoids)
- The Upper-back (The upper and lower Traps and the Rhomboids)
- Back Width (The Lats)
2. Ab Training
Many of us have likely heard the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’, which is actually one of the few perpetuated fitness sayings that is true. No matter how much or how hard you train your abs, if you have too much body fat covering your stomach, your abs will never be visible. Again, we cannot target fat loss, so you will need to get to a low enough body fat percentage such that your abs are visible. Depending on the person, some people will have visible abs at a higher body fat percent, while others may need to get pretty lean to see their abs. But, like any other muscle group, we can train and grow our abs which can make them more visible at higher body-fat percentages. The abs consist of four muscle groups :
- The Rectus Abdominis (6-pack muscles)
- The Internal and External Obliques (Side abs)
- The Transverse Abdominis (A belt-like muscle that wraps around your core)
3. Legs & Arms
This is pretty self-explanatory, but no matter how shredded you are or how great of a v-taper you have, we need proportional legs and arms to fully encompass the “ideal beach body”. The legs and arms consist of a few muscle groups each:
- The Quadriceps (The muscle group in the front of the upper-legs)
- The Hamstrings (The muscle group in the back of the upper-legs)
- The Calves (The muscle group in the back of the lower-legs)
- The Glutes (The “booty” muscles)
- The Biceps (The muscle group in the front of the arms)
- The Triceps (The muscle group in back of the arms)
- The Forearms (The muscle group in the lower arms)
If you have ever heard the superhero analogy that we only use about 10% of our brain, this is how our muscles work (although it’s not actually true for our brain). For instance, when you raise your arm to scratch your head, you only use a small portion of your muscle or a few muscle fibers. When you lift something heavy, more and more of these muscle fibers must activate in order to produce enough force to lift the heavier load. When we do an exercise like the bicep curl, as we approach failure (not being able to perform more repetitions) towards the end of the set, our muscle is forced to recruit the majority of its muscle fibers in order to lift the weight. These are known as our “high-threshold” motor units, the last muscle fibers that are recruited as we approach failure. In contrast to the “low-threshold” motor units that we use all the time in monotonous tasks throughout the day. For our muscles to grow, we must recruit these high-threshold motor units by getting close to a failure point within the given exercise.
Think about it this way, if you want to get faster at running a mile, you need to practice running the mile as fast as possible. Going for a mile walk is going to have very little if any transfer to improving your mile time. This is a simplified view of what is actually happening within our muscles, but for the most part, as long as we recruit these high-threshold motor units, no matter if it is through 1-5 repetitions or 100 repetitions our muscles will grow.
The Summer Shred Workout Split:
I’d like to point out that workout splits are the gym equivalent of a calendar, it is how we spread out our workouts over a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Now, I really don’t recommend blindly following anyone’s workout plans or splits. If your goal is to make physical changes in your body, the workout plan must have a specific purpose/intent and must align with your goals. So here is my justification behind this training split:
The two main motives behind this workout: efficiency & accessibility. Most people do not want to live their lives in the gym, so I designed this workout plan with this in mind. These workouts should take you at the most an hour each and should require very little time to set up each exercise. I specifically chose very efficient exercises that take each muscle group through basically their full range of motion and apply adequate resistance to the target muscle. I also chose a high frequency half-body approach, so each muscle group is hit twice per week and provides multiple opportunities to produce enough stimulus to grow the muscle. Lastly, I ordered the exercises in order of importance relative to the male vs female physique.
Secondly, I chose exercises that everyone should have access to at their gym and are relatively simple to execute with good form. Lastly, I kept the training volume pretty low, so there is a lot of room to progress in the future.
Cardio & Abs (Optional):
If you’re interested in accelerating the weight loss process, cardio can be a great tool. Like any exercise or activity, cardio burns a decent amount of calories in a short period of time. Depending on the type and intensity of the exercise and the amount of time spent doing it will determine the amount of calories burned. In terms of weight/fat loss, cardio is really not anything special, besides increasing the amount of calories you burn or allowing you to eat more food. You definitely do not need to do cardio, but it can be useful. I personally prefer to do some form of sport or try to go for a 30 minute walk daily. If you choose to do cardio, I recommend doing it after your gym workouts or on off-days, so it does not interfere with your energy levels in the gym.
Abs: As we discussed before, doing abs can help you make them more visible at higher body fat percentages. If you want to do abs, you can program them in at any point either at the end of the workout or on off-days, by all means. My favorite ab exercises are weighted decline crunches for the rectus abdominis (6-pack muscles) and some form of weighted side bend/crunch for the obliques.
My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within the fitness industry. I really hope you found this article interesting and useful as a guide to building your beach body. If you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach me on our facebook groups (The Thermo Diet Community Group, The UMZU Community Group) or on Instagram @tylerwoodward__. And please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.
Until next time… be good
B.S. Physiology & Neurobiology