Last Updated: Feb 2, 2018
So you've been bulking in the gym for a few months with your own program or by following your favorite natural bodybuilder's pre-made program and you've built some nice muscle gains. Good work, but chances are you would have gained some excess body fat along with that muscular weight.
No need to worry as gaining some excess body fat is natural during a bulk and something you can't avoid (fat gain can be minimized though). So now it's time to get ripped and achieve that 6 pack you've always wanted, which doesn't just look good but comes with it all the great benefits of having a lean, strong, muscular physique (ie more energy and confidence). This is known in the bodybuilding world as a 'cutting' phase, as opposed to the bulking phase where instead of losing fat you're aiming to pack on pounds of lean muscle and pure strength.
What's the point of having built a larger, stronger muscular body if you are soft and flabby all over with hardly any muscle definition at all? Instead of bulking you might as well have just eaten 10 burgers a day and not lifted at all. Well actually there's going too far, but my point is that you need to cut fat at some point so let's get into how to actually do it.
So, how do you go about getting ripped? The thing is, there is so much confusion, misinformation and straight-up horrible advice floating around the fitness world and the mainstream perspective when it comes to fat burning and losing weight.
It's a notoriously scammy industry where the harsh truth is that big businesses may not really want you to lose weight if you think about it...they'd rather you rely on repeating fat diets or repeat purchases of magic formula pill/ab-cruncher/bogus supplements or worse.
Let's cut to the chase - the only way to get ripped and therefore get a 6 pack and super-defined muscles, is to lower your overall bodyfat percentage.
Think about it, if you're reading this then chances are you can't see your 6 pack. Why not? There's a layer of bodyfat sitting on top of your muscles, no matter how many crunches you've done in the past week or decade. Your lack of six pack abs is not because you haven't been on the "super-duper-magic-formula-ab-cruncher" all day.
My point is, it's all about lowering body fat levels, and not just working your abdominal muscles. Speaking of working your abs, you don't need to target any more than you would any other muscle group. Many compound lifts, which are the lifts you should ideally be focusing on, indirectly work your abs and core anyway. Therefore you don't need to slug away doing endless crunches or other ab exercises every day to get a 6 pack - just a few carefully-selected sets of certain exercises as explained in extensive detail in the top fat loss programs.
Lowering your bodyfat can be achieved with two methods:
Lower Your Caloric Intake
If you lower your daily caloric intake to about 11 to 13 times your bodyweight your body will be triggered to start burning fat. Make sure to focus on having smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism raised. This will help keeping your body in a fat-burning state.
One thing to keep in mind is that your diet needs to be stricter when you're on your cutting phase, as opposed to your bulking up phase where you don't need to be as strict. For example, you need to pay more attention to the type and amount of fat you comsume. The types of carbohydrates you consume are also important, you should minimize simple carbs and sugars as much as possible.
Performing short but high intensity cardio workouts about 3 or 4 times a week will trigger fat burning. I would recommend keeping these workouts 15 minutes or less. The longer your cardio workouts last, the more chance you have of losing your precious muscle size and strength. That's why long distance runners are always so thin (and 100m runners are shredded as faark!).
That's what getting ripped is all about in a nutshell - slightly lowering the amount of calories you eat to put yourself in a caloric deficit, and/or doing carefully-designed cardiovascular workouts. You also still want to be maintaining your training in the gym to maintain your strength and therefore your muscle mass.
Also, don't cut too aggressively for too long otherwise you're asking to lose muscle. Losing muscle isn't that bad, as you can always get it back relatively quickly (at least quicker than you initially had to work for it thanks to what's called "muscle memory"), but it's always better to maintain as muscle muscle whilst cutting. Good luck.