Get Ripped

How to Get Ripped. Forever.

Our ideal body isn’t found in the bodybuilding magazines, or at the Mr. Olympia event. If you think about it, it’s found much more often on the football field every sunday, or the boxing ring, the octagon, or on the track. We see it in men’s fitness magazines, not bodybuilding magazines. We don’t want to bulk up way beyond our current weight, then have to cut down when ‘the season’ comes. We’d rather be in great shape year-round.

The problem we face is that the bodybuilding method of bulking and cutting dominates the internet, the magazines, and any other form of literature we can find on the subject. They teach us how to build muscle and lose fat for part of the year, but not how to stay in great shape year-round.

Get Ripped

Dr. Steelhammer, Wladimir Klitschko, chopping wood for his pre-fight training.

So how do the athletes I just mentioned stay in such great shape 365 days a year? Is there some method or theory that we can learn from them to achieve the same thing?

Yes, actually there is. I’ve stayed at the same weight, kept a 6-pack, and improved in conditioning over the past couple of years, and I’m going to help you do the same thing with this series of articles. You see, athletes don’t train like bodybuilders. Their goals aren’t to bulk, then cut. Their goals are purely focused on performance – which, as you’ll soon read, is the reason for their impressive results.

I’m going to give you unique training tips, nutrition tips, and goal-setting and motivation techniques that have helped me, and will help you build a ripped physique and keep it year-round.  I’ll also give you some great resources from people other than myself that will help you on your path to building your ideal body.

Today we’re going to talk about the basics: how we should attack this goal from a mental standpoint and we’re also going to get into some nutritional strategies as well. Then we’ll get into unique training strategies that you can add to any program or meal plan to expedite the process in a few days. So, without further adieu, let’s get started.

Boxing Workout

First, setting the right goals

We aren’t after any quick fixes. All of our goals need to be sustainable. To get ripped, and stay ripped year-round, a lifestyle change has to occur. If you’re not shredded right now, you’re not doing the right things every day. Don’t worry, the right things aren’t always massive alterations. This is a process that can take only a few small changes over time to your routine in order to start seeing results that won’t go away.

Build a strong foundation

Don’t aim for a 180 degree change in your life right away. Set small, achievable goals, then build upon them (I’ll be giving you the changes you can make in the next couple of articles).

Set a short goal, then reward yourself. When you first start out and you’ve found the right program to use (we’ll talk about this in the training article), set a 2-3 week goal of following that program to a tee for those first 3 weeks, then reward yourself. The reward is necessary. Take a week off, go to a movie, have a massive cheat day. As you progress, keep setting longer, more difficult goals that will help you turn this into a lifestyle, not just a fad.

Forget about the inches and focus on the reps

Our goals should have nothing to do with the end result and everything to do with the process.

So many athletes have our ideal physique because they aren’t as concerned with building an ideal physique. Instead they’re much more concerned with what brings home the bacon: their improved performance. Athletes see better results in fat loss and lean muscle gains because of a relentless intensity in their training, but also because they’re so focused on lifting heavier weights for more reps while taking shorter rest periods.

The result of this ‘performance-focused’ training mentality is a greater spike in heart rate (more fat loss), greater muscle damage (more muscle gains), and improved cardiovascular capacity (a greater ability to train at a high level for longer periods of time).

Try and improve each and every time you’re in the gym. Set monthly and weekly goals that are focused on this improved performance, and the aesthetics will soon follow.

Nutrition Part I: Dieting is the enemy

Dieting will keep your body fat percentage fluctuating, it won’t keep it consistently low.

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  • Daniel Wallen

    Good read as always.

    Unfortunately I didn't understand the "carbs before/after training" concept for a year. I wondered why my waist wasn't shrinking, nor my muscle growing; no wonder since I crammed my body full of fat right after a workout. Retrospect sucks sometimes. My muscle and strength gains have increased at a much higher rate now that I get nutrient timing.

    Have you used Glycomaize, Chad? It's hard for me to get in enough carbs at that time since I'm a pretty large guy, so I have been using that in my workout shakes lately.

    • Chad Howse

      Hey Daniel – I don't take Glycomaize, but I take something very similar. Having carbs after a workout is hugely important to maintaining low cortisol levels and repairing muscle tissue while burning fat.

      • Daniel Wallen

        Yeah, I was brain-washed into thinking all carbs made me fat at that time.

        I didn't answer your questions, so let's do that:
        1) I'm focusing on muscle right now, so I keep the cardio to walking and kettlebell swings once a week. I did, however, go to a "Burpee-thon" at my buddy's gym for a charity event, and did 600. I'm still throbbing after that.

        2) I believe I am on track now, but nutrient timing was the problem. I think you're correct that "bulking and cutting" is not the way to go–however, diet is holding back most people I encounter. It really isn't rocket science once you understand some basic principles, but everyone thinks going to the gym is enough. My belief is that it is *not*

        3) Ditto. Bulking and cutting. Yo-yo dieting. We follow a "diet" or "workout plan" for a little while, gain weight back, diet again, etc. It is a vicious cycle.

      • Chad Howse

        Agreed! Try throwing some sprints in there too. They'll boost HGH levels and help you maintain muscle while burning fat.

