“I want to get cut/lean” is one of the most common goals for people when they start exercising. But can you be too lean? Do you realize what it takes to get lean?
When it comes to being at a healthy body weight it is commonly recommended for men to be below 20% and women to be below 30% body fat. But there is such as a thing as have too little body fat — this is usually reserved for physique competitors. When men get below 6% body fat and women get below 16% it is considered to be unhealthy! It sounds like an incredible goal to try to get to this level but have you considered the trade-offs and the work required to get there? They can be substantial — let’s break them down.
“Extreme Lean” Trade-Offs
When it comes to getting into the single digit body fat percentage for men and the middle teens for women it takes substantial commitment. If you want to get physique lean you will need to eat, sleep, and breathe it!
Nutrition is vital. Ready for a strict diet? Nutrition is going to be key. You will have to give up almost all of your junk food, rarely have desserts, and limit your alcohol intake. On top of that you will need to consume the majority of your carbs after your workout along with eating considerably more vegetables and proteins — not to mention fats. Many times physique competitors are on predetermined meal plans which are severely restrictive. A severely restrictive diet can lead to dropout, depression, hormone imbalances, fatigue, loss of sex drive, mood swings, and many other negatives side effects!
Exercise is a must. Do you love exercise? If you want to get lean then it’s time to hit the gym! Many coaches suggest exercising at least 60+ minutes per day (or even twice daily) but we recommend hitting the gym five times and performing some seriously high-intensity workouts in order to ramp up your afterburn effect — so you can burn calories long after your workout is over. You want your metabolism on overdrive if you are trying to get lean. But a word of caution — this level of duration, intensity, and frequency of training can easily result in injury!
Get more sleep. Have no time for sleep? This may be something that is commonly overlooked with it comes to getting lean but it’s vital. Sleep is important for repairing muscles, processing memories, and other cognitive functions but it has also been linked to overall lower body fat! A study out of BYU last year found that keeping a consistent sleep schedule while getting between 6.5 – 8.5 hours of sleep a night was associated with a significantly lower body fat. Now, this isn’t the case with everyone but it is something that is very important to keep in mind. To achieve that physique lean you will need to focus on getting more sleep!
Commitment. Are you committed? Are you really committed? When you are going for extreme lean you will have to sacrifice so many things and always be prepared for every meal. Traveling? Better pack each meal and know where if there is a gym is close-by that you can use. Commitment is key to reaching this level of lean! I’m talking packing your own lunch when going to the amusement park type of commitment.
The Holistic Approach
I have much respect of people trying to get this lean and for the ones that actually achieve it – it’s a level of commitment that deserves respect. That being said, it is definitely not for everyone and our company recommends a more holistic approach – let’s get healthy for the sake of being healthy and the rest will take care of itself! Shoot to lose weight and get healthy – this gives you more leeway and allows for gentle, sustainable weight loss!
Look, I’m not here to say don’t try to get as lean as possible – I just want you to know that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and I want you to be healthy. You don’t necessarily have to do all of these things in order to get lean – they are just the typical ones we always see! Likewise, everyone’s body is different and will react differently – it’s up to you to know your body!
That being said, there is an unhealthy lean and there is a healthy, athletic lean. When you strive for this physique lean remember that the athletes you see in the magazines don’t have that body throughout the entire year. Many times they “cut” just to get that look right before a competition or before a photo shoot! Also remember that as you strive to reach this lean that you have to give up many activities and foods you may love in order to achieve it! By all means, shoot for your goals but just know the trade-offs! Good luck!
Featured photo credit: skeeze via pixabay.com