When people see a bodybuilder weighing 250 pounds they assume this steroid-infused chap is dumb as fugg who can’t even tie shoelaces. Well, they are no dumber than the rest of the world is. Definitely no dumber than your friend that cut his finger while slicing a bagel because his finger was through the hole.
Anyway, say anything you like about bodybuilders but I’m sure as shit they would beat the living crap out of most of us at getting stage lean aka shredded. They can get to 5% body fat (men) while the rest of the world struggles to lose 10 pounds (combined).
So here are 7 things bodybuilders do to get super-lean that you should steal and use to lose those 10 pesky pounds.
1. Bodybuilders lift weights 5-6 days per week (or even 2x/day)
Most bodybuilders are light-years ahead of you in terms of training experience and you don’t need to train that much. As I said in this post, lifting weights 3-4x/week provides the best results in the least amount of time for most people.
Yes, if your goal is solely weight loss, you don’t need to strength train. All you need is a sustainable calorie deficit. But if you want to get healthier, stronger, more “toned,” and prevent muscle loss while dieting (muscle loss when dieting is associated with weight regain) strength training is essential.
2. Bodybuilders get a lot of steps and/or do low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS)
LISS always has been and always will be a big part of the contest prep for bodybuilders. When done sparingly, it’s easy to recover from, it burns some extra calories, and it’s good for your physical and mental health. But it’s not something you need to do to lose fat.
Simply increasing your step count and getting at least 7,000 steps/day is enough. It’s not uncommon to see a bodybuilder averaging 15,000-20,000 steps/day. Again, he/she is advanced. You’re probably not. Don’t go to extremes. 7,000+ steps/day is good enough for most people.
Further reading: Why NEAT is Crucial For Fat Loss
3. Bodybuilders track calories & macros
If you’re not tracking your food intake, you’re guessing. And if you’re guessing, you’re probably not going to get peeled to the bone. Stage lean, I mean. If you simply want to lose a little bit of weight, you probably don’t need to meticulously count calories & macros. Focusing on the right health behaviors over time can do wonders.
But if you do want to get shredded, you’re probably going to need to count calories & macros. And no, you don’t need to be outrageously meticulous and precise with it. Here’s a simplified calorie & macro counting.
4. Bodybuilders are religious about meal prepping
Not only do they plan ahead but they also carry around Tupperware full of food otherwise they know their diet would go to poop. This doesn’t mean you should do it too. It’s pretty extreme and it’s going to work for very few people. But simply planning your meals is doable for most people.
For example, most of my clients either meal prep for 2-3 days in advance or use the “24 before” rule — they take 5-10 minutes each night to plan what and when they will eat the next day.
Further reading: How to Meal Prep for Weight Loss: 4-Step Process
5. Bodybuilders have a proper sleep hygiene
- Set a consistent sleep schedule — go to bed and wake up at the same time EVERY DAY (including weekends).
- Avoid blue light in the evenings — no phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, etc. because blue light interferes with the production of melatonin and so it’s harder to fall asleep. Read a book instead. Just don’t read Harry Potter. Tell me what you want but it’s for kids. Or insane people. Or insane kids.
- Take a hot shower before bed — after you come out of the shower, your body temperature drops and it can help you fall asleep faster.
- Avoid caffeine 6-8 hours before bed — caffeine and other stimulants can make it harder to fall asleep. Drinking alcohol before bed is also pretty fugging stupid because it can interrupt the deep REM sleep (whatever that is — I think it’s important).
- Avoid drinking too much fluid in the evenings — otherwise, you will wake up at night and be like well fugg a duck my bladder is going to go all explodey I need to go to the bathroom NOW.
6. Bodybuilders track their progress
Numbers, data points, and pictures all play a role in giving you an objective view of your progress. If you don’t track your progress, you don’t know when you should make changes to your nutrition and/or training.
So at the very least, you should be weighing yourself daily and taking circumference measurements once every 2-4 weeks. I like my clients to track progress at two levels: Aesthetic and performance:
- Aesthetic — daily weigh-ins, circumference measurements (every 2-4 weeks), and progress photos (every 5-8 weeks).
- Performance — log your workouts and chase strength improvements in the gym.
7. Bodybuilders invest financially
I’m not talking about investing in useless shit such as BCAA or fat burners. That shit doesn’t work. I’m talking about investing in something that would hold you accountable and ensure you DO the work.
Get a coach if you need direction and accountability. When you know you’re going to be sending a progress tracker to your coach every Monday, you work harder during the week in anticipation of the “test day.” Accountability can streamline your focus and drive results you never thought possible.
If you want to bypass all of the nonsensical weight loss information and avoid common beginner mistakes, apply for the 1:1 Coaching Program where my goal is to be at your side the entire way, helping you to avoid scams and pitfalls that most people fall into.
Originally published by me on Medium on June 27, 2023