Every guy should try to get lean.
Normally I avoid “shoulding” on people. It’s your body — do whatever the hell you want with it. The last thing the world needs is some jag-off fitness blogger telling you how much bodyfat is acceptable.
Although, if I may speak from experience: if you’re a dude and a lifter – and especially if you call yourself (gasp) a bodybuilder – you owe it to yourself to get really lean. Even just once.
I typically diet to very lean condition once a year. I suggest at some point every bro do the same.
That might seem like bad advice.
I mean if you’re fat, yeah, dieting makes sense. Ditto if you’re a professional bodybuilder or fitness model or volunteer firefighter posing for the world’s cheesiest calendar.
But for a guy who works out and likes to carry around a little muscle, why bother?
Why do it to yourself? Cause make no mistake, dieting is still a drag, even for the most dedicated or delusional. Once the initial “easy” pounds melt away and you’re down to the last 5-10 that just… won’t … budge, it always becomes a war against you.
Your body wants you to live long and prosper. Or at least stop starving your damn self. So it sends you all sorts of signals to eat: from subtle sweet cravings to bizarre ones (mmm cabbage rolls) to late-night sledgehammer hunger pangs. All of which test your willpower and ultimately, your sanity.
And then there’s the logical argument: every month you spend dieting is a month you’re not growing. On the contrary, dieting meaning shrinking. It invariably involves some degree of (temporary) muscle loss, and certainly a drop in strength and performance.
Suck it up too long and you’ll eventually wind up like Gollum, watching your precious gains wash away.
I’m here to tell you, it’s worth it. And for a lot more reasons than just looking good with your shirt off.
But before I offer 10 excellent reasons to get lean, first let me set up where this is going.
The next few blog posts are going to be about fat loss. Nutrition notes, training strategies, and stuff I’ve learned doing this for so long.
You know, the nuts and bolts. The stuff people love to focus on.
However, all that “hard” info is useless if you aren’t committed to the cause. If you don’t embrace “the why.”
Because, as stated, dieting is hard. It’s always a test of will, especially if it involves a radical shift in training and lifestyle and especially dietary habits.
At some point you’ll want to quit. You should want to quit – that means you’re uncomfortable. It means your diet is actually doing something.
So having your “why’s” firmly entrenched will help you push past the point of discomfort, when your body (and mind) starts playing all kinds of tricks to knock you off your game.
Wanna know how to spot a bro who skipped this crucial first step?
It’s the bulky guy who ended his diet after 4 or 6 weeks, and then came us with all sorts of reasons for tapping out:
- My bench press went down
- I got sick
- My libido tanked
- I need muh carbs
- Real men have curves
Don’t bullshit me. Remember who you’re talking to.
You realized your “ten pounds of water” to lose was really 30-plus pounds of blubber, much of it distributed on your back, chest, and thighs and other areas that make you look big and imposing standing in line at Safeway.
And you realized that being in a calorie deficit for an extended period, frankly, sucks. So you bailed on the plan and resumed “living.”
That’s a shame. Cause you missed out.
Here are 10 reasons why you should get lean, bro.
1. You’ll Look Bigger. Anyone who’s ever dieted has experienced this. Your weight is plummeting, your clothes sagging, and your cheeks sinking in like Derek Zoolander doing his best Blue Steel. And then some random stranger comments how big you’re getting.
An aesthetic physique is 90% illusion. As fat melts away, hard earned muscle is exposed, along with increased vascularity. No wonder you look bigger at a lean 180 then you did at a sloppy 215.
2. You’ll Look Better. This is more subjective but hey, it’s my blog. A younger guy can get away with being bulky or downright chubby and still look like he has his shit together. Worst-case scenario, Joe Public will assume you’re a big eating o-lineman.
However, with older bodies, extra fat is a lot less appealing. Thirty extra pounds on a more mature guy just looks, well, sloppy. Especially in corporate circles where sweatshirts and clown pants aren’t acceptable attire.
