You know that guy that consistently eats mounds of McDonald’s and yet remains shredded to the bone? Yup, and that same guy has so much trouble gaining mass you kind of feel sorry for them.
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Why exactly is that? And why are they so ripped?!
The truth is, how you look is a reflection of your daily habits. Skinny guys might get ripped easier, but it depends on genetics, diet, and training.
Those three are by and large the biggest factors in determining how to get ripped.
How are you actually supposed to get ripped, however? Just eat less and move more, yeah?
Well, it’s a little more complex than that – keep reading to find out.
What is Being Ripped?
Being ripped is the lifelong goal of most lifters – or at least something most have thought about. This means you have to be extremely lean while still maintaining a decent amount of muscle mass – probably aiming for less than 10% body fat.
Many will classify body fat percentages solely based on looks, but to be as accurate as you possibly can, it would be best to track your fat percentage with a third party like fat calipers. Combining these results with pictures you take on a weekly basis will allow you to gauge your results best.
To classify as being “ripped” you’d need the following:
- <10% body fat
- Higher than average amounts of muscle mass*
- Lower rates of inflammation to make your gains visible
* This is where naturally skinny guys might fall down. They could have abs all year long, yes, but they lack the muscularity of the guy that has a tiny bit more fat than them. So, neither are truly “ripped.”
That leads me into the segment of timing. You simply won’t be able to stay shredded for long, as the health effects can be detrimental to your health. Some studies suggest doing so can lead to a reduction in total testosterone levels, which is detrimental to your health.
Thus, you’d only want to be absolutely shredded for a set period of time, usually for some type of event. Weddings, beach photoshoots, or competitions of sorts. To get this lean, there are a few things you will need to focus on:
- Diet: You will need to follow a diet low in calories yet high in protein
- Training: Engaging in weight training like this as well as cardio will allow for muscle retention
- Sleep: The driver behind recovery, but there is also evidence showing that lack of sleep can lead to fat gain
- Stress Management: Raising your cortisol levels too often can make fat loss a lot harder
- Supplementation: While most of the supplements are placebo effects, there are some that definitely will impact training
By using all these mechanisms, you’ll be able to successfully cut down and stay there. We’ll get into that a bit later – but is it going to be easier for naturally skinny guys to get ripped?
We have mentioned that being muscular to some extent is important, if they have spent the time to build lean muscle tissue before cutting down, it might be? There is no real evidence to support this.
But it really depends on how hard the person is working. In fact, your fat loss rate will be determined by the following factors:
- Caloric Deficit: Someone in a greater deficit is going to lose weight at a faster rate than someone else
- Protein Intake: While not equating to a big difference, there is evidence that following a diet higher in protein can yield better fat loss results
- Genetics: Sometimes you just have to face the facts that you gain muscle incredibly rapidly, but lose weight slowly. Can’t change our genetics, unfortunately
- (Somewhat) Sleep: While the others on this list are greater dictators for weight loss, a small variable is asleep. Failing to sleep enough can lead to some pretty unwanted effects like raised cortisol, which can make losing fat a lot harder than it is.
The people who would benefit the most from this dramatic change in body fat levels are people who are extremely obese. There are direct links between severe obesity and cardiovascular risk.
Thus, getting rid of all that extra fat will be greatly advantageous to these individuals. Of course, there are other reasons to get shredded, like getting ready for a bodybuilding show or photoshoot.
This person would still benefit from the health effects, however.
So now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Identify Your Goal
As mentioned before, being ripped doesn’t just mean having <10% body fat, it also means having some muscle mass to go with that leanness! This may swing your goals away from where they are currently, and that’s okay. If you need to spend 3 – 4 months trying to gain muscle mass, so be it.
Let’s identify three scenarios:
Scenario #1: James, 150lbs, 12% body fat, Not really strong
As you can see, whilst James definitely has the ability to have a low body fat amount, the lack of muscle is going to get to him – this is what is often referred to as “Skinny Fat”.
You can’t carve a pebble as bodybuilders would say, and James needs to spend some time trying to gain lean muscle mass. If you’re like James, and you don’t really have muscle tone or strength at all, here’s what you gotta do before cutting down:
- Increase calorie and protein intake: By doing so, you’re giving your body the best chance to increase your muscle mass. Aim for 200 – 300 calories more than maintenance per day, and 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per lbs of bodyweight.
- Get stronger: This shouldn’t come as a surprise – to gain muscle, you have to give the muscle a reason to be there in the first place. Slap on some 20s and get under that bar! Aim to progressively get stronger over time, which will allow for your muscle to adapt over time by growing
Once James has spent a good 12 – 16 weeks trying to gain muscle, he might then decrease his calories to lose unwanted fat. You gotta have muscle first though to actually have something to show.
Scenario #2: Jordan, 240lbs, 15% body fat, very strong and ready to get shredded
So Jordan differs vastly from James due to the fact that he actually has muscle tissue. He has spent time developing this strength and muscle tone and can now make simple changes in his life to get where he wants to be.
Again, you gotta have muscle first. There is one situation that kind-of mixes these two, however: the recomposition
Scenario #3: Max, 200lbs, 18% body fat, has never ever trained
We know that usually, it’s impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, as the former requires energy, and the latter gives off energy. Though, we see with individuals who have never trained that this is achievable.
Simply starting heavy resistance training combined with a protein-heavy deficit diet can lead to some massive changes.
For all intents and purposes, the overarching goal in this article is getting absolutely shredded. With that being said, let’s move on to the main event: How to get shredded.
