Those long-sought-after noob gains are finally settling in. Every deadlift, creatine scoop, and exhausting HIIT session up until this point are finally showing in the mirror.
You’ve gained some 20 pounds of pure lean mass.
That once low-hanging gut is slowly uncovering the core muscles hiding beneath.
And, those old college T’s fit again (not busting at the seams, but also not baggy).
It’s time to take this newfound progress and convert it into a cut and buff summer body deserving respect in the gym. But how long does it take to get “ripped” these days?
Well, here’s our no B.S. guide to getting ripped.
Table of Contents
What Is a Ripped Physique?
Pure “ripped” status could mean Chris Pratt (circa Guardians of the Galaxy), Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook, or the “grandfather” of modern-day MMA Bruce Lee (‘nuff said).
But if you think that a Jeff Nippard or Athlean-X mass program is the final hurdle to clear, you’re overlooking ⅓ of the final battle. Getting ripped requires a three-pronged approach:
- Building insane muscle mass
- Shredding body fat like no other
- Not letting #1 or #2 interfere with one another
It’s true; the fitness community is notorious for misleading lingo.
There’s lean, buff, shredded, yoked, jacked, ripped, and more! To make matters worse, the definitions have gotten a bit hazy, too, and all seem to translate to, “Wow, he looks strong!”
Now, let’s demystify this “ripped” jargon once and for all!
Ripped: A Definition
Being ripped resembles a classic bodybuilding physique, just far smaller, less tanning oil, and a PED-free zone. When you reach peak ripped status, you’ll have:
- More visible muscle mass than the average guy
- Definition separating the muscles (ex: a crease between the deltoids and biceps)
- A sculpted six-pack on the cusp of breaking through
- Decently low body fat (sub-10%, ideally)
- Moderate to shredded legs
Quick history lesson: The term “ripped” traces back to at least 1974 in the bodybuilding sphere, often used interchangeably with the term “cut” to describe well-sculpted and chiseled muscles.
Today, ripped loosely means “large muscles, little fat.”
How To Get Ripped [A 4-Part Plan]
Once you escape the traditional bulk/cut lifestyle, you don’t have to choose between either building muscle or shredding fat. You can achieve both without a yo-yoing physique!
But it’s not as simple as adding another set of 45s to your back squat or dumping an extra whey protein scoop into your morning shake.
Before you worry about the “how long,” learn about the “how.”
Now, here’s our four-part plan to get ripped in the next few months.
The dietary “secret” behind getting ripped is discovering balance at the table and on the plate. On the macronutrient front, this leaves us with three general guidelines:
- High protein to encourage muscle growth
- Moderate fat to curb an unruly appetite
- Modest carbohydrates to limit excess weight gain
Yes, this whole get-up is slightly controversial because it defies nearly every bodybuilding myth under the sun.
Let’s get two things straight: Carbs and fats won’t ruin gains in moderation, and your body craves them to survive. But the keyword here is “moderation.”
To sculpt or maintain muscle mass while simultaneously shredding fat, follow these tips:
|Macros||kCal/g||Amount||Calculate||Example for a 200-Pound Male Eating 2,500 Calories Daily|
|Protein||4||0.82 grams per pound||(Your body weight) × 0.82||200 × 0.82 = 164 grams (656 calories)|
|Fat||9||30% of daily calories||[(Your daily calories) × 0.30] / 9||(2500 × 0.30) / 9 = 83.3 grams (749.7 calories)|
|Carbohydrates||4||Whatever is leftover in your daily calories||(Your daily calories) – (protein calories) – (carb calories)||2500 – 656 – 749.7 = 1,094.3 calories (273.5 grams)|
What About Calories?
Calorie-wise that depends on your ripped journey’s starting point.
Are you 10% body fat and looking to add more definition and mass (bulk)? Or do you have 19” biceps and hope to build more vascularity and sharper angles (cut)?
