In this article, I will show you exactly how I went from skinny fat to ripped rather effortlessly in 12 weeks.
First, I want to say that I weren’t very fit growing up, especially not in my teens.
That was a time when I used to spend all my days playing videos games and eating junk food, neglecting my health completely…
The reason I tell you this part of my history is to show you that, even though I have very little of an athletic background. A transformation like the one I’ve made is still highly achievable for anyone, it’s just a matter of wanting it enough.
When the urge to want it is there, then there’s just to finding the right strategies to get there as effortlessly as possible.
I’m very thankful that I got so obsessed trying to find out how I can get, not only a better-looking body but a healthier and stronger body that I’m truly proud of as well.
Now I feel it’s my obligation to share this information with you, so you can experience this amazing change as well.
Are you ready? Do you want it?
Great! Let’s jump in
How to go From Skinny Fat to Ripped in 12 Weeks
To achieve a ripped, muscular, lean and toned physique whether you’re a man or a woman, two things must take place, and these are:
- Fat Loss
- Gain (or at least maintain) Muscle Mass
Seems easy and rather obvious, right?
And it is.
Yet, so many people struggle with achieving these goals. I would know, because I used to be one of these people myself. They try a new diet and training method for a while, they see some progress, then they plateau and eventually they quit.
To ask themselves a few months later, what did I do wrong? When they can’t come up with the answer, they repeat the cycle over and over again.
Recognize this process?
Feel like a problem you might have?
It certainly was for me..
Read on and I’ll tell you how I turned this problem around and managed to go from skinny fat to ripped easier than I thought was possible!
Let’s start by breaking down fat loss and building muscle one by one.
Fat loss is the number one key for a fit and lean physique.
Now there are a lot of ways to do this. You could jump on a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet, you could go primal by trying Paleo or you could start counting calories, just to name a few.
But, all of these methods and diets often miss one important thing,
I always had a tough time grasping this. I said to myself, I just want to lose the weight and get over with it, but I quickly realized that such, short-sided thinking didn’t work…
Like I’ve said in previous articles, more than 90 % of all dieters return to their previous weight within a year after the diet is complete.
In my opinion, and I think you’ll agree, the goal of fat loss should be to make it long-term. Because honestly, how fun is it to lose weight, gain weight, lose weight and continue the so common yoyo-dieting syndrome?
Unless some weight gain is planned to build muscle, regaining weight should be avoided as the plague. (Even muscle building phases should only be done with a very modest weight gain).
If you fall into the yo-yo dieting trap you will look good for short parts of the year and look out of shape during the majority of the year. That’s not why you’re into this whole fitness thing to start with, am I right?
So, what to do?
It’s actually pretty simple, and that’s why I think it’s also very hard. People always looking, and I mean really looking for the one magical thing that will make them lean, slim, muscular and fit. But the truth is, there are no such thing…
What you should focus on is finding a way to be in a calorie deficit that is as easy as possible! When you find that way, you’ll be able to maintain low body fat for years to come. This is true because when something feels easy, you don’t require much will power to make it sustainable, which is key.
I’ve found two ways to do this, and they work best together.
1. Intermittent Fasting
I’m very biased towards Intermittent fasting. The method has worked extremely well for myself, for people that I’ve coached, and for many others out there, that I know uses fasting regularly and are displaying amazing results.
Why Intermittent fasting works so well
This comes back to the key for maintaining a low body fat. Which was making a calorie deficit as easy as possible. By postponing the first meal several hours into the day, you end up with less total time during the day to eat all your calories. This makes you feel fuller and more satisfied on a considerably less amounts of calories than you would if you didn’t fast. This is the only way that works for me to make a lower calorie diet sustainable long-term.
— Iron Built Fitness (@Iron_Built_) July 31, 2017
But what about during the time I’m fasting? Wont that be tough?
And yes, it might be, but only for 1-2 weeks tops. Once your body has adapted to the new eating window the hunger will diminish.
Let’s say you skip breakfast (which I recommend) eventually you won’t feel very hungry during the morning and day anymore. This happens because your body up-regulates a bunch of hormones to cope with being in a fasted state. Hormones such as Adrenalin, Noradrenalin and HGH (human growth hormone). These hormones effectively dampen your hunger and starts promoting your body to use stored body fat as energy, which is exactly what you want. It just takes a couple of weeks for your body to adapt to.
