To get real ripped without losing muscle mass, you'll need to create or follow a strategic, intelligent training & nutrition plan
Last Updated: Sep 2, 2019
So you've bulked up and built a nice amount of muscle mass, but have some excess bodyfat you want to burn off. Or perhaps you're starting out in the gym overweight, and wish to cut some fat first before then going into a bulking phase. Whatever stage you're at, burning fat to get ripped and achieve that elusive six pack is an uphill battle without a proper well thought-out nutrition and training plan.
If you're planning to follow any random cutting/fat loss program that you piece together from random places online (or that you think-up in thin-air), I've got news for you - losing a significant amount of bodyfat while ALSO maintaining as much (or all) of your muscle mass is highly unlikely to happen. The amount of misleading information in this sphere is out of control, and if you don't believe me just look around your local gym. How many guys are both quite muscular, but also lean and ripped. Of course, desire and consistency plays a huge part in why most people don't burn fat effectively, but having the right strategy is the other huge key that most people miss.
When it comes to getting ripped effectively, winging it with any random cutting program just won't cut it (pun intended) if you're serious about getting results.
Just like with a bulking up phase and building muscle effectively, there's a science to burning fat without losing precious muscle, so if you don't want to leave it to chance and want to follow a proven step by step fat loss program that has stood the test of time in helping others achieve this successfully, the below programs are what I'd personally recommend as of 2019.
Bulking instead? See our Recommended Muscle-Building Programs instead.
To leave nothing to chance, and to all but guarantee excellent results and the finished-product physique that you're after, seeking a highly-effective program that's been proven to work for many others, and one that's from a reputable, credible author/teacher, will hold you in good stead and give you an edge over literally 95% of others who haphazardly approach their cutting phase.
To help you find a credible, high-quality, step by step cutting program for bodybuilding, here I've compiled the absolute best programs that I've found over my many years in this industry. These programs were carefully hand-picked from a ton of fat loss programs out there, and while there's no shortcut to success to getting that ripped, lean, muscular body you're after, the closest thing to a shortcut is indeed following the most effective program you can get your hands on.
Just whatever you do, if you follow one of these fat burning programs, find another one somewhere that you like the look of, or perhaps create your own fat loss program from scratch - remember the most important thing is to stay consistent and be in this for the long haul. In other words, don't expect to get ripped overnight, and don't quit when you're only seeing small results over the first few weeks (or when you hit a plateau after a couple months or so). Keep going, and if you don't quit; your success is essentially guaranteed (again, if you have a good program by your side).
Author: Dr. Brady Salcido (Doctor of Chiropractic, Entrepreneur, High-Performance Coach, Speaker)
Format: Video Course
Learning everything about one of the most effective fat loss strategies on the planet, including exactly how it works, the benefits, how to apply it to your lifestyle, avoiding common mistakes, and maximizing fat burning results using it (and avoiding muscle loss).
Unless you've been extensively chilling under that proverbial rock for some time, you've likely heard of intermittent fasting already. If not, I'm not sure how you're reading this right now, 'cause I'd assume you live in a cave somewhere in the Degobah system with no such thing as internet access. It's been a ragingly popular "fad" of late in the fitness world, but is it a fad, or is it the real deal for burning fat and cutting effectively? Well, I try to avoid ever recommending things on this site that I haven't tried myself, so suggesting an intermittent fasting program as my top pick right now for your next cutting phase means I have indeed experiemented with this technique? The results? It straight-up WORKS.
Plus, it's simple, and combined with the right weight training program - despite old advice and information that suggests fasting can lose you too much muscle mass - I (and many others) have found that you can indeed burn a significant amount of fat while keeping pretty much all of your hard-earned muscle. However, you must do it right, otherwise you can kiss your muscle gains goodbye.
That means eating enough protein and from the right sources, eating at the right times, maintaining your strength in the gym, and most importantly executing on your short-term fasting phases in the right way. To learn the basics of intermittent fasting you can do some research around yourself, but if you want to be taken by the hand from an expert who will explain everything there is to know, a thorough, good-quality course like Intermittent Fasting 101 by Dr. Brady Salcido can really help.
This book on intermittent fasting by one of its online pioneers, Martin Berkhan, is a great resource to consider if you want to go in-depth with mastering this topic which could very well pay dividends for you over your lifetime in the form of much more effective fat loss results. Intermittent fasting, when done right, can really turbocharge your path towards becoming and staying ripped without having to give up eating your favorite foods.
