Isn’t it crazy how there are some people on social media that post a workout picture or video literally every day?
I mean, they’re absolutely in amazing shape, so they deserve to show it off. Plus, they put in a lot of work to look that way, so again, they should be allowed to post that content.
I’ve got great news, though!
You don’t have to be in the gym for hours on end every single day in order to get ripped. In fact, you could work out 2-3 days a week for 30 minutes to an hour and get ripped.
What Do We Mean By “Ripped?”
This seems to be the most common question I get asked: What is your definition of “ripped” in terms of fitness?
It’s hard to give a hard-set definition because it’s going to be relative to the individual you’re defining as ripped.
For example, Dwayne Johnson is considerably more ripped now than when he was a professional wrestler for the WWF (now known as the WWE).
However, for someone that was overweight and then got to look like the wrestler-era Dwayne Johnson, they would likely be described as ripped.
For that reason, there’s a very loose definition that’s commonly used based on body fat percentage:
- Men: About 12-15% of body fat will allow some abs to show through
- Women: Below about 17-20% will reveal some ab musculature
It’s really important to remember that different people demonstrate body fat percentages differently. For example, some guys may store more fat in their lower body than in their gut. Some women may store more body fat in their gut than in their butt.
What Are “Noob Gains”?
It’s highly likely that – while researching fitness or just talking to people that are into lifting weights – you’ll encounter the term “noob gains.” (Maybe that’s how you even found this site!)
It’s also called “newbie gains” because it’s a unique adaptation for individuals that are new to an exercise stimulus.
This study shows what goes on when people exercise, and it even compares the results of increased performance by comparing trained and untrained men.
Essentially, the human body is incredibly adaptive. In other words, it’s always trying to reach homeostasis or a state of neutrality.
Because nature is constantly trying to kill humans, we have to adapt. This has made human beings incredibly adaptive to new stimuli. So if you start exercising, your body realizes it must adapt to the physical exertion in order to survive.
This adaptation is much faster than the training that comes later. The initial adaptation is strong. As you build a baseline, the progression becomes less and less until you hit your personal peak.
“Noob gains” are the initial increases in skill/strength to the new stimuli.
Consistency Is the Most Important
This is what makes people the most annoyed because it’s so simple yet so hard.
It doesn’t matter how many times you work out a week if you don’t do it every week. Of course, there is the slight exception of being able to take a break every now and again, but that’s not the most important aspect here.
One of – if not the most common – things I come across when people ask me about my fitness and how they can also get fit is that they say they used to be fit and then quit. Or they had a few-week period where they were consistently going to the gym and then stopped going.
This is so frustrating because there’s more to it than just yo-yo workouts. “Yo-yo” because you just go back and forth between being super consistent with exercising and not making time for it.
It’s proven that people live longer if they’re a healthier weight, so why do people continually sabotage themselves by giving up on fitness?
Of course, everyone will have a different story. The general gist is a misunderstanding of why people are healthy and a bad prioritization of health.
The biggest trick to seeing consistent improvement in your exercise is to establish good habits and if you don’t accomplish them all one day, then just continue as though you did for the next.
There was literally a study to make sure this was correct. Basically, if you miss working out one day, that’s okay. Just do it the next time you’re scheduled to.
If you’re consistent, then you create successful habits. Just like when you build a building, and you use one brick at a time, you must create many habits to be successful long term.
Let’s Talk About Realistic Scheduling
An important consideration is that you have to be realistic with your consistency. You shouldn’t have it hard-set in your schedule that you’ll work out every day for 3 hours. That’s just too much, so you have to be consistent but realistic.
For instance, you can’t ask your sibling not to have a baby till after a specific time so that you can go to the gym. You can’t tell your child that just fell off their bike and broke their arm that you’ll take them to the ER after you do your bench presses.
Be realistic but consistent.
If you can’t do a lift because you have to go to the doctor, that’s okay. Just reschedule your lift for the next time you can. This is something that must be taken into account with any new venture or goal you’re trying to accomplish.
Preparing for the Unexpected
I work in aviation as a flight attendant, and I’m in pilot training. I’ve been learning an entirely new skill of flying an airplane. It’s extremely technical and requires mental and physical requirements in order to correctly operate an aircraft.
Sometimes, things pop up and make me reschedule, such as a canceled flight home as a flight attendant. This would force me to have to reschedule the lesson.