In fact, after a few weeks you will start to feel more mentally clear and alert. This is an effect that’s in direct correlation with the increased Adrenalin and Noradrenalin during the fast.
How to set up intermittent fasting
I recommend skipping breakfast and in some cases lunch. There are a few reasons for that:
- Getting the nights sleeping hours. When skipping breakfast, you will get the nights hours with you, making it easier to fast for longer.
- It allows you to eat during the night. Don’t listen to all the noise telling you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that you must eat it to burn fat. It’s a misconception and a myth. It doesn’t matter when you eat your calories during the day, if you’re in a calorie deficit you will lose fat, look better and become healthier. I’ve found this to be one of the most powerful reason why fasting works so well. When you allow yourself to feast during the night you can attend social gatherings, family dinners and parties etc. without any anxiety or doubt that you can’t eat the food, or having to tell everybody that you’re on this fat loss diet. Just imagine you being one of the people eating the most, while rocking a great-looking and fit body as well. Just as a warning, be prepared to please people with your secret!
- Most people are genetically programed to eat more in the evening. Some scientists speculate that this was how we as a species were developed through evolution; we hunted and gathered food during the morning and day hours and could then eat and relax in the evening. If you think about it, this fits perfectly into our daily society as well. In the morning, you go to school or work and are generally busy with the important tasks you have scheduled, and you’re only able to cook, prepare and eat food in the evening.
Now when it comes to setting up the fasting and eating window I do it a bit differently than usual. As I’ve preached earlier, I’m all for making fat loss sustainable long-term.
Studies show that human beings are very bad at making something sustainable if we must depend on will power. So, the way I’ve set up the eating and fasting window is to depend as little on will power as I can:
- First, I allow myself to eat as late as I want during the night. This is huge, as it removes the will power required to stop eat at say 8 pm like the usual 16:8 protocol suggests. For me it doesn’t make sense to stop eat at 8 pm, or even later for that matter. This is a time when people still enjoy food together and a time that’s typically very hard to stop eating at.
- Secondly, I make this up by making sure that I postpone the first meal of the day 6-8 hours after I’m waking up. Depending on how long I’ve slept for.
By doing it this way I bring situations where I must depend on willpower down to only 1 time a day, being the morning and day when I’m fasting. Science show that most people find the days to be the easiest time to avoid eating at.
Learn how to set up intermittent fasting by reading this article: How to set up intermittent fasting for fat loss
2. Count Calories or Set up Meal Plans
Relax, I know you’re probably thinking,
I don’t want to count calories… That seems like so much work.
But, bear with me.
First, the good news is that counting your calories isn’t necessary to lose fat at first. Initially intermittent fasting automatically puts you in a calorie deficit and you’ll start to notice fat loss. I didn’t start counting my calories until I was half way there, after I’ve lost the first 15 pounds.
In fact, something that’s very usual, that a lot of people myself included has manage to do. Is getting down to an attractive body fat percentage range between 10-15 % for men and 17-23 % for women, using only intermittent fasting and nothing else. These body fat percentages look like this:
Males at 10-15 % Body Fat
Females at 17-23 % Body Fat
I would say these are some good-looking body fat percentages, do you agree?
However, if you’re looking to get even leaner than this, counting calories quickly becomes necessary. This is because your body will start fighting fat loss once you get very lean and you will start eating more at every meal subconsciously, even though you’re intermittent fasting.
How to count calories
The complete diet guide for improving body composition, walks you through everything from calories and macros to meal frequency and supplements.
But to give you some quick guidelines:
Cardio for Fat Loss
Now I love the occasional cardio session, going for a trail run, doing som mountain biking or fighting through a crossfit workout. But, when it comes to fat loss specifically, I usually don’t plan to do cardio. For a few reasons:
1. For cardio to be effective for fat loss you must do copious amounts of it.
To give you an example:
30 minutes of low to medium intensity cardio, say on a treadmill or stationary bike, burns around 200-300 calories. That’s equal to a small snickers bar. So, for the sole purpose of burning fat, I just don’t think the time spent doing cardio weighs up the calories burned.