Yup, that is indeed possible, but again - you must do it correctly otherwise you can keep eating those Oreos and you won't be seeing anything closely resembling a 6 pack for a long, long time. Anyway, for the amount of value you get out of this book, it's a steal and a must-read if you're serious about incorporating strategic fasting.
Another credible, good-quality program on fasting for effective fat loss without losing muscle that's worthy of consideration.
Author: Mike Geary (Nutrition Specialist, Best-Selling Fitness Author)
Format: In-Depth Fat Burning Manual (eBook Download) + Bonuses
Recommended For: Learning super-effective, detailed nutrition strategies to maximize fat loss over the long-term
When it comes to cutting effectively, nutrition is the main name of the game, and something you have to get right on various levels. Burning fat isn't just a matter of eating less, or eating below your calorie maintenance level, and a huge part of it is eating the right types of foods (and the right combinations of foods for maximum digestion, too).
Fat Burning Kitchen is a comprehensive, finely-honed complete nutrition plan created by credible, long-time best-selling fitness author, certified nutrition specialist and personal trainer Mike Geary who spent years obsessively dissecting in painstaking scientific detail how to tweak your nutrition and the foods you eat to effectively burn fat, including that stubborn excess fat that is hiding your 6 pack and that is super-difficult to get rid of without the right knowledge.
Mike's the real deal who practices what he preaches and has helped hundreds of thousands of guys AND girls with his previous programs, and this is his latest and greatest fat burning program. In a nutshell it's an absolute goldmine of intelligent, science-backed nutrition tips, strategies, and hacks that will allow you to reach your fat burning goals easier and faster than if you were to slug it out yourself with trial and error.
The whole emphasis of this program is gaining an in-depth understanding of how nutrition affects fat burning and implementing a smart eating plan as your main weapon of attack to lose weight and maintain your muscle mass (without cardio which isn't necessary if you get your meals on-point like this guide teaches). Highly recommended if you're interested in learning from a true nutrition pro who walks the walk.
If you follow what's taught in this program and apply it to your daily diet plan, and then simply continue lifting like you normally would to maintain your strength (and therefore muscle mass) you'll burn that excess fat without question - if you stick with it of course. Not everyone has the discipline to implement effective nutrition strategies like this that may go against what you're used to hearing.
This has been a best-selling, super-popular fat loss program for an eternity now, but for good reason as it covers a lot of ground and essentially gives you everything you need to know to execute on the perfect cutting program, including understanding all the important fundamental principles involved all the way from how calories really work, to optimal food combinations, to having the right mindset to actually pulling through with your fat loss program and getting that elusive 6 pack.
Developed by Natural Bodybuilder Tom Venuto, it doesn't just cover nutrition (though it does so very comprehensively like Fat Burning Kitchen does) but training for fat loss and for maintaining muscle mass. To be honest it was hard splitting this and Mike Geary's book, for they both offer a ton of valuable insight from true experts in the field of fat loss (who both walk the walk and aren't spouting nonsense BS claims and magic-pill solutions, but real practical long-term focused results-based strategies). Can't go wrong with either program if you want to really understand nutrition.
Author: Sean Nal (Natural Bodybuilding Author, Fitness YouTuber)
If you want a program that covers both getting ripped AND bulking up. You can attempt both at the same time, but it's recommended you pick one main goal at a time and focus on that to get the best results in the fastest amount of time.
Sure, contrary to popular (old) opinion, it is indeed possible to gain muscle AND fat at the same time, though to do that you'd need to get all your ducks lined up in a row and execute a near-perfect program (which this program does actually does teach). But yeah, for most people you're better off doing one at a time unless you can seriously commit to near-perfect execution.
You may notice this program is our current top recommended muscle building program, so what's it doing here in our cutting program recommendations? Simple - Sean Nal's Body Transformation Blueprint Program is primarily focused on how to build muscle mass (ie a bulking phase) however it also includes everything you need to know about burning fat as well, including full bodybuilding meal plans for different calorie levels so you can simply pick the one that is slightly under your calorie maintenance (so that you can burn fat), great recipes that are cutting-friendly, and the most effective strength training routines anywhere online which you can continue executing during your cut (otherwise you're going to lose that precious muscle you worked hard to build up).
See my full hands-on review of The Body Transformation Blueprint by Sean Nal for full details on this comprehensive bulking + cutting program. While it's the best bulking program out there right now in 2019, as a standalone fat loss program it's absolutely worth considering too. Perhaps you wish to burn some fat first before then bulking up and putting on muscle, in which case this program would be ideal, otherwise check out the #1 program above (Fat Burning Kitchen) if you already have a training program that you wish to continue during your cutting/fat-loss phase to maintain those gains.