How I got Ripped in 2 Years by Following These 13 Principles

ripped in 2 years

Summary of the 13 Principles I Used to Get Ripped:

(2, 5, 12 = most important and least known by most people)

  1. Consistency
  2. (Intermittent) Fasting
  3. Alcohol Rule
  4. Lift Heavy Weights (compound exercises)
  5. 3 Secrets for Boosting Motivation and Breaking Records
  6. ABF: Always Be Flexing
  7. Track Results
  8. The Three Parts of a Workout
  9. How to Get Good Sleep
  10. Skip Cardio
  11. Protein Intake and The Top Healthy Foods
  12. 3 Health Experiments You Should Do
  13. The Philosophy of Rippedness

Everyone respects people who are in good shape.

I don’t know what you’ve read or heard about bodybuilding, but. . .

Once you’re ripped–you’re ripped. And it’s very easy to maintain.

In this article you’ll learn the best things I used to get ripped in under 2 years.

My starting physique was not bad (I was not fat), but I didn’t have any visible muscles either. Now I look like this:


Of course, you’ve heard people tell you it’s possible to get a 6-pack in 3-6 months if you use this pill, that diet, this new revolutionary machine, but. . .

You didn’t believe that, did you!?

Those guys are just pushing their own agendas to sell you bullshit products.

You should be skeptical about research concerning the fitness industry.

Most studies are paid for by corporations to get the result they want.

This article is grounded in my own experience.

If you consistently apply the following 13 principles you’ll also get ripped.

I can’t promise you it’ll be in two years though.

Before I get into these principles, I suggest you get ready to take notes.

Because this article has a LOT of condensed information in it…..

But let’s start with what matters most:

The #1 MOST IMPORTANT Thing For Getting Ripped!

It’s this:

The more muscle you have the higher your metabolic baseline will be.

ripped 2 years

Yes, it’s really that easy.

This means that you’ll burn more calories (and stay lean) if you have a lot of muscle.

For this reason, it’s extremely easy for people who are already ripped, to remain ripped with minimal effort.

–And vice versa: this makes it damn hard & time-consuming for obese people to lose their weight and get ripped.

Therefore your goal should be to get ripped ASAP in life.

Now, let’s get into my 13 principles.

1. Consistency is Key

If you want to get ripped you’ll need to go to the gym several times a week, at least for the first 6 months.

And you must go even if you feel like shit–especially if you’re a newbie.

This discomfort is completely normal and comes from your homeostasis, which is your body’s process of maintaining (physiological) balance.

For this reason, you must make it a HABIT to work out even when you feel tired or sore. This will be a little hard at first, but you just gotta push through it, then your body adapts.

Once you have this down, you will NEVER have to worry about it ever again.

It’ll be automatic and effortless.

Here are two smart tips for becoming more consistent:

  • Find smart times to work out preemptively. When you know you’re going to be busy for  1-3 days in a row, make sure you do a killer workout session before that, so that you can use that busy-time to recover.
  • Find a good time that you can stick to. If you go to the gym at regular times you’ll make it a habit faster than if you don’t. For most people the best time to work out is between 4-7 PM. 1

2. Do (Intermittent) Fasting

Intermittent fasting is the most healthy eating pattern for most people. Especially men.

There are at least 5 reasons why you should be doing intermittent fasting:

1) It temporarily switches on ketosis, which means that you’ll BURN FAT instead of glucose, making you leaner.

2) It increases the amount of growth hormone that your body produces (this is good for building muscle and the immune system).

3) Your ghrelin levels go up2, and this will make you happier and more focused (increases dopamine), at least if you do a 2-day fast.

4) Research indicates that it reduces the risk of getting cancer.

5) It saves you A LOT of time (fewer dishes, less cooking, etc).

Here are the most popular ways to fast:

  • Feeding gap for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours (just skip breakfast).
  • Fasting for 24 h once a week.
  • Fasting for 40-48h once a week or every two weeks.

I usually eat 1-3 meals a day and fast for the rest of the day.

ripped 2 years fasting meal

My feeding gap is 8 hours and my fasting period is ca 16 hours. Then I usually fast for 24 or 48 hours once a week as well. Why?

Because I like to switch it up and break out of homeostasis.

If you want to get started with 2-Day fasts, I recommend drinking water mixed with L-glutamine to get amino acids without breaking the fast. This will make it easier.

L-glutamine is also healthy for your stomach because it is used to regenerate your stomach lining. I used to have a bad stomach (severe candida albicans), but now it’s good thanks to L-glutamine, fasting, coconut fat, and a ton of oregano (which contains more antioxidants than almost any other food).

3. The Alcohol Rule

It’s best not to drink it at all. Because it’s unhealthy.

But if you’re looking to get ripped and you’ve decided you’re going to drink alcohol anyway, here’s what you should do:

  • Drink only straight liquor or wine, to minimize intake of carbs and sugar. Avoid beer (especially IPAs) and sugary drinks.
  • Do NOT eat after having consumed alcohol. Alcohol is seen as a poison by your body and will be metabolized before any food. This means that if you drink and eat at the same time your body will store many calories as FAT. So fast instead.
  • Minimize fat consumption during the entire day that you drink. Fats contain a lot of calories and metabolize slowly (slower than carbs).

Alcohol isn’t particularly dangerous to getting ripped, but . . .

The food you eat while being drunk is the “dangerous” part that is counterproductive to getting ripped.

–Especially junk food, since it’s high-calorie, full of fats and additives.

4. Lift Heavy Weights & Do Compound Exercises

Want to build muscle–and strength–as fast as you can?

Then it’s all about doing compound exercises.

Isolation exercises are for three types of people:

  1. Serious bodybuilders.
  2. People who have no idea about what they’re doing.
  3. People with a lot of time on their hands.

I will assume you are neither of these types.

ripped 3

Heavy = you should not be able to do more than 10 repetitions.

Don’t go over 10 reps and don’t use weird machines–unless you suffer from some injury and have a valid reason for avoiding free weights.

Now friend, here are the most important compound exercises that you should be doing some variation of:

Whole body (back & core):

  • Deadlifts & stifflegged deadlifts.
  • Squats.
  • Cleans.
  • Clean and jerk.


