If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried to lose weight or get into shape at some point in your life. Chances are, you started by doing some kind of exercise routine; maybe it was cardio, lifting weights, jogging outside… whatever.
The problem is that if you don’t enjoy exercising—if you hate running or lifting, for example—you probably won’t be very motivated to keep it up. You will start working out, burn out after a week or two, and then give up altogether.
After trying everything to find something that you actually enjoy doing, you end up falling into the trap of thinking that in order to lose weight or look good that you have to work out…
Well, you don’t.
I know this sounds shocking at first—maybe even ridiculous—but the truth is, you really don’t need to exercise to be healthy or lose weight. You can eat right and develop a lean, muscular body without ever setting foot in a gym.
What I’m going to do today is give you some pointers on how exactly you can achieve this—how you can eat healthily and grow muscle using my “natural” method of training (which doesn’t involve weights). I want to show you how I lost over 40 pounds of fat working only two hours per week, doing nothing but eating well, and following my own advice.
(By the way, I use quotes around “natural” because of course, you’re not going to become like me without taking steroids, which I do not condone.)
Now let’s get started.
Eating Well is the Most Important Part of Getting Fit
If you want to lose weight and look good, it all comes down to your diet. All your exercise will be useless if you don’t eat right . If you want to know how exactly what my diet is like, check out “How I Lost an Unbelievable Amount of Weight Eating Nothing but Green” and “I Ate Nothing but Green vegetables for 60 Days—Here’s What Happened.” Also, keep in mind that this blog contains affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase something after clicking one of those links, I’ll get a small commission.
The point is: if you want to look good and be healthy, all you really have to do is eat right. That’s it.
(By the way, if that’s not convincing enough, check out this article about research showing that exercising doesn’t help people lose weight .)
So now let’s talk about how to actually do that… without working out.
How You Can Get Ripped Without Working Out or Lifting Weights (or Trying)
Here’s the deal: What we’re going to do today is take a scientific and well-researched approach towards building muscle and losing fat. Because of this, we’re going to reverse-engineer everything by first examining the successful techniques of well-known bodybuilders and fitness models, and then working our way up from there.
We’ll start by taking a look at what separates successful bodybuilders from unsuccessful ones… how exactly they got so muscular and ripped. Then to solidify this information, we’re going to cite studies that have been conducted to prove why these methods work.
In other words, rather than just showing you what works, I will tell you why it works, giving you a better understanding of the concepts behind it all. This way, if something happens to not work out as planned (which is rare), you’ll be able to figure out why and make adjustments accordingly. That said, let’s get started…
Getting Ripped vs. Getting Buff
There’s a big difference between getting ripped and getting buff, and it all hinges on how much body fat you have. To be “ripped” means that your muscles are visible through your skin (see the photo for an example). But to get “buff,” means that there is no fat covering your muscles. If you want to look buff at any size, the goal is to always reduce your body fat percentage. Now, if you’re just looking to get ripped and maintain a higher body fat level than you would if you were trying to get “buff,” then we can still use this information… just not in the same way we would use it if we were trying to get buff.
The Four Factors of Muscle Growth
In order for muscles to grow, four key factors must be taken into consideration. If you mess up even one of these four factors, then muscle growth will either slow down or stop altogether. I’m going to list them in what I consider the order of importance:
1) Training Variety – You need different kinds of exercises to target all your major muscles groups.
2) Progressive Overload – Your body just gets used to things if you do them long enough, so it’s critical that you slightly increase the amount of weight lifted over time (Progressive Overload).
3) Sufficient Sleep Quality and Quantity – 8 hours per night is about right according to most research studies I’ve seen, but this might vary depending on age, gender, and genetics.
4) Sufficient Protein Intake – If you don’t eat enough protein, then muscle growth will be stunted because it isn’t being repaired properly after your workouts.
Now, let’s talk about how to put these factors into action…
The Best Exercises for Losing Fat and Building Muscle – According to Science
Now that we know the four key factors that contribute to building muscle, it’s time to learn which exercises are best for targeting those muscles groups. Luckily there have been quite a few studies conducted on this subject, so we’re going to use their results as our guide. As you’ll see later in this article (and probably at some point in your fitness journey), not all exercises work out for everyone. So even though the following exercises have been scientifically proven to be great for building muscle and losing fat, that doesn’t mean they will work out just as well for you as they did for those who were studied in these research articles.
