If you are a natural lifter on a busy schedule who wants to build a shredded physique, you've come to the right place! A busy natural lifter has a completely different path to getting ripped than an IFBB pro, and I'm going to share with you every detail of how I get to single-digit body fat in roughly eight weeks. This shredding protocol has helped thousands of people finally crack the code to getting a ripped physique, even with less-than-ideal genetics, lack of time, or both.
As the co-founder of Alpha Lion, I work almost seven days a week, and I don't have all day to spend on training and meal prep. I also have a deep passion for food and refuse to eat chicken and broccoli out of Tupperware to reach my goal physique. Here's a walk through my day so you can see how the procedure works
Shredding is different from traditional weight loss. The point of getting shredded is to lose fat all over your body while simultaneously not losing muscle, not losing intensity in your workouts, and not causing metabolic damage by starving yourself. Most natural lifters fail miserably at this for obvious reasons. The goal of losing fat while keeping muscle and crushing your workouts may seem to contradict itself, so pay attention to the details. If I can do it with my skinny-fat genetics, you can, too.
Let's start with the three rules of shredding you must follow for this to work.
Shred Rule 1: Don't Shred Too Fast
Shredding slow is the first rule for a reason. The faster you try to shred, the more muscle you will lose, and the slower your metabolism will become.
Everyone I've seen rush the process by going into a drastic caloric deficit ended up looking worse. Imagine going through diet hell just to come out of it looking like crap.
When you starve yourself and eat in a 1,000-plus-calorie deficit each day to speed up your fat loss, you are only hurting yourself and causing damage. I made this mistake, and it cost me months of progress in the gym. Remember, the goal is fat loss without sacrificing muscle—or losing intensity in the gym.
A good rule of thumb is that if you are eating less than 10 times your bodyweight in calories per day, you are in much too great a deficit. For example, I weigh 200 pounds, and if I was living on 1,600 calories per day (200 x 8), I would be starving and losing muscle very quickly.
This shred will allow you to maintain a healthy metabolism, keep your hard-earned muscle, eat more of the foods you love, and burn fat as fast as scientifically possible without causing any metabolic damage.
Shred Rule 2: Know Your Calories
I no longer count calories. I've counted calories for so long that I can estimate the calories in pretty much anything and get fairly close. This is my goal for you as well, but first you need to find what I like to call your "sweet spot" for shredding calories. Then, you'll spend a week counting your calories and getting a feel for what a full day of eating at this level looks and feels like.
I suggest you start your shred at a 500-800 calorie deficit at the most. How do you calculate this number? Easy! There are some useful calorie calculators online, but for the sake of making this brain-dead simple, here's an easy way to estimate your starting number.
Step 1. Take your current body weight and multiply by 14.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, 200 x 14 = 2,800 calories. This number represents your maintenance calories.
Step 2. Subtract 500-800 calories from your maintenance calories to determine your shredding calories.
If you are extremely active and have a fast metabolism, I recommend you deduct 500. In the example, my shredding calories would be 2,800 - 500 = 2,300 calories.
If you aren't as active and know for a fact you have a sluggish metabolism, start with an 800-calorie deficit. So, you would get 2,800 - 800 = 2,000 calories.
Shred Rule 3: Increase Your Energy Expenditure
I'm sure you've seen countless fitness experts preach that fat loss comes down to "calories in versus calories out," and there is a lot of truth to that. It's also true that the more calories you burn each day through exercise and other activities, the more calories you can eat and still be in a deficit.
Find fun ways to increase your total energy expenditure when embarking on your shred. There are a ton of things you can do. Whenever I shred, I try to do several of the following activities daily to increase my total energy expenditure. Note that this doesn't count as my actual workout.
- Taking walks with my fiancée and my two cats (yes, I walk my cats!)
- Jogging on the beach at a comfortable pace
- Short HIIT workouts such as sprints
- Boxing and ping pong on my Oculus Virtual Reality Game
- 1 set of push-ups to failure for every hour that I sit
- Pick-up basketball games (my favorite form of cardio)
- Playing tennis (my second favorite form of cardio)
- Bike rides
My Full Day of Eating and Training for Getting Shredded
I consume around 2,500 calories a day when I'm on a shred. It's the number that works for me. Most likely your number will be different. For the record, I'm 6-foot-1, and as I mentioned, I usually weigh around 200 pounds at the time I begin my shred. This protocol has never failed to get me from 14-15 percent body fat to single-digit body fat in two months or less.
My day starts pretty early and the first hour is all about waking up and getting something productive done.
Right when I wake up, I drink two large glasses of water, totaling about 32 ounces. This is crucial, as you will tend to get dehydrated easily when you are shredding. The water will also blunt your appetite a bit—I don't eat my first meal until after I work out in the morning.
