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How to Get Ripped Like Rambo

author image Paul J. Fabritz
Paul J. Fabritz is the founder of PJF Performance LLC, a fitness company based in Tempe, Ariz. Fabritz specializes in athletic performance enhancement, and is certified through the NSCA-CPT, ACE and FMS.
How to Get Ripped Like Rambo
man working out in gym Photo Credit Luca Francesco Giovanni Bertolli/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to attaining your dream body, it’s important to establish role models to give yourself a framework for success. For thousands of men around the country, that role model is none other than Rambo. Sylvester Stallone, who played Rambo in the film series, had everybody in America idolizing his physique. Rambo was most known for his head-turning arms that complemented his lean build and low body fat. While gym-goers everywhere dream of being ripped like Rambo, many fail because they lack a blueprint for success. But by following some simple tips, you too can get ripped like Rambo.

Avoid Old-School Dogma

How to Get Ripped Like Rambo
Exercise science should always trump old school dogma Photo Credit IT Stock/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Getting ripped like Rambo will require you to build muscle and to lose body fat. The order in which you go about doing this is essential for optimal results. Many people take the wrong approach by starting with a “bulking phase,” in which they increase their caloric intake for several weeks to build muscle. Generally, a gym-goer will pack on muscle and fat during their bulking phase, then aim to lose the extra fat in the “cutting phase.” In theory, this approach works well, but scientific evidence suggests otherwise. A study led by Peter R. Shepherd and published in the 1993 "Journal of Biological Chemistry" suggests that gaining fat may not be solely dependent on adiposite hypertrophy (increase in fat cell size), but may also be due to adiposite hyperplasia (increase in number of fat cells). Therefore, every time that you gain fat you may be adding to your fat-cell count, thus making it harder to lose fat in the cutting phase.

Cut First, Build Later

How to Get Ripped Like Rambo
Anaerobic exercises, such as sprinting, are a great way to burn calories. Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

An effective strategy for getting ripped is to lose fat first and focus on building muscle later. Losing fat first will help you regulate hormones such as Leptin (hunger hormone). Focus on losing fat for four to six weeks by making changes to your diet and performing high-energy workouts. If your fitness level permits, do High Intensity Interval Training two to three days per week (hill sprints, stationary bike intervals, etc.). Additionally, perform two to three days per week of high repetition weight training (12 to 15 reps) with rest periods less than 30 seconds.

Considerations for your diet during the cutting phase include: eating nutrient dense foods for the majority of your meals, consuming a high protein/low carbohydrate diet and drinking ample amounts of water. Furthermore, it is imperative that you create a caloric deficit -- which means that you have to burn more calories than you consume. Aim to lose two pounds of fat per week during the cutting phase.

Build Lean Muscle

How to Get Ripped Like Rambo
Building muscle takes time, but can transform the way you look and feel. Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

After your calorie-cutting and fat-loss phase is finished, your hormones should be primed and ready for building muscle. During this phase of the program, focus on building muscle while maintaining your current body-fat levels. This phase should last for about four to six weeks. Some considerations for building muscle include: increasing your caloric intake and consuming a balanced diet of high protein foods, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates (legumes, vegetables, quinoa, etc.). You should also decrease cardio workouts to one day per week and perform four to five days of weight training. Be sure to use a variety of rep ranges, including heavy weights for five to eight reps and moderate weights for 10 to 12 reps. In addition, be sure to focus on compound exercises such as bench presses, pull-ups, rows, squats and deadlifts.

Aim to gain one pound of muscle per week. If you gain more than one pound per week, it’s likely that you are gaining fat and should immediately decrease caloric intake.

Tips and Warnings

How to Get Ripped Like Rambo
Always take caution when beginning an exercise program. Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

To achieve six pack abs, men will generally need to have less than 12% body fat, while women need less than 20%; this, however, is not attainable for everybody due to discrepancy in genetics. To achieve maximum results, be sure to consult a registered dietitian.

In addition, always perform strength-training exercises with proper form. Never take a set past technical failure (the point at which form begins to deteriorate).
It is critical to let each muscle group rest for 48 hours in-between strength-training workouts.

Consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your workout or diet.

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