We all know how Deadpool looked in his movie, yeah? Ryan was pretty ripped!
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We all also know how Wolverine looked in X-Men: Days of Future Past — he was absolutely shredded, and he had veins on his chest, for crying out loud!
Getting shredded ain’t easy, but getting ripped isn’t a walk in the park, either. So, it’s Deadpool vs. Wolvie … ripped vs. shredded.
What Does Ripped Mean?
Firstly, both of these terms were 100% made up by the fitness world, but then again, all words are made up… Just remember these things are subjective and may change depending on who you ask.
Ripped is a term used to describe someone who has put in a sufficient amount of work, cardio, and training to 1) gain weight in the form of muscle mass and then 2) diet to lose weight in the form of body fat.
The combination of muscle preservation while decreasing body fat would create a lean look. In other words, you’d be able to see muscle definition and identify a singular muscle group from another.
You certainly aren’t on the bodybuilding level, but you might be in the best shape you’ve ever been. And that’s an important distinction: most people can get a ripped body. Sure, it’ll take a few weeks or months, depending on your start point, but most people can get there.
Another important thing to remember is the difference between biological males and females. Males have higher testosterone levels and lower estrogen. Both of these help men remain a lot leaner and gain muscle a lot easier.
Females, on the other hand, have more estrogen. Fat and estrogen are great buddies. Because of higher E2 (estradiol) levels, females naturally have more fat and less muscle and find it harder to get lean.
Thus, “lean” as a male is 12 – 15% body fat, whereas, for women, it’s 22 – 28%. Again, individual biology matters. Some people have so much muscle mass that even 18% body fat on a male would look lean (see 20% Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).
5 Ripped Pros
- It’s somewhat achievable for most, granted they can diet and train. It’ll require work, and it’ll require you to push your body to a place it hasn’t been. I train multiple people, and the only people I’ve ever given the exception to are single parents. If you aren’t a single parent, you have the ability to be in a calorie deficit and build muscle
- It’s not too hard because, well, it just isn’t. Most people live very unhealthy lives, and if they eat more protein, healthier carbs, and fats and work on changing their lifestyle, they’ll probably achieve this goal.
- You can keep lifting heavy weights, unlike those who are shredded. The leaner you get, the harder recovery gets and the harder it becomes to maintain muscle mass. Being ripped allows you to keep muscle around, and the genetically elite might end up actually building muscle.
- It probably won’t mess with your hormones, which will definitely happen if you’re shredded. Testosterone is a cholesterol-based compound, and so is estrogen. If you eat a lot less, you’ll probably get less cholesterol via your diet — and boom, hormones crash. Your stress levels (cortisol) rise as well. This is less likely to happen when you’re ripped compared to shredded because you have more food by being ripped.
- It’s great for self-esteem, which may seem like a dangerous thing to say in today’s world. Studies have found that people who train and eat correctly have better mental health.
4 Ripped Cons
- It still requires work, and not everyone has the ability to do that. Yes, I did say that unless you’re a single parent, you have no excuse. But fitness does require a bit of work and, to some extent, some money. We all have the same 24 hours per day, but we don’t all have the same jobs, stressors, etc.
- Fat loss while remaining muscular isn’t always easy. You have to be lifting weights (or doing some kind of resistance training), and you’ll probably have a few sets that are quite painful. You’ll probably also need to do some cardio.
- It’s not shredded, and that means you have fewer bragging rights than someone else. A very moot point, but a point nonetheless.
- People will misuse you based on your appearance. “You’re into health. How ‘bout you send me a free copy of a diet?” Or if you’re a female, “You look like a man.” Most people will get verbally “tickled” in the fitness world, but especially women. This isn’t so much a con as just something to be aware of. Your physique can make or break relationships because ripped people are that damn intimidating (even with clothes on!).
What is ‘Shredded’?
Before you continue, remember: this is all subjective and can change depending on who you ask!
Shredded is the natural (and sometimes not so natural) progression of being ripped. You drop your body fat even lower, and you usually pair that with even more muscle!
The key difference between a ripped body and a shredded body is how it looks. A ripped body will look lean and — for aesthetic purposes — looks good! A shredded body, on the other hand, will feature some “weird” characteristics, like:
- Vascularity on body parts out of the norm (shoulders, thighs, chest, etc.)
- Great muscle separation
- Body fat percentage that sometimes looks unhealthy (because it is)
- “Death Face” — the hollowing of the cheeks due to low body fat levels
We’ll discuss more of these characteristics in the cons list.