  • Rajat

    Got it Chad…great article. i wanted to know one thing, do you use BCAA, do you recommend it? Have you found appreciable benefits upon using it? Thanks…:)

    • Chad Howse

      BCAAs are great for maintaining muscle mass when you're trying to cut fat, and yes I take them. I'd recommend them to anyone (they're going to be in the article on supplementation).

      Here's what I use (best I've found so far):

  • Paul

    Thanks for the article, chad.
    No carbs in the morning or for lunch? I am scared to think about what I will feel like and if I will then have energy to get through the day. I will try though, trusting you.
    I would like to ask though, what is a carb to you? You mentioned that yams and steak make a good high fat, high protein meal. But aren't yams carbs? And, is it Ok then to eat vegetables throughout the day? Are fruits carbs and should they be restricted to pre/post workouts? What would a typical meal plan look like to you then, according to this article? Sorry for all the questions, but it seems that eating is so complicated. 😉

    • Chad Howse

      Hey Paul, have a cup of coffee or two, will help you with the energy levels. But I'm the same, that's where I was really weary. Also make sure you're having carbs around your workouts.

      Your questions:

      – veggies are always great, so have them with every meal.
      – yams are a carb, yes, but they're full of nutrients and extremely low on the glycemic index (won't have a big effect on insulin levels).
      – Yes, restrict fruits to pre and post workout. They have a big impact on insulin levels and our fat cells.

      Check out this free ebook for an example of my meal plan:

      Hope this helped!

  • @thomasbkin

    Another beauty article Chad !
    Just wondering what you (or other athletes) are using from supplements, I notice you use fish oil as I pressume most athletes do (as they should) but do you/ they use other things like protein powders, creatine, glutamine or ZMA..

    Thanks !

    • Chad Howse

      Hey Thomas, I'm just writing the supplement guide to this series right now, should be up later this week.

      It'll have the answers to all of your questions.

      • @thomasbkin

        Excellent ! Looking forward to it !

  • Matt Castle

    GREAT article, Chad. You mentioned sprints in one of your earlier comments. Sprints have transformed my physique. I'm now off that bulking/cutting roller coaster. I lift heavy (usually variations of super and giant sets) and follow my weights with 10-15 minute sprint intervals maybe 3-4 times a week. I've maintained my muscle and my metabolism stays cranked so I have no need to cut calories to keep fat off. Learning the benefits of sprint intervals following my weights has been the key to maintaining balance for me personally.

    • Chad Howse

      Sprints are great Matt. Glad to hear you've been implementing them into your training. They're by far the best thing to add to a routine to maintain muscle while losing fat.

  • John

    Great article Chad. What would be your ideal carb source in the post workout shake?

    • Chad Howse

      Hey John, I use Waxy Maize.

  • Andrew Davies

    Hi Chad, great article as usual. I have a question about the carbs before and after training. What time frames do you call before and after training. I train around 4pm in the afternoon, so when should I be looking at having my carbs before my workout? 1 to 2 hours before or 3 to 4 hours before? At present I normally have a steak and vegies or chicken and vegies for lunch then some fruits in the hour before my workout.

    • Chad Howse

      Hey Andrew,

      1-2 hours is best because it gives our bodies time to process the foods we've eating. After, same thing. But have a shake within 15 minutes of finishing your workout that's high in protein and carbs (as I just mentioned I use Waxy Maize as my carbohydrate source). I'm doing a full supplements article next that'll have more information on everything.

  • Andrew Davies

    In response to your questions:

    1. Yes I do cardio. Burpees, two foot skipping, mountain climbers etc. Going to also start doing some sprints as well.
    2. I wish I knew. I am starting to think it is my eating. I have always pretty much not worried about the eating side of things too much as I have always eaten pretty well. However I am finding no matter how hard I work out I cannot get rid of the little bit of excess fat I have around the bottom of my belly. After reading this article I am going to start eating the right things at the right times and see if that can help me get rid of it.
    3. Once I get fully ripped i will let you know!

    Also I would just like to say that you have really cranked it up a level over the last couple of months. You are pumping out interesting, really informative stuff on a super regular basis. Keep up the excellent work.

    • Chad Howse

      Thanks Andrew I appreciate it, glad you're liking the site.

      To be honest I'm probably listening to you guys more which helps a lot with creating content. Questions are always welcomed and encouraged!

  • eidolon138

    From an X-SEAL who's fitness progress was never very good until forced to not give a crap about aesthetics and only focus on performance. i completely agree with your philosophy. _However, I do wonder how you would suggest the individual who is ripped/conditioned but needs mass/strength go about implementing your training and nutrition advise. I am 140lbs 6'2" and 2-3%bf.__1. Yes I do cardio- I commute by bike anywhere from 20min-1.5 hours a day, but i don't really count that. Then lots of burpies (up to 300 in a day) usually 150 6days a week/bodyweight circuits, heavy bag Mua Tai, rope skipping, pylo circuits, and 1

    • Chad Howse

      That's a great question. Well, you're doing a lot. And 'a lot' often effects us on a hormonal level if we're not careful.