Either way, you walk a tightrope:
- Lose too much too quick, and lean mass flies right out the window too
- Eat like a king at dinner, and that subcutaneous fat kicks into overdrive
What to Eat (& What Not to Eat)
Whether you’re flipping through a menu or walking through the grocery store maze, you have two things to consider: Calories and macronutrients (neither should go to waste!).
Here are some tips for keeping your diet (and appetite) under control while getting ripped:
- Schedule your meals around times you’re the hungriest (and cut meals when you’re too busy or distracted to think about food)
- Add low-calorie, high-volume foods to fill up your stomach and make you feel fuller
- Drink caffeinated beverages between meals to suppress your appetite
- Stock up on protein via grilled chicken, salmon, beans, and nuts (healthy protein).
- Drink lots and lots of water since dehydration is often confused with hunger
- Choose fresh fruit and vegetables whenever possible.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your upcoming diet plan. Remember: It takes 66 days to build a worthwhile habit, so give yourself time to let this drastic (mildly shocking) diet settle.
If tracking your food intake is too much algebra (I know), diet apps like MyFitnessPal or MyPlate can keep your caloric and macro intakes at your fingertips.
Achieving a well-respected chiseled physique brings two absurd myths along with it, both on opposite ends of the spectrum:
- Lift like hell and cut cardio completely, or
- Stop lifting and befriend the treadmill
Rest assured, both cardio and lifting are within that delicious ripped recipe. Well, that’s assuming you don’t pay too much attention to (or mildly neglect) either.
Using Cardio to Get Ripped
Performing cardio while craving a cut physique is a clear “double-edged sword” example.
It’ll help reveal a six-pack, improve bicep vascularity, and slim your waist. But when you’re chasing a 500-calorie torch on the bike, some of those calories could be your beloved lean mass.
The middle-ground is HIIT (high-intensity interval training), which can preserve your gains while also burning fat more effectively. This stop-and-start style cardio will look something like this:
- 5-minute warm-up jog
- 60-second spring at high-intensity (75%)
- 120-second slow recovery jog
- Repeat #2 and #3 for five cycles
- 5-minute cool-down jog (or fast walk)
Cap your HIIT (or even short steady-state cardio) sessions to about 2-3 times per week. HIIT can ignite some 200-400 calories per half-hour, so factor that into your daily caloric intake.
Less than an hour of cardio per week isn’t too shabby, eh?
Lifting Heavy to Get Ripped
Weightlifting is an obvious ingredient behind chiseling your muscles and sharpening definition. But it’s easy to go overboard (or even go too light), sending your training sessions to waste.
The pathway toward lean mass via lifting means following a well-designed ripped body workout with a focus on multi-joint exercises (ex: bench press and deadlift), high volume (progressive overload), and heavy ass weights.
These guidelines are just the icing on the cake:
- Cap sets to 8-12 reps
- Three sets per exercise
- Infuse rest-pause and supersets
- Hit each muscle group twice per week (ex: an upper/lower split twice per week)
- Bump up the weight when you can max out the rep goal for every set
- Stick to <60 seconds rest between sets Train to near-failure (or occasionally to failure) End with isolation exercise “finishers”
If those DIY hypertrophy routines always seem to fizzle out, find an online program that follows the above guidelines (or make some adjustments to your current routine).
Three to four training sessions per week are the gold standard here, folks.
Let’s dispel a long-held belief right now: Yes, you can bulk up, shred fat, and enter that coveted ripped territory without using supplements (legal or not).
In fact, most people don’t need supplements to build muscle or lose body fat because they haven’t dialed in all the other more important factors first.
But adding supplements to your daily routine can accelerate your progress, assuming your diet and fitness plans follow the above-discussed logic.
What are some good supplements for “getting ripped”?
First consider pre-workout powder with beta-alanine and caffeine to give you a much-needed energy burst and delay fatigue when lifting.
