Here’s How to Get Ripped and Why You Aren’t
There are so many athletes that are strong, but aren’t ripped. Have you ever wondered why that is? Not that having an enormous amount of muscle isn’t awesome – it is. But, it doesn’t look even close to as good as someone who is ripped, even if they have less muscle mass! Definition is what seems to turn heads.
There are three reasons that prevent athletes from getting shredded. We’re going to take a quick look at what might be preventing you from becoming ripped, then we’ll get into how to overcome it.
Three Obstacles That Will Prevent You From Being Shredded
- Are You Lifting Heavy Enough?
There’s a myth that has floated around out there forever which leads us to believe that cardio burns fat than lifting does. This just isn’t true. Here’s the thing, lifting heavy, heavy weights at lower reps (4 to 6 reps) or to muscle failure does build muscle mass. However, when we look at the other end of the spectrum, excessive light weight, and high reps (18+ reps) lifting helps our muscular endurance but it doesn’t help get us shredded. That is another common misconception.
The sweet spot for lifting for shredded mass falls somewhere between of these two numbers. We should be aiming to hit 8 to 12 reps which puts us right on the spot to both build and tone our muscle mass.
Of course, the ideal workout plan will mix high weight, low rep exercises, with lower weight, high rep exercises. Studies have shown that there are significant advantages of lifting heavy. The most recognized benefit is the effect that heavy lifting has our testosterone levels. Heavy lifting is known to boost our testosterone levels and keep them elevated long after we’ve worked out. This means that we’re continuing to burn fat even after we’ve left the gym. If you’re just beginning, doing this from day one will likely prevent you from having to go on a massive shred after you’ve bulked up.
- You’re on the Wrong Weight Lifting Plan
If you’re not seeing the results you should be, it could be your workout plan that is killing your ability to achieve a ripped physique. The ideal cutting plan will have a balance between isolated exercises and more complex exercises that will require multiple movements.
Now, finding the balance between these two can be tricky and take a bit of time. For example, isolation exercises such as curls and calf raises aren’t ever going anywhere. There are simply exercises that will always be a part of a solid workout foundation. However, more complex exercises also have to be part of a strong foundation. These exercises will have your metabolism humming while simultaneously building muscle mass.
Think of it this way, if there’s an exercise you rarely see being done in the gym, there’s probably a good reason for it. After all, the exercises that produce the best results are generally the toughest exercises.
Remember, muscle memory is real. Very, very real. By continuously changing up not only your weight and reps, but also the exercises you do to attack certain muscle groups, you will be able to get the most out of your muscles without hitting a plateau that comes from repeating the same exercises over and over again.
- You’re Doing Too Much Cardio (That’s Right)
The other common misconception that we often hear is that you need to do cardio to get cut, or to burn fat. There is no substitute for cardio, is what they say. This is another myth that has been floating around the fitness community since the beginning of time. And unfortunately, so many athletes think this is the truth. However, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
More often than not, someone who believes that excessive cardio to get cut hits the treadmill, bike or elliptical for 30+ minutes and may or may not swing by the weights on the way out of the gym. What these athletes fail to realize is that they’re absolutely destroying their chances to get ripped, even though they may achieve a little bit of weight loss.
The truth is that excessive cardio can create a catabolic environment within your body. This slows metabolism, which in turn slows the fat burning process. On the other hard, building more muscle enables us to have a quicker metabolism. Thus, we are able to burn more fat and get cut.
A great substitute for effective cardio is high intensity interval training. Essentially, this is a short cardio workout that pushes your body to the max.
Now, this isn’t to say that cardio isn’t important. Cardio is an important piece of maintaining a healthy, balance fitness plan. However, we cannot overlook the fact that strength training enables us to keep develop muscle mass and get shredded at the same time when combined with proper nutrition.
The Two Components of Getting Ripped
Now that we’ve discussed the potential road blocks you’ve faced on your journey to getting ripped, let’s take a look at the two components that when done correctly, will get your absolutely shredded. Obviously, the two components of getting ripped are your diet and your work out plan. Each of these are equally important, and messing up one will mess up the other. So, it’s essential to nail each of these components in order to realize your potential.
Diet: What You Put In
In all honesty, your diet will probably be the more complex of the two components. It’s easy to get on the right workout plan, get in the gym, and feel – or even look – better. But, for long term results, it means your diet has to be on point each and every meal of each and every day. Creating, sticking to a diet, and avoiding temptation and potential pitfalls will likely determine your shredding success.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick-fix “eat this and become ripped” diet out there. Everyone’s body make-up and requirements are a little different. But, there are several requirements that the right diet has to have to be successful.