This is just how it is in life sometimes. You just have to know that if you can’t make it one time, then you just need to do it correctly the next time.
You have to take situations like this into account with your fitness as well. It’s important to be consistent, but sometimes, you can’t make it to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
It’s okay to miss the gym sometimes because life happens. The important part is to get back to it whenever you can.
This is the part where consistency and planning go hand in hand. If you really want to achieve your goals, you need to be consistent.
Some Tips for Planning Your Workouts to Get Ripped
If you have to work evenings, then it’s not a good idea to schedule your training sessions during that time or super early in the morning.
Meanwhile, if you work Monday through Friday, 9-5, then you probably can’t expect to go to the gym every day of the week and still manage to have a social life.
You also need to take into account your schedule which isn’t moveable.
For example, if you work a typical office job, then you probably should plan to schedule your workouts at a time when you’re already awake. Most people don’t like waking up early, so schedule your training in the evening.
It’s all a matter of setting up a schedule that you feel you will consistently be able to meet.
Maxing Out Your Results
When it comes down to it, you’ll see results as long as you’re consistent and treat your fitness as a journey and lifestyle improvement.
What Does the Science Say?
There was actually a study done to see the effects that frequency has on muscle building.
It found that going to the gym more often promoted muscle building more than going fewer times a week. This particular study compared going to the gym one time a week versus three times a week, with the total volume being equivalent.
Basically, it’s comparing doing a full body workout of 30 sets 1 time a week (Monday) vs. doing the same amount of sets over the course of 2 workouts (Tuesday and Thursday) vs. doing the 30 sets over the course of 3 workouts a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
The results showed that going 2 or 3 days a week was superior to the 1 time a week. However, the 3 vs. 2 aren’t officially concluded from this study.
Luckily, there’s another study here that compared this again and came to the conclusion that 3 times a week was even better than 2. The ultimate conclusion of these studies is that you get more results from doing more workouts per week.
Then there’s the idea of bro-splits, or body part splits, vs. push/pull/legs vs. full-body workouts. Ultimately, we can use the aforementioned study to conclude that the higher volume will result in the greatest muscle building.
What About Anecdotal Evidence?
I like to make the argument like this: who is going to read more books if you have someone that likes to read a little bit every day compared to someone that reads just a few times a week but in bigger batches?
Likely, the results will show that after the first couple of weeks, the person that reads a lot in a short span will read more books initially. But over time, the consistent daily reader will end up reading more books.
This metaphor applies to fitness as well.
If you do things for your health every day, then you’ll see better results long term. When I say it like this, people will immediately say, “why don’t I work out every day then?”
Well, human limitations say that you can only do so much before your muscles become too fatigued and you lose value in your training.
Secondarily, we can take a look at some anecdotal evidence of people being sore and not being able to do the same amount of weight they normally can if they weren’t sore. If we do that, then we’ll see that if you work out a really intense session, the next day, you’ll for sure be extremely sore and unable to perform to the same level as normal.
Now, what if we take that into consideration when we have a workout plan? Then, we can easily assume that a person will be able to have more weight per lift if they give themselves some time to rest between days of lifting.
Let’s say you plan on doing a single day completely dedicated to legs. Or, you can take all the lifts you were going to do in that one day and split them into 3 days, which means you’ll likely not be as sore the day after each gym session.
This, in turn, means you’ll be able to add more weight to the lifts the next time you’re in the gym than if you were to do them all on the same day.
How Many Days Should I Workout a Week to Get Ripped?
Now, we’re back to the main question: How many days a week should I train if I really want to get ripped?
Now, if we take into consideration your current level of fitness, how consistent you can be with your training, your life schedule, and the science about training frequency and volume, then we can come out with a good answer.
For the vast majority of individuals, it can easily be concluded that 2-3 days a week is plenty to see results and progress even.
The main thing to see results is to maximize your volume per muscle group. To do that, we should split up the lifts for a given muscle group, giving us the opportunity to lift more weight because we won’t be as sore the next time we’re in the gym.
A lot of time, the issue with health is that time constraints matter. That’s why it’s great that science proves you don’t have to be in the gym for many hours a day, every day, to maximize your results.
And if someone tries to argue that you need to go to the gym more, remember it’s not a sprint but a marathon. Plan for long-term success by having a sustainable routine instead of going to the gym so much you burn yourself out.