When beach season — or shirtless season, if you like that terminology better — rolls around, it’s really easy to see guys with insanely ripped backs splashing through the water and feeling a bit of jealousy.
Many people want to fit into this idolized group. People with ripped backs often have other impressive physique standards, so it makes sense people want to look like that.
But how long does it take to get a ripped back?
The truth is … it can take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months to hit the level you desire. But even a little progress can make you look better and get closer to your ripped-back goal.
Here’s how you do it.
OK, What Exactly Is a Ripped Back?
When people talk about being ripped or toned or jacked, what they are really describing is someone in really good shape with impressive muscular definition.
For some muscle groups, it’s not as complex a descriptor as a person’s “back.” For example, the biceps are very self-explanatory, as are abs, a big chest, and defined quads — those are all very descriptive.
The back is a group of many muscles on the posterior chain of an individual while leaving out the lower half of the body.
So, a ripped back covers a lot of muscles.
To be ripped in any muscle group, from your back to your arms, you need a lower body fat percentage. Now, there’s not a specific number that works for everyone because people are different and present muscularity differently, as stated in this study.
But a safe estimate that I like to use, though, is:
- Men: about 12-15% of body fat will allow some definition to show through
- Women: anything below about 17-20% will reveal some musculature
One of the most obvious benefits of having a ripped back, though, is that you will have to do pull-ups, which means you will be able to perform a skill that the majority of humans in the world cannot.
Not to mention, it already would put you in a small subset of people because many Americans don’t even exercise, as this study shows.
How Do You Actually Get a Ripped Back?
Now, in order to achieve a ripped back, you can’t just eat fewer calories and expect to look good. You need to make sure you’re lifting weights and getting stronger to increase the size and look of the muscles in your back.
To achieve a ripped back, will likely take some time, but it can be done.
You need to choose the right exercises to hit all the muscles of the back and have good programming for your body type. You’ll also need to ensure you have your nutrition dialed in to hit the correct macros to encourage muscle growth and maintain consistency in your workouts and meals to achieve your goals.
If you follow these tips, you will get a ripped back. Of course, the actual time frame will vary from person to person, depending on where they are starting.
Get the FREE Shredded Body Checklist!
The 4 Steps to Build Noticeable Muscle Definition (without Turning Your Life into a Dumpster Fire!)
By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Noob Gains. We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The Best Programming for a Ripped Back
A lot of people think that going to the gym will get them to their goals. They simply go and do some lifts without having a plan, thinking they are doing a great thing. This approach is great if you’re untrained and just have the goal of losing weight and moving more.
However, the issue lies in the lack of preparation for achieving a specific goal.
The correct exercise choice is extremely important when it comes to training for a goal, such as developing a ripped back. This has been proven time and time again in studies like this one.
The better approach is to meet with a personal trainer that knows what they are doing and tell them all about your goals. From there, they will be able to create a program to meet your desired muscle growth and aesthetic goals.
If you don’t want to invest in a gym membership and a personal trainer right off the bat, you’re already on the right path by reading articles like this.
Here is a good basic idea of smart programming.
I like to work in planes of movement. Your back is all about pulling things closer to your body, so there are 3 big movements that will work best to program around in my opinion, such as:
- Pull-ups: You’ll start with pull-ups because it’s a downward pulling motion and will develop big strong lats.
- Rows: Then a horizontal rowing movement is next, so a bent-over barbell row will hit those muscles.
- Upward pulls: Lastly, a large upward pull is smart. A high pull (with a lower weight than you expect initially because it puts a higher strain on your shoulder joints) is an excellent upward pulling movement.
A 3-day a week program — with a primary focus on the 3 movements I just mentioned — will be a great place to start. You can even play around with your arm angles to hit the other parts of your back and focus on weak points.
You’ll also notice that other muscles are being incorporated into these big movements, namely your biceps and shoulders.
By hitting the auxiliary muscles, you will inadvertently make your back look more ripped. Keep that in mind if you decide to program your own training routine. A personal trainer will already know this, so that’s another reason to invest in one.
Nutrition Matters, Too!
A lot of strongmen and bro-lifters (those guys that only know pseudo-science but spit it as fact) hate the nutritional component. I’ve even met people that think you can out-train a bad diet, which is totally false.
That means when you have a goal you’re trying to achieve, you need to make sure to hit your nutritional needs as well.
Calculate Your Macronutrients
There are tons of nutrients that are really important to human survival, but this isn’t an article for those that are already dialed in. Instead, I’m going to give you broad descriptors and general macronutrients to hit.
