One of the most common questions I get is: “how do you get so shredded?”.
From my experience, every bodybuilder out there has their own way of ‘getting shredded’. None is superior than the other, they’re just different ways of achieving the same thing. Having said that, Consistency is the one characteristic that all these strategies share. You MUST be consistent with your training and diet to achieve results. Let’s look at 4 strategies that can help you maintain consistency.
This is part 1 of a series I am writing on tips to maintain consistency. I intend to continue creating posts for this series as I think of more ways to maintain consistency because, I’ve noticed, a lot of the time, I unconsciously use techniques to maintain consistency but I am not aware of them until I self examine.
Tip #1: Your Why
The most important thing that has kept me disciplined with diet and exercise is my Why. What is my Why? To be as inspirational as possible for others to get into fitness. To understand how this came about, I need to briefly diverge into my past.
My fitness journey started from, yes, you guessed it, a break up. About 3 years ago, I had a very devastating break up that, at the time, I thought I’d never recover from. To cope, I hit the gym day and night and regimented my meals with only healthy food. Not sure my exact thought process here, but I think I subconsciously believed if I got fit, I’d overcome the guilt, but more than anything, it was just a coping mechanism.
Fast forward a year and people began complimenting me at the gym. Eventually, I was known to be the quiet asian guy at the gym that was always ripped and I got a lot of attention. Ever since then, I’ve never stopped lifting and I am now known as Mr. Muscles in my group of friends, so I’ve assimilated with that identity. I now see being fit as who I am and I take pride in it (it’s my personal branding if you will).
Now your why may not be the same as mine, but the idea is you have to be clear on why you’re training and dieting because the process isn’t easy and there WILL be days you don’t want to train or eat clean. Knowing your Why will get you through these days regardless of how demotivated you may feel.
Tip #2: Cheat Days and Rest Days
Cheat days are probably as important as my ‘Why’ in keeping me consistent.
Without a doubt, if I didn’t have a day where I ignored calorie counting and could eat till I was satiated, I wouldn’t stay consistent with my diet. Each time I push some food away (even though I am dying to eat it), I am slowly drawing down on my limited willpower. Cheat days restore this willpower.
The same goes for rest days from training, if I had to train every single day at the gym, my fitness life would almost exist to the exclusion of all other hobbies. As much as I want to be fit, I wouldn’t be willing to give up my other hobbies to do so.
Tip #3: Cutting or Bulking, be decisive
This one trips up a lot of people, but it is important to be clear and focused on what stage of you’re fitness journey you’re in. If your aim is to build muscle, target all your activities to achieve that and leave the process of leaning up for later.
When I say, be decisive, that means recognising and understanding EVERYTHING that you’ll need to sacrifice once you make your decision. For instance, I know that when I start cutting:
Since I know I’ll have to make these sacrifices and have the above thoughts, I make sure that I have truly accepted them and have prepared myself to make them. For example I might have a week of pre-cut binging of all the foods I know I can’t eat when cutting, which relieves my cravings as much as possible. I might also purposely prolong my bulk for a little longer so I know I’ve given myself the longest opportunity to build muscle. All of these help me to stay focused once I have made my decision to cut because I know I’ve done everything to prepare myself.
Tip #4: Reframing
If you’ve listened to any self help podcast or audiobook, you’ll know they explain that almost all problems in life boil down to how you perceive them. Anything can be seen positively if you choose to and whilst I am not an inspirational coach, I do know that I have altered how I perceive a situation (from negative to positive) even though the situation itself never changed.
This works with dieting as well. When cutting and getting to a very low body fat %, you will be hungry. I felt it during my first cut, but because I knew I was hungry to be super shredded, I started associating the two in my mind. After that, whenever I felt hungry, my mental thought was “this is getting you abs”. In the end, I always associated the hunger sensation (originally negative) with the thoughts of having abs and feeling attractive (positive). I essentially turned the negative association of feeling hungry to a positive one. Have you ever listened to a song at a specific stage in your life and then several years later, you hear the same song again and you’re brought back to the past? This process is the same thing.
I hope you liked reading this post and found the tips helpful and insightful. As mentioned, this post is part of a 2 part series I am writing on how to stay consistent with training and dieting. Subscribe for Part 2 and add your comments below. I’d love to hear your experiences with any of these tips.
Yours in fitness.