Most people want to look good and feel more confident in themselves, so getting ripped is a common goal. But what does getting ripped actually mean, and how do you achieve that goal?
Getting ripped generally means being lean enough to have visible muscle definition. To get ripped, you have to lift weights, eat enough calories to build muscle, and prioritize protein. If you’re starting at a high body weight, you may have to eat in a calorie deficit to shed some body fat and achieve a shredded look.
As well, you have to have patience if your goal is to get ripped. It’s not something that will happen overnight or in a couple of weeks. It can take several months or even years to get ripped based on your starting point and how consistent you are with your diet and workouts.
In this article, I’ll go into more detail about what getting ripped means and the factors that effect how long it takes to get ripped. I’ll also provide tips that can help you reach your goals faster.
Getting Ripped: Finding a Common Definition
In a broad sense, getting ripped means getting more muscular. But to be more specific, getting ripped refers to adding muscle mass while still being lean enough that your muscles are visible and clearly defined.
For example, a male who has six-pack abs, shapely deltoids (shoulders) and pec muscles, and striations in his quad muscles (which is also called quad separation) could be described as ripped.
To go into this in a bit more detail, getting ripped can also be defined by a person’s body fat percentage. In general, men need to be between 6-13% body fat and females need to be around 14-20% body fat to have visible muscles (and visible abs in particular).
It’s possible for some people to have body fat percentages higher than these ranges and still have a six-pack, or to fall somewhere within these ranges and not have a visible six-pack but have visible muscle definition everywhere else. But these are good general guidelines to follow.
Related Article: How To Get Lean Muscle: 19 Tips That Actually Work
Factors That Go Into How Long It Takes To Get Ripped
Your gender, current weight and body fat percentage, experience level, whether or not you have underlying health issues (such as an undiagnosed thyroid issue or PCOS), and how compliant you are with your diet can all dictate how long it takes you to get ripped.
If you’re perhaps just a bit skinny fat but already at a healthy weight and have no other health concerns, you may be able to get ripped within six months. The same is true if you’re slightly overweight but still have a decent amount of muscle mass.
But if you’re severely overweight, it may take longer to get ripped because you have a lot more fat to lose overall. You may progress at a faster rate than someone who’s starting at a lower body fat percentage, but it can still take a long time to get to a point where you’re lean enough to have visible muscle definition.
Your experience level also determines how long it will take to get ripped. If you’ve already been working out for a few years, your body will have adapted to training, so you’ll have a harder time making progress, especially when it comes to building more muscle.
But when you’re new to training, you’re able to take advantage of “newbie gains” and can build muscle more rapidly. This is because your body is reacting to a stimulus that’s still new, and it responds with fast gains in muscle.
How much you eat can also influence the time it takes to get ripped. Most people will need to be in at least a small calorie deficit (meaning eating fewer calories than you burn each day) to lose enough fat to make their muscles more visible. A good starting point is to eat about 250 calories less than maintenance calories, which you can find using an online calculator.
On the other hand, you have to eat in a calorie surplus (meaning eating more calories than it takes to maintain your weight) in order to build muscle mass. The challenge lies in finding a balance between eating enough to build muscle without gaining an excessive amount of fat. For most people, this means eating about 200 calories more than their maintenance calories.
Consistently matters as well. If you know you need to eat 2,000 calories to be in a deficit and you only stay within that target four days a week while eating 3,000 calories the other three days of the week, it will take you much longer to get ripped. The same is true if you’re trying to bulk but only eat in a calorie surplus a few days a week.
Related Article: Should I Lose Weight Before Building Muscle?
Does It Take Longer To Get Specific Parts of The Body More Ripped?
It can take longer to get specific parts of the body more ripped, but which parts those are depends largely on your genetics.
Everyone has areas on their bodies that are quicker than others to lose fat and/or gain muscle. For example, excess fat on your legs may come off quickly while the fat in your midsection or upper arms is the last go.
While it’s frustrating, there’s not much you can do to change your genetics. Spot reduction (trying to lose fat from just one area of your body) isn’t possible.
You may need to decrease your calories slightly and/or increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT, or all of the activities that help you burn calories outside of exercise) to help speed up the process of losing fat. But it still won’t change the areas of your body that will get leaner sooner.