In the same way, your programming would be better by going to a personal trainer, your nutrition will be better if you consult a dietician or nutritionist — bonus points if they are also a chef and give your tasty recipes as well.
There are 3 main macronutrients that are factored into your dietary needs: Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein.
If you have the goal of getting a ripped back, a higher protein intake is recommended.
There was a study on bodybuilders of the optimal macronutrient percentages in their prep stages for a show. The numbers work for everyone as a baseline, and they are as follows:
- Protein: about 25-30% of your caloric intake
- Carbohydrates: about 55-60% of your caloric intake
- Fats: about 15-20% of your caloric intake
This is a good baseline but can be customized for individual needs and variations. Sometimes people operate better on a higher-carb diet, while others work better on a low-carb diet.
Because, again, there’s variation in individuals because people are all different.
Next Up – Calculate Your Daily Calories
Those percentages mean pretty much nothing if you don’t know your general caloric intake already. That’s where we need to do more math!
Or at least use the fancy Google machine to find a website that will help us calculate our nutritional needs (keep in mind a dietician or nutritionist will be the best at this).
To get a ripped back, you have to know your starting point. I would recommend downloading a food tracking app — like MyFitnessPal — and just tracking what you eat without actually changing anything.
You could then use that app to calculate your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, which is how many calories you burn on a daily basis. This could be an article in itself, but here’s a quick rundown.
Your TDEE is the combination of your:
- Basal metabolic rate or BMR: How many calories it takes to simply exist
- The thermal effect of food or TEF: How many calories it takes to digest food
- The non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT: Calories burned by doing things throughout the day without the intention of exercise, like washing dishes or walking to and from your car
- The thermal effect of activity or TEA: This is intentional exercise movements
This formula looks like this: TDEE = BMR + TEF + NEAT + TEA
Once you have your TDEE calculated, you will be able to then get the exact numbers you should try and hit for your macronutrients.
Consistency and Creating Habits of Health
This is the super cheat code to getting a lot of ripped body parts: Be consistent by creating habits to promote health. If you increase your healthy habits, you will for sure work your way toward developing a ripped-back.
That’s the ultimate cheat code to hitting your goals. It’s as simple as that. And if you don’t believe me, don’t worry, here is a study that proved healthy habits are the key to living a healthier lifestyle.
If you create habits, it eliminates barriers for you to perform tasks that you may define as difficult. One such example would be to set out your workout clothes the night before, so you don’t have to pick them out in the morning. This will make you more likely to wake up and go to the gym three or more times per week as you had planned.
Possibly the most difficult thing is to maintain consistency with your meals. This problem is exponentially more difficult when you’re busy.
To counter busy times, you can prepare meals in advance. I work in aviation as a flight attendant (I’m a pilot in the making!), and being on the road (or skyway) means I have to prepare to eat meals on the go. I don’t always get to choose the time of my flights, so I have to plan around them.
Breakfast isn’t provided at every hotel, either. So a trick I use is to either bring instant oatmeal with me to use hot water on the airplane to make and eat for breakfast, or I make and freeze breakfast burritos that I can warm up in hotels with a microwave.
Doing this eliminates the chances of me grabbing the super sugary muffins that are available on the airplane or worse: turning to M&M’s that are literally candy.
Some people call this “productivity hacking” their life. I think it’s a fun activity to make your life easier. If you plan well (a fun activity by itself), you can create healthy habits to really emphasize your consistency and hit those health goals.
Like developing a ripped back.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Ripped Back?
And we’re back to the actual question!
So, how long does it take to get a ripped back? Even when summer’s getting closer to the end, is it possible to show off before it gets cold?
Without having the specifics of a person and seeing how their body responds to various workouts, an exact time frame can’t be given.
It may take a slightly overweight person longer to develop a ripped back than someone that is skinny. It might also be the opposite, depending on how the people respond to the workouts!
An exact timeframe is nearly impossible to give. A safe estimate is that it could take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months. That’s a safe time span estimate for just about any starting point.
As long as you follow the 3 main points of programming with the ripped-back goal in mind, make sure your nutrition is dialed in, and create healthy habits to improve consistency, you will definitely make progress. That progress will be elevated the most by maintaining consistency.
Build a Superhero Body Without Training Like One
Getting in shape isn't easy. But this program gives you a real-life approach to building a leaner, more muscular body without obsessing over fitness 24/7.