In the digital “right here, right now” era, impatience runs deep within our veins. We want to lose 30 pounds a month, pack on five pounds of muscle this week, and all with as little effort as possible.
Of course, those plans can work magic if you’re starting (literally) from square one.
But if you’re a self-proclaimed gym rat and still disappointed in your progress, “how to get ripped in 90 days” sounds like just another gimmick.
If it was possible, wouldn’t you already look like Chris Pratt by now (circa Guardians of the Galaxy, not Parks & Recreation)?
If you don’t, it’s time to rethink your approach.
In this guide, we’ll reveal how to get ripped in 90 days because, yes, it’s possible!
Table of Contents
- What Is Ripped?
- Step 1 – Take Weight & Body Fat % Measurements
- Step 2 – Stock Up On Supplements & Lifting Gear
- Step 3 – Create a Lean-Muscle-Friendly Diet Plan
- Step 4 – Follow a Workout Plan Designed For Gains
- Step 5 – Don’t Forget About Cardio!
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Get Ripped in 90 Days Conclusion
What Is Ripped?
Sorry, Urban Dictionary … you’re a bit off the mark on this one!
When a guy mutters that long-awaited, ego-inflating phrase, “Bro, that guy is ripped,” it’s coming more from a place of envy (and — spoiler alert — has nothing to do with drugs and alcohol).
Not to be confused with:
When we say “ripped,” we’re talking about tons of lean mass (muscle), a six-pack or washboard abs, a near-Hulking upper body, muscle definition, and peaking glamor muscles (ahem, biceps).
The lower body is simply playing an endless cat-and-mouse game of catch-up!
And, in true “ripped” style, muscle mass is gradually out-pacing fat. Imagine Tom Cruise in his prime, Christiano Ronaldo, Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
When you’re ripped, you’re hitting the fitness jackpot: strength, mass, and lower body fat %. You wouldn’t only steal gawkers from Floyd Mayweather, but you’ll also lift heavier and feel confident.
Why 90 Days?
Ninety days seems to be the magic number in the fitness galaxy.
Darebee has an equipment-free, beginner-friendly cardio routine dubbed “90 Days of Action.”
Nearly every V-Shred program — including the appropriately named “Toned in 90 Days” and “Ripped in 90 Days” — follows the classic 90-day format.
And, P90X, arguably the most famous at-home fitness training program, even infuses its 90-day deadline into its catchy headline.
Nobody’s confessing to why we all agreed this is how long it takes to get ripped, but we can make a few guesses:
- A ground-breaking study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 2005 revealed that after 12 weeks of a unilateral training program (comparing left and right sides), lucky participants topped 250%+ 1RMs and 59% muscle growth,
- A McMaster University (Canada) study from 2012 revealed that average muscle gains stood around 3 kg (6.6 lbs) after 10-12 weeks in men training four times weekly.
- The average habit takes about 66 days to solidify, according to 2009 research featured in the European Journal of Social Psychology. If you can commit to a training and healthy eating plan for at least 66 days, you’ll certainly see results by the 90-day mark.
After 12 weeks of training, you should see noticeable results in the mirror, even if they’re only those long-sought-after “noob gains.”
Does either of these studies prove that a 12-week program will leave you any more ripped than an 11 or 13-week routine? Nope! But when we say a month is four weeks, it’s just neater!
Now, back to our question: how do you get ripped in 90 days (or about three months)?
Step 1 – Take Weight & Body Fat % Measurements
We hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but whether or not you land in “ripped” territory within that tight 90-day deadline depends on where you’re starting.
You can only build muscle and torch fat so fast!
The first thing you need to do is confront your mortal enemy (the bathroom scale, not that asshole from high school who still acts like a big man on campus) and get an exact weight.
The next thing you want to do — and, if you’ve joined the 21st-century, your bathroom scale may have already done this for you — is to measure your current body fat percentage.
If not, grab a set of old-school skinfold calipers. Measure the seven key areas three times (to get an average), plug them into a Jackson & Pollock calculator, and there’s your answer!
Sequoia Fitness TrimCal 4000 Body Fat Caliper (Black)
Here’s a lightweight, black body fat caliper designed with adequate jaw pressure and accuracy to give you the most accurate body fat estimate for your progress measurements.
Learn What’s Realistic In 90 Days
You’ll creep into “ripped” territory around the same time you meet “athletes” status in the eyes of the American Council on Exercise (ACE): 6-13% body fat.
For argument’s sake, let’s use a goal of 10% body fat, just enough to start peeling back the subcutaneous fat layer hiding your abs.