2. Cardio makes you very hungry.
It’s very usual that cardio makes people extremely hungry, what this does is causing people to eat more calories than what the cardio actually burned. This results in more calories eaten than what was initially planned during the day if they just hadn’t done any cardio.
3. Excessive amounts of cardio can be negative for retaining muscle mass on a fat loss diet.
Retaining muscle mass is the second key for achieving a great-looking body. When you’re in a calorie deficit looking to purposfully lose fat, you’re also in a recovery deficit.
If you do a lot of cardio you chip away recovery for your strength training. Meaning that you’re at a higher risk of losing that hard earned muscle mass.
However, I still like and recommend moving around a bit during the days to bump the daily activity up. Taking the bike to work, going for a walk, or doing it because you enjoy it etc. are all good and healthy activities to do daily. But, I try to avoid doing too much direct cardio for the reasons just mentioned above.
On a further note. When it comes to weight maintenance and definitely lean-gain phases, then I absolutely recommend cardio. During times when you’re gaining weight, cardio is very healthy, because it improves nutrient partitioning a lot. Meaning that more of your calorie surplus goes towards feeding hungry muscles and not straight into fat storage.
Fat Loss Conclusion
Losing the fat is the first, and most important part of achieving a great physique. Getting rid of the fat will define the muscles you already have on your frame and you will look more impressive.
As a matter of fact, the amount of muscle that you can build during your career will be far less than the amount you already have on your frame (unless you decide to go the enhanced route).
For that reason, I always recommend losing the fat first before focusing on building muscle.
On that note, let’s jump into the second part of building a great-looking physique. Which is packing on muscle, or in the context of this article, manage to keep as much muscle as possible during a fat loss phase.
Gain (or at least maintain) Muscle Mass
To achieve a lean, toned and muscular physique, the amount of muscle mass you have is a crucial part of forming the body to get that certain look you’re after.
If you’re goal is to look similar these celebrities, you must find a way to gain or at least maintain your muscle mass during your fat loss phase.
Why I keep emphasizing that you should maintain your muscles during a fat loss phase, is because the risk of losing muscle is very high when you’re in a calorie deficit.
During a calorie deficit, your body must take from the stored energy you have in your body to provide the daily energy needed, which is the essence of fat loss and what you’re actually after.
Unfortunately, and fortunately muscles are a tissue that costs a lot of energy for the body to carry around, and the body only choses to preserve the muscle mass if it really needs it. Why this might be unfortunate for some people is that it requires resistance training to keep the muscle. Why it might be fortunately for others is that one, they love to do resistance training and two, because muscle mass costs a lot of energy to carry around, the calorie intake can be higher, meaning that you’ll get to eat more food while still looking great.
This image demonstrates perfectly what happens in the body when one individual needs bigger muscles and another one doesn’t.
Both of these athletes are very lean. The difference between them is that a sprinter (to the right) needs the bigger, explosive fast twitch muscles to perform well in their sport (most effectively achieved with resistance training). While a marathon runner (to the left) needs the smaller, slow twitch muscles primed for endurance.
Now both of these athletes have obviously optimized their calorie intake and training to be the best they can in their specific sport, and not to look the best they can. The look they achieve are just a byproduct of the training they do.
But for you and me who want to achieve a fit, lean and muscular physique. The importance of resistance training becomes very clear.
How to Build Muscle
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when it comes to building muscle. In this article, I’ll give you the two fundamentals when it comes to packing on muscle mass, or at least preserving it while in a fat loss phase.
1. Resistance Training
The first and most important part for building muscle is doing some sort of resistance training. For your body to effectively build and preserve muscle it must have a reason to do so. That reason is constantly challenging your body with methods that is known to achieve hypertrophy (building of new muscle tissue).
Check out the complete muscle and strength training guide, that I wrote, which walks you through step by step how to set up a muscle and strength training program for yourself.
For the scope of this article though, I’ll give you the method that I used to successfully maintain, and even build a few pounds of muscle while I lost 30 pounds of fat.
