T Nation

Benefits of Getting Shredded?


My T-Brothers, I need some help here from my peers. I have a personal question that I feel would make a good dsicussion topic on a subject I am not knowledgeable on.

I am down 20 lbs since I started my 'fat loss' plan in April. Sitting decently lean now, but not yet peeled in the low single digits. I have 3 weeks left for the time I allocated for dieting, about 20 weeks tops. Kind of at a cross road after that. Dont know whether to keep chasing the fat loss and get as close to contest conditioning as I can or start reverse dieting into a surplus phase. Keep in mind I have ZERO interest in getting on stage.

Now my question and topic point is, is there any benefit to getting to such lean conditioning levels that would make it worth it for me to push on? Or will pushing to that threshold with no intnet to ever get on stage make it more detrimental than good? I'm kinda lost as to what to do next.

For the sake of discussion let's assume I am a natural trainee.


The only time I can ever see worrying about getting lean as being detrimental is if you haven't built any appreciable muscle yet. This is very rarely the case (except in many teenagers I see), as how much muscle you ultimately want is a personal issue and no one can seriously tell you that you're not big enough unless you're aiming to compete.

Forgetting my experience as a competitor, I will say that a lot of my perceptions changed when I first achieved single digit bodyfat levels vs what I THOUGHT was very lean conditioning earlier in my training career. I can go through old pics of myself a couple of years before I ever stepped onstage, and while I was fairly lean at the time, the sense you have about your body when you reach "stupid lean" levels really shifts a lot of your thinking.

I like to tell my clients who compete that when you come out on the other side of a contest, NOW you can truly see the Matrix. Before that point, you're just guessing and repeating what you've heard, no matter how smart you may be.

If you've never been as lean as you are now (or should be in a few weeks), I say you owe it to yourself to stick it out. I'm sure you're going to hear a few people talk about risking losing muscle, but let me tell you that as long as you're being fairly smart about your training and nutrition, a lot of people (usually non-competitors) overestimate how much muscle you can/will actually lose on a strict cut.

Besides, once you're at the macro levels you will be at, and you slowly start working them up, the overall leanness you've achieved doesn't vanish overnight and will actually linger quite a bit as you start filling out and packing on more size. If anything, it will give you a much clearer understanding of the actual #s you need to make progress as you come out of the cut.



Now I'm not sure how lean you are but you seem to have a level head on what lean actualky is. My opinion on getting contest lean without getting on stage as a natty is unneeded unless its a life goal to get that lean. I think that getting that lean as a natty is actualky not productive and unhealthy. There was a good study that followed natty Bbers through prep and showed the hormones levels going to shit and other blood markers tanking.

I don't see a reason pushing the body through that and I also see that as making the reverse dieting even harder. Now getting to a damn good level of leanness I think is great. Then doing a smart reverse diet lots of msucle can be added while looking good. (Lots of msucle being relative)

Anyways those are my two cents not sure if that ramble is even coherent.


This is the most recent pic I have on my phone. Its about 2 weeks ago. Obviously the left pics are before and right are after.

@Stu thanks for the reply. A lot of gems in that post. As you can see, I have plenty left on me to keep going, maybe 5-10 more lbs if not more.

@Ryan, yes those primarily are my fears as well. At one point I was wondering if I should take 2-3 months of reverse dieting to increase my metabolic capacity so to speak and then keep pushing the fat loss or just suck it up and keep grinding it, albiet at a less efecient level.


Good job man, I actually just dropped 20 pounds also and am at a similar level of leaness (probably the leanest I've been too).

To really weigh it out of you should keep cutting or reverse diet I would take into account how much you're eating now (are you starving nonstop? Or handling it pretty well?) and how strength in the gym is holding up.

If there's no specific timeline you have then reverse dieting for 2 months might be a good idea. You'll be able to continue your cut on higher calories, plus you shouldn't really gain any (or a very small amount) fat during the reverse. So it would set you up for better long term progress.


For me personally the benefits were a cleansed palate food wise, I had become so tired of force feeding myself for years so dieting allowed me to enjoy and appreciated food again. (Try and live on 0g of carbs and don't tell me you don't get a sudden appreciation of crap like rice).

Getting shredded also allowed me a better base to finally do a proper and controlled gaining phase with more leeway for whatever fat I may put on.


Nothing like being super ripped. I say go for it. You will learn alot about your body and food . Also you most likely will have a few take away habits that you can use all year to keep yourself fairly lean. Don't get caught up in the numbers nor worry about losing all the muscle you worked so hard to get.. This is a good way to "take out the garbage" and then re-evaluate where do go from there.

Don't shoot for the middle.


I have increased my strength over the duration of this actually. I am a flexible dieter so food cravings are not an issue. If I want something I simply fit it into my macros and I have a refeed 1-2x a week. Recently I have been using Lyle's UD 2.0 and while it was hard to get used to, after the 2nd week i have been cruising through it and on week 4 now I am actually shocked by how effective it's been.


If I were in your shoes and wasn't happy with my muscle mass (I'm not sure if you are or not), I'd start eating more and trying to put on muscle again at this point. You look good now and unless you had a specific reason to get down further, get bigger man! Then the next time you drop 20lbs, you'll be shredded :slight_smile:

Looking good and nice work!


To put things in perscpective I am 5'7 and right now 174. A physique ideal for me would be something on the lines of Kane Sumabrat(aka Timebrwolf) down the road. I am not sure if I really need to get a whole lot bigger, of just peel off that last layer to get the 'illusion' i am looking for.


Thank for the words, very helpful. Also I am not worried at all about 'losing muscle'. Still not sure I beleive that happens....


I agree. I think it's just a way to make people feel better about not having as much muscle as they thought.

And also, I'm looking to get about where you are, although I have 4" on you and probably need another 20lbs of muscle to get where you are.

I'll say this, you have one of those problems that's a good problem to have. You really can't go wrong with your decision.


I dont know if I would recommend getting "stage lean" for the reasons RyanbCXG listed above, but I think its a good experience to get to "shredded" levels of leanness (maybe like 4-weeks-out) kind of levels.

1 - You set the stage for a successful reverse-diet/lean bulk/mass gaining phase or whatever we are calling it this week :wink: Lets just say you gain an average of 1 pounds of fat per month while gaining (this would require a very well thought out and executed nutrition plan... which you will have after you cut) ... You can bulk for much longer without being "fat" if you start off super lean.

2 - Once you get that lean you will NEVER allow yourself to get fat again. Gone are the days of "hand me that second slice of cake...I'm bulking after all!"

3 - You learn about your body the only way you really can, through experience. Low carb, high carb, cycling, cheat meals, steady state, HIIT, 3-4-5 workouts a week?? What works?? Well, you will know for certain at least few things do/dont work after your get to that level. And then you can speak from experience, and diet even smarter next time around.


^^^True words of wisdom Lonnie!



Great thread! I have nothing to add to the conversation. Must keep dieting.


Well I'd say push on with the cut then if your strength is actually up and you're not starving.


You make some really good points Lonnie, thanks for chiming in.


Agreed. By the sound of it, and look, it's not negatively affecting you. I'd say stick out the rest of your planned cut then start a well planned reverse diet.


Yeah, you guys seemed to push me in the right direction with a common theme in the advice. Thanks guys. Ill post back in about 6-8 weeks and touch base. Let's hope I have enough muscle to not look like Waittz Jerky when it is all said and done.


Lol looks like you have enough to look good shredded and not have a dyel look. Even then you will be in a great postion to start gaining. Good luck