Shredding for the Holidays

MAXIM fitness guru ALEXA TOWERSEY is more than qualified to tell you how to get your body looking damn fine on the beach this summer… 

One of the first things that you need to know is that “exercising” is very different to “training”. Same concept when it comes to being “not fat” as opposed to being shredded. A good majority of people exercise, they don’t train. If you have time to send text messages between sets, can actually hold a conversation with someone during a set, or complain when you get a callous on your hand, then chances are you’re just ticking the “I’m working out” box, and you’ll struggle to get results you want. If you want to get #shreddingforthewedding and jacked AF while doing so, you better make sure you’re not just driving half an hour to walk on the treadmill.

Just to be clear here, lean might be sub 10% bodyfat, but shredded is 4-7%.


Top Tip: Your expectations should never exceed your work ethic.


Talk to anyone about any sort of 6 weeks to shredded program, and there are two very clear training components involved:


Heavy Weights

The number one priority when trying to lose fat should be to keep muscle.  Losing muscle mass is not acceptable because metabolically how much you have will be responsible for how much you can keep losing. Maintaining or gaining strength is the best way to maintain muscle. From a “caveman” point of view, push big weights and the body will think it has to retain muscle to survive.  From a hormonal point of view, lifting heavy weights is a great stimulus for both testosterone and growth hormone – responsible for muscular growth and fatloss in addition to a healthy sex drive. Lift heavy, Stay Hard. Literally and figuratively.


Top Tip: More muscle mass also means more insulin sensitivity – in layman’s terms, this means you don’t have to ditch the gluten free organic bread you have with your eggs for breakfast, God Forbid. Best times to utilize carbs are post exercise and before bed (sounds counter – intuitive, but who else gets sleepy after a healthy dose of spag bog?)


High Intensity Interval Training

Excessive cardio can lead to increased cortisol (stress hormone) and muscle loss.  High Intensity Intervals on the other hand will boost cardiovascular performance while preserving your hard earned gains.


Combine the two modalities and what do you get?



Interval Weight Training (IWT)

IWT is an intense session characterised by a combination of athletic lifts followed immediately by a HARD cardiovascular interval. This type of cross training is a powerful way to hack your biology, utilizing a greater percentage of the body’s muscle mass, both slow and fast twitch fibers.  The high intensity component places added energy demands on the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems, with more fat and glycogen being burned to support the increased energy demands before, during and after training. The EPOC (post exercise oxygen consumption) will leave your metabolism revved up and burning calories long after the session has finished.   This is one of the most efficient and effective ways of torching body fat whilst developing strength and power and maintaining muscle mass.  Perfect for beginners and experienced lifters alike because you can change the exercises to suit.


There are 2 main phases to an IWT:

Part 1 begins with an “athletic” or explosive lift eg as a power clean, hang clean, snatch high pull etc for 8-12 reps. This is then chased with 2-4 minutes of free aerobic exercise at 80-90% Maximum Heart Rate, meaning this effort should be intense. This is then followed by a two-minute rest period, and repeated for three rounds.


You should then have earned yourself a needed three-minute intermission.


Part 2 follows a similar structure to part 1, but the lift this time is less technical and more slow and grinding such as a squat or deadlift variation.


Below I’ve given you 2 example days which show you a simple way to structure your workouts. I’d suggest 2 x per week.



A1. 10 x DB Snatch each hand.

A2. 2 mins HARD Cardio Interval @80% Max Heart Rate (Ski Erg, Treadmill, Rower, Bike).


2 mins rest.


B1. 10 x Goblet Squat

B2. 2 mins HARD Cardio Interval @80% Max Heart Rate (Ski Erg, Treadmill, Rower, Bike). 

Rest 2 mins.  3 sets.


Note: My general rule of thumb when it comes to weight selection is that you should struggle to complete the last 2 reps. 80-90% Max HR equates to an 8-9/10 in terms of perceived effort.  This is not a casual stroll in the park. 




A1. 10 x Barbell/DB Thruster

A2. 2 mins HARD Cardio Interval @80% Max Heart Rate (Ski Erg, Treadmill, Rower, Bike). 

Rest 2 mins.  3 sets.


B1. 10 x Deadlift

B2. 2 mins HARD Cardio Interval @80% Max Heart Rate (Ski Erg, Treadmill, Rower, Bike). 

Rest 2 mins.  3 sets.


Here’s what else you need to know:

  • If you have more fat to lose, then walk, not as a formal exercise session, but simply to increase non-exercise induced thermogenesis (NEAT). This will help you burn off a few extra calories without catabolizing muscle tissue. 10,00 steps per day is a solid start.
  • Lack of sleep should not be a bragging right. It doesn’t make you tough, but it certainly affects your performance (not just in the gym, but in all areas of life), and your body composition goals.  You might chase the pump in the gym, but your growth will happen in your sleep.  7-9 hours is solid and that doesn’t count scrolling the Maxim insta girls while lying in your bed either!
  • Even mild dehydration (think 2%) kills performance. In a world where everyone is looking for instant gratification and magic tricks, water is one of them.  Every metabolic reaction in the body needs water.  Water has a thermogenic effect in the body that aids fat loss, especially if it’s ice cold. 3-4L is a good starting point.

For the full article grab the January 2019 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.

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