Likewise, drastically slashing your calories or pushing yourself to do hours of cardio each week won’t help if you want to lose fat from one area of your body. You’ll just end up losing a higher amount of muscle mass from all over, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to get ripped.
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Results That You Can Expect: Getting Ripped Timeline
The table below provides a brief overview of the results you can expect within various time frames when you’re trying to get ripped.
|One Day||You will not see a significant amount of progress after just one day. You may lose or gain a couple of pounds overnight, but this is due to water weight from either eating fewer calories/carbs or more calories/carbs the day before.|
|One Week||One week is also not enough time to see any major body composition changes. However, you may be able to lose 1-2lbs of fat or gain 0.25-0.5lbs of muscle in that time.|
|One Month||You may notice that your clothes are starting to fit differently and you’re losing or gaining inches depending on how you’re eating. You may have lost 4-8 pounds, but depending on where you started from, you may still have a long way to go to get ripped.|
|Two Months||If you were already fairly lean, you may be able to see more muscle definition after two months, assuming your training and nutrition have been on point. This is generally when you and your family/friends start noticing changes in your physique.|
|Three Months||Three months is enough for some people to get ripped — at least to a certain extent. You can lose up to 24lbs of fat in that time if you’re starting from a higher weight or build up to 6 pounds of muscle.|
|Six Months||Six months is enough time to start seeing some results, especially if you spent 12-16 weeks in a deficit and you’ve been successfully maintaining your weight since then. Likewise, if you’ve been eating in a surplus, you could put on 6-12 pounds of muscle in that time.|
|One Year||One year is enough time to see significant body composition changes if you were compliant during your bulking and cutting phases throughout the year and stayed consistent with your training routine. You can put on 15-18lbs of muscle in one year if you’re new to lifting weights or 4-6lbs of muscle if you’re more experienced.|
|Two Years||After two years, you’ve likely been able to achieve the physique you want as long as you haven’t had any extended periods where you’ve neglected your workouts or healthy eating habits. You’ll likely find it harder to continue putting on muscle mass at this point, but you can still build about 7-8lbs of muscle in a year.|
How Ripped Can You Get In 3 Months?
Contrary to what you might see on social media or hear from your buddy at the gym, most people won’t be able to get significantly ripped in three months. You can lose a few pounds of fat and/or gain a few pounds of muscle in that time, but three months is too short of a time frame to see drastic results.
Let’s take a professional male bodybuilder competing at the Olympia, the most prestigious bodybuilding competition, for example.
Getting there takes years of consistency in working out and eating properly (and, truth be told, steroid usage). He almost certainly did not go from having an average physique to being ready for the Olympia within just 3 months. It probably also took him a lot longer than three months to get stage ready for his first ever bodybuilding show when he was just starting out.
Of course, that’s an extreme example, and only a tiny percentage of the population will ever make it to the Olympia. But the point I’m trying to make is that you can’t expect to get super ripped in just 3 months, though you certainly can lose several pounds of fat or build a couple pounds of muscle in that time.
It’s also important to keep in mind that getting ripped requires two things: losing body fat and building muscle. But these are two conflicting goals, and unless you’re brand new to training, it’s difficult to do both at the same time. This is a process called recomping.
Recomping requires you to eat at maintenance or slightly above so you can build muscle while maintaining your current body weight. It is possible, but it could take up to a year or more to see significant changes in your body from a recomp.
Getting ripped will likely take multiple cutting and bulking phases, and three months isn’t enough time to do both. Ideally, you’d dedicate at least three months to each goal while incorporating some maintenance phases in between.
But since getting ripped requires a combination of losing fat and building muscle, here are general guidelines you can expect for each within three months:
Average Rates of Fat Loss
Rates of fat loss are different for men than women since men tend to have more muscle mass to begin with and are less likely to deal with hormonal fluctuations that women experience.
Additionally, aside from gender, all of the factors I discussed above (training experience, starting weight, starting body fat percentage, consistency) will determine how quickly you can lose fat and get leaner.
