Ask Joe The Pro Vol. 2 - Stages Of Being Shredded

And you thought there was only one stage to being ripped. Joe outlines six stages of being shredded, from "full house" to "shredded!"

In volume two of Ask Joe the Pro, natural bodybuilder Joe Ohrablo talks about the six stages of being shredded, and answers questions on the accuracy of bodyfat percentages and banned natural bodybuilding competition cutting drugs.

Ripped! - The Six Stages Of Being Shredded

For those of us who compete, it's an exciting adventure to diet down to very low bodyfat percentages. I have a good eye for subtle changes in my clients and my own physique week to week, as the diet progresses and the bodyfat melts off more and more. You know what I'm talking about? A little more separation here, more vascularity there, some new striations show up, etc.

Shredded Abs

But can you define each stage that leads to being shredded? I made an attempt to do just that. Let me know if you guys and gals would add anything to any of the stages:

  1. Full house - (Off season) Big, full, strong, with some extra fat and water hiding your definition.
  2. Hard - This is where most natural bodybuilders stay in the off-season lately. It's the first stage of fat and water loss where the shape of the muscle gets rounder. You still look big and full, but look a little better with your shirt off then on. Some veins start to surface as well.
  3. Cut - This is where your abs start to come in better, more veins start to protrude, more separation between muscle groups becomes evident, and you start to look a lot better with your shirt off then with it on. You will also start to see a hint of definition in certain muscle groups, and your face is no longer round.
  4. Defined - Your face starts to suck in, you start to get a little weaker in the gym, you feel cold all the time, your veins are all over every muscle, your separation between muscle groups is as clear as day, you start to have striations come in on various muscle groups, and you get a much "drier" appearance.
  5. Ripped - You look skinny in clothes, your face is scary, lol, your abs are shredded, you can even sit down and your lower abs will show, you have striations and separation all over the place, you look damn good, and most bodybuilders will show up show day in this state. BUT, there is one more stage!
  6. SHREDDED! - Your face looks like a dead persons, lol. You look like a skinny bitch in clothes, but 40 pounds bigger when you take it off. You look almost unreal with how separated you are, the striations look scary, and people will ask you "does that hurt"? Lol. You should have striations in your glutes, on your triceps and quads, and for some even in other areas. When you move every muscle fiber in your body will crawl around like worms under your skin. You lay under some blankets and when you come up there are veins all over every inch of your body! Any natural bodybuilder that shows up shredded will be hard to beat. If you are a shredded natural bodybuilder that has NO legs, stand next to a ripped bodybuilder with perfect symmetry. It will be tough for the shredded bodybuilder to lose, because the judges will have such a hard time looking away from the shredded bodybuilders "busy definition". It's very hard to judge him objectively.

So there ya have it - the stages that lead to SHREDOME! You ready to get there?

Ask Joe The Pro

Ask Joe the ProI see so many beginners on the Internet state that they have 6 to 12% bodyfat, but when I look at their pictures, they don't look ripped. What's the deal with this?

There are one of many possibilities to this. The first and most obvious is they are full of shit! LOL. Another is they are simply ignorant on what 6% body fat looks like, and they just "guess" what body fat they're at. Unless you're tested via calipers or under water testing (hydrostatic), then you won't really know what body fat you are. I'm not a fan of the body fat scales or even the hand held machines, as they take your BMI too much into account. And we all know according to the BMI most natural bodybuilders are obese, lol. The last, but certainly least likely possibility is some cameras have harsh flashes which will wash out the most shredded physique. Poor lighting when the picture is taken is an unlikely possibility - but, alas, possible. I would say less then 1% of the bodybuilding beginners are having that issue, lol.

Are there any cutting drugs that are illegal for competitive natural bodybuilders, and are these drugs tested for at shows?

I'm not sure what you mean? If your talking about clenbuterol, winstrol and other similar "cutting drugs", then unequivocally YES, they are 100% illegal and the testing method can vary from show, promoter and federation. Urinalysis, polygraph and blood testing are the typical testing methods. Now if you were talking about LEGAL supplements that are banned from certain federations then there are a few. I know the INBF still bans ephedrine even though it is legal in most counties/states. And I know the INBF has a ban on Hot Rox, and prohormones are also banned. If you're doing a drug free contest, check with the federation and or promoters before you take something.

For the average trainee, is it possible to keep abs all year, even in the off-season?

Is it possible? Yes! Is it advisable? No! If you're talking about visible abs at around 12 or 13% body fat, sure that's fine. But if you're talking about shredded apart abs with veins and striations, well that's just not healthy. Your body isn't meant to be 2 or 3% bodyfat year round. You're putting your joints at risk being so lean, and your organs won't like you very much with no protection around them. Plus, if you aspire to gain strength and mass, being in a calorie restricted zone year round will certainly put an end to that! If one were to get very lean, maybe 2-6 % bodyfat for half of the year, then allow themselves to go up to about 8-13% I think that's manageable and realistic.