We all see the models and athletes with sculpted, defined bodies, and we think it’s something unattainable. After more than 20 years of training and research, I’ve learned that this is not the case. Here’s what you need to do:
To have a defined body, you must enter maintain a caloric deficit and burn more calories than you consume. It is also essential to train with weights in order to accelerate the metabolism, and optimize your muscle definition. To guarantee results, this must be done consistently for at least three months.
To achieve desirable muscle definition, you don’t need to be in the gym every day for three hours or starve your body. You need to be disciplined and maintain certain habits.
How long does it take to get truly ripped?
If you need to lose 15 pounds to reach 10 percent body fat, it will take about 10-12 weeks IF your body stabilizes and stops showing results for one or two weeks. This stabilization happens to even the best athletes. The body decides to prevent burning the fat for some reason that only it knows.
How can I get muscle definition fast?
There are three fundamental pillars to achieving a great body:
The key to having a defined body would be the first two pillars. And, without a doubt, the fundamental one is nutrition. Without a proper diet, you will not be able to have a cut body.
Maintain a caloric deficit
What is a caloric deficit? I won’t lie to you: there is no magic bullet, pill or supplement, there is simply no body definition without a caloric deficit. This is the key, period.
The caloric deficit consists of burning more calories than you consume, either by physical activity or by cutting calories from your diet.
Set achievable goals
Set a clear, realistic goal in your mind. The word ”realistic” is super important, because we often our goals out of reach.
You can’t have a fitness model body without having enough muscle mass. It may not be best to look for a genetic miracle either, like lowering to 8% body fat from 27%.
Setting unrealistic goals will cause unneeded anxiety. It will demotivate you and prevent you from making progress.
The first thing you should do is look at yourself in the mirror, objectively. Understand the body you have and from there, define your objectives.
Don’t be in a hurry
Another key to achieving a defined body is to not to be in a hurry to get ripped. This concept is super important, but hard to implement. Some people need eight weeks to define, others 10 weeks, and others 12 weeks.
Don’t be in a hurry to define. The longer the definition stage, the less muscle mass you will lose. If you do a long definition period, your caloric deficit will need to be much less aggressive, and you maintain the muscular mass already constructed.
Train calmly, and don’t make aggressive deficits. You don’t need to make four or six-week definitions. It would be best if you had relaxed cutting periods, without anxiety and without aggressive calorie deficits.
Plan for 10, 12, 14 weeks, or even more prolonged caloric deficits. The longer the definition stage, the better. Your body will suffer much less stress and maintain its muscle gain.
Increase caloric expenditure
Another key component of a good definition stage is increased physical activity. It may be easier to increase your caloric expenditure than decrease the calories ingested.
Adding moderate aerobic exercise to your workouts will increase metabolism and, therefore, fat burning. I always recommend walking at a fast pace that does not allow you to talk comfortably.
All bodybuilders preparing for competition do this. This exercise increases calorie expenditure without decreasing muscle mass, which is essential for a more defined body. It would be best to do very light and prolonged cardio, at least half an hour.
Adapt your training
When you are in a caloric deficit, your body does not have enough fuel to perform at full strength. You have to adapt your training to your physical condition without lowering the intensity.
Whatever you do, don’t stop strength training, don’t stop these exercises. The heavy workout is the key to success at any stage of your practice, so lower the volume of useful sets.
Always keep in mind that you are in a caloric deficit. You will not recover as you would normally, and you will not have the same strength, so modify the intensity, frequency, and volume of exercises accordingly.
Do not go on a diet
You can’t diet; no one who stays lean all year is dieting. Such people have eliminated that term from their vocabulary. Rather, they eat healthy. They put quality fuel into their bodies; it’s their lifestyle.
I don’t even want you to use that word. The word “diet” in reality means means deprivation. A diet is associated with a temporary state, saying “I am on a diet” implies that you will not keep it up in the long run.
This concept is contrary to becoming and staying defined. If you reach definition through a very restrictive diet, it will be challenging to maintain such eating habits.
Drink lots of water
I know you’ve probably heard this advice many times, but are proven reasons behind it.
- When you drink water during the day, you know the important difference between thirst and hunger.
- If you stay hydrated all day, you will also have more energy. Everyone knows that energy decreases as you become dehydrated.
Prioritize weight training
Cut men always prioritize high-intensity, heavy-weight exercise over cardio. The most important thing to do is to focus on your weight training.
The more lean muscle you have, the more likely you are to stay defined in the long run.
This is essential because muscle tissue speeds up metabolism. When weight training, you are more likely to add lean muscle to the body than with cardio.
Your insulin sensitivity is also higher, which means there is a different response to food because of the added muscle tissue.
In your weight training sessions, are you lifting the weight you should be lifting, or are you trying to lift a little more than that?
Heavy training does not mean that you have to bench 200 lbs or squat 500 lbs. Don’t be obsessed with numbers. Every person is different, and you won’t even find yourself to be the same every day.
The key to heavy training is to make sure that you’re mastering the weights you lift when you’re in the gym. I’m not saying you don’t lift heavy—you should just lift as heavy as possible for you.