3. You’ll Look Like a Bodybuilder. We all make fun of bodybuilders – even fellow bodybuilders do. But at the end of the day, bodybuilders are masters of physique development. Building muscle and losing fat IS their entire sport, their identity.
When you start to get lean, people will invariably start referring to you as a bodybuilder. While you could take it as a hint you’re spending too much time in front of the mirror, it likely means you’re starting to look like someone who knows how to build muscle.
4. You’ll Feel More in Control. The greatest thing about learning what “works” for your body is the quiet confidence you gain.
Suddenly, lame bits of internet advice that used to drive you nuts like “it’s all just calories in versus calories out” or “it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you ‘nail’ your intra workout nutrition” no longer bother you. Because you’re self-assured, confident that what you do works – cause obviously, it does.
5. You’ll See Progress. Once you get past the newbie stage, muscle building is a painfully slow process. Show me a guy whose been training for a while that claims to have put on 10 pounds of muscle in a year and I’ll show you either a liar, a supplement huckster, or a walking pincushion. Likely all three.
However, you can still make improvements. But they’re impossible to see if you don’t drop your bodyfat to less than average levels. Staying chubby all year means you’ll never “see” if anything is really working.
6. You’ll Stay Leaner, Longer. Look at pictures of your friends in high school. Now look at pics of them at 25. Then at 35. And at 40-plus, if you’re really old. You’ll probably notice that most are getting progressively fatter. (If any of my friends are reading this, I’m sorry, you fat bastards.)
Fat sneaks up on us. For the average person it’s often 5 or so pounds gained between Halloween and New Years. Some of it gets “dieted” off, but most (if not all) sets up shop on the ass, thighs, and lower back.
But if you diet to decent condition once a year you can prevent this weight creep, or at least slow it to a manageable crawl. It also keeps you mentally “tuned” to seeing yourself as a lean person — and only accepting being in lean condition. So you don’t become that guy who says he “woke up one morning” to see 30 extra pounds of chub on his waistline.
7. You’ll Build More Muscle. This is a big one. Leaner bodies are more adept at building muscle. Some say it’s enhanced insulin or leptin sensitivity.
Or a form of super compensation; perhaps the body’s post-diet survival mechanism. I just know the 8 weeks following a diet is when I make my best hypertrophy improvements.
To be perfectly honest, much of the reason I diet every year is to set up this anabolic rebound. It’s that effective.
8. You’ll Move Better. Some fat people are surprisingly nimble. They’re also usually young and athletic. Very few chunky, older bros are wowing the world with jaw dropping mobility. Extra fat just takes up space and slows you down.
9. You’ll Enjoy Better Health. You can be extremely lean and have utterly abysmal health numbers. However, for the most part, the diet and exercise interventions required to get lean will also improve health markers like blood lipids.
Sure, androgen and thyroid numbers may take a temporary beating, but typically that’s with the more extreme end of competition dieting. To sum up, leaner = healthier.
10. You’ll Get More Sex. Okay, this is a stretch. Especially considering if you make your diet too strict and too long, the last thing you’ll want is physical affection. But the fact remains that leaner, muscular bodies are more appealing both in and out of clothes. Your wife or girlfriend might say she loves you just the way you are but let’s be honest; she’d probably like you more if you swapped those moobs for pecs and abs.
Just saying. You know, as her friend. 😉
Now not everyone who picks up a weight is “ready” to diet.
A 5 foot 10, 150-pound man with “ripped abs” is not muscular and certainly not “aesthetic.” He’s skinny.
And those over-filtered Instagram “modeling” pictures aren’t fooling anyone. Go put some weight on, son. And a shirt.
However, for the rest of you bros — guys who’ve been at this a while and look sorta beefy in V-necks at the club — it’s time to buckle down and shed some pounds.
And yeah, if you’ve tried before and failed, I can certainly help. Just contact me.
Next up, practical tips on dieting that actually work.
Some guys just want to look good. Others are willing to learn what it takes. Which guy are you? Click here to learn more about building the body you want.