The bikini body
Ah, yes. The bikini body. What most ladies are after. Strong, but lean. Athletic, yet feminine. Curvy, but firm. With sexy, defined shoulders and toned legs and glutes. With just the right amount of muscle – not too much, but not too little.
Well, good news: you can have that bikini body you’ve always wanted!
Do we have your attention yet? Yes? Great!
You don’t have to suffer for a bikini body
It may come to you as a surprise, but getting a great body doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Yes, you have to get a few basic things right and, yes, you have to put in some effort and make a few sacrifices.
However, much of what you’re being told to do is unnecessary and some of it is just pure nonsense.
For example, here’s a few of the things you don’t have to do to obtain a bikini body:
- Completely avoid junk food
- Completely avoid carbs/sugar/fats
- Spend endless hours doing cardio
- Take any supplements
The list goes on and on, but we don’t want to bore you.
The point is that there’s only a handful of things that will significantly help you improve your physique, while everything else will contribute little to nothing at all.
What’s worse is that some of the things you are being told to do can have the opposite effect than the one you’ve hoped for. So, rather than moving towards a better body, you’ll be moving away from it.
Luckily, by the end of this article, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to do in your pursuit of a bikini body.
Here’s what you need to do
Let’s get right into it then, shall we?
1. Realize that more muscle and less fat should be your goal
One of the most common mistakes we see in our line of work is ladies focusing just on a number on the scale, without paying attention to their body composition – the amount of lean body mass they carry relative to their body fat mass.
This means that, when dieting down, they end up losing way too much muscle mass, which causes them to look like a smaller version of the previous, flabby selves. This is, of course, not the look they’re going for.
So it’s important to realize that the key to a better body is to improve your body composition, which means that you should be aiming to increase (or, at least, maintain) your muscle mass when dieting down.
2. Make sure you are getting in enough (but not too many) calories
Remember that the primary determinant of whether you will be gaining or losing body fat is the amount of energy you are ingesting relative to the amount of energy you are expending.
This means that, to lose body fat and achieve that bikini body look, you should be eating a hypocaloric diet – one that provides your body with less energy than it expends. This will “force” your body to use its existing energy stores (the fat you are carrying) causing them to decrease over time.
However, it’s also important to not eat too little. Why? Well, certainly not because “you will permanently damage your metabolism” (that’s a silly myth which we’ll address in another blog post).
There are actually three very good reasons why you should not be eating too little:
- You will be more likely to deprive your body of all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and other micronutrients it needs to function properly. In fact, research suggests that micronutrient deficiencies may contribute to the development of obesity.
- You will be more likely to suffer performance decreases in the gym as well as more muscle loss – remember that losing muscle is the last thing we want!
- You’ll be more likely to binge every few days and, eventually, quit on your diet altogether.
So how much, exactly, should you be eating? A good general recommendation is to set a caloric deficit of around 500 calories per day. This means that, every day, you will be getting in around 500 calories less than what your body needs, which will result in 1 pound of fat loss per week (theoretically).
We say “theoretically” because it almost never works exactly as predicted. We’ll go over the whys and hows in another blog post.
3. Make sure you are getting in enough protein
As you know, or are about to find out, taking in sufficient protein is hugely important for achieving your fitness goals, especially when these involve building a great body!
Why is that, you ask? Here’s why:
- Taking in enough protein will help you keep your metabolic rate higher and minimize losses in muscle mass.
- Protein is the most thermogenic of the three macronutrients, which means that eating more protein will result in more calories being burned for digestion and absorption.
- Protein is the most satiating of the three macronutrients, which means that you’ll feel full for longer when eating protein at every meal and will be less likely to overeat.
How much protein should you be getting?
Well, this depends on a few things. However, a good general recommendation is to aim for around 1 gram of protein per pound of your lean body mass.
Oh, and before the issue of the safety of high protein diets comes up, here’s some research showing that high protein diets are perfectly safe for healthy individuals. And here’s some more. Even more. Last one.
Crystal clear? Great! Let’s move on!
4. Lift weights, dammit!
If we had a penny for every time we heard someone say that they don’t lift weights because they don’t want to get too big, well, we would have A LOT of pennies!
Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes we see in dieting females. They may have their diet in check but, when it comes to training, they fall for the “just do cardio” trap.
What’s so bad about only doing cardio, you ask? Well, a lot!
First of all, if we start citing the research showing the myriads of health benefits of resistance training, we would run out of daylight! But let’s assume that you don’t care about those. Let’s assume that you only care about looking good.
If you go back to point #1 above, you’ll remember that it’s hugely important to focus on not just weight loss, but on FAT LOSS and MUSCLE BUILDING (or, at least, retention).
Losing fat and building/keeping muscle (a.k.a. improving your body composition) is what you need to do in order to achieve that bikini body you want and doing resistance training will help you do just that.
If you’ve ever heard of the “use it or lose it” training principle, you’ll know what we’re talking about. This principle is, essentially, about how you either use your muscles or you lose them.
To quote the study we cite above, “overload increases muscle mass, whereas underload decreases muscle mass”.
This means that, in order to increase your muscle mass and create that sexy, “toned” look to your body, you have to stimulate your muscles to grow by having them contract against load – i.e. create mechanical tension.
How do you do that? By doing resistance training, whether that means using machines, lifting weights, working out at home/using your own bodyweight/cables/TRX or any combination of the above.
Take home point: ignore those who tell you to avoid lifting weights/doing resistance training. If you’re the one telling yourself that, well, ignore yourself!
If you want to look good, lifting weights is one of the BEST things you can do for your body! We promise.