Craig Leonard

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The “Skinny” On Getting Ripped

Craig Leonard October 6, 2013
Too Skinny While Getting Ripped

Nearly every client I’ve ever had whose goal was to get ripped would, at some point, begin to worry that they’re going to drop too much weight and look skinny. I’ve been there, so I can certainly understand the concern.

However, I’ve also made it to the other side and I’ve learned that worrying about losing too much weight and looking too skinny is nonsensical.

Either you want to get ripped or you don’t.

And if you want to get ripped, the fact of the matter is that you’ll have to strip your body fat down to a percentage that approaches or enters single digits, regardless of how “skinny” it may cause you to look.

I’m 6’1″ tall and have been training regularly for about 14 years of my life. Even with the additional muscle I’ve accumulated on my body over the years I still have to get my body weight down to around 180lbs to have an extreme level of definition and be walking around with about 9% body fat.

If I had 5 pounds less muscle, I’d need to get below 175lbs in order to reach a similar body fat percentage. And if I were also shorter, my final poundage would be even less.

Getting Ripped - Stallone In Rocky 3To give you an idea, Sylvester Stallone is 5’10” tall and it’s reported that he trimmed down to a body weight of 155lbs – and was probably hovering around 5% body fat – for his role in Rocky III.

The average 5’10”, overweight guy who comes to me and says he wants to be ripped will look at me like I’m nuts when I explain that 170lbs is a good target weight. Or he’ll spout something about his doctor telling him that 180lbs is his ideal weight.

“Ripped” and a person’s “ideal weight” by medical professional standards are two very different things.

“Ripped” must consider, and account for, the entire composition of the body – not just its total mass.

In other words, weight is strictly concerned with the amount of mass on the body, irrespective of what that mass is made of.  One can be walking around at what would be considered their ideal weight and still have little or no definition and be unable to see their ab muscles.

If you’ve never been ripped before, the amount of body fat you’ll need to lose to get there may come as a surprise. You may even feel like you look skinny as you’re getting there.

That’s just the nature of having a high level of muscle definition (i.e. being ripped). Before your muscles can show through with ease, you have to strip away much of the fat that would otherwise cover them. That’s just the way it is.

Information! Losing considerable amounts of body fat will cause your clothes to fit more loosely, making you appear to be skinnier than you really are. Buying some tighter fitting clothes will help with this. Plus, it’ll make showing off your lean, defined physique that much easier. 🙂

I guarantee those that knew Stallone thought he looked skinny while he was at 5% body fat and weighing in at a paltry 155lbs. I’d also be willing to bet those same people didn’t have much to say when they saw how incredible he looked with his shirt off.

Never let your perceptions – or the perceptions of others – stand in the way of your goals. The average person will believe the amount of body weight they’ll need to carry to be ripped is extreme.

The average person also has never been ripped and therefore has no clue what it takes to get there – or how great it will feel once they do.

When your goal is getting ripped, you needn’t concern yourself with counter productive worries of being too skinny.

Your only concern is to lose all of the body fat you need to get those muscles showing through with ease.

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  1. Wendy Nichols March 16, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Great article – and a timely one for me! I’ve managed to drive my BF down from 23% to 17% – not bad for a 50 year-old woman. However, my aim is a 6-pack abdomen and, whilst my upper abs are now visible, there’s still no sign of the lowers. I’m told that ‘the magic’ for women (ie appearance of the lowers) starts at 15% or thereabouts, so I’ve a way to go yet. By contrast, my body has completely changed in shape – I’ve had to buy a whole new set of slim-fit trousers (yeah!!) and now I’m wondering how the heck I can lose anymore without getting too skinny. I started out at 52kgs (114 lbs) – I’m 5’3″ – and now weigh 49 kgs. I don’t really want to weigh any less – and I certainly don’t want to lose any lean mass – so I guess 3 days a week weight training and 3 days a week HIIT cardio is the answer (as I have been doing for the past 4 months)…………I’ve also heard that losing fat is like draining a swimming pool – the level of water (fat) falls evenly over the whole surface (no such thing as spot reduction). And just guess where the lower abs live?? Yep – right at the very bottom of the deep end!!! So – onwards we go…………

    • Craig Leonard March 18, 2014 at 12:21 am

      Great job, Wendy! Age is nowhere near as important as determination (which you clearly have plenty of). And your perspective is almost dead on.

      You can’t target fat reduction and you’re correct in pointing out that the only thing standing in your way of getting that sexy six pack is a few stubborn pounds of body fat. It doesn’t always come off evenly (like in your swimming pool example). Larger areas of fat storage will typically oxidize body fat slightly faster than areas with less fat at their disposal.

      This is usually a good thing; Just not when you have a few pesky pounds of fat hanging around your lower abs that you want to get rid of. 🙂

      Still, your analogy isn’t far off and is a great way to look at it. Keep getting after it, Wendy. You’ll get there – even if it takes you little longer than you originally anticipated.

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