With that said, men can expect to lose 12-24lbs of fat in three months (1-2lbs per week) and women can expect to lose 9-12lbs of fat in three months (0.75-1lb per week). Individuals who have more fat to lose will see more drastic results than those who are already fairly lean.
Average Rates of Muscle Gain
As I mentioned earlier, building muscle gets more difficult the more experienced you get. As such, I listed below some realistic guidelines for how much muscle males and females can build within three months based on experience level.
- Beginners (less than 2 years of experience): 4.5-6lbs for men and 1.5-3lbs for women
- Intermediate (2-5 years of experience): 2.25-3.75lbs for men and 1-1.5lbs for women
- Advanced (more than 5 years of experience): 1-1.75lbs for men and 0.3-0.75lbs for women
Related Article: What To Do If You’re Gaining Muscle and Not Losing Fat
How To Get Shredded: 9 Quick Tips
1. Lift Weights
In order to build lean muscle, you have to lift weights. Cardio exercises are great for improving heart health and burning calories, but running on a treadmill or riding a bike won’t help you build a lot of muscle.
It should also be noted that it’s not enough to just simply lift weights. You also have to lift weights that are challenging and progressively overload your movements.
Progressive overload means aiming to consistently increase the number of sets, the number of reps, or the amount of weight lifted. You won’t be able to grow a lot of muscle if you’re using the same 35lb dumbbells for dumbbell incline bench presses and doing the same 3×10 rep scheme for months on end.
And you don’t have to worry if you don’t have access to a gym or don’t have heavy weights at home. You can build muscle with bodyweight exercises as well.
You can get ripped with bodyweight exercises by doing a lot of reps, utilizing short rest periods, slowing down your movements to increase time under tension, and performing different variations of exercises like push-ups and squats. This could include diamond push-ups and unweighted Bulgarian split squats, for example.
2. Focus on Isolation Exercises
While you can build muscle with compound movements (which work multiple muscle groups at the same time), isolation exercises (which work one muscle group at a time) will enable you to directly train a muscle group instead of working in combination with other muscles.
For example, squats work the quads, but the quads aren’t getting all of the attention because squats also work the glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, calves, upper back, and core. But an exercise like leg extensions only works the quads without any assistance from other muscle groups.
Adding isolation exercises into your routine is especially beneficial for increasing volume to train certain muscle groups without over-fatiguing other muscles, which enables you to safely push your muscles to failure.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep (or getting poor-quality sleep) can hinder your progress towards getting shredded. Sleep is necessary for your body to recover from intense weight lifting sessions when you’re trying to build muscle.
Not only that, but less sleep can make you more tired so you’re less likely to make it through a workout. When you’re tired, you may also be more tempted to skip a workout entirely. As well, a poor night’s sleep can lead to increased hunger because your body is looking for fuel to energize you. This can cause you to overeat.
Everyone is bound to have a bad night of sleep every once in a while, but if it’s happening frequently, you may have trouble reaching your goals.
4. Manage Stress Properly
This goes hand-in-hand with getting enough sleep, but keeping stress at bay is another key element of getting ripped.
Like a lack of sleep, stress can cause you to overeat if you’re the type of person who uses food as a coping mechanism. You may also be tempted to skip workouts when you’re stressed, either because you’re too busy trying to get through whatever’s causing the stress (such as preparing for a big work meeting) or your mind just can’t seem to handle a workout.
If you get stressed easily, try to find ways to help you deal with it, whether it’s by meditating, going for walks, journaling, or taking a long bath. This will help you keep your mind off everything else so you can focus on your workouts and avoid stress eating.
5. Increase Calories But Be Mindful of How Much You’re Eating
To get ripped, you need to build muscle. And to build muscle, you need to eat more. But increasing your calories too much too quickly can be detrimental and cause you to gain an excess amount of fat.
To build muscle within a reasonable time frame and avoid gaining too much fat, I recommend starting with a daily caloric increase of about 200 over your maintenance calories. This will put you in enough of a surplus to boost the muscle-building process while still keeping your overall calories at a level where you won’t gain too much fat.
If you don’t know your maintenance calories, you can estimate them using an online calculator.
6. Don’t Neglect Cardio
I mentioned earlier that cardio won’t help you build muscle. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid it completely.
