You train hard on the weights and cardio but are still struggling to get lean, you feel like you are doing everything right but still not seeing a ripped physique in the mirror, many people think there is a big secret in how to get ripped.
If you take the time to focus on the matter at hand you may realise that a number of factors maybe holding you back a little bit, too much fast food, sporadic training, underwhelming training or a bad sweet tooth.
These are pretty obvious but what about hidden factors? let us identify common culprits derailing all efforts to get it right. Below are five good reasons you aren’t ripped yet that will hamper your efforts to burn body fat and blur abdominal definition. Address each one and you will be able to make it to ripped-dom.
A very common problem a lot of dieters make is cutting down calories and carbs far too quickly, I have had a lot of people ask me about going on a ketogenic (keto) diet, an extremely low-carb diet to get ripped but honestly dropping all of those calories in one swoop is not what you want to do.
A drastic cut in carbs can lead to a big drop in bodyweight but you will find that drop short-lived, a big problem with dieting is that your body is constantly fighting to prevent too much fat-loss, after all, fat is a great energy reserve for when times get tough and food is scarce, it may have been a problem for our ancestors but today this issue does not exist.
No matter how low you drop calories or carbs, your body will eventually adjust to the new caloric intake leaving no room to cut further, where do you go from there when your body no longer can lose body fat?
The big key to dieting is to eat as much as you can whilst still losing body fat, then when you reach a plateau you cut down carbs and calories a little bit so that when you hit a plateau again, you can continue to lose body fat.
It is a good idea to record three days worth of eating on your current meal plan when starting out with dieting, this can calculate your average daily caloric intake, this number is a great starting point for the calorie intake of a diet. Now you can alter the macronutrients so that within the caloric intake you are consuming 1.0-1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily and about 0.5g of dietary fat per pound, the rest of the calories come from carbs.
Carbs can be rounded down a bit here so that there is a small reduction (about 200 fewer calories per day) from what your eating plan initially listed, this sets you up in a mild calorie deficit, this will help you to begin to lose bodyfat.
It is best to follow something similar until you hit a weight loss plateau, at this point you will reduce your carbs by about 0.25g per pound of bodyweight. Everytime a weight-loss plateau is reached, reduce carbs by another 0.25g per bodyweight pound.
A good example is during the initial weight-loss phase, if a 200-pound person was consuming 1200 calories from carbs (300g), this is 1.5g per pound of bodyweight, a 0.25g drop in carbs would put this person at roughly 250g of carbs, this equates to a 50g reduction of carbs and 400 calories from the daily calorie intake.
If this example was based on you, you would counter each weight-loss plateau with another drop of 50g of carbs.
Many bodybuilding circles have perpetuated the myth that to maximise fat-burning and spare muscle mass you must do low-intensity cardio, however today’s research suggests quite the opposite.
Studies have shown that people who do some of form of high intensity interval training (HiiT) which cycles periods of high intensity trainng with levels of recovery phases lose about twice as much body fat as those who do slow and steady cardio, this is despite the fact that those doing HiiT are doing much less time in exercising.
HiiT results in much less time spent doing cardio and much more fat being burned. HiiT increases your post-exercise metabolism which boosts the calories and fat burned whilst not exercising.
As far as muscle mass goes, many, many studies have shown that people who perform HiiT neither lose or gain muscle mass. As an example consider the muscle of a sprinter vs. a long-distance runner. The high-intensity training the sprinter does builds muscle, not sacrifices it. the long-distance runner who trains at a steadier slower pace has far less muscle mass.
HiiT can take several forms. A typical HiiT session consists of all-out effort, like sprinting, with low-intensity intervals of active recovery such as walking.
A great form of HiiT is Tabata training which has become very popular in recent years with crossfitters and serious gym rats. One round of Tabata involves eight, 20-second all-out intervals with 10 seconds of rest totalling around 4 minutes.
As an example, you could 20 seconds of kettlebell swings, followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight cycles or even sprint for 20 seconds and walk for 10 seconds, do this for eight times though, with only four minutes you will get an excellent workout.
Another common misconception is that you must lift lightly and do high reps to get lean, it is most likely linked to people thinking that higher reps equals more work performed to help you burn more calories. It isn’t just about how much work you do but it is also how the work affects your body and metabolism.
Similar to HiiT cardio, research has shown that heavier loads in a workout results in a higher metabolic rate post-workout compared to a lighter weight, this means more calories burned.
Training with heavier weights for fewer reps can elicit a greater and more sustained rise in resting metabolic rate following the workout than training with lighter weights and higher reps.
Talking about heavier weights for fewer reps means a load that limits you to 8 reps per set and training to failure. This boosts your metabolic rate and keep it that way for longer after the end of the workout, rather than those 20-rep sets that many people are boasting about.
Another area that may hurt your fat-loss progress and that is the amount of time spent between sets, if being ripped is your end goal then spending as much time as possible moving in the gym is important instead of just standing around.
Bottom line is to minimise the time you spend between sets, research has shown that when subjects rested 30 seconds between sets on the bench press for 5 reps for 5 sets, they burned a little more than 50% more calories than those who rested 3 minutes between sets.
Turn rest time into work time by supersets or cardio acceleration, cardio acceleration can save time in the gym and enhance fat loss further. Superserts involve two exercises back to back, either for two muscle groups like a chest exercise followed by a back move or for the same body part such as two quads exercise.
Supersets can increase calorie burn during exercise and afterward by about 35% compared to normal sets, so stop sitting after finishing your set.
What you do in your downtime away from the gym may further be hampering your fat-loss efforts, not to mention your health. Research done in Australia has found that , out of more than 2,000 subjects who exercised vigorously for a minimum of 2.5 hours per week, those who watched more than 40 minutes of television per day had a higher waist circumference, blood pressure and blood-glucose levels than those watching fewer than 40 minutes.
Researchers studied this and concluded that sitting for long periods of time may really compromise your body’s ability to burn fat effectively. It has further been studied in both animals and humans by the University of Missouri (Columbia) and has found that prolonged sitting really blunts the activity of enzymes used for fat-burning such as lipoprotein lipase.
Other conducted research has found that time spent sitting during the day and body fat levels as well as negative health implications are also linked. Those that exercised regularly but still sat for prolonged periods during the day were at a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and death.
The advice here is pretty simple: avoid a fat-burning slump by being active throughout the day. If you sit for a long time at work then try walking about to the water cooler every 20 minutes or so. Do the same if you are sat at home in front of the tv or computer. Increase total walking distance by parking a little bit further away from the shopping center etc. Even better is to walk or bike your errands instead of driving and avoid escalators and lift in favour of stairs.
Seizing all five of these opportunities will make sure that you get ripped just like you wanted but will also mean that you also will be in the best health possible.
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