Cutting about 1-2 pounds (and about 0.5% body fat) a week is generally regarded as “safe.”
Looking at the chart below, you can find out how far along you’ll be within 90 days:
|Current Body Fat %||In 90 Days, You’ll Be At||“Ripped?”|
|10%||4%||Yes (might want to cool it with the weight loss now)|
But the devil is in the details; when you’re looking to get ripped, you’ll be doing two things at once: torching fat and adding more lean mass (which is why the number on the scale is misleading).
Depending on how long you’ve been training, in 90 days, your bonus lean mass will vary:
|Training Experience||In 90 Days, You’ll Pack On|
|1 Year||6 pounds|
|2 Years||3 pounds|
|3 Years||1.5 pounds|
|4+ Years||0.75 pounds|
If you’re starting at 200 pounds, 16% body fat, with one year of training experience, after 90 days, you could slim down to 182 pounds and 10% body fat (-24 pounds of fat + six pounds of mass).
Of course, that’s if everything goes perfectly (which, it never does).
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Step 2 – Stock Up On Supplements & Lifting Gear
Now, this might be surprising, but putzing around in the gym and eating whatever your taste buds crave isn’t going to land you anywhere close to the ripped bullseye.
Step two is where a lot of ripped-seekers fall off the beaten path and finish their 90-day journey disappointed or scorned.
Maximize your results by fueling your workouts and future gains!
If you were praying for a “magic pill” that’ll guarantee tighter sleeves and envious spotters, creatine monohydrate is as close as you’ll come (but sorry folks, it’s no miracle worker).
Cellucor Cor-Performance Creatine Monohydrate
If you want more strength, muscle, and power, this supplement is 72 servings of pure creatine to speed up recovery and increase your gains in the gym. Mixes easily in any drink without any added ingredients.
This white powder (or pill) is an amino acid supplement that does everything from slashing recovery times and building mass to boosting strength and energizing mid-workout.
With just a 5-gram scoop per day, downing this tasteless powder can:
- Increase your bench press 1RM by 15 pounds in four weeks (2006)
- Help you bounce back and recover post-workout; 10% higher isokinetic and 21% greater isometric strength after 48 hours (2009)
- Ramp-up strength (+13 lb bench press & + 43 lb leg press) in a matter of six weeks (2020)
Dump a scoop into a water bottle shortly before or after a workout. The heavier you can lift and the sooner you can return to the gym, the more you can guarantee “ripped” in 90 days.
Warning: Creatine is a terror when it comes to weight gain from water retention during the first week or so. If you notice an extra 2-5 pounds in the first week, don’t blame your diet!
No introduction needed on this one!
Protein steps in post-workout after your muscles suffer microscopic tearing from pushing them to their limits in the gym. With enough protein, your muscles will recover larger and stronger.
In most cases, a protein supplement will push you over the top, even if you’re maxing out in your diet otherwise (0.8 grams per kilogram).
But if you stop at the gym on your drive to work, don’t have time to cook, struggle with a low appetite, or follow a generally low-protein diet, chocolatey whey protein will fill in the gap.
Choose whey protein with 20-40 grams per serving (which is about all your body can process at a time), down it within an hour of a workout, and coax your body into efficient muscle synthesis.
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
This is one of our top recommended whey protein powders because of it's high protein content per serving, extreme deliciousness, and the fact that all Swolverine products are sourced from GMP-certified facilities
Pre-workout powder has a hit-or-miss reputation because the scientific community is — get this — still arguing about it more than a decade later.
These fruity powders mix well with water and, if you chug the concoction 30-60 minutes before a workout, it might just blow your previous PRs out of the water.
C4 Ripped Pre-Workout and Cutting Formula
Formulated with CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine and caffeine to improve your muscular endurance and keep fatigue at bay as you crush it in the gym.
It simmers down to a basic formula: More power = heavier lifts = more muscle tearing = sweet, sweet gains. As for what’s in these powders, 2019 research discovered common ingredients:
- Beta-alanine (87%): Lessens muscular fatigue, welcoming a higher volume workout
- Caffeine (86%): Ignites metabolism for greater fat loss, preserving muscle glycogen for extended workouts
- Citrulline (71%): Boosts oxygen levels in the muscles for peak performance
- Tyrosine (63%): Ramps up workout intensity and neuromuscular recovery to return to training faster
- Taurine (51%): Cuts down on fatigue and reduces muscle damage
If you tend to feel drained or distracted mid-workout, pre-workout can encourage you to last until that final set, giving as close to 100% as possible.
