In April? In December? During a zombie apocalypse? On a Monday while wearing Nike?
The most effective time to swing a cheeky 8 week shred is when you're a seasoned athlete or trainee who's already been going at this training shebang for a year or more. Better still when you already have the muscle underneath.
Why? Building muscle takes hard work and more time than it takes to reduce fat. Besides! building strength and muscle requires a calorie surplus. Shred and Muscle build in 8 weeks? Get real.
By effective I mean -
A strong positive response to this new calorie deficit.
You don't want to kill anyone.
You're not a lethargic mess at the end of it.
You don't bounce back and put it all back on again in the following weeks.
"When is a really bad time to do it then?"
After a lengthy period of failed calorie cutting - perhaps averaging a paltry 1,000-1,500kcals - very little training, can't remember how to identify a Kettlebell... Then suddenly they decide they need to get in shape. An 8 Week Shred is a risky policy with respect to the long term.
Because they learn jack shit about the process of lasting habit & lifestyle change.
Tweet that shit.
Ok maybe a little harsh, it's for effect :-) Though is has its merits. Because for most - whether they like it or not - It is perhaps what they really need in these circumstances.
Alright, so I'm being generalist and possibly alienating a lot of success stories where people really made this strategy work. They're called exceptions.
Stop making exceptions the norm. It's an unrealistic comparison you're stacking yourself up against. Because the recipe we're talking about = low probability of long term success.
So where's the appeal? Well, it's a quick fix. Everyone loves those magical quick fixes where they can get them.
Especially since it minimises the painful and uncomfortable process of going up an echelon. I'd argue that holding the candle of quick and easy up too high leads them down a rabbit hole of long term frustration and yo yo dieting.
I suspect it comes back to the fact they're hooked on the process of dreaming, or that initial excitement that a goal is finally going to be attained.
Quick fix, to quick fix, to quick fix..
Having 'Quick 'n' Eazy' as your guiding principle for solving your own fitness problems is generally a pretty bad idea. It's not to say I dismiss having a radar for quicker solutions and hacks and what have you. By all means, streamline your efforts where possible.
Sick of boiling rice? Fine, get microwave rice to speed up your food prep. Can't train for 90 minutes solid? Fine, hit up max effort 45 minute sessions 4 times per week instead.
But waking up one day and deciding you want to hit up an 8 week shred? Listen, fitness is being. You embody the long term changes which signals to your body to go from overweight mush, to strong, powerful and efficient.
It's not something you buy and wham, it's all yours in working order, no stress necessary. That's called an iPhone, or a car. Or a horse. - It does exactly what it says on the tin.
Sounds like you're really bashing 8 week shreds.
Look, I'm not. I think there's plentiful a time and a place for a good old fashioned HIIT workout with strict dietary modifications for 8-12 weeks. There's gotta be thousands, ney, millions of people out there where it is an excellent strategy for them at the time.
I'm trying to speak to the people who are more likely to wind up back at square one when all is said and done.
I'm trying to speak to those people, to begin to nudge them towards a different way of thinking.
Because coming from low average calorie intake, minimal exercise over the last 6-12 months, and especially those who have never known fitness... It's much more likely to fail.
I mean, put it this way. They eat 1,000-1,500kcals and then they're told - Eat even less?
You're going to struggle to build strength, struggle to have the energy, struggle to repair your body after each workout, struggle not to get under the weather. And once that 8 weeks is up, now what?
There's no way you'll sustain that strategy for life.
These guys and gals need to start focusing on building strength. It's also wise to focus on the process rather than the outcome. It's extremely wise to gently increase this calorie baseline in response to increases in activity and stresses. Not to mention learning to create their own personal food diary that works.
Works like.. you can actually do this for years.
After a year of this approach, developing a positive relationship with food, building strength, smashing new personal bests. Then you hit up a shred? You can bet your body responds far more positively under these circumstances. Then, you're straight back onto the lifer programme.
You keep going. This is your new life, and your new body is coming along for the ride, fast.
What's the takeaway message?
Don't prioritise rapid results. Avoid looking for your solution as if it's going to be some neatly packaged bolt on. Something which takes very little time and energy and it's going to be relatively easy.
You won't find it. Although.. I think it also depends on what you want. If you're hoping for better than average results, you'll need to put better than average effort in.
8 Week shreds every 6 months is below average effort.