It is crucial to apply the correct technique in every exercise, and finish the repetitions you have marked in your training. Don’t be obsessed with numbers, because you will surely suffer an injury, and miss out on muscle mass or definition.
Finally, I must encourage you not to compare yourself to anyone or become obsessed with weight. Just focus on lifting a load that is heavy for you.
I have saved the best and most important advice for last: consistency. Consistency is always the key that will unlock your goals in life.
As I explained before, we usually associate the word “diet” with something temporary. If you have learned how to eat well, if you choose the foods you like and work for you, now we’re talking about consistency.
If you find a lifestyle and training routine that you enjoy and that produces results, you will stay true to it.
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How do bodybuilders lose fat without losing muscle?
To have a beautiful and defined body, you need to lower your body fat percentage.
Nowadays, some scales measure this percentage, which is essential to see how close or far we are from the desired definition.
We also have to take into account that every body is different. There are people with 12% body fat who look very defined.
Then, others with 9% still have some localized fat they need to lose.
As I have indicated in the previous section, you have to both lower your body fat percentage and lose weight to be defined. So, how do you do it?
First, weigh yourself to know your exact body fat percentage. Knowing the weight and fat rate, you can calculate the daily calorie limit needed to achieve a deficit. This is usually 500 less than the normal caloric intake needed to maintain current weight.
To calculate caloric intake, use the Harris-Benedict calorie calculator.
Once we know the calories we have to eat daily, we will never have to eat more than the indicated calories to lose weight.
We usually have to eat 500 calories less than we need to maintain our weight.
We have many internet tools to know the calories we take in daily, for example, Myfitnesspal. Here you will be able to put the food you are eating, and it will tell you the calories you have taken in.
What to eat to get defined muscles?
According to a study published in the journal, Nutrients, the plan for muscle definition must integrate macronutrients and calories in a low-calorie diet, along with strength exercise. I should add chromium picolinate, which may be the most effective treatment to safeguard lean body mass while maximizing body fat reduction.
Definition workout routine
|Day 1||Shoulders, traps, abs, cardio|
|Day 2||Back, triceps, aerobics|
|Day 3||Legs, abs|
|Day 4||Chest, biceps, cardio|
Day 1- Shoulder/Traps/Abs/Aerobics
- Military Press – 4 sets × 30-20-15-15.
- Lateral raises – 100 total repetitions, to be reached in however many sets you need.
- Bent over lateral raises – 80 repetitions, to be reached in however many sets you need.
- Shrugs – 15-10-10.
- Crunches – 2 sets X maximum repetitions.
- Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise – 15 minutes.
Day 2- Back/Triceps/Aerobics
- Lat pulldowns with narrow or wide shoulder grip – 30-20-15-15.
- Pullups – 4 sets X maximum repetitions.
- Low pulley cable rowing – 30-20-15-15.
- Dumbbell french press – 80 total repetitions, to be reached in however many sets you need.
- Bar french press on a flat bench – 80 total repetitions, however many sets you need.
- Tricep Extensions – 2 sets maximum.
- Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise – 30 minutes
Day 3 Legs/Abs
- Deadlifts – 30-20-15-15.
- Hack squats – 30-20-15-15.
- Inclined leg press – 30-20-15-15.
- Machine calf raises – 2/3 sets X maximum repetitions.
- One leg dumbbell calf raises – 2 sets.
- Crunches – 3 sets X maximum repetitions.
- Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise – 30 minutes
Day 4 Chest/Biceps/Aerobics
- Flat bench press – 30-20-15-15.
- Inclined bench press – 30-20-15-15.
- Declined bench press – 30-20-15-15.
- Hammer curls – 3 X maximum repetitions.
- Standing barbell curls – 3 X maximum repetitions.
- Alternating dumbbell curls with supination – 3 X maximum repetitions
- Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise – 15 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
When I say: “Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise – 30 minutes”, the aerobic exercise you should choose is the one that you enjoy and motivates you the most. You must do a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 50 minutes—except on the day when we do our leg training, which will be a maximum of 30 minutes. I recommend you to go out and run. For HIIT training, do only 15 minutes, which will be more than enough. HIIT training is based on changes in pace. For example, you could alternate 15 seconds of a very high pace with 45 seconds of a more constant speed, until you reach 15 minutes.
Recommendations for your training routine
As you can see, I have outlined a weekly routine with only four days of training. You may wonder why, and the reason is that rest is also essential.
Your body must be perfectly prepared and at full capacity every time you exercise, so that you reach your maximum in each training session and avoid injuries.
Don’t worry. As the weeks go by, you will see how you will recover better and more fully. After two and a half months, you will have gained a lot of definition, and then you may want to start with more specific training.
We highly recommend you go to a trainer at the gym if there is an exercise that you are not sure how to do, or a machine that you don’t know how to use (don’t worry, we have all had questions at the gym at the very beginning.)
Remember what the great Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “Abs don’t come out in the gym, they come out on the plate.”
Eat the calories you need for your goal, and you will have the defined body you want. You can find more information in our nutrition section.