A Weightlifting Belt
A leather weightlifting (or powerlifting belt) sitting 4″ in width and boasting a stainless steel lever locking mechanism might seem oddly specific, and it is.
Dark Iron Fitness Genuine Leather Pro Weight Lifting Belt
A comfortable belt that does not dig into your sides. Customers average a 10% lift increase with this belt. Free replacement if it fails.
Aside from oozing an “I’m a badass” vibe, weightlifting belts teach your lower back and core muscles how to brace for compound lifts (“intra-abdominal pressure” in bodybuilding circles).
With a stiff back during deadlifts and squats, you can better prevent lower back hyperextension, build a stable base, and — in turn — lift heavier (or more volume) without injury!
One 2001 clinical trial also found that squatting with a weight belt also boosted rep speed, suggesting that a belt can help with explosive lower-body power, putting up higher numbers.
Pass On …
There’s a supplement for everything these days. But if you’re sipping on a powdered cocktail or popping back supp pills at every meal, you’re wasting your money with no results guaranteed.
No matter how desperate you are to tighten those sleeves or earn your Baywatch-style slo-mo jog on the beach, skip these supplements:
- HGH or PEDs (if you have to go to the dark web to buy something, it’s definitely too risky)
- Testosterone boosters (you can better manipulate your test levels with diet & exercise)
- Fat burners (yes, they will boost your metabolism, but at a cost: GI upset, anxiety, high blood pressure, and even liver toxicity)
If the bottle promises results that leave you questioning, “Is that even possible?” the answers are either: “definitely not” or “yes, but not a single soul in the medical community would suggest it.”
The FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement market, so don’t assume that, because you can find it on Amazon, that it’s safe!
Step 3 – Create a Lean-Muscle-Friendly Diet Plan
From the dietary perspective, getting ripped is hard because you’re chasing two opposite goals: losing weight and building muscle. Go an inch too far in either direction, and all goes to hell.
But … It’s possible.
It only requires a delicate balance of protein, carbohydrates (scary), fat, and calories and depends solely on whether you’re cutting or bulking (or both).
The chart below will guide you toward a more precise macro/calorie breakdown.
|Cutting (getting rid of body fat)||Bulking (adding more muscle mass)||Both (according to a McMaster University study)|
|Calories||BMR – 500||BMR + 400||– 40%|
|Potential Weight Change||– 1 lb fat per week||+ 1 lb muscle a week||– 10.5 lbs fat + 2.5 lbs muscle in four weeks|
(BMR stands for basal metabolic rate and describes how many calories your body needs to survive daily. Learn more about your BMR and calorie requirements with this calculator.)
No matter which direction you’re going, you want every calorie to mean something (also called “nutrient-dense”). Don’t waste empty calories on soda, sugary sweets, or loaded burgers.
A Sample Diet Plan
- Breakfast: egg whites (½ cup), oatmeal (1 cup), toast (1 slice), peanut butter (1 tbsp), banana
- Snack: yogurt (1 cup), almonds (1 oz), tuna (1 can)
- Lunch: grilled chicken (4 oz) whole-wheat wrap, lettuce (1 cup), tomato (2 slices chopped), light mayonnaise (1 tbsp)
- Snack: whey protein (1 scoop), peanut butter (1 tbsp), frozen blueberries (½ cup), spinach (1 handful)
- Dinner: salmon (1 fillet), vegetable stir fry, black coffee
- Snack: rice cakes (2 cakes), apple (medium)
Protein: 30%, Carbohydrates: 42%, Fat: 28%, Calories: 1,898
Eating 5-6 times per day can help you feel full and energized from dawn until dusk. If you’re normally dozing off during a training session, you can only lift so heavy or sprint so fast.
Track what you’re eating in an app like MyFitnessPal to know where your diet needs tweaking.
Step 4 – Follow a Workout Plan Designed For Gains
Step four is where you’ll tailor things more toward how much progress you have remaining.
For example, if you’re already buff and need to slim down a few BF% points, your training plan will revolve more around muscle maintenance.
Alternatively, if your gym fob is still warm to the touch or you’re looking to escape that dreaded “skinny fat” rank, your gym junkie invitation is in the mail!
When you’re looking for — or building — a gym routine, don’t forget to include:
- Both compound and isolation exercises (in that order)
- 2-4 sets per exercise
- 8-12 reps per set (what we call the mass-building “sweet spot”)
- Twice per week frequency (proven by a 2016 study)
- 30-60 seconds of rest between sets (as reported in a 2009 study)
The key to mass is adding more volume with each workout in one of two forms: adding 5-10 more pounds to the bar when you max out your rep goals or performing more reps at the same weight.