  • Squats.
  • Front squats.
  • Lunges.

Upper body:

  • Bench press (including dumbbells).
  • Dips.
  • Pull-ups & chins.
  • Shoulder press.

Just keep it simple and stick to this while increasing your lifts.

–Especially if you’re a beginner.

Just grind it out until you’ve laid the foundation.

5. Three Secrets for Boosting Motivation

Now I will share three psychological tricks that have helped me a lot.

If you too can wrap your head around this, it can give you euphoric workouts, where you Break out of Your Homeostasis, and enter a new level.

Motivation is strongly correlated with the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. Here are some natural ways (psychological tricks) you can use to increase your release of dopamine to have better workouts.

#1 Improve the motivational effects of music

As you know, music is an effective motivation-booster. But did you know that its motivational effects can be optimized?

Here’s how:

Avoid listening to your favorite songs too often.

If you mix it up more, you’ll be able to squeeze more dopamine (motivation) out of them during a longer period of time.

#2 Variation boosts motivation

Just as varying your best songs helps maintain their motivational effects longer, you can start varying (small) things in the gym to keep your motivation high. This will keep habituation and boredom away.

. . . Because you’ve now SHOCKED the muscle.

–Arnold Schwarzenegger

You don’t want to switch up your entire workout sessions, but you always want to have some variation.

For example: I usually go to the gym, but sometimes I’ll go for a run or do calisthenics. Not because it’s more effective, but for the psychological effect of variation. Some muscle-ups here:

[Not the best technique, but whatever.]

Here’s another way you can use variation. Instead of lifting the flat barbell bench press all the time, you want to cycle between that AND:

  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Dips (weighted)
  • Cables
  • Calisthenics (regular push ups, weighted).

Pro tip: Start with a light weight, cycle between these exercises each (chest) workout, and lift a little bit more each time. Congratulations — You’re now. . .

#3 Using The Winner Effect to Break Records!

The winner effect is a biological term for how the brain changes itself by winning and competing.

This is AWESOME!

You get increased levels of dopamine and testosterone.

This puts you into a self-reinforcing feedback loop where you get addicted to winning, and will want to win even more.


Use the winner effect to set yourself up for a series of consistent “victories”.

This is how the best sport coaches build confidence in their athletes. Like how I just told you to cycle between the different chest exercises, because it’ll allow you to incrementally increasing the weight each time.

Don’t jump ahead to doing 1 rep max immediately.

Instead, choose to strategically spread it out over a longer period of time to maximize motivation!

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6. How to Spend Your Leisure: ABF

ABF – Always Be Flexing!

It sounds obvious (and it is), but most people don’t do it…

Flexing your muscles does two great things for you:

  1. It burns more energy.
  2. It promotes relaxation.

–So be sure to take frequent breaks to consciously flex your body, it will make you feel better and help you concentrate for longer periods of time.

Here are some exercises you can do anytime (in class, at work, sitting by computer):

  • Flex your neck & jaws. “Chew” imaginary food until your jaw gets tired.

[Warning: doing this in a public environment will make you look retarded.]

  • Stomach vacuums & flexing your stomach. A stomach vacuum is when you tuck in your stomach as hard as you can for as long as you can.

[Always flex your stomach when you lift, especially during squats and deadlifts.]

  • Flex all muscles in your body, especially chest and arms. This is easy to do while sitting by the computer.

7. Track Results

If you are new to working out it is useful to track your results. There are two main reasons:

  1. It makes you more psychologically committed.
  2. It shows your progress and puts things in context (also boosts motivation)

And. . . It flatters your ego.

Seriously: Take progress photos. It helps.

3 Things to measure:

  • Body weight.
  • How much you can lift.
  • Pictures of yourself to see your improvement.

8. The Three Parts of a Workout

Define what an optimal workout looks like.

1.    Pre-workout ritual:

This is when you get into the zone. You want to shift your focus from your head into your body. You can do this by meditating, visualizing your sets, or pumping yourself up. I usually drink coffee (if it’s early in the day).

Remember to flex your core during (compound) lifts!

Remember to flex your core during (compound) lifts!

2.   Lifting:

When you lift there should be only two things in your mind a) flexing your core and b) breathing correctly. “Correct breathing” means breathing into the stomach; not into the chest. (Correct breathing doesn’t elevate your shoulders.)

3.   Recovery between sets:

When you’ve finished a set it is important that you face the pain and breathe. Try to relax. Many people don’t do this, and it causes them to tire out unnecessarily.

9. Get Good Sleep

You need to create a consistent ritual that serves as cue for you to get tired. I struggled with this for a long time, but now I’ve got a great routine.

Here are 7 tips for better sleep:

  • Make sure you’re tired by the end of the day. Work harder.
  • Try sleeping in a pitch black room. That means no light at all. Your brain is smarter than your eyes are, and it will detect even the least amount of light. This may diminish your body’s production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), which can lower the quality of your sleep.
  • Don’t consume stimulants several hours prior to going to bed.
  • Open up a window to get fresh air.
  • Don’t use your phone or check email or social media 1 hour before bed.
  • Meditate or do breathing exercises 5 min to calm down before bed.
  • Avoid sitting by computer screens ca 20-30 minutes before going to bed.

10. Skip Cardio

Cardio does very little for you in terms of losing fat or building muscle.

You will burn more calories by:

  1. Lifting heavy weights or by,
  2. Doing interval training. . .

. . .than you will from doing steady state cardio.

Cardio has other benefits, but if the goal is to get ripped, it’s a waste of time.

11. Protein Intake & The Top Healthy Foods

Eat about 1g protein/pound – that’s about 1,5-2g of protein/kilo.

If you consume more protein than your body can assimilate, you will get gassy and you’ll probably feel slow and lethargic.

Do experiments to see how much protein your body is capable of assimilating. This is important because people are not equal in this regard!

Some people can assimilate more protein than others; it’s an unfair advantage owing to superior genetics and/or great stomach digestion.

(You want to be in the sweet spot where you consume just about enough protein every day without getting slow from it.)

