For most guys in the gym, figuring out how to get ripped is a priority. Some just want to be "big," but they make up a very small group of the population. Most men want more; they want to not only be big, but also be lean enough that all their muscle definition is visible.

After all, for most of you, part of the reason for going to the gym is to help you look better. Learning how to get ripped will certainly accomplish that.

However, what does it take to get ripped? A proper diet? A specific exercise program? Or is there a supplement that holds the key to making the biggest difference? It takes time to get ripped. Unfortunately, it isn’t an overnight phenomenon and will take a considerable amount of hard work, but if you approach this work smartly, it’ll take far less time to get ripped than if you don't.

Those who don't train with productive methods end up spending more time in the gym, but they see less drastic results. Be sure you keep the following in mind when you want to get ripped so you don’t become a part of that particular group of individuals.

1. Diet

Potentially, the single most important factor in your quest to get ripped will be your diet. Getting lean is about 70 percent dietary effort, 20 percent proper workout programming technique, 5 percent psychological (because let’s face it, temptation is around every corner), and 5 percent sheer determination.

That said, don’t fall into the trap of thinking there is one single diet that is going to get you results. There are a number of very good diet setups out there that you can most definitely follow to achieve your goals to get ripped.

Be certain that you are consuming fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight. Fat loss is really just a simple mathematic equation, the compounding factors of where these calories come from, times when your meals are being eaten and so on are all personal preferences that help to determine whether or not you're able to stick with the diet in question.

If you don’t stick with the diet, you aren’t losing fat, are you? So, whatever diet is going to be most comfortable for you, while still allowing you to eat hypo-calorically, is the one you should be following to get ripped.

The one exception would be protein intake, as you should be consuming a minimum of one gram per pound of body mass in order to prevent muscle loss. Losing weight is of no use if you aren’t losing fat weight. That’s the critical factor that will determine whether you end up looking like a smaller version of your current self at the end of the diet or a version that is leaner and appears more muscular.

Rather than giving you specific foods to eat, shoot for a calorie intake of between 10 and 12 multiplied by your body weight. This is a fairly good approximation of the calories you should be consuming for weight loss, along with one gram of protein per pound of body weight.

After that, aim for 15 percent of those remaining calories for fat (or higher, whatever your preference), and fill in the rest with carbs.

It should be clear, if you’ve ever tried dieting before, that certain foods will help satisfy your appetite better and keep your blood sugar levels under control (thus preventing rebound hunger), so the more you can incorporate these types of foods, the better the chances you’ll have when you try to get ripped.

Remember to take in some protein and carbohydrates around your workout period, for both muscle glycogen replenishment and to help give you the energy you need to get through the workouts in the first place.

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2. Weight-Lifting Workout

When trying to get ripped, the workout does not play an incredibly huge role, as already stated. As long as you are not on a crazy setup that has you doing volume overload (a surefire recipe for burnout when on a diet), you should be able to maintain your muscle mass.

What to consider when designing your workout to get ripped is that you want to cut back on the total number of reps and sets since you won’t have the fuel to recover from strenuous workouts. At the same time, however, try to maintain intensity since it will preserve your strength and muscle tissue mass.

So, if you used to do four sets of bench-pressing consisting of 6 reps at 180 pounds, knock that down to 2 or 3 sets of bench-pressing consisting of 6 reps at that same 180 pounds. Maintaining the same poundage is what is going to be absolutely key here. Even if it means doing only a single set, the weight should stay up (note, that it’s uncommon to make strength gains during this time; we are simply shooting to maintain your strength).

Additionally, when you want to get ripped reduce the amount of isolation work you do. This would include movements such as bicep curls, tricep isolation exercises, leg extensions, lateral raises, and so on. You can hit pretty much all the muscle groups in the body with the following exercises:

— Bench press

— Squat

— Deadlift

— Shoulder press

— Row

— Calf raise

— One ab exercise

Obviously, you can swap these exercises around; do a pull-up instead of a row or do an incline bench press instead of a shoulder press. Getting these core movements in, however, will keep you on top of your game.

Divide these up into either a full-body program performed two to three times each week or an upper/lower split performed four days each week, trying to keep it to a maximum of 15 sets per workout if you're doing upper/lower, and 20-25 if you're doing full body.

To maintain your muscle glycogen from workout to workout (for those who are doing a low-carb approach and not eating very many carbs elsewhere in their diet), consume 5 grams of carbs per 2 sets during the pre/post-workout period).

3. Cardio Component

To round out your workout to get ripped, we have the cardio component. Now, when it comes to cardio, you want to do as little as you can get away with in order to get the results you’re looking for. Problems will start to occur when you begin doing hour-long cardio sessions combined with your already intense lifting workouts, both coupled with a reduced calorie intake.

The issue with doing long, moderately paced cardio is that at some point you will likely start to plateau as far as fat loss is concerned, which then means you’ll either have to up the cardio again or further reduce your calories. If you’re already eating at a very low calorie level, reducing them further may cause you to sacrifice proper nutrition.

To overcome this issue, consider doing one to two sprint cardio sessions per week, as these are better suited for burning fat, while maintaining your muscle mass. Do note that two should be your max as far as intervals are concerned, especially if you are lifting heavy with your legs. If you’re doing a full body, three times per week, you’ll likely want to reduce this to one since you still need enough total time for rest.

If you are doing squats, deadlifts and other leg exercises Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and throw in intervals on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (with Sunday off), you will essentially be working legs six days in a row, which would literally destroy you in a matter of a few weeks. Your system simply needs more time to recover with proper program planning.

Consider doing your leg workouts and intervals on the same day to increase the total amount of rest days you’ll have during the week.

After the interval sessions are added, see how fat loss progresses. If you need a little more after that, consider a moderately paced cardio session for 20 to 30 minutes on another day or two of the week. Just be sure you're still getting that one day of complete rest from all forms of physical activity.

On the Road to Ripped Glory

So, make sure you take a well-rounded approach to getting lean this time around. Far too often people will only focus on one aspect of the equation — be it diet, weight-lifting or cardio — which only shorts them of the results they could be seeing when they try to get ripped.