The only way to see results is to push your body even further!
If you’re doubling up to get ripped (weightlifting and — you guessed it — cardio), your weekly routine might resemble this one:
Here’s a sample three-day workout that you can cycle through twice during the week to get ripped. Feel free to focus on lagging muscles a little extra with added sets or different exercises.
Push [Monday & Thursday]
- Bench Press — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell Fly — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Overhead Press — 3 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise — 3 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Triceps Cable Extension — 2 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Barbell Close-Grip Bench Press — 2 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
Pull [Tuesday & Friday]
- Barbell Bent-Over Row — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Cable Lat Pulldown — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Pullover — 3 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell Bicep Curl — 2 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Hammer Curl — 2 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Weighted Sit-Up — 2 sets x 10-15 reps [45 seconds rest]
Legs [Wednesday & Saturday]
- Deadlift — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Front Squat — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Romanian Deadlift — 4 sets x 6-8 reps [60 seconds rest]
- Leg Press — 3 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Leg Curl — 3 sets x 10-12 reps [45 seconds rest]
- Seated Calf Raise — 2 sets x 15 reps [45 seconds rest]
A strictly upper/lower split twice a week could work if you’re low on time, but unless you’re willing to do longer workouts, you can only pump out so much volume.
Step 5 – Don’t Forget About Cardio!
Woah, woah, woah … cardio?
Whether you’re bulking up or slimming down, you’ll need to get your body fat under control to drop into that low sub 10% range.
You have two options – First there’s LISS (low impact steady state) cardio for 30-60 min 3x per week.
Go for a brisk walk, jump on the elliptical, or turn the stairmaster on a low speed.
And if you got Parks and Rec streaming on your smartphone, you’ll be surprised at how fast the time goes by.
Your second option is HIIT — high-intensity interval training — known for cutting 28.5% more fat mass takes the podium (2019).
Reserve two days a week for HIIT (and, ideally, not the day before or after leg day).
Then, choose your favorite exercise (medicine ball slams, running, battle ropes, jumping lunges, whatever the hell motivates you to breathe heavily), and follow a pattern like this:
- 5-minute warm-up
- 60 seconds at high-intensity (about 75%)
- 120 seconds of low-intensity or complete rest
- REPEAT 5 TIMES
- 5-minute cool-down
The 15-minute HIIT session above can torch some 100-200 calories and if you’re committed to 2-3 of these a week, that could create a 200 to 600-calorie deficit.
By the end of the 90 days, you can shred an additional 2,400 to 7,200 calories or an extra 0.68 to 2.05 pounds of pure fat. That little bit makes a world of difference if you’re a few % shy of “ripped.”
It also gives you a little more wiggle room in terms of your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Get Ripped In 4 Weeks?
You can get ripped in 4 weeks, but only if you’re relatively in shape already. If you’re at 12% body fat, with a hypertrophy training program, a 35/15/50 macro breakdown, and twice-weekly HIIT, you’ll close out the month with more visible muscle mass and <10% body fat.
How Long Does It Realistically Take To Get Ripped?
It takes about six to twelve months for the average guy to get ripped. However, it depends more on your current training experience, body fat percentage, and commitment to training. If you want to reach “peak” ripped status (sub-6% BF and deep striations), 2-3 years is more realistic.
What Is The Quickest Way To Get Ripped?
The quickest way to get ripped isn’t a crash diet, insane powerlifting program, or a mass gainer supplement. Instead, do the following:
- Eat tons of protein (at least 0.8 grams per kilogram)
- Stick to the 8-12 rep range and hit each muscle group twice weekly
- Dedicate two days a week to a 15-minute HIIT session
- Use creatine, whey protein, and pre-workout powder
However, the best way to get ripped is to try a training program and eating plan that you can stick to, even when you wake up limping or feel groggy for the first few days as your body adjusts.
How to Get Ripped in 90 Days Conclusion
If you want to get ripped in 90 days, follow these steps:
- Take Weight & Body Fat % Measurements
- Stock Up On Supplements & Lifting Gear
- Create a Lean-Muscle-Friendly Diet Plan
- Follow a Workout Plan Designed For Gains
- Don’t Forget About Cardio!
Even more so, read your body and track your progress. If you dislike certain foods, can’t do specific exercises, or have a tight schedule, it’s okay to admit that your plan isn’t sustainable.
Make changes as you see fit; keep doing what works, and nix those that don’t!
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