Wanting to stay ripped year-round, eh? That’s a bold thing to try, and while it might be nearly impossible, there are some tips we can give you to help.
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Staying Ripped Year Round – Is It Any Good?
First off, it probably isn’t a good idea to wanna stay ripped all year. Now, let’s say staying ripped means remaining under 10% body fat.
Here’s what you can expect if you try to keep that conditioning for more than 12 months:
- Massive hunger and moodiness
- A great increase in the risk of injury
- Potential hormonal damage
- Virtually zero muscle growth due to missing calories
- No strength increase due to no muscle growth
- And you could potentially end up losing muscle
Nevertheless, you specifically asked for tips on how to do it, so I’ll comply. Just keep in mind: I don’t think this is a good idea.
Getting ripped in five months is realistic. Staying ripped month after month, all year round is a completely different story.
Tip 1 – Eat Protein. A Lot. Even More.
You probably eat protein already. You probably already eat a bunch, to be honest. But what if I were to tell you those were rookie numbers and that you’d have to boost those numbers way up?
There are a few reasons for this:
- Protein has a higher thermic effect on food compared to carbs and fats. Basically, the body has a harder time burning and digesting protein compared to the macros. Harder time = more calories used and, thus, lower net calories for the day.
- Protein is known to keep you fuller for longer.
- Protein is the only macronutrient that can turn into muscle, and even loads of it (up to 2 grams per pound) have been found to not make you fat.
- Protein is more muscle-sparing than any of the other macros.
It’s safe to say you better load up. Chicken breast, whey protein, steak, eggs. Whatever you need to do, get used to a large grocery bill and even larger toilet trips…
Tip 2 – Carb Cycling Can Be Useful
Carb cycling is a term used to describe the dieting mechanism of eating less on certain “lighter” days and shifting those extra calories to a heavier day. So the net deficit for the week remains the same, but you have a few extra calories on the harder days to play with.
For instance, most of us don’t need all those calories on a rest day, but we could all use some on a back or leg day. So simply reduce rest day carbs by 50 grams, and add them on the days you feel you might need them — simple as that!
You can even use this for events or meals that you know will wreck your macros. Like eating less on Tuesday because you know you have a work dinner (a highly caloric affair) on Wednesday.
Tip 3 – Veggies Are Your Babies
Or are they your savior? Either way, you’ll do anything to protect them.
While vegetables fall into the carbohydrate group, they’re good for energy, just like politics is for a holiday party. (They both are poor if you didn’t catch the joke.)
Vegetables are extremely good at giving you minerals, vitamins, fiber, etc. That said, while they do contain carbs (and therefore calories), it’s virtually zero.
Case in point, here are some of the least energy-dense vegetables per 100g portion:
- Romaine lettuce (2.9 grams per 100g)
- Cucumber (3.6g per 100g)
- Celery (3g per 100g)
- Tomatoes (3.9g per 100g)
As you can see, they’re terrible at giving you energy. For instance, oats have 65g + of carbs per 100g serving. You’d need to eat a whole lot of cucumbers to get that many carbs.
(Added bonus, many veggies bring a crunch factor — remember, food has texture. Look to combine different kinds!)
Tip 4 – Try Some Sugar-Free Options
Alright, so here, you’re going to have to fork up some funds to get your hands on the good stuff. There’s a sugar-free version of most foods on the market today, and those can make dieting a lot easier.
Soda, jello, pudding, wraps, and anything else that’ll make the dieting more bearable. If you’re doing this for 12 months, you’re definitely going to need some of these.
Tip 5 – Lift Weights Accordingly
Finally, we’re into the lifting stuff, my favorite. Simply put, you can’t lift heavy when you’re truly ripped.
“But Ronnie did it!” – Yes, Ronnie Coleman did lift heavy weights while at 5% body fat. However, Ronnie was on anabolic steroids. You aren’t.
When you’re that ripped, you have to lift accordingly. You don’t have the leverage to lift stupidly heavy weights week after week. You don’t have the hormones to recover from failure training.
It might be best to have 3 – 4 heavy and hard sets per workout, and the other 8 – 10 sets should be RPE 7 (max). You might not like it, but that’s the price you pay for wanting to be ripped year-long.
Also, you’ll have to use the strict form, as veering off even slightly could result in an injury.
Tip 6 – Use Cardio Sparingly
You’ll need to do some cardio in order to get really ripped. There’s no getting away from that. That means you’ll probably have to do cardio all year long (well, that sucks), and this could potentially cause muscle loss if you do it wrong.
To avoid this, follow these tips:
- Only do low-intensity cardio, like incline walking or elliptical. This allows for greater recovery, meaning better lifting sessions.
- Do your cardio separate from or after your lifting.
- If you see your strength is declining, either up your calories or decrease your cardio.
- Find something to do other than listen to music while doing cardio. Netflix, games, podcasts, anything to help pass the time.
Tip 7 – Know When and How To Rest
Lastly, you need to ace your recovery and rest. This will, by and large, determine whether you’ll actually remain lean or even retain muscle.
This means you need to reduce stress as much as you can, sleep as much as you can, and try to improve recovery with massages, warm/cold treatments, etc. Failing to recover will get you injured, will make you lose muscle, and will make you fatter.
How To Stay Ripped Year Round Conclusion
Again, this isn’t something I highly recommend. Yes, there are those who do this, but these are also professional athletes or models that are all on PEDs. This is an unhealthy and ridiculous goal, but now you have the tips to at least help you achieve it.
Your biggest focus should be on nailing your diet every single day. There will be no “off days,” there will rarely be cheat meals, and there will almost never be cheat days. Your nutrition will become a job, not just a hobby.
Here’s what to focus on:
- Get in all the damn protein you can get your hands on.
- Eat a boatload of veggies daily.
- Carb cycling might help you have more energy on heavy-lifting days.
- Learn to make use of sugar-free foods.
- Learn to cook healthy foods in a tasty manner.
Training will be even harder to nail. You need to run the fine line between retaining muscle and not overtraining. Use heavy sets and failure sets very sparingly, and ensure you’re recovering well between sessions.
This is just a foolish idea the more I think of it. Take some time off and build some muscle. Live, laugh, and spend time with friends. Even the best in the world aren’t ripped year-long.
Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…
Can You Stay Ripped All Year Round?
You can stay ripped year round, but that depends on various factors, chief amongst which is your genetics. If you have phenomenal genetics for staying lean without losing your mind, it is possible, sure. Smart? No, but possible. Just know you’re gonna have to work hard and diet even harder.
How Lean Can You Stay Year-Round?
For most people, staying in the 13 – 16% for men and 20 – 26% for women isn’t unreasonable. That said, it depends on a myriad of factors.
The leaner you try to stay, the harder it’ll be to remain there. The leaner you are, the greater the risk of muscle loss, injury, etc. Thus, I’d rather go a bit higher, allowing me to gain muscle and — you know — smile.