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Why You Need To Build Your Summer Body In Winter

Why you need to build your summer body in winter

Summer bodies are made in winter. Just like it’s wise to fix your roof while the sun is shining, it’s a good idea to spend the dark winter months setting your body up to be at its biggest and leanest once the warm weather swings back around.

Why you need to start your summer workout in January

Getting in shape takes months of planning. First, you’ll need to take some time to build mass before refining your body by losing any fat while preserving muscle. This is one of the most effective ways of getting lean for summer, because it’s tough to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Winter’s the best time to put on the weight you need before the cutting stage begins. It will give you plenty of time to maximize your muscle gains, before shedding any fat before summer comes around.

increase mobility

How do I start building my summer body?

Gaining mass means consuming more energy than you’re burning off – otherwise known as a calorie surplus. As you slowly increase your workouts and calorie intake, your metabolism will also get faster. When your metabolism is at its peak and you’ve built up some muscle, after a couple of months, it’s time to start cutting – stripping away the fat you’ve built up, leaving the muscle behind. At this point you’ll be losing weight while maintaining your muscle in your diet and workouts. Then, sure enough, as the weather warms up, you’ll achieve your perfect summer body.

When should I start work on my summer body?

While it’s best to start the bulking process in October to make the most of the winter and give your body maximum preparation – starting in the New Year is fine, as you still have five months to get in shape. But preparation is essential.

Here you’ll find the best beach body workouts, recipes and products you’ll need to follow from January to May, to build your summer body when you need it.

January – start your beach body workout

What to consume…

As a rule of thumb, you should be aiming to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein for every pound you weigh through a mixture of solids and shakes. Make sure you have protein before and after every workout. You’ll also need a good supply of carbs – both before, when they’ll give you an energy boost, and after, when they’ll release insulin that’ll help rebuild your muscle tissue quicker and more efficiently.

What workout to follow

The quickest movements to build muscle are squats, deadlifts and bench presses. Start in the 10-12 rep range. While your weights are the main thing, don’t forget your cardio. Do three 20- to 30-minute cardio sessions each week (ideally on a non-weight training days) and you’ll be improving your heart’s ability to pump blood and increase oxygen uptake into cells. This could be one session of running and two sessions of cycling per week, to manage the strain on your joints.

Myprotein essentials:

Depending on your starting weight, you should take 3.5 scoops of Hard Gainer Extreme per day, before and after your workouts.

Recipe of the month:

Protein donuts – protein donuts that are packed with muscle-building goodness and mouth-watering taste.

February – maintain a calorie-surplus diet

What to consume…

Following on from January, keep consuming a high level of protein and carbs, increasing your intake gradually from week-to-week to match the increases in the amounts you’re lifting in the gym.

What workout to follow

Work up your weights incrementally – you’ll know you’re gaining muscle if you’re getting stronger. So if last month you were doing 10-12 reps of deadlifts, up the weight to 10kg heavier, then increase the reps to 15 by the end of the month. And don’t forget the cardio – your three 20- to 30-minute cardio sessions will be just as essential to your progress as they were last month.

Myprotein essentials

Brown Rice Protein is a great addition to your meals, as it contains protein, fats and carbs you’ll need while you’re bulking up.

Recipe of the month

Chickpea cookie dough – a gluten-free, vegan-friendly and super-tasty cookie dough that uses coconut flour.

March – cut your calorie intake

What to consume

This month you’ll need to cut your calorie intake and change your diet to maintain your muscle. So instead of being in calorie surplus, you’ll be in calorie deficit, keeping your protein intake high -not to build more mass, but to maintain your hard-earned muscle.

What workout to follow

Keep your lifting routine and reps the same as last month, but this time focus more on cardio. Sprinting in particular is a powerful fat-burning activity. You can make lots of progress by sprinting with 100% intensity in short, 10-15-second bursts. This type of high-intensity interval training activity is really useful during the calorie-deficit phase.

Myprotein essentials

Switch to Whey Protein when your body is in recovery mode. Whey Protein kick-starts your muscle growth, firing amino acids to repair your lost tissue. It’s also lower in carbs, which will also help you lose weight. Make sure you take another shake before bed – one like Milk Protein Smooth which includes Casein to feed your body while you’re asleep.

Recipe of the month

Pumpkin pie protein shake – including fat-free cool whip and sugar-free syrup for all fitness fans who love pumpkin pie.

April – trim the fats down further

What to consume

Continue reducing the carbs out of your calorie-deficit diet, and aim to keep carbs only for pre- and post-workout – although small amounts during your main evening meal is fine. Your body should be looking noticeably leaner as you’ve lost much of the fat you’ve built up in previous months, but kept all of the muscle.

What workout to follow

You’ll no longer be building muscle, just retaining it, so aim to maintain the routine you’ve had in place during previous months.

Myprotein essentials

You’ll be on the road to being ripped with BCAAs, which are perfect for this stage in your body’s development. They prevent your muscles from breaking down during a calorie-deficit diet and are also useful for weight loss.

Recipe of the month

Avocado toast pizza – a delicious pizza with avocado and vegan-friendly pesto that can be made in 15 minutes.

toned arms

May – prepare for the summer body reveal

What to consume

As you near the end of your winter workout program, you’ll be settling into the regular calorie-deficit diet you’ll need to maintain from here on in. It needs to be protein-rich with minimal carbs and plenty of vitamins and minerals to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients to support your body’s recovery.

What workout to follow

Find a level of workout that makes you comfortable but also pushes you. It might not be as intense as it was in your bulking phase, but it still has to maintain the high level of consumption your body will be used to, and sustain your muscle growth.

Myprotein essentials

BCAAs and Whey Protein are still essentials during this protein, but why not reward yourself with some Protein Popcorn or Peanut Butter as a guilt-free snack?

Recipe of the month

Loaf pan lasagna– the perfect high-protein, low-carb meal for the days your body is crying out for comfort food.

At a glance: how to build your summer body

  • Clear your head. An intense workout isn’t going to help you if you already have a hectic schedule. Exercise should relieve stress, rather than become it
  • Be clever about when you go food shopping. Buying your food after a meal prevents you reaching for extra snacks or alcohol that could disrupt your physical progress
  • Get the right gear. Investing in multiple training outfits is a good call – you don’t want to find that you have no clean vests or shorts and have to miss a session
  • Work with a personal trainer. While we’ve given some general advice around how much you should be lifting and how often, it’s essential you get some advice specific to you. Everyone’s bodies are different
  • Keep on top of it. The work isn’t over once you’ve reached peak fitness – you need to maintain that level, or else your body will soon start losing the muscle you’ve spent so long trying to achieve. You also need to keep up the level of calories you’re consuming too, so you carry on looking great all summer long.

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Arabella Ogilvie

Arabella Ogilvie

Writer and expert

Arabella has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology from the University of Glasgow where she covered health topics ranging from the physiological effects of exercise and nutrition, to psychology and neuroscience. She has a lifelong interest in sport and fitness, including running, swimming, hockey, and especially rowing. At university, Arabella was a keen rower and competed in the first boat at events such as the prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta, The Scottish Boat Race, and British University Championships, and won Novice Rower of the year in her first year. In her spare time, Arabella loves to train in the gym and practice yoga and meditation. She is passionate about the natural world and will take any opportunity to be outdoors, be it hiking in the Scottish Highlands or conducting scientific research in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. Find out more about Arabella’s experience here.

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