If you’re here, it’s because you’ve done the hard work. Your body fat percentage is to be admired and average is not a word you associate with. But how do you stay shredded all year around? Can you still be ripped even when bulking? The answer is a definite yes! We’re going to show you how …
Here’s how to stay shredded all year around – even when bulking.
How hard is it to stay shredded?
The answer to this question can depend on your body type. Naturally lean athletes are going to find it much easier than stockier, endomorphic types. But it isn’t impossible. Hell, if you’re a stocky guy see it as a license to build muscle…
Once you start to drop to sub-average levels of body fat it becomes about maintenance. You’re not really dieting here for fat loss, but to preserve that percentage.
Whereas the 500-calorie daily deficit was definitely what you needed to move the stubborn gut, it isn’t now. The muscle to fat ratio you have now is much more manageable – we’re talking micro changes.
Why stay shredded?
There are also the metabolic wonders that come along with better body composition.
Simply put, the more muscle on your frame the faster your metabolism. This is kind of a sweeping statement but see it like this; muscle takes a lot more energy to maintain than fat, so you’ll increase your BMR just by having it.
So, theoretically, staying shredded is easier than getting shredded. At this stage in the game you’re protecting your hard work with a few simple concepts.
Keep reading to find out our top five tips for staying photoshoot shredded.
1. Move to flexible dieting
To get to where you are now you might have dieted hard. Cutting calories is never fun and when done for extended periods it can seriously impact performance.
While calorie deficits definitely get you ripped, they can wreak havoc on your hormones . Research shows that prolonged carb-cutting and fat avoidance can tank your testosterone .
So, what do you do instead? Simple, move to flexible dieting – better known as If It Fits Your Macros. Eating this way will let your leanness become a mainstay:
- Track what you eat daily
- Subtract it from your allowance
- Eat what you want, when you want, so long as it fits
Sounds good, right? This is how to get started…
First up, find the number of calories you need to consume to maintain weight. While you can turn to apps and calculators to do this, don’t just rely on them.
Next, get a rough estimate, eat that amount, then track your weight or body fat.
- Going up? Drop the snacks slightly.
- Going down? Maybe up the peanut butter on your morning bagel.
- Staying the same… Well, that’s the magic number right there!
Adjust your daily macros to fit this scale and enjoy what you eat. Just remember to keep track of what you tuck into and tick it off your daily allowance.
Keep measuring your body composition to stay on top of your fat levels.
Welcome to the tasty world of flexible dieting. A place where any guy can be lean all year without starving.
[Related Article: Best Bodybuilding Meal Recipes]
2. Keep training
As crazy as it sounds to say this, just keep training. There’s no need to can your diet or exercise program because you’ve hit your target. Again, it’s all about maintaining now and exploring other areas.
Why you should keep training:
- Maintain and build muscle mass
- Burn fat
- Better body composition
- Lead a healthy lifestyle
One reason to work out regularly is to maintain your muscle mass. Continuing to lift weights will make sure your physique stays protected. It’ll remain as hard and chiseled as before, giving you freedom to fine-tune the areas you like.
But the big difference comes in at intensity. If you trained super hard for six weeks to cut down to shreds, it’s time to scale back. Maybe replace a high-intensity interval training circuit with a steady state session. What about a more strength driven workout instead of a purely fat-loss focused day?
Doing this will allow you to train and stay lean all year around. Play the long game and train for longevity not short-term intensity. Who doesn’t want to look great all the time? We do for sure and that’s why we’ll monitor RPE and volume to stay fresh in the game.
Simply put, adjust your workouts to stop burnout. Light up your muscle with resistance exercises to burn through calories while still getting bigger, better, and stronger. But once you start to notice a dip in recovery a light round of three tens can keep the blood flowing.
[Related Article: Overtraining and Workout Fatigue Symptoms]
3. Consider a clean bulk to get bigger
Gone are the caveman days of dirty bulking and cutting. Why would you want an in- or out-season physique? Isn’t it better to look your best twelve months of the year?
So, if you’re in the mood to add mass consider a clean bulk. This is an intelligent way to add size without sticking on extra adipose tissue.
The concept is pretty simple; rather than have a free-for-all on your calories, enter a slight surplus. Anything over 20% in additional calories will probably become unwanted body fat. Sticking to around 10-20% of a surplus is a smart call.
Now, as you’re bulking, you’re gonna want to keep protein intake high. Aim for around 2-2.2 g per kg of body weight for fast muscle growth. That means that if you’re a 90 kg guy you should aim to take on around 180 g of protein per day .
Bulking in a clean way will help you stay shredded while growing. You’ll still get big, and you won’t have to do a cutting phase, which we can all agree suck.
In fact, experts are now suggesting that cutting after a dirty bulk makes you lose muscle mass anyway… The cheeseburgers for breakfast just aren’t worth it, brother.
[Related Article: Lean Bulking: How to Build Mass Without Getting Fat]
4. Crush your compound exercises
Anybody who’s visited us before knows we’re a fan of compound movements. These are essentially exercises that use more than one muscle group in the body.
Benefits of hitting compound movements for staying shredded include:
- More weight lifted
- Higher calorie burn
Why you can lift more weight
Think of a deadlift or a squat. Now imagine all the muscles working synergistically to make that move happen. Different areas pull together making it possible for you to handle more weight.