Now, here are all the healthiest foods I eat a lot of:

  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds are exceptionally healthy and contain lots of zinc, which is good for boosting testosterone)
  • Healthy spices like cinnamon, curcumin and oregano (contains 4x the antioxidants of blueberries)
  • Supplements/other stuff: Magnesium, zinc, tea, coffee, raw cocoa, and high quality Omega-3. Occasionally L-glutamine and creatine.
To get ripped, eat properly.

To get ripped, eat properly.

And you want to avoid these foods:

  • Sugar/candy (raises your insulin levels and hinders fat loss)
  • Empty carbs (bread, pasta, snacks)
  • Processed foods (things that come in a plastic box)
unhealthy food get ripped

Avoid unnatural (fried or processed) food, unhealthy additives, and sugar.


You want to minimize carbs in general, except after workouts.

This does not include vegetable–always try to eat lots of vegetables!

For more info, check out what I usually eat and why.

ripped fast

You don’t need isolation exercises.


12. Three Health Tests You Should Do

One of the best investments that you can make in terms of money and time, to improve your long-term health, is to do diagnostic tests:

  1. A hair analysis (see mine as a pdf).
  2. A blood analysis (check testosterone if you’re over 35).
  3. A fatty acid test (info below).

Hair analysis & blood tests give an overview of vitamin, mineral, and heavy metals levels. This gives you great feedback on what to include or remove from your diet.

The most important thing I learned from my hair analysis was that I had too much mercury in my body. That would’ve been very bad in the coming years had I not fixed it (it gives you “brain fog”). I took a 6-month break from eating canned fish after that.

Fatty acid tests give you feedback on what (essential) fats to eat more of. Most people are deficient in omega-3 and have too much omega-6. This happens when you eat too much processed foods and not enough fish. The result is worse immune system, skin health, and slower recovery from workouts.

Here’s a picture of my fatty acid levels:

[Pretty good results.]

Here’s a picture of my hormonal levels from an old blood test:

You’ll be happy to hear my results are much better now :-)

13. Philosophy of Rippedness

Finally, here are 3 “gym-mindsets” that have helped me a lot:

  • 5 more minutes. When you want to quit or go home, force yourself to do at least one more rep. Don’t let your brain get the last word, don’t reinforce weakness.
  • Focus. It’s better to do a few repetition with excellent mental focus, really feeling your body, than it is to do many mindless repetitions where you’re out of touch with your body!
  • Disregard your surroundings. And don’t bring your phone into the gym.

Conclusion: The Hill is the Steepest in the Beginning

It takes a while to get ripped, but once you’re ripped, it should last forever.

This is explained by the fact that:

  1. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn, and. . .
  2. The less body fat you have, the lower leptin levels you’ll have, and the less you hungry you get.

This is why you should strive to get ripped as soon as you can in life.

It’s worth the hard work. Think of it as a long-term investment.

Getting ripped will be massively helpful for your health and success.

You may not have the time or energy to get ripped later in life.

ripped in 2 years -- 1,5 years later

Good job reading this long and very detailed article.

Now, do yourself a favor and take notes. Summarize:

The 13 Principles to get Ripped:

  • Consistency is Key: Go to the gym rain, hail, or snow.
  • (Intermittent) Fasting: Eat 1-3 times a day. Try different fasting methods to find one that works for you.
  • Alcohol rule: Drinking isn’t too bad. Eating while drinking is.
  • Lift Heavy Weights, Compound Exercises: Keep it below 10 reps and use free weights or body exercises. Avoid isolation exercises and machines.
  • 3 Psychological Tricks to Boost Motivation: Novelty, variation, and the winner effect.
  • ABF: Always be flexing! Especially by computer.
  • Track Results: Write down results, progress, or take pictures.
  • Three Parts of a Workout: Pre-workout ritual, lifting weights, recovery between sets.
  • Get Good Sleep: Go to bed exhausted and avoid phones/computer 1h before.
  • Skip Cardio: It won’t make you ripped or build muscle.
  • Protein and Diet: Eat 1 g protein/pound or 1,5-2 g protein/kilo.
  • Experimentation: Do diagnostic tests to find out how your diet is working for you.
  • Philosophy of Rippedness: Go five more minutes and try to really feel your body.

What You Should Do Now:

  1. Write a checklist summary of this article. It has everything you need.
  2. Implement these principles/habits one at a time.
  3. Do at least one of those diagnostic health tests.

–That’s what I did, and now I do all this stuff effortlessly. Like clockwork.

Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck now!


It’s been 6 years since I wrote the original version of this article.

In this time my physique has remained the same, and I’ve learned nothing new. This article really does account for 90% of my results. So just do it.

The only difference in these 6 years is I’ve been spending gradually less time in the gym.

Recently, I have gotten it down to ~13 minutes per workout, 5 times per week.

* * *


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  1. assuming they started their day at 8 AM.

  2. Ghrelin is a hunger-related hormone.

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  1. Just not true. I trained hard for 6 months and did everything right and I am far of how you look like. If I would train for 2 years I would still look like a dont train.

  2. i feel for people that actually think removing fat from their body means they look good , so starving your body of stored fat meaning should anything happen where you got very ill you have nothing to burn but your much worked for muscle is a good thing , stupidity is rampant , so many of you ignorant idiots flashing your 6 pack like an intelligent person flashes insight , lol Adonis ? so adonis was in your opinion mall nourished over worked male ? look natural muscle thats nice , and a man whose job gives him naturally large muscle mass or is born that way , that is nice BUT , who wants a wanker that is so obsessed with them self that they literally starves their body into having zero body fat because mother nature is wrong we do not need fat stores , just in case we get ill … idiots

  3. Mike Lehane says

    Hey I think this is awesome thanks…one question if I’m normal size so not fat but not skinny should I bulk first ? Thanks

  4. Hi Ludvig, I find these points very useful and have incorporated many of the points you have mentioned. Do you have any suggestions on the music?

  5. Great article. I have been training steadily for 2 years now with very slow results. I do pretty much what you advice here. Maybe is age?
    What would you advice to a 50 year old, petite (1.60 tall, 50 kilos) woman?
    Am trying to bulk a little bit and get lean.

