“Not this year” you declare, vowing to avoid the usual fat traps (Christmas, Thanksgiving, sitting on the couch for entire weekends watching Netflix).
Then the inevitable happens and you wake up one winter morning and realise you’ve gained weight, spring is just around the corner, and after that it’s just a short time until summer.
The season where you are statistically most likely to at one point be shirtless.
This presents you with a problem, you have around 16 weeks to get absolutely ripped. What do you do? Well, the aim of this article is to give you everything that you need to get shredded in 16 weeks or less.
We will take a look at training, nutrition, and other factors including supplements, sleep, and recovery.
Being shredded is not important in the way that being healthy is, but it is a priority for a lot of men (and an increasing number of women). You don’t want to be shredded all year round, but for example peaking just in time for summer is a really good idea.
Having a very low body fat percentage will improve your appearance massively, and to get there you will learn a lot about nutrition and training.
Every man should have at least one point in their life when their physique is perfect, most won’t but the journey itself is what matters.
You’re probably waiting for us to get to the training plan, because that’s the most important part right?
Well yes and no, it is true that without an effective training plan your results will be substandard, but without proper nutrition you won’t even be able to lose weight properly.
Dieting for fat loss is a simple process that can be very difficult to manage.
It’s simple because to lose weight all you need to do is consume less calories than you expend, creating a deficit. It’s difficult because eating less food than you are expending is not enjoyable.
Your metabolism slows down slightly, giving you less energy than you had before.
Your testosterone levels will drop after a prolonged diet, your sleep will be affected, and your training will suffer.
It takes a certain kind of mentality to survive all of this and stay motivated, it also takes decent planning. The first thing that you need to do is determine your calorie expenditure each day.
You don’t need exact results, but a general idea. There are lots of online calculators that can give you an excellent estimate of your daily calories.
Once you have this information you should work out your macronutrient ratios.
It is well known that people who are following a short term diet are in danger of losing muscle mass, the only way to combat this is through having a very high protein diet.
A study by Pasiakos et al in 2013 determined that consuming double the amount of recommended protein per day can protect muscle mass during a diet .
Another study, this one by Helms, Aragon, & Fitschen (2014) looked at the ideal macronutrients for natural bodybuilders .
They found that anywhere between 2.3-3.1g of protein per kg of lean body mass (LBM) was ideal. Your LBM is the weight of everything in your body other than body fat (so find out your body fat percentage and subtract that from your overall body weight).
If you were to weigh 90kg and had 20% body fat, then your lean body mass would be 72kg. If you had 2.3g of protein per kg of LBM then you would need 2.3 x 72 = 165.6g of protein per day.
At 4 calories per gram this equals 662 calories. Fat should contribute between 15 and 30% of your total calories, while these carbohydrates take up the rest .
As you can see, the macronutrient ratios are quite flexible, so long as you are getting sufficient protein and are within your calorie limit you’ll be fine.
To lose weight you will take your current calorie target and reduce it by 50-100 calories per week, take those excess calories mostly from your carbohydrate allowance, but as your calorie target gets lower you can drop some dietary fat and even a bit of protein.
Once you’ve reached your goal, you should slowly start to increase calories back again by 50-100 per week. This is called reverse dieting. Some people say it can revolutionise your physique, but this is debatable.
But, it is still a much better way to increase calories than to go on a massive physique crushing binge!
When getting shredded you need to tailor your program slightly to match your reduced energy.
At the end of this 16 weeks your calories will be severely reduced. You don’t need to make massive changes, but we will split the program into a 12 week and a 4 week section.
The 4 weeks will involve less training volume and a lower intensity, it will also increase abdominal exercises and cardio.
One of the most effective ways to burn calories in a workout is to combine cardio and weight training. This is called concurrent training, and it is used in lots of fat loss programs – particularly in CrossFit.
We’ll be using this structure for our workout. You’ll want quite a lot of compound movements in your training program, as the more muscles an exercise works the more calories it will burn (usually).
Our cardio will be short, high intensity cardio, and will be performed at the end of each session. Alternatively you could perform some circuits similar to CrossFit if you prefer.
Your rep ranges should be on the medium to high range, using lighter weights, and excellent form. Rest periods between sets should be around 45-60 seconds maximum.
You should follow full body workouts, and aim for 3-6 sets per body part (not including arms).
Chest, back, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Sessions should be capped at 60 minutes (including the 10 minutes of cardio).
Remember that as your diet progresses you’ll have less energy, so instead of trying to constantly increase the intensity you should look at reducing it slightly towards the end. Increase rest times if required, reduce the weight, and perhaps reduce the reps or sets, or both.
The last four weeks of this program will be performed while on a proper calorie deficit, so we’re not going to be making things too difficult here.
Your four week program should place more emphasis on longer forms of cardio, abdominal workouts, you can train arms more, and reduce the intensity in exercises such as the barbell squat, deadlift, bench press etc …
Still give each workout your all, but you’ll find that this is more difficult as the calories drop!
Now, supplements tend to split opinion. Some swear that the supplements they buy are going to completely transform them while they sit on the couch watching football. While others say that the entire industry is a scam.
The truth is somewhere in the middle, supplements can help give you an edge – probably around 5-10%, but they do not work alone.
You need to combine them with a calorie deficit diet and regular exercise.
But not all supplements are created equal.
In this section we are going to take a brief look at some of the more effective ones, and explain why they are beneficial to your shredding goals.
• Whey Protein – Not only is whey protein great for protecting lean mass during a diet (as we mentioned above), but it is also great for recovery, building muscle, and it even helps raise your metabolism slightly. A study in 2015 found that when combined with resistance exercise, whey protein led to superior fat burning .
• Creatine – While not having any effect on fat burning specifically, creatine can help you train at a higher intensity, can improve recovery, and can also lead to a temporary reduction in water weight (not that this will make a long term difference). Creatine combines with whey protein really well and leads to superior gains in lean body mass.
• Fat Burners – Fat burners do work, but not as well as most consumers hope. They are usually high in caffeine and similar stimulants which makes them great as pre-workouts. Allowing you to train harder while in the gym, even when your energy levels are low due to your low calorie diet. For people who tend to avoid caffeine normally, a fat burner can actually have a big effect on your metabolism .
• BCAAS – Usually BCAAs are not required, but during the last few weeks of a shred your calories will be very low meaning that you may not be getting sufficient protein to stimulate protein synthesis. At this point taking BCAAs (which are zero calories) could work as an effective substitute.
• Omega 3 – Studies have shown that fish oil (omega 3) may lead to fat loss in lean people. This is interesting because most fat burning ingredients only work in people who are overweight. They can also help reduce inflammation which will help with recovery from workouts.
Now you know how to create the correct calorie controlled diet to be successful, you know how to create the perfect fat burning training program, and you have your supplement list you are pretty much ready to go.
The only thing that you need to concentrate on now is your recovery.
While in a calorie deficit you will notice it takes longer to recover after a training session. This means that you’ll have to work a bit harder. Get 8 hours or more of sleep each night, increase your protein intake, add an extra rest day to your week (and drop a training session).
Participate in active rest, where you increase your steps per day without participating in intense exercise.
You’ve got everything you need to succeed, you just need to get going, stay strong, and enjoy your shredded physique!
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BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge
BIOGRAPHY: Kepa Arrizabalaga