There are officially less than three months until summer and you want to lose your beer belly by the time barbecue season rolls around. Yet at the same time, you’re a busy man; you don’t want to give up your life to work for a beach body, right?

Thankfully, you don’t need to spend every waking hour at the gym to get in shape; simply follow FHM’s five-step cheat program and you’ll be inviting girls to the gun show by the time you’re out of your winter coat…

Want to get fit?

DON'T go for long runs

DO try the Tabata Protocol

Not content with producing tiny phones and tiny hotel rooms, the Japanese have now invented tiny workouts too. The Tabata protocol has proved to be as effective for improving aerobic fitness as long distance running, despite requiring a mere eight minutes per week.  

Here’s how you do it. Jump on a stationary bike. After a brief warm up go completely balls-out for 20 seconds. Cycle like Armstrong on steroids. Being chased by Nike execs.

Then ease off and pedal slowly for 10 seconds. Repeat for a total of eight rounds (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, repeat) totaling four minutes work. That’s your whole workout. Do that twice a week and we guarantee you will drop weight within a month.

 

Want to lose weight?

DON’T go on a crash diet

DO take pictures of your food on your smartphone

Of course you need to eat healthier food to lose weight, that’s not up for debate. But most of us have some idea of what we should and shouldn't be eating (chicken – yes; Mars bar – no.)

But success in weight loss is largely down to accountability. Taking photos of your food gives you the accountability of keeping a food diary with zero hassle. And for the days where you treat yourself to something glorious, be sure to Instagram it with #FHMmanfood.

Efficiency obsessive Tim Ferriss reckons it's as effective as having a personal trainer, as it forces you to think twice before any meal. We think he's exaggerating a bit, but as methods go it's certainly kinder on the wallet.

 

Want to build muscle?

DON'T become a gym junkie

DO use an abbreviated routine 

When it comes to weight training, you need to be like Wayne Rooney - simple but effective. Pick a couple of exercises, get instruction from an expert, and get strong at them. Twice a week using the chin-up, bench press, deadlift, squat and barbell row will build enough size to make the girls take notice.

How many sets and reps? Well, despite what you may have been told, there’s actually very little research to suggest that multiple sets are much more effective than one all-out set to “failure” (the point at which you can’t complete another good rep.)  

So when the “burn” sets in, keep going. Grit your teeth and push through the pain barrier for one all-out set.

 

Want to be more flexible?  

DON'T take up yoga

DO the World’s Best Stretch

We're not knocking yoga, it's a fantastic way to get flexible, align your chakras and legitimately ogle fit women under the guise of “admiring her downward dog”. But if we had to pick just one position, we recommend the hip flexor stretch:

 Here’s what you need to understand about the muscles at the front of your hip; they hate you and want to ruin your life. Sitting for most of the day with the hips shortened sets you up for back pain and injury. If you don’t fancy buying your chiropractor a Porsche in the near future, stretch the hip flexors every day.

 

Want to get strong?  

DON'T take up residence in the weight room

DO< learn the deadlift

The deadlift is a manoeuvre that targets almost every muscle in your body. If you want real, handshake-dominating, phone-book-ripping, stubborn-jam-jar opening strength, you need to make friends with this classic lift.

Beware though, if you get it wrong you can hurt yourself. Technique is more important than weight, unless you fancy tearing a spinal ligament (apparently it sounds like a balloon popping.) As always, consult a professional.

Want more tips from the FHM personal trainer? Follow @zackcahill on Twitter, or email zackcahill@me.com for a bespoke online training program