How to Get Shredded
Well done! You’ve stuck out this far, and you’re ready to learn the deep dark secrets of getting ripped!
Secret number 1: There are none.
Yup, it’s just classic old hard work.
There are of course ways we can make it easier – skinnier guys might have it easier getting ripped, but so does the guy who has 200lbs of lean muscle mass because he has a higher metabolism because of it.
But of course, it really depends on who’s willing to work the hardest. Let’s break down the necessary steps you need to follow to get shredded:
Diet, training, sleep and recovery, stress management, supplementation
As you can see, it’s really only five things. While many influencers like to overcomplicate being lean or muscular, fitness is actually just about being consistent. That being said, let’s delve into things, shall we.
As you might expect, you’re going to have to make certain dietary changes to lose weight while retaining muscle mass. They can be summarized in the following list:
- Follow a caloric deficit: By eating a diet that is in a deficit compared to your maintenance caloric need, you’re creating an environment in which the body has to get the energy to survive from somewhere else, hopefully, from stored body fat.
- Eat a protein-rich diet: Protein is remarkable, seeing as that it’s actually quite hard for protein to turn into fat. Protein can be muscle-sparing seeing as it provides the body with the necessary amino acids to retain muscle mass. Aim for 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight
- Eat a lot of veggies: While in a caloric deficit, it can become hard to stay full at some times. Eating a lot of vegetables is not only good for your health but can massively impact your satiety. The best ones are leafy greens.
- Increase your dietary fiber intake: Fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate, meaning it doesn’t actually contain calories. There is evidence that increasing fiber intake to >30g per day can increase both health and satiety rates.
- Eat healthier foods: This last one is a bit tricky to understand. If you’re eating hyper-palatable foods, there’s a greater chance you’ll end up overeating. So strike a balance between foods you love and healthier alternatives you like.
It won’t come as a shock that to get shredded, some form of activity is going to be needed.
Train with resistance. To retain as much muscle as possible, you have to give the muscle a reason to stick around. To put it bluntly, having muscle mass is somewhat of a luxury. Train hard, and train with some sort of resistance allowing for greater muscle retention.
This means you need to train with bodyweight resistance, free weights, or even bands to give your muscle the greatest chance of sticking around. By implementing progressive overload (and getting stronger over time), you’re going to create the perfect environment for your muscles to grow, fat to be used as energy, and for you to get shredded ASAP.
You can also look to add in some cardio – this can be in the form of steady-state activity or more high intensity – whichever catches your fancy. Again, won’t magically make you lean, but will help burn off some extra calories
Unfortunately, this is the topic that gets lost most in the discussion. Recovery is one of the most important parts of fitness and is absolutely crucial.
Without ample recovery, you simply will not lose fat at the greatest rate. Furthermore, if your recovery is too poor, there’s a great chance you could end up losing muscle as well, pushing you even further away from your goals of having a ripped back (or chest or legs – or all of the above).
Here are some tips to prioritize recovery:
- Get enough sleep: Sleeping more than 7 hours a night is good, but sleeping 8 is ideal
- Manage your stress: This might seem insignificant, but managing your stresses can massively lower your cortisol, meaning you have a greater chance to lose weight
- Follow a healthy diet: A diet rich in micronutrients such as fiber and vitamins will allow for greater recovery rates
It has to be said that a good diet should require as little supplementation as possible and that most of your dietary needs can be met with a good diet. That being said, you could certainly benefit from some of the following supplements:
Protein powder [whey, vegan, casein, etc.]
It really does not matter which protein powder you go for, as long as it helps you fill your protein needs for the day. These won’t magically build muscle, they are simply powdered proteins for your convenience.
Aim for a protein option that digests well, fits your financial situation, and ideally has >22g protein per 30g serving.
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
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Creatine is a natural amino acid found in nature, and your body produces some of it naturally too. That being said, taking more of it exogenously has some staggering effects on performance.
Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn: Creatine Phospate
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While most supplements you see influencers advertise are full of junk, this one might be the difference. Pre-workouts filled with goodies like L-citrulline to improve vascularity, caffeine to boost energy, and taurine for focus can potentially change your performance.
They certainly won’t be as good as a good night’s rest – but sometimes it’s nice to have an extra boost.
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If it has taken you 5 years to get as overweight as you are right now, don’t expect to be shredded to the bone within 5 weeks. Be realistic about your goals, and break them into smaller parts so that you may execute them as time progresses.
Focus on the next step and make sure you perform that step as perfectly as you can. With time, these small wins will add up. And remember, consistency trumps perfection every single time.
Is It Easier for Skinny Guys to Get Ripped?
Really no, it depends on how hard someone is working.
There are of course a ton of variables that go into your genetic makeup that’ll determine your energy output, but there’s not much you can do about these. The things you can control are as follows:
- Diet: You need to be in a caloric deficit to lose actual fat mass
- Training: If you train with resistance and cardio afterward, you’re giving your body the greatest chance to lose fat
- Recovery: Without recovery, your body will hold onto fat as a child holds onto a blanket
- Supplementation: While not a must, you could potentially benefit from certain supplements like Protein Powder
Skinny guys might have an advantage with a faster metabolism, but then again, it’s harder for them to build muscle in the first place. Everyone has genetic wins and losses, just try your best with the hand you were dealt.
Lastly, it simply comes down to timing. You’re going to have to put in a considerable amount of time to reach this goal – whether you’re naturally skinny or not. Take multiple weeks to reach this goal, even up to 16 weeks.
And don’t stay shredded for too long – not good for your health.