Have you ever wanted to get shredded like the bodybuilders, fitness models and athletes you see on websites or magazines? The frustrating part is that no matter what you change, fix or implement, it doesn't make a difference. Well today I am here to give you the secrets that have helped me get past my plateau and down to single digit body fat. I will also list the supplements that I have used to help me get there.
First understand I did not get shredded over night. There were times that I would sit down and try to make excuses as to why I did not look the way I wanted to look. Some days I even considered giving up. I am going to admit that it was hard getting past this mental block, but once I got passed it everything became much clearer and easier.
9 Steps to Getting Shredded
Step One: Motivation and Mindset
Motivation: Even on your worst days, the only way you can go is up, in a positive direction. The best thing that helped me was to just relax and clear my mind. Take a deep breathe and think of the things that got you into lifting, dieting and working out.
Right now at this second someone is in the same boat, but they will be progressing right past you because you are sitting in bed doing nothing. This thought triggered a feeling inside of me; it made me excited to hit the gym and train. I wanted to better myself and not let that "person" get ahead of me.
A trick that helped me to think about summer. Pretend you are going to be poolside at the beach and you want to look good. You want to stick out from the crowd and have a shredded 6 pack; all the girls will see it and the guys will be mirin'!
You work hard all year round and if you don't look your best, you are only cheating yourself. You want people to see your abs and have their jaws drop. You want them to not recognize you because of your conditioning, and you want them to be jealous because of what you have, but love you because of what you have achieved. Thinking about this possibility would get me super-hyped about training.
Losers complain, winners train.
Do you want to be a loser or a winner? The choice is yours. It's all about how hard you are willing to push yourself. People say genetics play a huge role but I was able to push myself beyond my "fat overweight" genes and become what I had always dreamed of.
It is all about YOU. You are what you train yourself to be. You also look how you train. Do you want to look soft and just okay, or do you want to look veiny, freaky and hard like you train with a passion? Like I said, the choice is yours.
Step Two: Training With a Purpose
You need to have a goal in mind so you can properly train for it. There are certain steps you need to take to achieve different goals. Don't just go into the gym without knowing what you are going to do. Have a plan and implement it. Push yourself harder each time in the gym.
If you bring the same intensity each time you go to the gym you won't progress. You need to change it up. Challenging yourself. Forget about what everyone else is doing, or what they look like. You have to compete against yourself, constantly pushing past your breaking point. That is how you see results, pushing past your normal level.
I lost a decent amount of weight and had some nice definition, but I didn't have the abs definition that I wanted. I decided to try out new supplements, and play with my diet, trying to find the perfect combination that would help me get a nice 6 pack. This helped some, but my training was not on point and my diet was still a little out of whack.
I thought that eating less would help me look better, and that training really heavy would help me appear bigger and more defined. The truth is, I was looking at myself in a totally wrong way. I did look good, but in September, 2011, I decided to take my training and nutrition to the next level.
I set out researching how to gain the most mass without gaining much fat and keeping some good definition. I began eating very clean, consuming about 380 grams of carbs, 320 grams of protein and 100 grams of fat a day. I was going for a lean bulk, eating around 4000 calories a day, but only having a cheat meal every 3-4 days. I had ice cream as a cheat meal and Moes/Chipotle as my second cheat meal.
I got up over 205 pounds by December, 2011, with minimal fat gain while still keeping some abdominal definition. January, 2012, came, and as my New Year's resolution I decided to take my training to the next level. I wanted to get shredded and lean for the summer, along with adding some size. I was not doing any cardio at all at this point and I finally decided to add some after my workout. I would do a half hour on the treadmill, incline walking and burning a couple hundred calories.
March 2012: Training was the same along with my diet. I began taking liquid l-carnitine along with green tea to help burn some more fat. I also upped my cardio by sprinting at the highest incline on the treadmill.
May 2012: I began training with the right intention. I focused on feeling the tension in my muscles and not just moving the weight. Muscles do not know how much weight you are using, they only respond to the tension. I centered each workout around lowering the weight and actually feeling the muscles work. This was my turning point; I began seeing crazy results.
Summer 2012 - present: Macros, carbs 230-300 grams, protein 280-300 grams, fats 50-70 grams. I continued taking l-carnitine and green tea with Thermofuse and stuck to my diet, cheating every 3-4 days. Each month I started to notice more and more of a difference. Veins began popping out everywhere.
My calories are around 2700-3000. I am trying to stay lean and full, maintaining and slowly gaining. I do about 30 minutes of cardio after my workout, burning anywhere from 500-700 calories. I focus on my macros mostly. I try hitting them each day and that is the most important part.
Step Three: Planning
Without a plan, you will not be able to achieve what you want. You need a general idea of what you want to do with steps that will help you get there.
Start with diet first. Come up with the macros you will need to help you either gain size or lean out and maintain. In order to gain one pound, you must be in a caloric surplus of 3500 calories a week (500 calories extra a day). A common mistake happens when people just eat tons of food while trying to bulk, resulting in fat gain with little muscle. You just need a small amount more calories to help you gain.
To lose weight, you need 3500 fewer calories per week (500 a day). There is no need to starve yourself in order to lose weight, or anything drastic like that. Your body does requires proper macronutrient intake and you can't deprive yourself of that. In order to have a good workout you do need to have some carbs to supply you with energy, along with carbs to recover. In terms of lifting, you need to know that you can lean out while gaining at the same time. It sounds crazy but it has been done.
So first off get your diet in check, get your lifting on point with form and tension, then you can add in cardio at the end. A lot of people do cardio in the morning, some do cardio after their workout. I like to do it at the end so it really pushes me but it is whatever you prefer.
