If you’re just starting out on your journey to get shredded you will no doubt be wondering how long it takes before you flatten your stomach and have six-pack abs to be proud of.
Getting ripped is an exercise goal for many people, but it requires serious dedication and effort to achieve. Achieving – and sustaining – a ripped physique is more of a lifestyle choice, than a one-off, short term pursuit.
How long it will take you depends on a number of different factors, the most obvious one being your starting point.
If you are already in reasonable shape, then a few small changes to your lifestyle and exercise regime may enable you to achieve the ripped look in a relatively short space of time.
However, if you are badly out of shape and just starting out, then you will need to be in it for th long haul before you look shredded.
So brace yourself as it could take some time. And it will definitely take discipline.
There are two key things you need to focus on to get ripped:
- Reduce body fat;
- Build muscle.
So first of all, let’s look at how you can…
Reduce body fat
An average level of body fat is 18-24% for men, and 25-31% for women.
But in order to get the ripped, and be able to clearly see your abs, you will need to be less than around 13% for men and less than 20% for women, ideally even less.
Obviously, the less body fat you have the more ripped you look.
But these figures should be a good target to work towards if you’re just starting out.
To reduce your body fat, you need to be working on two things primarily:
- Your diet
- Cardio exercise
Adjust your diet to reduce body fat
Your diet is quite simply the most important thing you need to focus on if you want to get ripped quickly – even the most effective exercise routine will be unsuccessful if you have a poor diet.
Your diet should be high in lean protein, lots of vegetables, healthy fats and occasional fruits.
You should always eat a light snack before and after training, with the post-training snack being high in protein to aid recovery.
It is to be disciplined with your diet, over a sustained period of time.
Reducing body fat through cardio exercise
Any kind of exercise will ultimately help you reduce body fat, but if you’re aim is to get a cut physique as quickly as possible then you need to select a training method that will maximise fat burning.
The best approach is low intensity cardio exercise, over a long period of time.
So treadmills, rowing machines and exercise bikes are your friend here, and you should aim for at least 30 minutes if time allows – at a low intensity.
If you’re short on time, then simply going as hard as you can for as long as you can is a good option.
And if you want to be more structured, whilst mixing things up a little, then High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a also a good option.
For a HIIT routine, alternate short bursts of high intensity exercise (e.g. sprinting for 20 seconds), followed by a longer stint of lower intensity exercise (e.g. jogging for 1 minute), and repeat as many times as you want (but at least 5).
Build muscle with resistance training
So if you want to get the ripped look, you just need to lose some weight, right?
Whilst simply losing weight will reduce your body fat, it will also reduce your muscle mass too. So for every pound or kilo that you lose, around 25% of that weight will be lost muscle mass rather than fat.
Which won’t help you in your goal to get shredded.
And if all you do is reduce your body fat and lose weight, without working on your muscle mass, you will end up with a physique something like a long distance runner.
So you need to build muscle too…
You really need to be doing strength training at least twice a week, ideally three times, or perhaps even four (if you do train four times a week, be sure to allow your muscles enough recovery and growth time between sessions in order to maximise benefit).
Your training programme should focus on all the major muscle groups: legs, back, arms and shoulders, chest and abs. As with any training programme, try to focus on one or two muscle groups per training session, and have a training sessions for each of the muscle groups every week.
Alternatively, if you’re not able to train several times a week, aim to complete a full-body workout twice a week.
Lift heavy to accelerate muscle growth
You’re trying to build lean muscle mass quickly to avoid losing too much size from your fat burning efforts. So lifting light weights with high repetitions isn’t the way to go, as this doesn’t increase muscle mass effectively.
You need to be lifting heavy weights, and aiming for a maximum of 10 reps per set. If you’re managing more than 10 reps then you need to increase the weight.
That said, as with any training programme, you need to change your routine regularly in order to keep shocking your body and avoid plateauing.
This approach will increase muscle mass which has the added benefit of increasing your natural metabolism rate, which will also contribute to your fat shredding. Win-win.
So ultimately, it’s impossible to put a timescale on the amount of time it will take you to get ripped.
Your starting point will be a major factor in determining your timescales.
The American Council on Exercise suggest that a safe rate of reducing body fat is around 1% per month.
So if you need to reduce your body fat by 10%, you’re probably looking at 10 months at least to achieve that goal. Assuming your muscle building efforts are progressed at the same time.
Other key factors include genetics, and how well you stick to both your diet and exercise regime.
Your self-discipline and motivation are so important. Fail to maintain your efforts to reduce body fat and build muscle consistently and regularly, and it could take a long time.