  6. Thank you for the information. From what you write I apply and progress towards me. Thank you very much.

  7. Yeah I can’t skip Cardio, it helps with depression.

  8. Ptit Suisse says

    Hi Ludvig,
    You have an excellent website, and I would like to thank you for all the precious information you give based on your own experience.
    I’ve been training at home for 5 months now, doing only pull-ups, push-ups and squats, no weight. I went from 2 pull-ups and push-ups to 3 sets of 12. I train every 2 days. My chest and shoulders circumference increased of 1 cm (101 to 102 and 119 to 120 respectively), and my arm 0.5 cm (35 to 35.5), while maintaining my waist circumference at 90 cm (I bulked to 92 and went back to 90 this last month). In my opinion that’s not much. My T-shirts feel a little more tight on my chest, but overall I don’t look any different than before.
    I’m 35 yo and 1m81 tall.
    Do you think this is an adequate progress for those first 5 months or should I be worried ? I am not sure this kind of progress will get me ripped in 2 years ! ;-)
    I know this is a very personnal advice I am asking and I sincerely apologize for this. Maybe others might be interested in knowing the progress one should be expecting while training naturally as well.
    Thank you very much
    Have a nice day

  9. Hello sir.
    I would like to thank you so much for the very useful and informative article. I totally agree with what you stated I can’t believe someone like you exists with ture insight of the game…I printed your article and posted on my wall it’s really working for me and the results are outstanding…..thank you and accept my sincere regard and respect!

  10. Great resource, thank you for putting it together. Would you make any adjustments to the recommendations for hard-gainers?

    • Hey Jamie,
      Only that I would focus first on putting on more weight and muscle (“bulking”). See the answer above I just wrote to Art Sun.

      Bulking, however, can be dangerous. It was for me.

      I was eating so much crap (lots of snacks and sugary treats included) that it messed up my digestive system and gave me candida, which got quite serious and I had to stop eating sugar or drinking alcohol for almost one year.

      • Oh, I see, I heard about bulking before. I’ll check it out.
        I guess something similar might happen to me. I can’t eat too much crap because it makes me feel bad.

  11. * The more muscle you have the more calories you burn, and. . .
    * The less body fat you have, the lower leptin levels you’ll have, and the less you hungry you get.

    So, what if I’m already underweight / skinny? I’m usually not very hungry, I eat very little. If I had muscle it would be even worse… Does that mean that I’ll never get ripped?

    • You should probably focus very hard for like 1 year to just gain weight (and muscles) and then cut down. Fix one problem at a time.

      I did that when I was 19-20 (went from ~62 kg to ~77 kg in 8 months). Then I started doing IF and dropped down to ~70 and have looked jacked ever since.

      • Thanks for your reply.
        When you say “focus to just gain weight (and muscles)” what do you mean? I don’t understand how can I gain and muscle at the same time.
        I mean, I never been able to gain weight in my life. Should I eat a lot and do a lot of excersice too?

  12. Nice, but you’ve got an incorrect statement: less leptin doesn’t translate into less hunger, it’s actually the opposite. Some obese people, though, have leptin insensitivity and thus can’t get that “stop eating” signal. That’s where people can get confused.

  13. Ludvig,

    Great article man. Just wondered – I can only really work out early morning. I know leangains gives some advice on this. I would train around 7:00am, how would you approach this in terms of nutrition/fasting/postworkout etc?


  14. Ludvig,

    Wow, I must have been doing it wrong the whole time. I rarely drink but when I do, I tend to feast like crazy afterward and eat more than I normally do after I drink alcohol. Glad that at least I don’t do this daily but I would have to avoid eating after drinking then.

    Glad to learn something new. Great website by the way, I’m reading other parts of the article and I like also like the articles on Contrarian.

  15. good plan. except #10. saying cardio does very little to burn fat is laughable to me. for the average joe with stubborn lower belly fat and love handles, you will get faster results with cardio. if you can squeeze it in, put a treadmill on FULL INCLINE, walk 60 sec. jog 30 sec, run 30 sec or as long as you can. repeat for 20-25 minutes in a fasted state every or every other day. fat will fade away fast.

  16. Hey Ludvig,

    Great article man and I’m about to give it a try, I just have 1 question.

    I am sure that you ‘ve heard before about the ‘cheat day’, the day that you can have a free meal full of fat if you like, they say it helps your metabolism. It sounds pretty sketchy to me if your goal is to get ripped.

    What’s your take on that? Is that ‘free meal’ legit and do you recommend it while fasting?

    Thanks in advance :)

    • Hi Manos,

      From a logical / pragmatic standpoint I don’t think having a cheat meal is good. But many people do not have the discipline/*motivation*/pain tolerance to consistently stick to a diet or workout regimen so they need a cheat meal to maintain consistency (this is why fitness stuff sells well, even though it’s one of the easiest areas of life to master; it is also why most people prefer to bicker on forums–because they’re too lazy to squat). If a cheat meal helps maintain consistency then it’s worth it. But for internally motivated people I think it’s a waste of efficiency.

      The only reason (other than motivation and fun) I could imagine that would justify a cheat meal would be that the variation could somehow break your body out of homeostasis in some way that puts pressure on it to change. I don’t know if this is proven or not, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it’s true, because it’s a common psychological phenomena. (this is why “shocking the muscles” works).

      • Personally, I ‘ve had my cheat meals before (not while Intermittent Fasting) and I ‘ve seen that it worked when I was stuck on a certain weight. My metabolism was going nuts during that meal and I was able to burn fat faster, at least that’s my impression.

        I will try both cheat meal and not while Intermittent Fasting just to see what works better for me.

        Thank you very much for your reply, it was helpful and I already can see the difference in the mirror with your excellent 13 principles. It’s hard but doable if you are motivated enough. :D

  17. Hey Ludvig,

    Great article man and I’m about to give it a try, I just have 1 question.

    I am sure that you ‘ve heard before about the ‘cheat day’, the day that you can have a free meal full of fat if you like, they say it helps your metabolism. It sounds pretty sketchy to me if your goal is to get ripped.

    What’s your take on that? Is that ‘free meal’ legit and do you recommend it while fasting?

