If given the opportunity, it’s pretty safe to assume that nine times out of ten, if we could choose between being flabby and out of shape, or lean, muscular, and ripped, we’d opt to be lean, muscular, and ripped.
The weather is once again growing warmer, which means that the summer months will soon be upon us, and if you’re panicking that you’re not going to be “beach body ready” this year, don’t worry just yet as you can still turn things around before it’s too late.
When it comes to an aesthetically pleasing physique, most people would agree that low body fat percentages, and a chiseled and defined six pack is most definitely the way forward.
If your stomach resembles a keg instead of a six pack however, you’re obviously doing something wrong, whether it be regarding your training, your diet, your lifestyle choices, or a combination of all of the above.
If you’re serious about getting in shape this summer but are just not seeing the results you were hoping to be seeing, you’re obviously doing something very wrong.
Take a look at these 7 potential reasons why you aren’t ripped and see if any of them apply to you.
You’re doing too much cardio
When we think of fat burning and muscle toning, cardiovascular exercise is one of the first things that springs to mind, and for very good reason too.
Cardio has been proven to be very effective when it comes to burning fat, providing that we use it in the correct manner. You may think that the most effective way of burning fat is to do as much cardio as you possibly can, numerous times each week with very little rest in between but in reality, studies have found that when it comes to getting ripped and shredded and burning fat, as far as cardio is concerned, less is more.
Instead of hopping on the treadmill and performing a two hour cardio workout at near maximum effort, studies have revealed that steady state cardio, performed at around 45 – 60% of max effort for between 30 and 45 minutes is ideal for burning fat over a prolonged period of time.
You aren’t doing any HIIT
HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is another form of cardio that is incredibly effective when it comes to burning fat, providing you know what you’re doing and perform it correctly.
The great thing about HIIT is that an average workout should last between 20 – 25 minutes on average, and has the potential to burn between 400 and 600 calories for most people. However, it is what happens after your HIIT workout, that really benefits you if you’re looking to shred up for the summer.
When we perform HIIT, following our workouts, our metabolisms increase greatly, which is what is known as the “afterburn effect”. This can last for as much as 24 hours following a workout, so you’re essentially turning your body into a fat-burning machine, even in a rested state. HIIT basically involves users alternating between periods of slow and steady exercise, and fast-paced, high intensity exercise for a number of different rounds. It can be performed in numerous different ways, though many people prefer to perform it on a treadmill where they can manually control the speed at which they run.
You’re starving yourself
Another common mistake that people trying to get ripped tend to make is to basically starve themselves and drastically reduce the amount of calories they consume each day, in a bid to burn body fat.
This is most certainly not the right way to go about dropping weight, especially if you’re trying to maintain lean muscle mass in the process.
People will skip meals throughout the day and for their dinner will have a much larger serving than usual, because they feel that they’ve “saved up” their calories by skipping meals. In actual fact, by starving themselves during the day, they haven’t saved calories up in the slightest, all they have done is slow down and suppress their metabolisms, leaving them feeling weak and starved of energy.
When they do this for too long, the metabolism eventually gets used to not functioning at its full capacity and so it slows down permanently. This is the exact opposite of what you’re looking to achieve as you want your metabolism running at full capacity.
The way to do this correctly is to eat every three hours or so, making sure you eat small but healthy and balanced meals. This turns the metabolism into a furnace, not only enabling you to burn more calories, but also providing more energy in the process.
If you’re guilty of skipping meals, if you want to be ripped for the summer you will need to change your eating habits sooner rather than later.
Not lifting weights
When trying to get ripped, everybody has a different idea in their heads of what “ripped” actually is.
Some people for example, will want to look like an IFBB pro bodybuilder at the Mr Olympia contest, with huge amounts of muscle mass and single digit body fat percentages.
Others however, will simply be happy with a six pack and a physique similar to a featherweight boxer.
We all have different goals and targets in mind but no matter what your ideal physique may be, you simply must ensure that you incorporate weight and resistance training into your weekly training regime, even if you’re not trying to build muscle.
By lifting weights, not only are you helping to stimulate new muscle growth, you’re also helping to burn calories and tone existing muscle mass in the process.
You don’t need to train like a bodybuilder, but it is strongly recommended that you lift weights on a regular basis if you’re serious about getting ripped for the summer.
Your diet sucks
If you’re working your butt off in the gym, are lifting weights, are working your abs, and are doing more cardio than ever before, but your body simply is not looking any better week by week, the main reason for this is probably the fact that your diet sucks.
No matter how clean and healthy you may think you’re eating, if the mirror is showing you that your body is not improving, you’re obviously doing something wrong.
Some people think they can get away with being a little slack with their diets if they put in the hours at the gym, and whilst working out is obviously an integral part of getting ripped, so too is eating healthy.
Getting ripped is not easy, in fact it’s a real chore and is very testing, both physically and mentally. If you truly want to be in the best possible shape by the summer you simply have to ensure that your diet is right on point.
That means no processed foods, no simple carbs, no junk food, no cheat days, no beer, no ice cream, no alcohol, no cakes, only wholesome, natural foods.
Stick with plenty of protein from lean sources, opt for complex carbohydrates, eat healthy fats, and make sure you include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Your meals are boring
Remember, getting ripped is a journey that takes place over a prolonged period of time.
It’s not something that happens in a few days, or a few weeks even and so as a result you need to be enjoying what you’re doing, which includes enjoying the meals that you consume.
You’re looking to lose fat and build/maintain lean muscle mass and so in order to help you do this you will need to fuel your body with the right nutrients.
People seem to think that healthy eating is all about rice cakes, steamed veggies, and baked fish or chicken breast but in reality it can be so much more than that.
As you’ll be eating healthily for such a prolonged amount of time, in order to ensure you don’t torture yourself mentally you will need to make sure your meals are enjoyable and that you actually enjoy eating them.
Get inventive in the kitchen, add some colourful veggies to bland looking dishes, search the web for healthy versions of your favourite meals, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
If the thought of sitting down and tucking into a plate of boiled chicken and soggy vegetables makes you feel physically sick, don’t cook steamed chicken and soggy vegetables, cook a healthy and balanced meal that you happen to enjoy eating instead.
You aren’t tracking calories
In order to ensure that you burn body fat and build/maintain lean muscle mass, you need to make sure you’re creating a slight calorie deficit, without going too low below maintenance, otherwise your body will eat away at muscle tissue for energy instead.
On the flip side, if you consume too many calories, not only will you not lose fat, you may even gain weight.
By tracking your calories and macros, you know exactly how many calories you need each day, and how many calories you’re consuming.
Some people may very well hit their macro targets with whole foods alone, but they may then make the mistake of ignoring calories from snacks or beverages, which could then take them over their daily targets, which will in turn hamper their progress.
A large glass of fresh orange juice for example, whilst being healthy and rich in vitamin C, still contains natural fructose sugars and as a result will be high in calories.
By tracking calories we take the guess work out of things and know exactly what we can and can’t consume for the remainder of the day.