      Cortisol and Testosterone oppose each other. We need to have high levels of testosterone but low levels of cortisol to build muscle. When you're doing a lot of training, make sure you're giving your body a fuel source (carbs + protein). If you don't, your body will look for it's own by releasing cortisol (bad hormone) which will burn muscle and proteins as fuel. Thus, you're not going to gain any weight if you're not providing your body with the correct fuel at the proper times.

      Make sense?

      I still have to go over more diet in the next article, as well as supplementation, and then on to training. So there's a lot more info to come which should help you out.

      Thanks for the question.

  • eidolon138

    Thanks for the reply._Also I often find the hardest part is having an exact plan covering the different cocepts of fitness._Not knowing what is enough,to little, or to much is always bothering me. So when i train, I start then cannot stop and end up throwing in a everthing under the tree philosophy at it. So trying to do it all and at an all out intensity._Like you said before "don't write your own program" but unlike most who fear the what they don't like ideas i just do the hardest and too much._Also how often should one training like me take time OFF? _

    • Chad Howse

      Hey bro, I don't allow url's in the comments section. It can get a bit out of hand if you know what I mean. (Just a head's up if you see yours deleted, nothing personal at all).

      If you're trying to build mass, recovery is just as important as training. 4 days is the most you should be in the gym. The rest are active recovery days or complete recovery days.

  • eidolon138

    Thanks for the reply. Apologize about the URL (i e-mailed it but forgot to delete it in my spell check program)
    You hit recovery on the head, but the implementation of different aspects of fitness is dificult when building. Like you said I don't believe in the BULK then CUT cycle of modern bodybuilding. I guess I will wait for your next session regarding training..
    Thanks for all the info and by the way the new site format looks great.

    • Chad Howse

      Sounds good man, glad you liked the article. I think the training one will help you out a lot.

      Just posted the supplements one, so be sure to check that out as well.

  • Mullins

    Chad, Great article. I'm new to the site and have enjoyed everything i've read so far. I was curious about no carbs in the morning because I workout in the morning between 6am and 7am and you said we need carbs as a source of fuel during workouts. what would you suggest I do since I workout so early?

    • Chad Howse

      Oatmeal with some blueberries is always a great source. If I'm in a pinch for time I'll have that + a can of tuna an hour before my workout.

      If you leave it really close to your workout you might have to have something that'll absorb a bit faster. Gatorade is always a good source if you're in a pinch for time. Just add some protein powder to the mix.

  • Gary

    Chad, great articles, i am enjoying this series. One question, I work out early in the morning. You mention low carbs at that time, with the assumption most workout in the afternoon. How do you handle the nutrition in the morning for someone with that schedule. Thanks for all you do.

    • Chad Howse

      Hey Gary, no problem man – sorry for the delay here. A few of these comments got lost in the mix.

      I have 4 eggs + 1 avocado for breakfast. If I'm treating myself I'll add in some grass-fed bacon in there as well.

  • Kevin

    Hello Chad, this is a great article, but I had a quick question. I have a severe allergy to eggs so I find it hard to find a substitute for breakfast that is high in protein but low in sugar and carbs. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you!

    • Chad Howse

      Very tough to find a substitute for eggs.

      But you can have an avocado which is an awesome source of good fats, bacon, and some kind of meat for breakfast. You can always have some ground beef mixed with veggies – something I do from time to time and should do more of it. Ground turkey is also another idea.

  • Joel

    Hey Kevin, you may be able to eat fertilized chicken eggs. Do you know? My wife has same problem and can eat fertilized chicken eggs or duck eggs.

  • Jonobp

    I guess the nutrition is different for everyone. I am
    A soccer player and I train Tuesday, Wednesday game on Sunday, strength training Monday and Friday, so pretty much my only day of rest is saturday. So for the ones that train a lot like me I should have a greater level of carbs= more calories. Carbs taken in the morning before. Run in the mornings, and as chad said, before and after training. After the run I normally take a protein shake with yogurt.
    What do you think chad?

    • Chad Howse

      There's no one way to eat. We definitely have to eat according to our goals, how we like to eat, and our schedules.

      What you have down looks good. I stay away from dairy lately. Just a thought. Go heavy on the carbs after your workout especially, that's when you need them most.

      Check out this article, it's a good read for training nutrition:

  • Jason


    What is your opinion about a program like the GOMAD diet for skinny guys to gain weight, as long as it is paired with lifting?

    • Chad Howse

      I'm not a huge fan of dairy. I don't even drink it unless I'm treating myself with a late. If it's organic whole milk, I think it can be a good thing.

      Here's the diet I think is best for skinny guys:

  • Al

    No carbs in the morning… what do you suggest if I usually train in the morning? Would be better for me to train in the evening, so I don’t need to eat carbs in the morning?

    • Chad Howse

      Keep training in the morning, just have carbs post workout, then leave them, and again in the evening. Have meat and nuts pre workout to slow the rise of blood sugar, and a ton of BCAAs.

  • vinnie

    can i hav cheese instead of eggs beforebed

  • John

    Would Zinc be absorbed or do you need to also add Copper as a supplement? Your thoughts on ZMA?