How to Get a Beach-Worthy Body in 6 Weeks or Less

By Tom Venuto, CSCS,

Before we get started, I should first qualify the title of this article. Depending on what kind of shape you're in now, I can't guarantee that you will achieve what you consider a "beach worthy" body in only six weeks. Patience is a virtue you must cultivate if you want to lose body fat permanently. The proper mind-set towards fat loss is to develop lifelong habits, not to go on crash diets. What I CAN promise you is that if you follow my advice, six weeks from now you will see dramatic improvements over how you look today. How does dropping 3% body fat and showing more muscularity and definition and sound for a six week goal?

That being said, LET'S JUST FACE IT: Sometimes you need to get in shape FAST! For whatever reason, you let yourself slide just a bit too much and you have a deadline looming on the horizon: You simply HAVE to look good by Memorial Day weekend or you'll be shamed and embarrassed into seclusion.

I'm sympathetic to your plight, so I'd like to help. Here are 4 powerfully effective ways that you can lose the maximum amount of fat (healthfully and safely) in the minimum time possible:


There's an alarming trend taking place in bodybuilding and fitness circles these days towards avoiding cardio completely or cutting it to a bare minimum: "Don't do too much or you'll lose your precious muscle tissue," we are warned. If you've fallen prey to the preachings of those gurus who say 20 minutes of cardio 3 days a week is all it takes, then you'll be ready for the beach Labor Day! You'll lose fat during those 20 minute workouts, of course - the problem is, you won't lose very much.

The bottom line when it comes to fat loss is the total number of calories you burn. So, for short periods of time when you want to get in shape fast, you must increase your activity! There's no other way. To get as lean as possible in 6 weeks or less, you have to step up your cardio from a mere "maintenance" level to the "MAXIMUM FAT BURNING" level: For some people, that means DAILY cardio.

Maintenance: 3-4 days/wk, 20-30 min. per session
Maximum Fat Burning: 5-7 days/wk, 30-60 min per session

Any type of continuous cardio will do: fast walking, jogging, bicycle, elliptical machine, rower, stairclimber, etc. Worried about losing muscle? Don't be. As long as you provide the proper nutritional support, you'll maintain your lean body mass.


What? You're not lifting at all because you thought only aerobics burned off fat? OOOPS! Not only do you need to lift weights to lose fat, you need to lift weights intensely to turn your body into an efficient fat-burning machine.

What the heck does lifting have to do with losing fat? A lot! Lifting weights increases your metabolism after the workout MORE than cardiovascular exercise does! Why does this happen? Exercise physiologists have determined that the increase in post-workout calorie expenditure is caused by the re-building of damaged muscle tissue. The higher the intensity of the workout, the more muscle you "break down" and the higher the post-workout calorie expenditure. And guess what the primary fuel source is while you're resting: FAT! Imagine burning more fat all day long while you're doing nothing. Pretty cool huh?

Lifting weights also increases your lean body mass (LBM). This is important because your Basal Metabolic Rate goes up in direct proportion to your LBM. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest and during exercise. This is one of the reasons that obese people have a difficult time losing fat even though they often eat less than lean people. They have slow metabolisms from low lean body mass.

Do you want to know why most women have a harder time with "stubborn fat deposits" than men do? Its because men have a higher LBM. Women tend to be afraid to lift weights because they believe they will get "too bulky." That is a myth. Ladies, if you don't lift weights, the best you can hope for is to become one of those "skinny fat people."

Hit the weights - and hard!


The technique of eating smaller, more frequent meals to speed up your metabolism is nothing new: It's common knowledge among the fitness-savvy. However, frequent eating is talked about more than it is practiced because it's hard to do!

Meal frequency is more important than you can possibly imagine. There is absolutely no comparison between the effects of 2 or 3 meals a day and 5 - 6 meals a day.

The benefits of frequent eating include:
a. Faster metabolic rate
b. Higher energy levels
c. Less storage of body fat due to smaller portions
d. Reduced hunger and cravings
e. Steadier blood sugar and insulin levels
f. More calories usable for muscle growth
g. Better absorption and utilization of nutrients

If you've been skipping meals or only eating the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, start eating more often. Simply reduce your portion sizes and make sure you include protein with every meal. If you've tried 5-6 meals a day before and couldn't stick with it because it was too much work, GET BACK TO IT! If you want to get lean in 6 weeks, you have to take advantage of every weapon in your fat burning arsenal.

Whole foods are your best bet, but if you absolutely cannot eat food six times per day, then the very least you should do is drink a high protein meal replacement shake in place of one or two of your meals.


There's no doubt - Moderate to high protein diets definitely help you lose fat faster - just ask any bodybuilder or fitness model. Very few people have the genetics and fast metabolism to get ripped quickly while eating a high carb diet (55% or more of total calories). It's not that carbs are fattening - they're not! Eating too many calories is what makes you fat. However, increasing the protein has some interesting effects on your metabolic rate and hormones that help you get lean FASTER.

Protein has a high "thermic effect." This means that your body has to "work hard" just to digest protein food. When you eat 100 calories of protein such as chicken breast, your body will burn off 20-30% of the calories just to digest it. So the "net" caloric value is only 70-80 calories.

The balance between the protein and carbs also tends to control insulin better. Insulin is a storage hormone. When insulin is present in large amounts in the bloodstream, fatty acids are moved into adipose cells for storage and the release of stored fat is inhibited.

Keep in mind, we're not talking about a very low carb or "ketogenic" diet where carbs are reduced to next to nothing. You need carbs for energy to train hard. What we're talking about is having more of a balance between protein and carbs rather than your diet consisting primarily of carbs.

A typical maintenance or muscle-building diet would contain 50-55% of the calories from carbs and about 30% of the calories from protein. During your six week "get ripped quick" program, try decreasing your carbs to about 40% of your total calories and increasing your protein to make up the difference. If you feel that you are particularly carb-sensitive, you could decrease your carbs even further, but I would never recommend cutting them out completely.

If you pick the right foods, monitor your caloric intake and exercise enough, you can get lean eating 55% of your calories from carbs. However, the higher protein diet works faster - that's the way bodybuilders do it. If you decide to use the higher protein method, keep in mind that this type of diet is not designed for year-round maintenance. When you've reached your goal, you should gradually shift back to a higher ratio of carbs.

Well, that's it - four powerful strategies than can help you accelerate your fat burning efforts. So hit the gym and send me an e-mail in 6 weeks to let me know how lean you got. Go for it! (Think abs!)