A topic that is luckily getting more and more exposure: it’s so important to raise awareness about what it actually take to be ‘shredded’ – for most of us, it’s really not worth it!
Thanks for this brilliant article Joey Percia!
I got shredded. I looked the guys you see on the cover of Men’s Health. For the first time, I had veins popping out of my stomach.
It felt good on the outside but I felt like shit on the inside.
People say they want to get shredded. They envy men with a 6-pack so defined, they look like a statue of a greek god. They’re excited about a body that’s shredded, but few are willing to do what it takes to get to that point.
I want to pull back the curtain on what is takes to look like a cover model(ish).
People often confuse shredded with lean. Being lean it an attainable goal for pretty much everyone, being shredded is a painful, shitty, long drawn out process.
Lean can be attained by maintaining a social life and do normal people things. Shredded will make you an outcast.
It sucks more than trying to eat a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch with a big spoon. It sucks more than getting to the gym and realizing you forget your headphones (every day of your entire life.) You get it, it sucks.
To get lean, consistently eat healthy, nail your training and diet. Make sure you are in a calorie deficit, train hard, eat enough protein to preserve muscle, learn tricks to manage hunger and make smart choices.
Being shredded is another beast and takes things to another level. You will:
- Feel levels of hunger you never knew existed
- Learn what it’s like to feel existed day.
- Go to sleep earlier because you ate your last meal of the day and realize then next time you eat will have to be breakfast.
- Find yourself dragging through the day and through workouts
- Develop a weird relationship with food (usually not good)
A shredded physique for long periods of time is an unattainable goal for normal folk. Especially for those who want to have a social life, but being lean is not. That can be done with hard work and time.
My Journey to Hell and Back
I think every fitness coach and trainer should get shredded at least once in their life. By shredded, I am talking about 4-6% body fat for men.
Even if you have no desire to step on stage. Even if you don’t want to stay that way or have clients that want to get shredded. It is a huge learning experience.
A lot of your clients (or patients) are going to want to look better by losing fat. You want to know exactly what that process feels like, even if you’ve read everything about it for years.
You know a tattoo hurts because everyone tells you. But you don’t know what it feels like to have someone jab needle into your skin for 6 hours straight until you do it. It fucking hurts, believe me. But you should still get it done if you really want to know what it feels like.
January of 2015 I was having knee pain and decided to bail on a powerlifting competition I was training for. I wanted to get shredded instead.
I entered a 12-week transformation challenge because it ended up lining up exactly the same time. Plus I wanted the extra accountability and a chance at 100k. All good things.
My starting point was roughly 14% body fat in January. This was a little higher than normal (I’m usually 12-13 most of the year.) I ended the fat loss phase the first week of April at ~6%.
I got pretty damn lean. While I was still about 1 month or 2 away from being able to step on stage at a bodybuilding show and hold my own, this was leanest I’ve ever been.
I also got sick and learned that when my body gets run down and put under too much stress I develop a style. I don’t mean mental stress either. My body was so run down, tired and weak that the physical stress took a toll on me and my body fought back.
The last 3-4 weeks of the diet I only lost ~1lb because I felt so shitty and did want to risk my health for cutting calories even lower.
So, it wasn’t worth it?
Hey, I never said that! It sucked (a lot), but it was a process that I am glad I went through.
Some have great genetics and walk around shredded year round. I’m not one of those people and I assume you aren’t either.
Here’s where I went wrong:
- I created an unhealthy relationship with food
- I ran myself into the ground from going 110% in the gym and into my business
- I secluded myself from having fun in social situations
- I went balls deep and paid for it later
I was doing it for the wrong person and for the wrong reason. I wasn’t doing it for me and I wasn’t happy doing it.
My body is happy around 11-13% body fat so that is where I keep it now. There are some times while I will cut some bodyfat and others where I let it go up a little bit.
I can be a normal person and juggle my business, health, and social life in a comfortable way. I can have a few beers and ice cream cake to celebrate my engagement with my family.
Will I ever get that lean again? You bet your ass I will, but right now I have a life to live so I will stick to being lean.
Joey’s Habits to Stay Lean Year Round
- Wake-up and drink lots of water (like even more than what you’re thinking.)
- Take my vitamins:
- 1st meal is a protein, veggie and moderate fat meal (little to no carbohydrates)
- Protein at every meal (veggies at most) — the only veggie exception is when I am having a shake, pre or post workout meals, sometimes I omit the veggies.
- Keep carbohydrates to the first 1-2 meals after a workout
- Eat until satisfied, not full (70-80% full)
- Only have protein shakes when I can’t get to real food. They don’t keep me full enough, sometimes just make me hungrier.
- Don’t multitask while eating, and put down my fork/spoon in between bites.
There’s a large difference between the dieting to get shredded vs. dieting to get lean that will take some time learn. You will figure out what foods to stay away from because they cause cravings, while other foods to eat more of because they keep you more full.
There’s obviously a big difference between the two physqiues as well as the two diets…
Navigating Road Blocks Around Events to Stay Lean
- Skip breakfast and fast. In that case, drink black coffee and sparkling water to suppress appetite and function like a normal human being
- Keep protein high throughout the day but cut extra carbs and fat throughout the day to save calories for a bigger meal
- Keep things moderate man. Don’t be a dick about this. If you want to have a few beers do it, but don’t say “fuck it”, try to drink a keg and eat 12 burgers.
- If they have fish tacos, get them. Always. And Tequila, get the Tequila too.
If you have ANY questions at all, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you ASAP.
I will teach you how to lose fat eating foods you love
Look and Feel Better Than Ever: Escape Fad Diets and Burn Through Fat Loss Plateaus Eating Foods You Love.