  18. Im 23 yrs old and i weigh 150 pounds(68 kgs)and my height is 5.8 inches…i have 14.2% of bodyfat ..i started working out 2 months back and i lift heavy weights i workout for 60 to 90 minutes 6 days a diet consists of 1 cup of black coffee after waking up 4 rotis for breakfast and after workout(4pm to 5pm) 5 egg whites whey protein with 1 glass of milk and after 3 hours 100 grams chicken breast and 5 egg whites and after 3 hours casein with 1 glass of milk before bed…is this routine enough to get ripped and lose belly and face fat? Any changes to be made with my diet or workout routine?

  19. Hey, thanks for the great article. You got me excited so I wanted to contribute from what I found extremely helpful. It also contradicts some of the info you provide which I think is healthy as it gets everyone thinking.

    My first comment is regarding hitting the gym no matter what. Actually, I read this study which I found extremely true in my case that says no, you should not hit the gym if you are tired. This is different from feeling down. In fact they say if in doubt, better to skip that day.

    Second question I have is about skipping cardio. In fact cardio perhaps does not build muscle mass per se. However, it is extremely important in that it provides the increased blood circulation that feeds your muscles.

    Third comment would be on the group muscles the methodology you suggest. The group muscles you suggest are for the very beginners only. As you build strength and mass, it is a good practice to vary exercises and the routine all together. Usually every 40 active sessions. This gives the body the shock it needs. Not to mention that focusing on the major muscles you suggest leaves other minor muscles extremely vulnerable to injury. Moreover, working certain muscles, releases hormones that the body benefits from in building muscular mass in general.

    The final friendly criticism I have is the fasting you suggest. It is not criticism as such, but I would argue that a little bit of fat on the body gives smooth round texture to the body that makes it sexy. I would say that you have taken being ripped to the extreme and although it is impressive in some ways, it is not necessarily sexy.

    One final tip about resting times between sets for any muscle you work is best if you keep it between 1-2 minutes. Any less than that and the mass growth will be minimal as the hormones released are what gives endurance. Any more than that you would get strength inducing hormones. The optimal time where growth hormones are released is between 1-2 minutes. Please see the study below for reference.

    I hope these comments contribute to your already enriching article. Thanks again.

  20. 100th comment ! :D

    Been doin’ this advice for the last 8 months and it’s working like magic. I was close to buying a really expensive personal trainer ecourse for $500, but then I read your article and just fucking applied all the stuff, and now after my friend (who bought the $500 course!) tells me what it has inside it I see it is almost identical to your advice by longer!

    Hahaha! He wasted 500 bucks and a bunch of time reading that. I got a headstart on him – because we train together- and he

    Man, this bodybuilding stuff is 90 % about just taking action and applying it. This shit right here is pretty much all you need. The question is if your a pussy who won’t do it or if you’re as serious as I am and will sweat it out in the gym and pound the iron until you cant do more reps!!

    Fasting works too but most people are fucking weaklings and will quit before the first 2 weeks. Lol. Everyone wants a good body but nobody will do anything that feels weird or uncomfortable.

  21. Superb article on lifting and nutrition!

    What’s your view on cheat days, do you stay completely away from empty foods and such or something like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and only every 150 days eat like 4 pizzas?

  22. Hi, thanks for the info. I’m 52 this will work for me too?

  23. It’s a great article and basically what i do.

    Basically people need to get enough macros but limit the calories….so bring in systems to do this.

    Lift heavy..progressively.

    Congrats on your lifts by the way they are impressive. Especially at 72kg body weight. I am still a bit behind this.

    Your mention of building bigger muscles increase met. Whilst this is partially true the science backs it’s not nearly as a big of an increase as people think it is. They say your vital organs are the biggest metabolic drivers. I guess it doesn’t do any harm but it’s one of those things that get thrown around the net. that is only partially correct.

    Bit like “lift heavy and you increase your natural T production. True..but is is very minimal.

    How do you manage to go on a 48 hour fast?

    As far drinking booze, I limit my-self to one night a week. I’d love to stop but can’t manage that.

    Good article and well done

  24. Took half an hour to read this article …. I must say this might as well be the best half hour I have invested towards my fitness … Thanks a lot !!!

  25. Great fucking article!

    And killer muscleup video. How long did it take you to learn to do 12 muscleups? I’ve never even met anyone who can do more than 3.

  26. Do you exercise with a split program
    fx: 2-split ?
    Or are you just doing the exercises that you feel for doing that day ? :)

    – Sune

    • I typically do 4 workouts each week:
      1) Back / core. (Deadlifts).
      2) Chest (dumbbells / benchpress / dips).
      3) Legs (squats/lunges).
      4) Shoulders & upper back (shoulder press, clean and jerks)

      I then circle between the main exercise which I’ll do ca 10 sets of. It follows the 80/20 principle.

  27. Besides vaccuuming do u do any other ab work?

    What are your thoighrs on P90X?

    • I do some situps/sideways situps/leg raises at the end of the workouts for ca 10 minutes if I feel like it. I don’t believe it’s necessary, but I like to do it.

      I don’t know what P90X is exactly.

  28. Yo could you write more articles on this? like reveal more way to gain muscle or lose weight and so on.. more smart best practices?

  29. Totally agree with the second principal. I think this might have given the 60-70% of your results. Intermittent fasting is great for burning fat and making lean gains.

    I would like to add another three benefits of IF which you can add in your article if you want.

    1)IF increases insulin sensitivity, which allows your body utilize carbohydrates in a better way.

    2) It gives a huge boost in metabolism and provides higher energy levels due to increased levels of norepinephrine

    3) Makes you more focused and suppresses hunger, especially if you combine it with drinking a cup of black coffee in the morning

    Kind Regards,

  30. These are some great principles.

    Assuming I don’t have access to supplementation, could I still try the fasted workouts? How soon afterwards would I need to eat?


    • –Yes you could.

      How soon would you need to eat? Preferably within 1-3 hours, or ASAP.

      Remember that it takes roughly 2-3 weeks before your body’s hormonal system adjusts to intermittent fasting. So don’t stop the new routine, even if you feel a bit hungry or irritated for that initial period.