Reverse Pyramid Training
Reverse pyramid training is a method where you do your heaviest set first on every exercise while you are completely fresh. After your first initial set, you pyramid down in weight and aim to do more reps on your subsequent sets.
An exercise using RPT might look like this:
The Benefits of Reverse Pyramid Training
RPT is a training method where you must train with high intensity (heavy weights that are close to max) for the method to be effective. No other training method allows you to lift as close to your maximal strength limit as RPT does. Simply because you perform your heaviest set first in the workout, when you’re completely fresh and don’t have to replicate that set again during the remainder of your workout.
So, what are the benefits of this method?
Because you’ll be training with high intensity (weight on the bar), you will be able to achieve a complete training stimulus with a very low training volume (sets*reps*weight). In fact, RPT works well only with a low to moderate amount of training volume.
When you train with low to moderate volumes and high intensity, you can get the same training stimulus as with any other method, just in a much shorter time.
Perfect for both fat loss and lean gain phases:
The goal during a fat loss phase should not be to pack on as much muscle as possible, (even though you should still think that you’re training to pack on as much muscle as possible). The goal should be to successfully preserve as much muscle mass as possible.
For succeeding with that RPT is a great method, because:
When you’re in a calorie deficit, you’re also in a recovery deficit. So, by turning down the volume a bit while losing fat, you will heavily support your body’s capacity to recover which will make you keep more muscle mass.
Furthermore, maintenance of strength is the biggest indicator you have that you’re not losing muscle mass. That’s what makes RPT so great during a fat loss phase. Every workout you use your max capacity and always train close to your strength limits. Making sure that you’re not losing any strength or muscle mass.
Fast strength gains:
When you’re coming out of a training period of higher volumes and switches to a method with lower volume and higher intensity, your strength will go up rapidly.
This is also known as peaking or tapering in sports such as weightlifting and powerlifting. Your body effectively recover from the large amounts of training volume previously done, and by doing so you will realize your performance and see big strength increases when simultaneously turning up your intensity.
2. Eating Protein
The second thing you must cover to make sure you’re maintaining or gaining muscle during a fat loss phase is eating enough protein.
Protein are the building blocks of all tissues within your body. During resistance training you purposely break down your muscles. What this does is triggering something called the muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This is your body’s process to repair and rebuild broken or incomplete cells. Once MPS has stared you will need protein to keep providing the materials for this process to be completed. If you’re not providing it with enough protein, the net balance of protein synthesis will be negative and that’s when you’ll lose muscle.
Now this is something that happens a lot easier in a calorie deficit because:
- your body doesn’t want to spend energy on the costly process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Your body’s main goal is survival and it perceive fat loss as a threat.
- when you’re at a lack of available energy in the body, your body can start using both dietary protein and muscle protein as a source of energy, instead of carbohydrates and fat. What this does is reducing the amount of dietary protein that actually goes towards building new muscle tissue.
So, by eating enough protein you can effectively reduce the risk of losing any muscle during a fat loss phase. Furthermore, higher protein intake is also known to increase satiety.
How Much Protein Should I Eat?
Studies show that for fat loss, a protein intake of between 0.9-1.1g per pound of bodyweight or 1.8-2.2g per kilogram are good numbers to aim at for optimal muscle maintenance and satiety. What’s important to note is that the protein intake is scaled upwards with severity of caloric restriction and leanness. The lower the body fat percentage, the higher the protein intake should be.
There you have it, exactly what I did to pretty much effortlessly go from skinny fat to ripped in 12 weeks. Of course, I had my ups and downs on this journey, but with the right methods it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
Here’s a summary of how to get ripped:
- Adopt the mindset that you should lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
- Implement intermittent fasting.
- Determine with time if you want, should, or need to count calories.
- Gain or at least maintain muscle mass by doing resistance training.
- Eat enough protein.
Want to know more?
Like to learn exactly how to set up your diet with the help of intermittent fasting and flexible dieting?
Then the book Flexible Fasting is for you.
This book goes through everything from fat loss and building muscle with the help of intermittent fasting, to setting up your calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, and implementing a flexible mindset around food.
I wrote this book for you who want a complete resource with the easiest methods possible to achieve an outstanding physique. A physique that both looks incredible and are healthy.