C4 Original Pre-Workout | Caffeine + Beta-Alanine + Creatine
Formulated with strength-boosting Creatine, CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine, and caffeine to improve your muscular endurance and keep fatigue at bay as you crush it in the gym.
Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn: Creatine Phospate
If you're looking to get swole, look no further than Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn. Our buffered creatine phosphate increases your performance in the gym and adds muscular size without those pesky side effects like bloating, cramping, and water retention.
Guzzle some whey protein to supplement your protein intake immediately after a workout, ideally within the long-idealized “anabolic window”
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
This is one of our top recommended whey protein powders because of it's high protein content per serving, extreme deliciousness, and the fact that all Swolverine products are sourced from GMP-certified facilities
Be careful with fat burners, but they can help boost your metabolism to get rid of some stubborn body fat if your diet is already on point.
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The 4 Steps to Build Noticeable Muscle Definition (without Turning Your Life into a Dumpster Fire!)
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The Projected Timeline: The Truth
Okay, so you’ve …
- Changed your diet to match your caloric needs and prioritize protein
- Infused HIIT cardio sessions into your routine (good work, soldier)
- Started a split routine that landed you in the gym 5-6 days per week
- Added a four-supplement concoction to your schedule
That brings us to our question: How long does it take to get ripped? The answer depends on where you’re starting, where you plan on ending, and what you’re willing to do in between!
In reality, you might see modest results in as little as two months.
But what’s sad, is most people give up WAY before every seeing significant results and that’s why they sign-up for fitness programs like V Shred’s Ripped in 90 Days.
How Much Muscle Can You Gain Per Month?
If you’re in the surplus phase (eating more calories than you’re burning), you carry the key to building substantial muscle in the next few months. The chart below explains just how quickly:
|How Long Have You Been Training?||Muscle Gain Per Month|
|1 Year||2 pounds|
|2 Years||1 pound|
|3 Years||0.5 pounds|
|4+ Years||0.25 pounds|
That first year is a gold mine for the coveted “noob gains” that pack on mass at lightning speeds. This phenomenon explains why progress is visible just eight weeks into a lifestyle overhaul!
How Much Fat Can You Burn Per Month?
The other half of the equation is shredding fat to uncover the muscles hiding beneath that pesky subcutaneous layer. The consensus is that 1-2 pounds per week are healthy and reasonable.
Monthly, that adds up to 4-8 pounds dropped per month.
But becoming ripped means shooting for that 6-10% body fat percentage, which translates to about 0.5% body fat torched each week. Chopping 2% fat per month is doable with hard work.
To reach that the upper body fat limit (10%), here’s how long it’ll take from your starting point:
|Current Body Fat Percentage||How Long Until 10%|
If you’re already cut and looking to add lean mass to your already muscular frame, worrying about shredding fat won’t be on your to-do list. Cardio will prioritize maintenance instead.
Now, think about your definition for “ripped,” and we’ll hand you a straight answer.
Are you craving the cliche ripped, with large muscles and 10% body fat without taking it too far (a la Ryan Reynolds)? Six to twelve months is reasonable.
Are you looking to ramp up your strength, drop below 6% body fat, uncover those defined abs, and dig deep striations into your muscles? Two to three years is more accurate.
Are you planning to maximize your gains, develop a near-fat-free look, and attract eyes at the beach (or at the gym)? Four to five years is a more likely scenario.
How Long Does It Take to Get Ripped?
You can get ripped in 90 days in the broadest sense (clues that more muscle and less fat are on the horizon). But at minimum, it’ll take six months to earn respectable results.
The answer genuinely depends on:
- Whether you’re bulking/cutting or attempting both goals at the same time
- Dieting, exercising, and using supplements
- Where you’re starting (skinny, chubby, etc.)
- Your end goal (are you looking for classic ripped? or absolutely shredded?)
Commit to your physique goals and avoid shortcuts, and you’ll be flexing in the mirror and saying, “damn, I’m ripped,” before you know it!
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