  31. That is quite impressive improvement on your 1.5 year progress if you put less time into it. I am currently average/nearly fat in physique, but I am quite successful in other areas of my life, and like you, I am extremely principled so I don’t think the fitness frontier will prove to be a challenge I cannot best.

    However I have questions I hope you will answer:

    1. What is your opinion on steroids, and have you done them? It almost looks like it in the later pics.

    2. Do run or walk a lot?

    3. My body type is similar to yours but the difference between us is that while I have neglected my body for years you have been mindful of it. Now i wonder should I try to get lean first (maybe even focus on cardio?) Or follow the principles as outlined?

    I sent you an email and I look forward to your reply Ludvig.

  32. Hrostiski says

    It was more than a year ago since you wrote this. How have things gone since then?? Do you look about the same? Are you still doing all of these 13 things? I read in some other artcle that you had got a lot stronger with your lifts but you said nothing about your physique/definition/aesthetics.

    I wonder cause I have a similar body as you and I think I will have about the dame physique as you do in these pictures in maybe a year if i stay consistent with my fitness goals and diet although i try not to look at it as a diet but instead a lifestyle as you say.

    Anyway would be nice to know that!

  33. Hey ludvig. Were you using any supplements or hormones except from your food intake?

    • No hormonal stuff. As for supplements:

      –Zinc, magnesium, vitamin d (during winter times), fish oil, and multivitamin.

      • Any protein, mass gainer, creatine or fat burners?

      • Protein powder after workouts (I usually only eat one meal per day other than that) and creatine + glutamine and water before workouts (whilst fasting).

        No fat burners. Fat burners (unless they’re heavy drugs, which are illegal) are just products that supplement companies sell to make extra money. They don’t work any better than drinking tea or coffee does.

  34. Very helpful tips. Read this a few months ago and have been implementing most of these habits/principles with promising results so far, so thx for that!

    Is BOOH available anywhere btw? Or will you put it up again?

  35. Which is most important of these if I want to lose weight as my main goal?

  36. This is awesome, thx for putting it together in a true 80/20 spirit!

    Im gonna try going on a 2-day fast this next weekend. Ill email you how it goes!

  37. Possibly the best info Ive read on BB stuff. Thanks for putting it together, this is like a book in 10 minutes man!

  38. Great tips. Really helpful.

    I have a question on preworkout ritual/supplements:
    What if I don’t want to drink coffee?
    I somestimes drink tea and it’s OK but I want something stronger, but still want to be able to sleep. Got any suggestions??

    • Thanks.

      Suggestions? Sure. Try raw cocoa. It’s both healthy and a pretty decent stimulant. I can take lots of it without having sleeping problems — even later in the day. I can’t say the same about coffee.

      • Hi Ludvig,
        How many times a week did/do you workout? Did you do any HIIT style workouts? Lean-gains states 3 times a week. Thoughts?

      • Omar,
        I workout 3-5 times per week usually. But more than that lately. Every day for the last 2 months (running when not at the gym).

        HIIT? That’s all I do. I “powerlift”. 1-6 reps and many sets for the most part.

        I don’t know — just try it and see if it works for you. Working out is ALL about self-experimentation. I know people who can go to the gym every day and lift heavy. I can do it too, but it takes away all my energy for other stuff.

  39. Hi
    What is better, to be big or to be ripped? Which should i focus on if iam just beginning to work out? Thx

    • Which do you *want* to be, big or ripped? Neither one is healthier than just plain “buff”, it’s just your preference of appearance. However you will not get ripped without getting big first, so you might as well start there. You will also not get big *and* ripped like a bodybuilder unless you dope like a bodybuilder.

      • Abgrund has it right.

        Personally I prefer being ripped over being “big”. Because to get big you need to eat LOTS of food. That’s expensive, time-consuming, and not particularly productive. It’s very hard for me to do any deep thinking when I’m full.

    • ya that makes sense. Thx guys.

      Live strong and die with honor!

  40. Anonymous123 says

    Hey Ludvig this is the best article I ever read on working out and BodyBuilding. I am only just getting started with this and being serious about a healthy way of life. Do you think I can get ripped in 2 years too if i do all this? i have stopped eating while i drink for the past 2 weeks and lost a bit of weight, thanks so much for this great tip!

    • I don’t know — because I’ve no idea about your starting point.

      When I started working out I wasn’t particularly big/muscular. But I wasn’t fat either. I was just average-looking.

      You can probably get ripped in two years if you want it bad enough. I think it’s a smart idea to get ripped ASAP in life. Because it’s easy to maintain and just remain in “cruise control” once you have it down.

  41. If you are really one of those people who is “loud” and “screams” at the gym you need to shut the hell up and stop recommending other people act like assholes. I have lifted in many places over the years (and been lifting a lot longer than you) and can assure you there are many more big guys who don’t scream and yell like 10 year olds than there are those that do. It doesn’t provide any benefit and you can focus and be motivated without ruining the gym for everyone else.

    P.S. you weigh 160 lbs and bench 225. Those aren’t bad numbers but you aren’t the next coming of Arnold either. Strong hubris.

    • Hey JMag,

      Arnold is cool. But I’m not out to become the next Arnold. I only train for fun, and to gain discipline. Also, bench is my weakest compound exercise.

      “If you are really one of those people who is “loud” and “screams” at the gym you need to shut the hell up and stop recommending other people act like assholes”

      –I’m not nearly as loud as I should be, and would LIKE to be. I often have trouble breathing and need to sit down and “meditate” in between sets just to recover. So, I am the opposite of the roidrage guy who cannot sit still and relax in between the sets.

      If you’ve ever practiced martial arts, you’ll know how you’re supposed to exhale when you’re striking someone. That’s what I sound like usually.

      “It doesn’t provide any benefit”

      –Yes it does.When you lift heavy you get tired and tense as heck. Screaming releases tension, and it pumps your state. Just like raising your arms above your head (powerposing) makes you feel good.

      “and you can focus and be motivated without ruining the gym for everyone else.”

      –That’s true. But I’m not at the gym for anyone else’s sake.

      Thanks for reading.