Remember. it is not what you do in the gym for the most part that affects you, it is what you do with your time outside of the gym. You spend roughly 10% of your time in the gym a week, while you spend the other 90% of the time outside of the gym. Sleeping, eating, work, school, driving, etc. is what you do outside the gym. That affects you directly by so much.
Step Four: Sleeping
You need sleep to help your body recover from your workouts. Without enough sleep you will not make those gains you want, and you will be left with more muscle soreness than normal. Without enough sleep you can get sick more easily and it substantially weakens your performance. You need at least 8 hours of sleep to perform well.
Step Five: Routine
Now that you have the essentials down, you can make a routine that will help you get you to your goals.
1) Lifting - What worked best for me was making a plan that I could do within a certain amount of time. It needed to fit into my schedule but also give me great benefits. My workouts last no more than 50 minutes and not less than 45 minutes. 45 minutes is the perfect time for a workout. After about 45 minutes your body begins to break down and you can't fully perform as well as you did when you started.
You want to have minimal rest periods of only about 40 seconds, with sets lasting 40 seconds. You recover enough after 40 seconds to be able to perform another set. The truth is that taking 5 minute breaks between sets is not good because your body does not like to stop and then start again. Keeping the tempo up and your pace quick will give your body the increased heart rate you need to have a beneficial and awesome workout.
2) Cardio - Perform cardio either when you first wake up, or after your workout. You do not want a slow paced, boring cardio session. I prefer sprints on the treadmill at the highest incline or the stair stepper. This keeps the heart beating along and the fat burning!
I do about 30 minutes with sprints and walking included on an incline. You must do cardio if you want to see results. I noticed the best results after I started doing cardio at the end of my workout, and the results were much better than not doing cardio at all. Cardio is great for your body and it will even give you that extra sharpness if you do it.
3) Fueling your body - In order to see results, you have to eat right. I can't stress this enough! In order to have a good workout, you need to have a pre-workout meal a couple hours before the gym so you can have that energy to use during the workout. You eat right before the gym and you will not use the energy in the food you just ate because it takes time to process. Also for pre-workouts to be more effective and get into your system, it is better to have an empty stomach to maximize absorption.
Post workout is also very important too. After your workout your body needs to refuel properly in order to recover. For my post workout, I take a quick shake while I am still at the gym (pure isolate) and when I get home I have another shake with carbs, protein and some fats. I also eat a banana because it has enzymes that help force nutrients into your muscles. I love the taste too.
Weight Lifting + Diet + Cardio = Success
This is the formula that works best. It helped me achieve my goals. A huge part of looking good is eating good. You must eat healthy and treat your body right if you expect to see results. Treat your body like a Ferrari, you would not fill your tank with the lowest grade gasoline would you? Fill your body with the best fuel you can find.
Step Six: Cheat Meals and Why?
Cheat meals are very important and can help you burn even more fat. Our bodies contain a protein hormone called leptin that regulates energy uptake and expenditure. When we first start dieting and working out, our leptin level is high and we are able to burn a lot of fat and lose weight fast. Then we hit that plateau and can't figure out why.
This is because our leptin level has gone way down. In order for us to burn more fat, it needs to be raised back up. Typically the leptin level in our body stays in the fat burning zone for 3-4 days and then it slowly goes back down. If we want to keep our body in a fat burning mode, we need to spike that leptin level back up.
Having a "cheat meal" introduces a high amount of fat, carbs and sugar into our body. This will cause our leptin level to rise up, compensating for the increased fat into our body. This shocks our body and the resulting leptin level spike will remain high for another 3-4 days.
Cheat meals are essential for fat burning. This means basically that twice a week you can enjoy a meal that includes a bit of a junk food. Now you can't cheat all the time, but every 3-4 days will do the trick. My cheat meals include vanilla and chocolate twist with peanut butter cups topped with peanut butter sauce. This does the trick. I enjoy eating it, plus it's great knowing that it will actually make me even look better! It's hard to believe, but once you understand how the body works, it is easier to enjoy life!
Step Seven: Supplementation
You need to help your body maximize the things it needs to do well, and this is where supplements some in. Not only will they assist you in reaching your goals, but they are also good for overall health. Supplements "supplement" what you can't naturally put into your body because of diet limitations. It is always good to take a daily multivitamin, along with fish oil, Vitamin D3 and krill oil.
I will give you the stack that I used to help me safely burn off extra fat off. I also use this to maintain weight.
- Wake Up: Vitamin D3 - 1200mg, fish oil - 2000 mg, Controlled Labs Orange Triad - 3 pills, CLA - 1000 mg.
- Pre-workout: Liquid l-carnitine - 1100 mg, green tea - 200-400mg of EGCG, Thermofuse - two caps, Forskolin - one cap, l-leucine - 500 mg, Eat The Bear - Uncaged.
- Intra-workout: Evolution X7 BCAAs, Eat The Bear BCAAs.
- Post Workout: Eat The Bear Pure Isolate, RTN Bionic Edge Mass Builder, CGP creatine.
- Before Bed: ALA - one cap, Detox body, CLA - 1000mg, melatonin - one cap.
What I take varies. I do not like taking pre-workouts so I cycle them on and off for a few weeks. This stack has helped me push past my plateau and burn up the extra adipose tissue.
Step Eight: Do it!
After you make a plan, fix your diet, get the right amount of sleep, make a routine and stick to it, you will start seeing the results you want and see no limits. Each week you will see changes, and in order to improve you will need to push yourself harder each day. If you can get the basics down, you are set on a path for success.
Step Nine: Take Before and After Pictures
In order to see results, take a picture of yourself every two weeks. Place them next to one another and compare your results. Enjoy!
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