How to Get Shredded the Right Way

It’s suddenly the time of year when it sure would be nice to look like a shirtless Glen Powell. The thing is, getting abs like that can be almost impossible. By that, we mean even getting the outline of abs is difficult, let alone those Powell-esque lats, deep-V and that eight-pack washboard.

You’ll need to get down to at least 12% body fat for abs to start showing. And ideally, you’ll want to maintain muscle mass as you go. “Getting shredded is an approach to losing fat that preserves muscle and enhances definition,” explains Adam Enaz, PT and registered dietician. Diet, strength workouts, cardio and recovery all play a role. As does one crucial factor: time. “Consistency and patience are vital for achieving lasting results,” Enaz warns.

What exactly do we mean by ‘shredding’?

Shredding means drastically reducing your body fat to show off all your glorious muscles. Doing it safely requires a rounded approach without resorting to extreme methods, such as weight loss medications, starvation diets, or excessive sauna use.

“Optimizing your calorie deficit whilst being on a weight training program that focuses on progressive overload is key,” says Enaz.

One thing shredding isn’t is starving yourself. Garthe et al. compared two groups, one on a 19% (~500 calorie) deficit and another on a 30% (~750 calorie) deficit. The 19% group shed more body fat and gained muscle mass, suggesting that a moderate deficit is better.

How can we do it safely?

A decent shred takes a lot of planning. Scott Harrison, celebrity PT and author of Eat Your Way to a Six Pack literally wrote the book on it. His top advice is to:

  1. Incorporate both strength training and cardiovascular exercise.
  2. Drink plenty of water—four liters a day, for men—to support metabolism and overall health.
  3. Try to get eight hours of sleep each night to promote recovery.
  4. Steer clear of crash diets.
  5. Consume a balanced diet with only a slight calorie deficit, eating regularly throughout the day.

Dietitian Fareeha Jay warns that nutritional deficiencies during weight loss can lead to a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections, which means professional guidance is essential.

How long does it take to see results?

Again, we’re all different, with factors like starting body composition, diet, exercise routine, and genetics all coming into play. Harrison says “noticeable changes” can appear after four to six weeks, while a “significant transformation” may take up to 75 days.

Jay agrees that four to nine weeks should do it, while pointing out that elite-level bodybuilders typically lose around 12 per cent of their body weight three to ten weeks before a competition, while martial artists or boxers might pursue drastic weight loss inside seven days.

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