  42. Thanks for putting this together and making sense of fitness/BB info.

    Here’s my opinion…

    Theres just a very low ROI on reading information about bodybuilding, nutrition, health, and getting lean because it’s all so individual. Just because something works for one guy doesn’t mean it will work for me and so on…. damn i lost my train of thought, whatever.

    the best way must therefore be to just lift a lot in as short time as possible. The only logically defensible reason for reading all about this stuff (I am guilty as charged here) is if you suffer from some disease/special condition… But my problem, as I am realizing now, is consistency and lack of protein.

    And I think this is also why you were able to get ripped in just two years. am i right?

    • “Theres just a very low ROI on reading information about bodybuilding, nutrition, health, and getting lean because it’s all so individual”

      Yes Drew. I agree 100 % with you on that one.

      And you are 50 % correct. In retrospect, I read a bit too much about that stuff as well. But, I never let it get in the way of me lifting. I always knew that was primary. But I kept reading past a point increasing returns to scale — even after I’d solved some of my health issues + gotten a decent physique.

  43. Hi Ludvig,

    Do you know where I can get a blood test in Sweden? I’m an expat living in stockholm and I’d like to get my testosterone levels checked

    • Hey Big T,
      I’m afraid not. I haven’t done any lab tests in Sweden. I did it Canada.

      And even in Canada, I wasn’t “allowed” to do it by regular doctors. I had to do it via a MD & Naturopath. It took a bit of personal initiative. (Doctors think they know what’s in your best interest, and with their ignorance (they think they are doing the “right” thing) they will hinder you. The best thing to do is to lie to them.)

      As for testosterone levels. I haven’t done such a test. But I definitely will when I get older. That stuff is important.

      You can probably find it via Google, or call up your nearest hospital and be a bit convincing and get them to tell you where. If they don’t know, ask them for the number of someone they think would know. And keep it up until you get your answer.

  44. Hello,

    While I think that most of your points are generally acceptable (albeit intermittent fasting isn’t essentially significant to getting ‘ripped’ or maintaining/reducing bodyfat levels), it’s absolutely asinine to suggest skipping cardio. There are just so many benefits to cardio which make it one of the most basic and important aspects of fitness. From being beneficial to the heart to interval routines such as HIIT etc, cardio is second only to an effective diet when it comes to weight loss. It’d be just ridiculous to skip cardio from a training regiment for so long…

    • Hey rawr,

      I do zero cardio and I am more ripped than I’ve ever been. I used to work out for 2 hours (sometimes even longer!) and do at least 20 min of cardio, and my results were worse. I do ride a bike on an almost daily basis however, and I am in great shape (I could probably run 10 kilometers at least). So I guess I get some cardio, but I don’t focus on it. And if I were to, I would do it for other reasons than to get ripped.

      For people whose primary aim is to get ripped, cardio IS a waste of time.

  45. Kyle the Badass says

    Great post Ludvig. But can you go more into depth about how to get toned abs – like a 6-pack..??

    • Hey Kyle.

      Yeah I probably will write a post about it eventually. But it’s really not very different from what I described in this post, the post about eating, and the old post (80/20 of working out).

      The most important thing is to increase your basal metabolism, and you do that by putting on more muscle. And you put on more muscle by doing compound exercises (deadlifts, squats, dips, pullups, etc). Also, it’s important to always flex your core when you do the reps.

      You don’t need to do ab exercises unless you want to. They’re a poor investment of time. Cardio is also a waste of time.

  46. Do you take cold showers too?

    • Yes. Always.

      But I wouldn’t say it’s imperative to getting ripped. I’ve read that it should slightly increase your testosterone levels and be good for your skin.

      I can’t necessarily say yes about the testosterone (though I have no reason not to believe it, I just haven’t tested it), but I can definitely say yes about the skin part.

      Plus it’s a great way of improving willpower and breaking out of homeostasis and makes you feel pretty energized and motivated afterwards.

      But I don’t think it’s imperative to getting ripped. It’s just one of those extra things you can do if you want to go the extra mile.

  47. Immensely helpful post, thanks for writing this Ludvig!!

    Sharing this with all my gym buddies!

  48. Getting lean ASAP like you said, has been my new goal. If I don’t do it right now, I’ll probably never do it. This thought also keeps me going when the cravings get too strong. And I know it will be easier once I get there.

    Maybe I should try testing my hair as well… It’s a great resources you published here!

  49. Hey Ludvig,

    Great article and congrats with the results!

    Do you by any chance have a starting picture and/or stats?


    • Thanks Oskar.

      I have a picture of me with bare chest 2-3 years ago somewhere (I just looked), but I can’t seem to find it.

      The only stats I have really memorized are:

      2+ years ago: 65 kg body weight – struggling a lot to go above that.
      –> Next 6 months I ate EVERYTHING and ended up weighing 77kg by Christmas.
      1 year ago: 75 kg, more muscle, less fat, semi-toned.
      –>From that point until now I’ve cut fat, kept muscle, gotten stronger.

      Now: I weigh 69-72kg (up & down).

      My lifting stats (1 rep max) are currently:
      Squat: 135 kg
      Deadlift: 180kg
      Benchpress: 100kg / 47 kg dumbbells.
      Shoulder press dumbells: 30 kg (can’t get the dumbbells up without help, can probably do more).
      Pullups / chins: bodyweight + 40 kg
      Dips: bodyweight + 70 kg.
      Clean: 95 kg
      Clean and jerk: 80 kg.

  50. I disagree somewhat with points 4 and 9.

    There is a time for isolation lifts. I don’t do them anymore because I am well off my peak, but if you are already well developed isolations can help develop minor muscles beyond what’s possible with compounds. This will help you: break through plateaus; improve your appearance; broaden the range of motions in which you are strong; increase your resistance to exertion-related injury. I think people doing really heavy lifts are well advised to do isolations for the obliques and the rotator cuff muscles in particular, to prevent injury.

    Cardio is important to your health, stamina, and energy, especially if you are older. Most people equate cardio with leg endurance exercises like running or cycling. This need not be the case. If you are doing supersets of bench press and bent rows and your heart rate does not stay elevated, you are not doing them right.