First and foremost, the goal of your diet needs to revolve around consuming fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight. After all, if you’re maintaining your weight, it’s scientifically impossible to burn that extra fat. When it comes to cutting, it is a constant battle between the number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn. The number of calories you burn must always come out on top in order to consistently cut weight.
How many calories should you consume? That’s a great question, and once again, unfortunately it will vary from person to person. Extreme cutting for a period of less than one week can often require cutting calorie intake by up to 50%. However, this is for extreme, short term weight loss. More sustainable weight loss will target a reduction of calories between 10% and 25%. This is much more sustainable because your body won’t suffer a sudden drop off of calories and will be able to adjust to and maintain this level of calorie intake for a longer period of time.
When it comes to reducing calories, the key is to reduce the calories that come from fats and carbohydrates, but not the fats that come from proteins. Because protein is what’s responsible for building and maintaining muscle mass, our muscles will deteriorate without proper protein intake. It’s also important to note that our bodies aren’t capable of holding protein in reserves, as our bodies do with fat, which means that we are unable to tap into a surplus of protein to prevent muscle loss if necessary.
The rule of thumb is to consume 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per each pound of your body weight. For example, a 200 pound athlete should aim to consume 240 to 340 grams of protein each day. Then approximately 10% to 15% of your calorie intake should come from healthy fats. The rest of your calories should come from carbs.
So, whatever diet you chose, make sure that is it one that you can stick to for the long haul. After all, one of the most common reasons people fail at dieting is because they can’t still to the diet’s requirements.
Rather than giving you specific foods to eat, shoot for a calorie intake of between 10 and 12 multiplied by your body weight. This is a fairly good approximation of the calories you should be consuming for weight loss, along with one gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Work Out: What You Get Out
Have you ever heard the expression “you only get out what you put in?” Well, your diet is what you put in, and your workout is what you get out. Meaning, the quality of your workout, and the results, will only be as good as your diet. So, let’s say you’ve nailed the perfect protein, to carb, to fat ratio, and you’re ready for the gym. What should you do to get ripped?
Well first, it’s important to remember that calories fuel our bodies. And when we cut our calories, we are running on less fuel than we’re used to. Thus, our workouts and our ability to recover from them will inevitably suffer. To combat this, we must focus on a quality over quantity plan. Meaning, less exercises or sets, but maximizing each one.
The next step is to develop a plan, as we stated above, that combines the appropriate blend of strength training, weight training cardio, and standard cardio exercises.
When it comes to strength training, it’s important to realize that it is unlikely, and nearly impossible, to achieve gain while on a caloric deficit diet and/or a cutting session. However, it is important to keep isolated strength training exercises – bench press, squats, triceps extensions, bicep curls, etc – in our work out routines in order to keep our testosterone levels elevated and promote fat loss.
However, when we transition from strength training to weight training cardio, we begin to include more complex or compound exercises. These compound exercises move to the forefront of our training programs. These compound exercises are exercises that include more than one muscle group; such as cable crossovers, dead-lifts, rows, drips, and pull ups.
So, what’s the right ratio of strength training to weight training cardio? Opinions on this will vary. However, we can all agree that the ideal cutting plan will incorporate both. Personally, I aim for a 1:1.5 to 2 ratio. Meaning, that for every one strength training exercise targeting a specific muscle group, you should, on average, do 1.5 to 2 complex exercises.
As we touched on earlier, the cardio aspect when it comes to cutting weight is a bit overstated. However, it is still important to create a well-balanced plan which includes cardio. With that said, a reduction in calories, a high intensity workout, and sustained cardio could spell a recipe for disaster. The decreased calorie intake and increased intensity workout can be enough to burn you out. So, cardio takes a back seat when it comes to the order of operations and importance.
The other issue with cardio is that eventually, we reach a plateau when it comes to cardio and fat loss. As some point, our bodies catch up to our cardio workouts and we must either up the amount of cardio we do or further decrease our calorie intake. Neither of these are ideal solutions for a cutting diet and fitness plan.
Thus, when it comes to cardio, the general rule of thumb is to get in and get out while you’re cutting. High intensity intervals or sprints are the ideal way to get a quick boost of cardio in without overworking your muscles. However, it’s crucial to plan your workouts ahead of time and do cardio no more than twice per week when you’re working out four or five times the same week. It’s also important to avoid doing cardio on days in which you’ve trained heavy on the legs.
Remember that all muscle progress is made post-workout when our muscles are recovering, not when they’re being worked. So, we need to allow our muscles proper time to recover in-between work outs and never push them too hard which could cause an injury or other set back. The general rule of thumb is to allow at least 48 hours in-between working out the same muscle group twice. This will ensure they can properly recover and are ready to sustain another tough training session. Ready to get ripped? We’re here to help!