- Getting ripped has more to do with your diet than exercise selection.
- You need a good variety of exercises for the best aesthetic results.
- For the fastest results, combine diet with training.
Is this a Marvel movie montage? Are you locked in a cave with a box of scraps?
Can you get ripped with just push-ups and pull-ups? It’s unlikely, but it’s also technically possible to get ripped with just push-ups and pull-ups.
Allow me to explain…
What Exactly Is a Ripped Physique?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to get ripped fast, we need to understand what that term even means — because what it means to you is different from what it means to me.
Luckily, that answer is easily answered:
- To be ripped, ya gotta be lean! That means you have to carry very little body fat on you, specifically less than 12% for men and less than 22% for women.
- You gotta have some actual muscle mass. What use is having little body fat if there’s no muscle under there to show off?
Without both of these factors in place, you might end up looking skinny fat, someone who isn’t technically fat but they don’t look muscly or ripped at all either. In order to avoid this, we’ll need to train and diet accordingly.
But you’re locked up in that cave, remember? Can you do it there?
Are Push-Ups and Pull-Ups Enough for a Ripped Upper Body?
To answer this question: it depends. Could you really pull off a ripped physique with just calisthenic exercises?
Perhaps, but you’re going to run into some issues, like:
- You’ll need to do some cooking regardless of how many pull-ups and push-ups you do.
- Your legs won’t get any training, which won’t necessarily look great.
- Other parts of the body will also end up being neglected.
I would never make the bet that these two exercises alone could get someone truly ripped. That said, they are exceptional exercises! You’ll end up targeting the vast majority of muscles in the upper body, but there are still going to be some that don’t get any loving…
Particularly, the triceps, shoulders, traps, upper back, lower back, and abdominals will end up being neglected. But fear not! With a few tweaks and changes, I can get all those muscles working in no time.
What Do You Need to Build Your Upper Body?
The first thing you need to do to get ripped is to sort out your diet. You have to be eating in a certain manner to lose weight, and there’s no way to get around that.
Here are the general rules of thumb:
- You need to be eating fewer calories than your body needs. Thus, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This should be 10% less than your maintenance calories, which you can calculate here.
- You need to be eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, but you can go as high as 1.2 grams.
- You should be losing 0.5 – 1.0% of your total body weight per week. Once weight loss stops, reduce your calories slightly.
- You can consume leafy green veggies and sugar-free foods aplenty! Both of these will make the diet a lot easier.
- Try not to diet for longer than 16 weeks end. Any longer can lead to muscle loss, especially if you’re limited with training.
Now that we have the diet part sorted, we can look at tweaking the regular push-ups and pull-ups so that we can hit a variety of muscles:
- To prioritize the upper back and traps, try doing inverted rows.
- For the shoulders, try doing some pike (and eventually handstand) push-ups.
- Another great push-up variation is diamond push-ups, which maximize tricep hypertrophy.
- Another pull-up variation to add to your selection would be the humble chin-up. Just as great as a pull-up, but it does shift the tension slightly.
- Leg raises and mountain climbers are perfect opportunities for you to train the abdominals effectively.
These are all different exercises you can use that still relate to the two we started with.
Now, since we’re somewhat limited with exercise selection, we can look at different training methods as well, such as:
- Tempo sets will require you to do reps a lot slower, making them harder.
- Rest pause sets are a great way of pushing beyond failure.
- Supersets are a good way not only to save time but also to help pre-fatigue a muscle.
Combining different exercises with different lifting styles could make training a lot more effective.
Can You Get Ripped with Just Push-Ups & Pull-Ups?
Can you really get ripped with only two exercises? Perhaps, but by just changing the angles and loading profiles of the exercises slightly, it’ll be a lot easier. Overall, your diet will determine your actual fat loss a lot more than your training plan will.
Sure, training is stupidly important. However, you can still get reasonably lean with only push-ups and pull-ups if your diet is perfect.
So, maybe focus on nailing your calories and macros as perfectly as you can on a daily basis, and you should be good. Further than that, try training at least 4 – 5 times per week, increase the number of reps you do as time progresses, and you’ll be well on your way to being ripped.
The final piece of advice you need to take away from this is that recovery is way more important than you think. If you don’t sleep enough or if you stress too much, you’ll be spinning your wheels in place.