    • 4:

      –> You make some good points, I actually do oblique exercises.
      I can definitely agree about doing certain isolation exercises, for example wrist/grip strength. But for the most part I think isolation exercises is an inefficient use of time. If you have a ton of time to invest in working out and want to go bodybuilder, then you should probably do a bit of isolation exercises. If you’re looking to get ripped, but in time-efficient manner then you’ll want to only do 80/20 activities, and I don’t consider isolation exercises to be that.

      “Most people equate cardio with leg endurance exercises like running or cycling”

      —> Interesting observation. I think you’re right.

  51. Epic shit, thanks for the tips. Shared

  52. Burt Mathews says

    Hey there. Thanks for the comprehensive post. If you wanted to put it all in one place i think you succeeded.

    I’m in my 40s, average physique (perhaps 15% BF), how longtime do you think it would take me to get down to about your level granted that I made this my number ONE priority except work?

    Ie no junk food and stuck to all the principles. And I already got the lifting part under my belt.

    Any tips/suggestions?

    • Glad you liked it.

      I’ve no idea how long time it would take you. No two bodies are the same. Maybe 2-3 years?

      Any tips?
      –> Yeah, warm up mentally before you work out. Make sure you got your willpower and breathing in gear.

  53. Man do you even lift?


    Wow. Truly impressive, 2 years? No steroids involved?

    I copy pasted this shit :)

  54. Solid list of advices. I back you up on these things, especially flexing throughout the day.

    And 2 years? I’m a natural bodybuilder. It took me 7 years to get to where I am.

    Well, I guess your methods work.

    • Thanks.

      Yeah it took about 2 years. But I didn’t start out being fat or anything. I’ve done martial arts all my life before I started going to the gym.

      I’ve always been strong, but I didn’t have much muscle to show for it.

      I saw your youtube video, very impressive stuff. Inspirational!

  55. Wan Muhammad Zulfikri says

    Nice set of principles.

    You are right when you said that the Gurus had all these complex mumbo jumbo speak and some(or most) are not substantiated by science.

    Although, I am trying to bulk now because I am really skinny. At 5’11, I weigh around 55kg before and now I’m close to 69kg. Still, gaining more than 10 kg presents no substantial change whatsoever but I’m not giving up just yet. Eating more than 3500 cal was hard at first but now it is easier. Maybe I have adapted to it.

    Anyway, I think there are some points in your post that I need to try right away. They look really interesting especially the intermittent fasting.

    • Thanks Wan!

      Yes. There’s far too much guru-worshipping going on in the fitness world. I seriously don’t like to talk to “normal” people about this stuff because it irritates me when they say stupid things like:
      “yeah, so, I hear crossfit is like, uh, the best way, to get shredded and shit, like you know?”

      I had sort of the same strategy as you have. I was also rather skinny, then I bulked up and gained 12 kg in 6 months and went through what you’re going through – adapting to a larger calory intake. Then I started IF and lost that weight and got ripped.

      Let me know how this stuff worked out for you in a few months :)

      • Wan Muhammad Zulfikri says

        Ya, I heard about the crossfit stuff too, it’s kind of a trend I think.

        Hearing you had once bulk up first and then lost the weight afterwards makes me really wanna try your principles even further. I was afraid I was gonna be fat if I eat a lot but IF can probably make me lose the excess weight afterwards.

        I’ll keep in touch and share with you my progress the next few months :D

  56. Which upperbody exercise is the best, especially to build chest?

    Which of the 3 parts of the workout is should be focused mosy on as a beginner?

  57. That hair analysis….. Seems like a massive time saver.

    I understand WHY it might be smart to do that, and in considering doing the same.

    But Im having difficulties understanding yours.

    • Yes it is. I really recommend it.

      Mine basically says that I am doing pretty good (not perfect, but good) in all things but mercury levels. Having high mercury levels is not good, so I stopped eating canned fish (tuna) after that.

      I’ve gotten quite a bit more clear-headed since, but I can’t say it’s only because of that because I’ve added so many other good habits that help activate my brain.

  58. And if it does, which would you say are the most important things to start with if you had to pick 3????

    • Hard to say since I don’t know you.

      But just generally I’d say:

      1. Consistency – get yourself emotionally addicted to working out and associate good emotions with exercise.

      2. Intermittent fasting (if you want to lose body fat and be more productive).

      3. Lift heavily and skip cardio.

  59. Would this work for a woman as well?

    • Most of it would work. Especially about lifting heavy weights, women in gyms rarely know how to work out. They should be doing SQUATS and LUNGES to get a nice looking ass & legs :)

      The intermittent fasting part is a bit different for women and men. I’m not quite sure of the difference, but if you google it you’ll easily find it. Or if you read my summaries of the “fast 5 book” i think.

  60. Ludvig,

    The principle about alcohol was very interesting and certainly eye-opening to me. Read the whole article at leangains, great stuff!

    • Great that you got some value out of it. Personally I think if I’d known all this stuff from the get-go I would have saved a LOT of time.

      Yes, leangains is a great website. I used to read there extensively.

  61. Are you sure about fasting? I heard its dangerous

    • Yes, I’m sure. You should give it a try so that you’d know yourself.

    • Fasting is a proofing method of stimulating your body, Not eating will not kill you, drink plenty of water, and make sure to do it long enough so your system can clean itself. You might be scared of what your body finds inside, and gets ride of, but remember, that is all weight you don’t want or need. Not eating for short periods of time is also healthy, as this will take the continues strain of processing food off of your body. Further, it increases your bodies senses, as it begins to want food badly enough, it will make your sense of smell and taste, eyesight, and hearing to the max, not to mention touch…oh…touch…lolz :D. Anyways, fasting is a key part of a regular diet, it reinforces your bodies natural system.

      • Indeed, Daniel.

        People should break their routines (and break out of homeostasis) more often. It’s healthier. The body is made for adapting to things. Might as well use it for its intended purpose.

  62. Been lurking here the past few days and now Im coming outta hiding :p

    Just wantes to say thanks for putting this 2gether.

  63. Shit, thats an exhaustive list. Will read it in full tonight when I have more time. Skimmed through it now.

    Seems legit.


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