It takes A LOT of hard work to get ripped. As a formerly fat dude who made that journey, I know just how hard it is. Was it worth it? WITHOUT A DOUBT! Being healthy and fit has totally changed my life. I wish I had done it sooner, and not waited until I was 36 years old to take my health seriously.
But I get a lot of questions asking me variations of the question, “How hard is it to maintain a ripped physique?”. We all know it’s a ton of work to get ripped, but once you are ripped, is it miserable to try and maintain it? And if it is, why bother going for it in the first place?
Well, here’s what I’ve found. It took total, 100% dedication to get ripped. No cheat meals. No skipped workouts. Proper nutrition and supplementation all the way. I had to be basically OBSESSED to make it happen. But that was a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things (about 6 months of the FITNESS NAZI approach). Since then, it’s been much easier.
Maintaining a physique is much easier than changing a physique, so if you put in the work to get ripped, you will have a light at the end of the tunnel. No, you can’t go back to daily fast food and crap and expect to maintain. But you can easily get away with some cheat meals, some less than ideal food choices, and even some workout breaks if on vacation or something and you won’t digress much if any. Your body will stay about the same.
The fact that our bodies prefer to stay the same is a very frustrating thing when we are trying / hoping to change it, cuz that means we have to make a big effort. But it’s pretty handy that our bodies like to stay the same once we are at our goals. We can give up the NAZI obsessiveness and loosen up a little without giving up everything we’ve worked for.Now, I typically eat really clean all week, but on the weekends I’ll enjoy a couple non-typical meals (something like pizza, Mexican food with the family after church, popcorn at the movies, etc.). And as you can see, I’m still pretty ripped. As long as you stay within your macro goals, you can work in this “treats” without going on a binge or ruining a week of work. I would have NEVER done this when I was trying to transform my body, however.
I will also point this out — there is a big difference between trying to “maintain” a body fat under 6% vs. maintaining a body fat under 8%. For me, I could easily go the rest of my life and stay under 8% body fat. Even with a little slack in the nutrition, and an occasional missed workout, I’ve developed good enough habits that there is no reason I can’t stay under 8% indefinitely. Not to say it’s super easy. If I went back to my former slob habits would I zoom back up over 20% like I was a few years ago. But I’m too smart to do that ever again!
However, if I made it my goal to stay under 6%, that is such an elite level that it DOES require an OBSESSIVE approach all the time. I’ve done that, and after a while it gets old to be that rigid all the time. Sure, being under 6% looks awesome, but 7% to 8% body fat looks pretty amazing too, and it’s a matter of preference. To me, it’s a diminishing return to try to always be under 6% body fat. I’d rather just go for that in short spurts when I want to look my best. For true maintenance, 7-8% is much more “doable” for me and fits my lifestyle.
So I hope that this encourages those of you who want to be ripped to GO FOR IT! It’s worth it. And I also hope it sheds some light on what the future will hold for you once you get to your goals. You can stay there. And you can live a little at the same time.
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