For example… a study was once done where a researcher compared the leg extension vs. squat exercise to see which one would yield better results when it came to lowering body strength and size gains. Sure enough, he found that subjects using the leg extension machine increased their quadriceps by 7% more than those who used the barbell squat, but only because not every individual responds best to certain exercises. In fact, there are several factors involved with this outside of training style, so if you want to get the most out of your workout, then read on and I’ll explain everything…
First off, what is the training volume? It’s basically how much work you do each week in terms of sets and reps. To give you a clearer understanding of what I’m talking about; we’re going to compare two different groups: Group 1 (which was used in a study) lifted weights 5 days per week for 4 sets of 8-12 reps (this means they did 40-60 total reps per muscle group). Group 2 also lifted weights 5 days per week but had 4 fewer exercises to choose from; this means they only did 2-3 sets for each exercise. Based on this information alone, do you think I had a higher training volume? Obviously group 1. So does this mean that it’s going to be harder for them to continue making gains? Yes… but only if they don’t work out long enough or hard enough.
To make a long story short, doing less weight with more sets and reps is going to help you build muscle much faster than using fewer sets and reps with heavier weights. For example, in one study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama, two groups were given different workouts over an 8-week period: Group 1 used 3 sets per exercise for 8-12 reps (24 total reps per muscle group) while Group 2 used 6 sets per exercise for 4-6 reps (48 total reps per muscle group). At the end of the 8-week study, Group 1 increased their biceps size by 14% while Group 2 only gained 10%. On average, it took Group 2 three times as long to build the same amount of muscle that group 1 built-in half the time.
Now keep in mind that I’ve given you an extreme example to show you just how much more effective higher reps and sets are compared to lower ones for gaining lean muscle mass. However… having a training volume of 20-30 weekly reps per major muscle group is about right if you’re trying to lose fat AND gain some lean mass at the same time (which is what we’re going for here). This means performing around 9-12 total exercises per week and roughly 3-5 sets per exercise.
Or to give you a better idea, let’s say you’re going to train your chest and back together as a superset. If this is the case, then how many total reps should you perform? 12-15 for both exercises combined. Now let’s say that one of those exercises is going to be a pushing exercise while the other one will be pulling. So does this mean that it’s okay to do 12 reps on the pushing exercise but only perform 9 reps for the pulling movement? No… because as I’ve been over countless times in this article series, every single set counts whether it is weight or not!
In order to maximize your strength and size gains without gaining excess body fat, here are some recommended weekly rep counts for each major muscle group:
-Chest & Triceps: 9-12 reps per set
-Back & Biceps: 9-12 reps per set
It’s also a good idea to have at least 3 minutes of rest between sets. This is going to help ensure that you’re giving your muscles enough time to recover before performing another set with maximum intensity. You see, one of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to building muscle is trying to do too much work in too little time. It takes more than just weight and reps alone to build size and strength…
Your Lifting Schedule In the past two articles, I talked about how I believe it’s more effective for natural trainees who are looking to gain lean mass to use multiple sets and reps versus very low reps. The reason for this is because every time you perform a set, you’re placing an increased demand on your muscles which causes them to adapt by growing larger. However… just like I mentioned in the previous article, maintaining that stimulus over time is crucial if you want to keep making gains!
This means performing multiple sets with similar rep counts (that are slightly upwards of 8-12) but changing up the exercises every 1-3 months or so. For example; if I’m training chest today then it’s likely that I may do flat bench press first followed by incline bench press. On my next workout for the chest, however, I might start with dumbbell presses instead before moving on to the incline bench press. Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to be doing 3 sets of flat bench followed by 3 sets of dumbbell presses as that wouldn’t be giving my muscles enough time to recover from the first workout before doing another set with a heavyweight.
What you might find yourself doing instead is 5 sets for flat bench and 4-5 sets for dumbbell presses (you may do more or less depending on how many reps you’re using but the point is you want your total weekly reps to stay within a certain limit). This will help ensure that you stick with slightly higher rep counts while changing up the exercises every month or two. You can also use pyramids as I mentioned earlier in this article if the goal is to really push yourself.
The Take-Home Message As usual, if you’re looking to maximize your muscle growth then you need to keep in mind that there are more variables than just the weight and reps! You also have to take into account total weekly volume (the total number of sets) as well as how much time you’re allowing for rest between sets. This will help ensure that you’re not working out too hard or too often which can actually do more harm than good in the long run.
That’s it for this article but stay tuned because my next article is going to be about how I recommend tracking your workouts using Excel spreadsheet templates. Believe me; it’ll make it a lot easier when trying to build an effective routine with specific goals in mind.