5 Tips to Get Ripped
by Samantha Coogan, MS, RDN, LD
1. Eat Your Carbs!
It’s not ALL about protein, guys. Far too many people think that carbs prevent you from getting lean and building muscle. It simply isn’t true. You should never be cutting out carbs completely…monitoring and adjusting portions, yes. Basically, you should be consuming enough carbs that will still allow you to lose fat. Each person is different. Some people may require as little as 100 grams per day, while others may need double to triple the amount.
This is where carb cycling becomes very useful. Start off with higher carbs in the first few days, then lower each day, then go back up. Or stay steady with carbs at a lower to moderate rate and give yourself a “refeed” day with additional/high amount of carbs. Plus, carbs are a preferred fuel source of the brain, so how else will you be able to get through your workouts without them? Carbs will also prevent hypoglycemia which we want to avoid at all costs during exercise to stave off fatigue.
2. You Are YOU!
Not every theory out there will work for everyone in exactly the same way. You may have two guys who have the exact same specifications, but Guy #1 does better on 230g of carbs per day while Guy #2 does better on 300g per day. It’s just the way our bodies are made and how we metabolize nutrients as individuals. There is no end-all, be-all rule when it comes to health, nutrition and fitness. There are simply guidelines. You’ll have to do some experimenting to see what truly works best for YOU.
3. Abs Are Made In The Kitchen!
Additional ab work is honestly a waste of time, where you could be mobilizing and creating functional flexibility instead, which translates into longevity. Many people tend to think: “I want to target and tighten my abs, so I’ll do more.” Clearly, they’ve missed the concept of hypertrophy. If you work a muscle group (properly), what happens? Those muscles grow. The more biceps curls you do and/or more resistance you use, the bigger that muscle group will get. So why would overworking your ab muscles shrink and tighten them? If you are doing your other movements correctly – most of which involve using the core as your base for stability – then you are constantly working your abs. No need to waste time on additional sets of nonsense.
Plus, to really see those abs peak through, you need to stay dedicated in the kitchen. Cut out the simple sugars and other garbage, which will get stored as fat, and guess where fat loves to store? So tightening up your nutrition will undoubtedly tighten up your abs.
4. Lift Heavy
Why would you change up your workout if you have a set goal for your performance? If your goal is to lift heavy, why turn your heavy squat sessions into circuit training sessions? Too much cardio can put you into a catabolic state in which you start to break down lean muscle tissue, the complete opposite of what we want.
If you want to go heavy for 1-5 reps, then keep going heavy (safely), and don’t drop weight and jump to 20 or 30 reps. What good will that do?
The goal is to keep getting stronger, right? Sure, once you change up your diet, your first couple of squat sessions may not be as heavy as they were as you ease into a new eating pattern, but eventually you will get back to that point and beyond. If you normally have some type of higher rep scheme mixed into those smaller, heavy sets, you may want to omit the higher rep sets, at least in the beginning and focus on the short, heavy sets. So don’t trade gains for fat loss. You can do both at the same time. Plus, the more muscle you have (which you get from STRENGTH TRAINING, not cardio), the more calories you burn at rest (increased RMR).
5. Don’t Restrict Yourself Too Much
One of the worst things you can do for yourself on any health and wellness journey is to restrict yourself too much. This only leads to binging and regret. Sure, you may be super stoked to be starting this new approach, so you go out and grill up half a farm of chicken breast, steam a compound of vegetables and mash a football field’s worth of sweet potatoes so you “stay on track.” Let’s think about how appetizing that same meal is going to be on day 7.
Variety is always key. It helps you look forward to your next meal, plus you’ll get all your micronutrients in as there is no one perfect food that has every single vitamin and mineral in it. The problem with staying with very bland, consistent diets is that some may develop nutrient deficiencies simply due to lack of nutrients in their seemingly healthful foods. Mix up your menu, and give yourself something to look forward to.
For example, try out Mike’s Homemade “Ice Cream,” which consists of 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt and 2 cups of frozen black cherries (or berry of choice) blended for 10 seconds and topped with a sprinkle of chia seeds. You’ll feel like you’re “cheating,” but you’ll be satisfying that dessert urge while still getting nutrient-dense nutrition.