I also take three SuperHuman Armor pills, as they include vitamin C, which helps lower cortisol levels. This all-in-one immune system formula is also loaded with highly bioavailable zinc for supporting healthy testosterone levels.
I jump in the shower and prepare for the day, and then post on my laptop from around 5:45-7 a.m.
This is my time to focus and get something productive done, which usually means writing an email delivering some value to Alpha Lion's email list or scripting content for social media. My rule of thumb is that I get at least one productive item done before 7 a.m., and then I reward myself with a workout.
Around 7 a.m., I get into my workout zone by pouring a scoop of SuperHuman pre-workout into my shaker cup with 8 ounces of water and some ice. SuperHuman is my go-to pre-workout, as it allows me to train with maximum intensity, even on an empty stomach. I never crash from it and I love the taste. I sip on it while I write out my workout for the day and cue up a YouTube video or a podcast to watch or listen to during my workout.
My workouts are always 45-60 minutes and highly intense. I typically do a push-pull-legs routine when I'm shredding so I can train more major muscle groups at each workout and thus burn more calories.
I use what I call the "Balloon Method" in my training, which really cranks up the intensity and adds a ton of variety. The Balloon Method is the secret sauce in my recipe for keeping hard-earned muscle while shredding. It maximizes the three science-backed ways your body builds muscle in a short and intense workout: mechanical overload, muscle damage, and metabolic stress. I'm not only able to preserve my hard-earned muscle while being in a deficit, but I also burn more calories during my training.
Here is a sample of what an hourlong Balloon Method push workout looks like when I'm shredding.
Balloon Method Push Workout (chest, delts, and triceps)
- Incline barbell bench press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps. Go heavy, focus on slow eccentrics to maximize muscle damage.
- Incline dumbbell bench press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps plus a dropset. Use a weight you can do for 8-10 reps; immediately drop the weight by about 30 percent and do another 8-10 reps to failure.
- High-to-low cable fly: 2 sets of 45 sec. time under tension
- Dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps, taking really short rests
- Dumbbell overhead press: 3 sets of 8-10 reps plus a dropset. Use a weight you can do for 8-10 reps; immediately drop the weight by about 30 percent and do another 8-10 reps to failure.
- Weighted dip with triceps emphasis: 3 sets to failure. Get as many quality reps as possible, taking short rests.
- Triceps press-down: 3 sets of 8-10 reps plus a dropset. Use a weight you can do for 8-10 reps; immediately drop the weight by about 30 percent and do another 8-10 reps to failure.
I hold my rest times to 60 seconds or less during a shred. It really cranks up the intensity!
I train abs 3-4 times a week during my shred. Every other day, I do a 5-7-minute ab routine at the end of my workout, performing three exercises, rotating among the 15 total ab exercises that help me sculpt six-pack abs.
My Tip for Extra Workout Endurance During a Shred
In order to keep my training at a high level, I power my shredding workouts with Gain-O-Rade, which gives me 10 grams of all nine essential amino acids, as well as added electrolytes and hydration. This stuff is worth its weight in gold during intense workouts.
I typically alternate flavors between Leg Day Limeade and Grapermelon Gains. I feel that I can push harder and for longer periods while drinking Gain-O-Rade during my workouts.
An amino beverage like Gain-O-Rade that has all nine essential amino acids as opposed to one that has just the three branched-chain aminos is more efficient at providing energy for muscles during a workout. What's more, the body needs all nine essential aminos for protein synthesis, so by getting them all, you help create an environment where protein synthesis remains productive.
Time to have some fun during the post-workout window! This is when I typically eat the foods that I crave. Muscle tissue is at its most insulin-sensitive post-workout, and the insulin spike created by these foods helps me maintain my muscle when I'm eating in a caloric deficit.
Some days I pound a G.O.A.T.EIN protein shake immediately after the workout, but today I'm using it to make some Superhuman French Toast. This recipe is actually really quick and easy to make and satisfies my sweet tooth. Plus, it has 20 grams of protein.
Superhuman French Toast
- 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
- 1 scoop Bulging Banana G.O.A.T.EIN
- 1/4 cup low-calorie almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 packets stevia
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 slices Ezekiel Bread
- Sugar-free syrup to taste
- Spread a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray in a nonstick skillet.
- Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
- Dip the bread in the batter and let it soak for 10-15 seconds.
- Remove the bread immediately and place in the skillet. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
- Top with your favorite sugar-free syrup (I recommend Walden Farms).
Total calories: 600. I usually use a lower-sugar syrup, which has an additional 100 calories, giving my breakfast a total of 700 calories loaded with protein and carbs for post-workout fuel.
9 a.m.-12 p.m.
