How Body Sculptors Get LEAN… and You Can Too!

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I realise it’s not for everyone, however you have to stand in awe of the body sculptors and body builders who get into peak physical condition year after year.

The question is, HOW do they do it? In other words, what is it about their training and nutrition that allows them to consistently lower their body fat percentage to single digits and display rippling striations?

Moreover, how can YOU apply the same principles to achieve a sculpted, lean body? (even if your intention is not to stand on stage and display your body to the world!)

The Real Secret to Getting Lean…

Having worked with a number of physique athletes over the last 20 years (and having competed myself) one thing is for certain, when it comes to body transformation, NOTHING is left to guesswork.

While it’s true that training plays a big role in this process – for example, knowing how often to work out, how long to work out for, which exercises, sets and rep schemes etc, the truth is that anyone who displays mind boggling muscle striations (commonly referred to in the bodybuilding world as being “ripped”) owes that to their nutrition.

In saying that, here are some of the training tips we employee leading up to competition to ensure a competitor retains as a much muscle as possible while stripping off body fat.

1) Heavy weight training.

This means using heavy weights in the 6 to 12 repetition range right up to competition.

2) Compound exercises

The exercises that target the largest muscle groups produce the most favourable muscle building response. This includes squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows, presses and dips. Isolation exercises such as bicep curls and tricep pushowns are used sparingly.

3) Intensity…NOT duration

Workout intensity builds muscle, therefore the focus is on quality – not quantity. Weight training workouts are limited to no more than 45 minutes.

4) Cardio

Cardio is increased, however only in very small increments and not to excess. Too much cardio impedes muscle gains and can interfere with recovery time.

5) Adequate recovery time

Muscles don’t grow in the gym, they grow when they’re resting. Competitors are encouraged to get at least 8 hours sleep with the addition of a short power nap during the day if their schedule allows.

Nutrition is 95% of the Game

Even the most amazing training programme in the world will yield little to no results unless you’re diligently and consistently providing your body with the right nutrients day after day. Even if you never skip a workout, lift the the heaviest weights and use perfect form in the gym, all that means nothing if you’re unable to display the degree of leanness that wins competitions.

ONLY good nutrition can achieve that, and it’s the difference between an average versus an outstanding transformation.

The Lean Formula (Guaranteed to Work)

There is a nutrition formula that physique athletes abide by. In fact, it’s the same formula I use with my body transformation clients and if followed to the letter can take you to within 4-6 weeks of competition. (If you chose to)

Here’s how it works…

During the off season a client will typically follow a macronutrient profile as follows:

1) 40-50% carbohydrates

2) 30% protein

3) 20-30% healthy fats

However about 16-20 weeks out from a competition we start manipulating the ratio of protein, carbs and fats. (When we start this process depends on the condition of the individual, how much body fat they have to lose etc)

In this example, a pre competition macronutrient profile might consist as follows:

1) 20-30% carbohydrates

2) 40% protein

3) 30-40% healthy fats

In other words, carbohydrates are decreased, while protein levels and healthy fats are increased.

Body transformers eat 5 to 6 times per day which provides a steadily flow of nutrients, keeps blood sugar levels stable and is more conducive to building muscle and losing fat.

Water levels are kept very high and I generally recommend a minimum of 2 to 3 litres of pure filtered water per day.

How Much Weight Can You Lose?

Using this approach, physique athletes generally lose up to 0.5kg per week – sometimes more in the initial stages. As the goal is muscle preservation leading up to a competition, large body weight reductions are not desirable. This is also the reason I don’t recommend very low carbohydrate diets which tend to decimate muscle tissue. (Plus they’re just not healthy!)

While it’s true there are some special “tips and tricks” we use with physique athletes up to 4 weeks out from competition (such as tanning, water and carbohydrate manipulation) by following the above nutrition recommendations you can expect to achieve a very respectable degree of leanness that is not only pleasing to the eye, but is also healthy and sustainable.

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