As a result, you can work more muscle groups in a single session with a greater load. This in turn puts a big demand on your body to force adaptations, which come in the form of muscular hypertrophy (size) and barbell tearing strength.
How compounds burn more calories
According to studies, multi-joint exercises such as the squat, bench press, and reverse lunges also need more calories to perform than single-joint moves . This is because there is an increased demand from the greater amount of recruited muscles.
It’s much like an army of men needing a lot more ammunition to take out Godzilla, than a smaller squadron trying to fight a daintier beast. The sum of energy necessary to shift a big-ass 300 lb trap-bar is usually going to exceed a 50 lb dumbbell.
In short, more things need to fire into action. So, by hitting compounds, you can crush more calories in a session. Hopefully this will help keep your fat stores in check.
Not only will you be growing bigger and getting stronger, you’ll be staying lean too. And as we already said; better body composition can be rewarded by a red-hot metabolism.
[Related Article: Compound Exercises: The Ultimate (Bro) Guide to Compound Exercises]
5. Tuck into your thermogenic foods
Speaking of having a furnace for a metabolism it’s time to acknowledge thermogenic compounds. These are things that can naturally raise your resting metabolism once eaten.
Common thermogenic foods and ingredients include:
- Chili seeds
- Red peppers
- Cayenne pepper
- Green tea
- Caffeine anhydrous
- Coconut oil
The term thermogenesis literally means heat production. Dietary thermogenesis is a state where the foods you eat make your body temperature rise.
The best part about it all is that this heat obviously needs energy. Hence the term, burning calories.
By tucking into your thermogenic foods you can make a small difference in your daily calorie burn. While it might not be an absolute game changer it should help your efforts to stay lean. After all, how could a faster metabolism not?
What if I don’t like hot food or caffeine drinks?
If you don’t like hot-chili peppers or coffee, you could try a thermogenic supplement. Similarly, there are fat burners on the market containing thermogenic ingredients.
Studies suggest these can help people burn fat by boosting their metabolism . There’s no research into long term supplementation, but, there’s evidence that short-term use should be safe .
Many supplements actually go un-regulated in the fitness world. New pills and powers pop up on the market faster than gym sign-ups in January, which makes monitoring everything impossible.
If you do decide to try a fat burner to support your mission to stay shredded, we recommend doing some research. Check out online reviews and testimonials from other people first.
[Related Article: The Best Fat Burner Supplements for Men 2019]
Final rep on how to stay shredded – even when bulking
There you have it, five quick and easy fixes to staying shredded. Nothing here is too hard to follow or reserved for full-time athletes. It’s mainly about living the lean lifestyle and making some smart changes to your routines.
First and foremost, you have to think about diet. But as some who has hit a homerun with their physique and got shredded you know that. Stick to a maintenance mindset so the monotony of dieting doesn’t become a bore.
Enjoy yourself, bro
Enjoy that cheat meal on the weekend because you’ve earned it! You’re keeping count of your calories for the rest of the week so why not? It’ll keep morale high without messing up your well-deserved clean bulk.
Then, train in a way that’s manageable. Long term consistency always crushes short term intensity. Do what’s fun and what keeps you in the gym.
We all know those fellas who go hard or go home… until they actually have to go home via the emergency room. Either that or get relegated to the couch from gym-induced burn out.
You’re already shredded so keep that well stoked engine ticking over. 30-minutes every day is better than three hours once a week.
Think about the foods you eat
Finally, don’t forget about the foods you eat. Seek out some new favorite fat fighting ingredients and add them to your meal prep. Thermogenics are easy to come by when you know what to look for.
A personal favorite of ours is a combination of cayenne, red peppers, and coconut oil to cook our burrito beef. Alternatively, pick up a high-quality fat burner to save your tongue from feeling the heat.
If you’re no fan of fiery food this can be a better option. Swallowing a supplement should have zero taste effect.
Oh, and before you go, don’t be afraid to get stuck into that protein. Shoot for the upper end of the macro scale to feed your muscle mass. Stack your plate and eat for a hard, chiseled physique.
Good luck staying shredded, bro. Stay lean 365 and live the lifestyle all year around.
More muscle focused tips you might like:
- Bodybuilding Diet on a Budget: Getting Big Without Breaking the Bank
- 5 of Bodybuilding’s Biggest Myths Debunked
- 7 Steps to Getting a Perfect Shredded Body
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- Dorgan J, Judd J, Longcope C et al. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996;64(6):850-855. doi:10.1093/ajcn/64.6.850
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- Paoli A, Gentil P, Moro T, Marcolin G, Bianco A. Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength. Front Physiol. 2017;8:1105. Published 2017 Dec 22. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.01105
- Campbell BI, Zito G, Colquhoun R, et al. The effects of a single-dose thermogenic supplement on resting metabolic rate and hemodynamic variables in healthy females–a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13:13. Published 2016 Mar 31. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0123-1
- Vogel RM, Joy JM, Falcone PH, Mosman MM, Kim MP, Moon JR. Consuming a multi-ingredient thermogenic supplement for 28 days is apparently safe in healthy adults. Food Nutr Res. 2015;59:27999. Published 2015 Jul 22. doi:10.3402/fnr.v59.27999
[Editors note: All of the above statements are for informational and educational purposes only. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to making any drastic changes to a diet and exercise program.]