This is usually my most productive work time, and I spend it either filming a video or having meetings with my team at Alpha Lion about upcoming product launches or marketing strategy.
It's also a very crucial time to hydrate and drink a ton of water. I just had a grueling hourlong workout, and my body is aching to recover, so I fill a hydronator with 64 ounces of water and try to finish the entire thing during this three-hour work window.
12 -1 p.m.
I am usually starving by this time, and I try to eat another big meal of protein and carbs. I don't avoid carbs when I'm shredding and typically eat about 200-250 grams of carb per day.
My favorite go-to lunch is what I call a SuperHuman bowl, with a half-pound of 96 percent lean ground beef, 1-2 cups of cooked jasmine rice, plus veggies, avocado, and a drizzle of peanut sauce. I cook the ground beef with light oil and veggies and toss that over the rice in a bowl. Then I will slice an avocado on top and drizzle peanut sauce over it.
This will give me another 800 calories. It only takes me about 10 minutes total to make and is absolutely delicious! I recommend that you stick with lean ground beef and the more flavorful chicken thighs over chicken breast and add your favorite sauce.
While the sauce may add a few more calories, you are still going to be in a deficit for the day, and it makes the diet much more enjoyable.
Total calories for the day so far: 700 (breakfast) + 800 (lunch) = 1,500
This is another fertile work period for me, but I usually spend about an hour of the time doing some outdoor activity that I enjoy, burning some calories in the process. For example, going on a walk with my fiancée and my cats or jogging on the beach will help me burn around 200 additional calories and keep me from going insane while working on my laptop all day.
I also have a high-protein frozen treat that I really love during this time. I call it a SuperHuman piña colada and it's got 25 grams of protein and only about 300 calories. It's also high in electrolytes and digestive enzymes to break down all the protein I've been eating.
SuperHuman Piña Colada
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 8 oz. coconut water
- 1 scoop Bulging Banana G.O.A.T.EIN
- Blend all ingredients together and enjoy! This is the easiest, most delicious recipe you will ever come across!
Running calorie count for the day: 700 (breakfast) + 800 (lunch) + 300 (snack) = 1,800 calories.
During this time, I usually do some content planning and check in on my company's Slack correspondence. I tend to get a little hungry during this window, so snack on something that is around 200-300 calories to hold me over until dinner. (This brings me to around 2,000 total calories, leaving me 500 more for dinner.) My favorite low-calorie snacks include chocolate-dusted almonds, peanut butter on celery, or a protein bar that is low in sugar.
Recently I've also been trying to meditate and will use 15 minutes during this window for meditation on my rooftop.
In the early evening, I try to get outside one more time if it's nice and do something I enjoy such as jogging, walking, tennis, or basketball. Nothing beats fresh air and also being able to burn more calories!
Dinner is my last meal of the day, and it's the only meal where I always go lower carb. My theory is that longer periods of low insulin secretion are best for fat loss, so when you combine this with my calorie deficit, I'm able to get faster results.
My typical dinner consists of protein, healthy fat, and lots of veggies. My go-to dinner when shredding is almost always a huge salad or a tasty piece of protein plus a huge plate of veggies tossed in olive oil. My favorite variation is what I call a SuperHuman Salad, where I load up a big bowl with spinach, romaine, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, avocado, and whatever other vegetables I have in my fridge, and then top my greens with salmon, chopped chicken thigh, or ahi tuna and toss with my favorite dressing.
This is high-volume eating and allows me to get really full on only 500 calories. It is very important to get a lot of fiber and volume in this meal, as I won't be eating again until the following morning after my workout.
That gives me a grand total of 2,500 calories, and all I have to do is repeat this exact same day with a different workout for eight weeks to go from 200 pounds and around 14 percent body fat to about 190 pounds and single-digit body fat!
For the next couple of hours, I will plan my upcoming day and watch something I enjoy on Netflix in the background. About 30 minutes before I go to bed, I sip on some Alpha Dreams. It helps my body relax with the melatonin and Gaba while also giving me an injection of amino acids, minerals, and electrolytes optimal for recovery and growth while I sleep. I like to think of Alpha Dreams as ZMA on steroids because you get a max dose of ZMA along with the other ingredients. My favorite flavor is Honey Badger!
Most nights I go to bed by 11.
What the Rest of My Week Looks Like
As mentioned, I do a push-pull-legs split, training six days a week and hitting every muscle group at least twice. I also throw in a few short HIIT workouts like squat jumps or sprints to boost my metabolism and anabolic hormones. These sessions only last about 10 minutes and are a great X-factor during shredding season.
My diet does average about 2,500 calories per day, but some days are over and some days are under. It's important to note that I will have one higher carb day on one of my leg days and one lower carb day on my rest day.