The point is that being shredded is taking your physique to the next level. Calories are so low that you basically only eat protein and veggies. You do a significant amount of cardio, and you begin to look like a bodybuilder does.
For men, being shredded is <12% body fat. For women, it’s <18%.
Staying shredded for long periods of time is also a surefire way of hurting your endocrine system. Shredded is like dinner with the in-laws… the faster you can get in, take some pictures, and get out, the better.
Stories of people suffering from wacky hormones or mental fatigue are all over the fitness world, all because they stayed shredded for too long…
Getting shredded is not easy, and you have to make sure you have the health, money, time, and mental clarity to invest. That caloric deficit will catch up to you…
Trust me. I once dreamt about eating hummus, and the next day, I craved hummus so much, I was willing to break the law for it.
Funny thing is, I’d never had hummus at that point. My diet was so low in fats that my brain hooked on the fattiest thing it could see, which happened to be hummus. There’s also a famous story of Dorian Yates, a renowned bodybuilder, dreaming about going downstairs and eating sausages.
As he says, “I was in a caloric deficit, so my body was probably crying for the extra calories and fats. But I was in control of my mind, so I only ate when it was time to eat.”
And that is what shredded is. Pushing past what is normal.
Oh, and one more thing! Most shredded people are on gear… super sauce, brotein, steroids. They’re probably on steroids. Yup, women, too.
Steroids make fat loss easier, allow you to retain lean muscle, keep your strength high, and make training a lot more enjoyable. They’re also illegal, mess with your skin, cause low levels of testosterone, and can lead to infertility.
1 Shredded Pro
It’s badass. It’s bragging rights. It grants you the ability to walk into a room and just know you’ve endured more than others. The next person would have to work for years to achieve what you have.
And that’s about it. Sure, you could make the argument that you could make some money with sponsorship deals, but these deals are more likely to go to bodybuilders.
And as someone who works in the fitness industry, it sells. Being absolutely shredded tells people you not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. Suffering from a diet like that for months, eating nothing but protein, and maintaining that muscular look takes a lot of work.
“I don’t wanna look like you, just lean, you know?” — I hate to break it to you, sir, but you probably don’t have the chops to do what I did to look like that on that day.
5 Shredded Cons
- Prepare for injuries because they’re highly likely to happen. Without enough calories, your cartilage tissue and cushion area between bones will begin to shrink. You’ll also have less concentration, and this massively increases your risk of injury (especially in pushing exercises).
- Prepare to disappoint your good lady or gentleman or gentleperson because — if you have one — chances are, your Johnson won’t work so well. If my subtle words aren’t getting to you, your sexual life will suffer because your body simply won’t have the energy or resources to want to reproduce.
- A compromised immune system is something you’ll also need to consider. When calories are that low, your food usually doesn’t always cover all the vitamins and minerals you need. As muscular as you are, you’re also way more susceptible to illness.
- Being super lean takes way, WAY more effort than you think. For some perspective, you probably need to work out 10 – 14 times a week. Your physique will change if you have slightly more salt than yesterday. You’ll need to buy more clothes to fit your different body styles, and you’ll be hungry all the time! Getting lean is easy. Getting shredded is hard f*cking work.
- Females beware. The female endocrine system is extremely complex. If you push your body past what is even just above normal, you’ll see some changes that aren’t very welcome. You might lose your period and gain a more muscular look on your face. Plus, your sexual health will suffer, and your fertility might also be affected. This isn’t set in stone, and many female competitive bodybuilders end up having kids… but just be aware of these things.
Ripped vs Shredded Conclusion
To summarize, ripping is easy, and almost every person can get there. Shredded, on the other hand, is an investment that’ll take over your entire life.
Here are the main differences to consider if you’d like to go for either:
- Lean will take 70 – 75% effort, and being shredded will take 100% effort all the time. Someone who’s ripped might have one cheat meal a week. A shredded person might have one… Per month.
- A lean body is somewhat strong, whereas most shredded individuals have lost their strength and are now doing everything they can to retain 60 – 75% of it.
- Someone who’s lean is somewhat healthy, while “unhealthy” defines shredded… not only physically, but also mentally. You’re very likely to develop body dysmorphia, and you’re even more likely to suffer from low hormones or injuries.
- Your workouts suck when you’re shredded because you have no energy. Your physique will look jaw-dropping in the mirror, though.
Overall, there are really only two reasons you ever get shredded: to compete in bodybuilding or to take some pictures because fitness is your money or lifeblood.
When your physique puts food on the table, then it’s worth going for an ultra-deep six-pack. Otherwise, being ripped or even just being in shape is just fine.