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Sculpt, cut and pump into summer

Professor Greg Whyte shares his tips on how to look good in less this summer.

Summer is here and whether we like to admit it or not, how we look is central to how we feel at this time of year. This aesthetic drive is born of the fact that we are at our most naked as the sun shines and the temperature soars. Fashion can go a long way to enhancing our image, but it is the frame on which we hang our clothes that makes the real difference to how we look. Let’s face it, a great body can wear a bin liner and still look amazing.

You may be thinking that this body obsession is only for the young and the fit, but you’d be wrong. Many of our current style icons are in their third, fourth and even fifth decade, some of whom sell themselves on their physique. For me, 21 June marks my 50th birthday and I can tell you from personal experience, my body image is as important now as it ever was. In fact, I would dare to say that it is more so as I, and many other pentagenerians, compete against our younger counterparts to show age is just a number. 

Paradoxically, the main difference with age is how hard you have to work to create the right body shape; the older you get, the harder it is. So, what to do in order to optimise your body image for the summer sun? Firstly, it’s never too late to make a difference; you just need to focus on the right exercises at the right time. In essence, think about my ‘SCP’ model: Sculpt, Cut and Pump.

Sculpt

The perfect body has symmetry (left and right, upper and lower). Forget about the meat heads who look like lollipops with massive arms and chests with little skinny legs. In fact, forget about size and mass, it’s too late to think about significant hypertrophy (muscle mass increase) at this stage. Think ‘S’ – sculpt, by taking what you have and improving upon it. Focus on symmetry by working on your weakest areas while maintaining your strengths. Targeted strength training can create positive gains in a short period of time and you don’t have to lift heavy. Lifting to failure results in ischemia (mismatch between oxygen supply and oxygen demand) in the muscle, which is the primary driver for hypertrophy (increasing in size). High rep-low weight sets, or descending pyramids are a great way to create that elusive ‘burn’. 

Cut

Alongside sculpting you should build ‘C’ – cut, into your workout regime. Traditionally, bodybuilders would cut acutely through dehydration. While it works, this method is difficult, in fact almost impossible, to maintain across the summer months. Instead, think about reducing subcutaneous (beneath the skin) body fat through high intensity interval and ‘fartlek’ (speed play) training, such as Spinning, and strength endurance training, such as Body Pump, Boot Camp, Insanity etc. In addition to stripping, these workouts will also produce great tone, another master of aesthetics.

Pump

Having sculpted and cut, the final tool in your body aesthetic locker is ‘P’ – pump. Create your own 15 to 30-minute, high intensity body weight circuit you can complete at home before you venture out, remembering to focus on symmetry. This acute work out increases blood flow to the muscles giving you that ‘pumped’ feeling and look. 

The combined effect of improving symmetry, increasing tone, reducing body fat and maximising pump will help create your body beautiful for summer’s endless cat walk.

 

Illustration Alexander Jackson 

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