No Carbs before marbs

So you’re going on holiday in a month and have just woken up in a cold sweat about how you’ll look in swimwear. All is not lost my friend.[pullquote align=”right”]Rome may not have been built in a day but I bet they got most of it done in a month[/pullquote]

In an ideal world you would have exercised consistently and paid some attention to your diet all year round but judging by the huge influx of London personal training enquiries Sculpt gets in the month before summer this is clearly not the case for a lot of people.

This 4 week pre holiday beach ready guide is fairly aggressive and will work best for someone with some training experience behind them. With solid commitment it is possible to shed 4-5kg of fat or around 4-5% of your body fat in a month depending on how much you have to lose. That amount of loss to an average person at around 20% bf (man) or 25% bf women represents a pretty aesthetically dramatic change, think uncovered abs and pretty good muscle definition all over.

First things first, for maximum short term results, 100% commitment is paramount, so get your mind into the correct place before thinking about doing it – ask yourself if you really REALLY want to get into good shape and whether you’re willing to make the sacrifices necessary for a good result. You will need to go a month with minimal sugar, processed food, starchy carbs and most difficult for some – alcohol. If you can’t do this or you’re not willing to make the full commitment, go and buy that XL Speedo and don’t worry about it, but if you know you can stick it out for the 4 weeks the potential rewards will be worth it.

No Carbs Before Marbs

The Concept

The idea is to burn as much of the  fat covering up your beach ready, sand kicking body as possible whilst maintaining and hopefully even gaining muscle mass through consistent training, diet and supplementation – this IS NOT a crash diet, you are simply giving your body everything it needs and nothing extra.

No Carbs Before Marbs – The Diet

I hope you like protein and green vegetables….

In basic terms your macronutrients will need to be fairly low in carbohydrate (apart from loads of vegetables), fairly high in protein and medium in fats. Stick to 3 square meals every day with 2 snacks mid morning and mid afternoon, the main meals will need to be based around a good portion of protein and a good portion of vegetables, preferably leafy green types and some fats. On training days you can get away with eating more carbs after your session ie. if you train before lunch your body would be better equipped to deal with the carbohydrates without storing them as fat.

A typical day:
  • Breakfast – omelette with spinach and mushrooms
  • Snack – a handful of almonds
  • Gym session
  • (Protein shake)
  • Lunch – chicken and vegetable stir fry with brown rice
  • Snack – an apple
  • Dinner – Home cooked Chilli Con Carne with no rice.
To drink:
  • Water
  • Coffee (1-2 cups a day)
  • Green tea (go nuts as it has fat burning qualities)


These aren’t totally essential but can be useful, always buy good quality stuff as the cheap options are a false economy:

  • Whey protein – post training
  • Omega 3 Oils
  • Multivitamin

No Carbs Before Marbs – The Training

It is paramount that you keep hold of your muscle mass whilst your body is low on carbs so resistance training is a must here. By week 4 you’ll be feeling a bit crabby due to the lack of energy in your body as you will be using fat stores and not glycogen for training fuel – this is a good thing as it will accelerate your fat loss so make sure you persevere when the going gets tough.

For absolute best results you’ll need to hit the gym to lift weights 4x a week for the whole month and add in some HIIT (high intensity interval training) or fasted walking 2x a week too.

Split the 4 gym sessions into 2 lower body and 2 upper body, and add the interval training onto the end of the weights sessions (not at the start!), stick to fairly decent volume – 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps with short rest intervals between sets. Make sure you control the tempo you lift at – 3 seconds down and 1 second up for every single repetition in every single workout and make a mental connection with the muscles that are working – you must really focus on feeling the burning sensation in the target muscles to get the most out of the exercise.

Your week could look like this:

Monday: Gym – Upper body weights and then 10 x 45 seconds interval sprints on the rowing machine

Warm Up

3-4 x 10

A1: Flat bench press

A2: Chin Up

A3: Stability ball plank

(60 seconds rest)

3-4 x 10

B1: Standing dumbbell shoulder press

B2: Single arm dumbbell rows

(60 seconds rest)

10 x 45s fast on the rowing machine with 45s rest intervals

Tuesday: Gym – Lower body weights

Warm Up

3-4 x 10

A1: Barbell Squats

A2: Stability Ball Hip Bridges

(60 seconds rest)

3-4 x 10

B1: Dumbbell Step Ups

B2: Lower back extensions

(60 seconds rest)

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Gym – Upper body weights

Warm Up

3-4 x 10

A1: Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

A2: Lat Pull Downs

A3: Ab Roller

(Rest 60 seconds)

B1: Dips

B2: Seated Cable Rows

(Rest 60 seconds)

Friday: Gym – Lower body weights and then 10 x 60 seconds fast running intervals

Warm Up

3-4 x 10

A1: Deadlifts

B1: Weighted Lunges

10 x 60 seconds fast runs with 60 seconds rest

Saturday: A long walk

Sunday: Off.


Make sure you’re tracking your progress for motivational purposes, take front and back photos at the start and then weekly for 4 weeks, if possible get your body fat taken by a professional weekly too (at home body fat calculating scales are pretty unreliable).

Tell your partner, friends, colleagues what you’re doing and ask them to support you ie. not twisting your arm to go to the pub or eat a dessert, even better get them to join in with you.

Finally and most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself on holiday!