Doing cardio a few times a week can help you stay lean by burning more calories. When combined with a proper diet, it can prevent you from gaining too much fat while you’re trying to increase muscle mass. It can also boost fat loss if you’re trying to get leaner.
I recommend doing no more than 30 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity cardio 3-4 days per week. You’ll still get the benefits of cardio exercise, but it won’t be at the expense of losing muscle mass.
Related Article: How Long Does It Take To Lose Muscle? (+ Tips For Avoiding)
7. Increase Protein Intake
Eating enough protein every day will help you build and maintain muscle mass. It can also aid in recovery and help keep you feel, especially if you’re in a calorie deficit.
For most individuals, I recommend eating 0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight per day. So if you weigh 175lbs, this would be 140-175g of protein per day.
If you’re starting with a high body weight or you’re in a bulking phase, I suggest staying at the lower end of that range or perhaps even decreasing to 0.5-0.7g of protein per pound of body weight. Otherwise, you may find yourself overly full and unable to hit your fat and carb targets.
Related Article: What Should Your Calories & Macros Be When Bulking?
8. Monitor Your Carb Intake (But Don’t Cut Carbs Completely)
Low-carb diets have been popular for a while, but carbs are necessary for active individuals. They are your body’s preferred source of fuel, and you’ll need that energy to get through your workouts and keep making progress each week.
With that said, when you’re trying to get ripped, you’ll still want to be mindful of your carb intake and keep your daily carbs to about 40% of your daily calories. Carbs have 4 calories per gram, so if you wanted to eat 2,000 calories a day, 800 of your total calories would come from carbs. This equals 200g of carbs because 800 / 4 = 200.
One strategy you could implement when it comes to consuming carbs if you’re trying to get ripped is carb cycling. This means adjusting your carb intake based on when you’re most active. You can eat more carbs on the days you workout and fewer carbs on your rest days.
Alternatively, you could plan your meals so you eat the majority of your carbs before and after your workouts.
Carb cycling can help ensure that your body is using its preferred source of energy when it needs that energy the most. If you do decide to try carb cycling, I also recommend decreasing your fats on your training days and increasing them on your rest day to make sure you’re still eating enough calories.
Related Article: The COMPLETE Greek God Physique Workout + Diet
9. Eat Plenty of Healthy Fats
It’s a common myth that dietary fat will make you fat. This is only the case if you eat too many calories overall — and while you do need to increase your caloric intake when you’re trying to pack on muscle, you can still avoid gaining too much excess fat by being mindful of how much dietary fat you’re eating.
Even if you’re trying to lose fat so you can get shredded, eating enough dietary fat is essential. It helps regulate your hormones, aids in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, and protects your organs.
As well, fat is satiating, so eating enough of it throughout the day will keep hunger at bay and can help prevent you from overeating, which would hinder your goals to get ripped.
A good rule of thumb is to keep fats to around 30% of your daily calorie intake. If you were following a 2,000-calorie diet, this would mean that 600 of your calories should come from fat. Because fat has 9 calories per gram, this equals roughly 66g of fat per day.
As I mentioned above, if you’re carb cycling, you may also wish to eat a lower amount of fat on training days and more fat on rest days. This will help ensure that you’re eating enough total calories each day without going to far over your daily calorie targets.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need To Work Out Every Day to Get Ripped?
You do not need to work out every day to get ripped. In fact, you shouldn’t. Your body builds muscle while you’re resting, not while you’re workout out. I recommend taking at least one full rest day per week (if not two).
Is It Possible To Get Ripped With Calisthenics Training?
It is possible to get ripped with calisthenics training. But since you can’t progressively overload weight, you’ll need to manipulate other factors such as reps, sets, rest times, and time under tension. You’ll also need to manage your caloric intake and eat enough protein to help support the muscle-building process.
In general, getting ripped means getting lean enough to have visible muscle definition. You can accomplish this by lifting weights, getting enough sleep, and learning how to manage your stress.
To get ripped, it’s also important to manipulate your calories to support your goals. Eating enough protein is key. However, you also need to keep overall calories in check while eating enough carbs to support your training and eating enough fat for satiety and hormone health.
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.