How Bodybuilders Work to Look Super Shredded

Trevor Thieme C.S.C.S.
·2-min read
Photo credit: vuk8691 - Getty Images
Photo credit: vuk8691 - Getty Images

From Men's Health

When it comes to setting fitness goals, most people are content simply to work to see a six-pack appear where before there was only a smooth, round belly. But some guys aspire to more – they want the lean, ripped physique of a bodybuilder with muscles so cut and defined that when flexed, it looks as if they’re held in place by a handful of steel cables.

To be more specific, they’re after the “striated” look, and there’s exactly one way to get it: Drop your body fat percentage to between two and five percent.

That’s a range bodybuilders often target for competition, and it’s really the only range where you’ll see muscle striations. That low single-digit range is also considered the bare minimum necessary for good health – which is why you should be wary if you ever encounter anyone claiming to have or claiming to provide a path for you to achieve "zero percent body fat." It's also extremely hard to maintain, which is why bodybuilders typically only endure the dietary and training hardships required to achieve the lowest levels during the weeks or months leading up to an event. The rest of the time, their body fat percentage is typically up to 12 percent.

Some trainers might also tell you that you can achieve striations by weaving more high-rep lifting into your training program, but that’s a myth. As with vascularity (i.e., visible veins), noticeable muscle striations are all about body composition.

Your move: Shoot for a body fat percentage that will make your veins (not your striations) pop – about nine to 12 percent – by dialling in your diet along with your training regimen.

That’s also the range where your abs will achieve washboard status, your triceps will resemble lobster claws, and your biceps will bulge like baseballs—if you’ve also put in the necessary training. Let's be clear: If you try to go further to that lower body fat percentage, it's a goal even most serious lifters can't achieve without major lifestyle changes. Before you decide to go after the striated look, consider consulting with your doctor about your goals, and see if you can find a reputable coach or dietitian to help you along the path.

Ready to get started? Check out this complete guide to bodybuilding to have a look at what you might expect.

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