Can You Get Ripped in Three Months at the Gym?

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You will need to follow a specific plan to help gain muscle.
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Whether you're prepping for an upcoming bathing suit season or a special event, it will take hard work and dedication to get ripped in three months. How close you come to reaching this goal will also depend on where you're starting from.

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In order to get ripped in three months, you'll have to focus on your training as well as your diet to change your body composition and get the results you're looking for.

Typically, if you're looking to get ripped, your goal is to lower your body fat percentage to allow your muscles to become more visible. This process is often performed prior to bodybuilding or other physique-based competitions.

While your muscles are built in the gym, your diet will help you to reach your goal too. If you've been weight lifting and following a strict diet for a while, you might only need to make small changes to your habits. But, if you're starting from scratch, it will likely be significantly longer than a three-month transformation.

Read more: Here's Exactly How Beginners Can Start Strength Training

Establish Your Baseline

To determine where you're starting from, consider body composition testing to determine your body fat percentage. While tracking your weight on a scale can give you information about changes in body mass, it won't differentiate between your muscle mass, or lean tissue, and your body fat.

As explained by the American Council on Exercise, body composition is most accurately assessed using dual x-ray energy absorptiometry and underwater weighing. However, these methods are expensive and not readily accessible. More commonly, body composition is measured using bioelectrical impedance analysis or with the use of skin-fold calipers at specific locations on the body.

When setting your body fat percentage goals, keep in mind that the body needs a certain amount of fat to maintain vital functions, including reproduction. For females, this equates to 10 to 13 percent, while males need at least 2 to 5 percent, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Create a Deficit

In order to lose overall body fat and make your muscles more visible, you'll need to create a caloric deficit, or burn more calories than you consume. However, when it comes to getting ripped, it's not that simple. Cutting your calories too far can also lead to a decrease in your muscle mass.

One pound of body fat is equal to around 3,500 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a result, cutting about 500 to 1,000 calories per day from your diet would lead to a loss of 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week.

However, this rate of weight loss might be too fast if your goal is to maintain or even build up your muscle mass. The faster you lose weight, the higher the amount of weight loss that comes from reduced lean tissue — your hard-earned muscles.

According to an article published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2014, your calorie intake should be set at a level that causes weight loss of 0.5 to 1 percent per week, to reduce fat while helping to retain your muscle mass.

Eat to Build Your Muscles

However, in order to build muscle, you need to consume enough of the right nutrients. Food is made up of three macronutrients — protein, fat and carbohydrates. Protein is your most important nutrient during a three-month transformation. This nutrient is used to build and repair tissues — including muscle.

For the general adult population, the recommended intake for daily protein is 0.37 grams per pound of body weight, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But, while you're building muscle, protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of your total calories.

However, your individual nutritional needs will vary as you're looking to get ripped and uncover your abs in three months. Depending on your starting body composition and your ultimate goals, these percentages will likely need to be tweaked.

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition article, most bodybuilders respond best to a diet that provides 2.3 to 3.1 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, with 15 to 30 percent of remaining calories provided by fats and the rest by carbohydrates. For best results, consider working with a sports nutritionist to develop your ideal diet during your three-month workout plan.

Read more: The Best Strength-Training Exercises for Weight Loss

Three-Month Workout Plan

When designing your workout plan to get ripped in three months, first decide how much time you have to dedicate to your goal. In order to build your muscles, you'll need to focus most of your efforts on lifting weights.

According to the American Council on Exercise, your chosen weights should be heavy enough to allow you to perform eight to 12 repetitions per set. Weight-lifting workouts can be performed in 30- to 45-minute sessions — or even less — if you pick the right exercises and minimize your rest time.

It's also important not to overwork your muscles. You'll need to allow at least one day of rest between workouts that target the same muscles. Otherwise, you'll likely end up injured. To design your three-month workout plan, first decide how many days per week you will exercise. This will determine whether you do a full-body workout or break it down into regions of the body.

As advised by ExRx.net, full body workouts can be performed as infrequently as twice per week, or as frequently as every other day. You can also perform a split workout, dividing the exercises into upper and lower body or splitting up body movements such as pushing and pulling on separate days.

For example, a three-day split workout could target your chest and back on one day, legs on the second day and arms and shoulders on the third day. Abdominal exercises can be included on the chest and back workout day.

Day 1: Chest and Back Sample Exercises

Move 1: Dumbbell Bench Press

  1. Hold one dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lie on your back on a flat weight bench.
  3. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and bring them out to your sides, in line with your shoulders. Your palms should be pointed in the direction of your feet. This is the starting position.
  4. Press the weights straight up toward the ceiling until your elbows are straight.
  5. Hold for one to two seconds, then slowly lower back down.

Move 2: Dumbbell Single Arm Row

  1. Hold a dumbbell in one hand.
  2. Place your opposite knee on a weight bench.
  3. Lean forward and place your hand on the bench to support your upper body.
  4. Straighten your elbow on the working arm so that the dumbbell is in line with your shoulder. This is the starting position.
  5. Keeping your arm next to your body, bend your elbow and pull the dumbbell up toward your chest until your elbow is higher than your back.
  6. Hold for one to two seconds, then lower back down.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

Move 3: Jack-Knife Sit-Up

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms resting by your sides.
  2. Bend both knees and draw them in toward your chest.
  3. At the same time, lift your upper body off the ground, bringing your chest toward your knees.
  4. Lie back down.
  5. Repeat 10 times, working up to three sets in a row.

Day 2: Leg Sample Exercises

Move 1: Dumbbell Weighted Lunges

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step one leg forward approximately 18 inches.
  3. Bend both knees at the same time, lowering into a lunge. Keep your chest up throughout the movement.
  4. Straighten your knees and step your front leg back.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Move 2: Dumbbell Squat

  1. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and lift them up to shoulder height.
  2. Rest one end of the dumbbell on your shoulders.
  3. Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Turn your toes out slightly.
  5. Hinge forward at the hips and bend your knees, lowering into a squat. Keep your chest up throughout the movement.
  6. Lower down until your hips drop below your knees, then stand back up.

Move 3: Standing Calf Raises

  1. Stand with the balls of your feet on a step, with your heels overlapping the edge.
  2. Drop your heels below the edge of the step. This is the starting position.
  3. Press down through the balls of your feet and raise up as high as possible on your toes.
  4. Hold for one to two seconds, then lower back down.
  5. Make this exercise harder by performing on one leg at a time.

Day 3: Arm and Shoulder Sample Exercises

Move 1: Dumbbell Front Raise

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  3. Keeping your elbow straight, lift your arm straight up in front of you, up to shoulder height.
  4. Hold for one to two seconds, then lower back down.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Move 2: Biceps Curls

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in your hand.
  2. Rotate your forearm into a palm-up position.
  3. Keeping your arm by your side, bend your elbow as far as possible.
  4. Hold for one to two seconds, then slowly straighten your elbow back out.
  5. Repeat this exercise with your forearm neutral (thumb pointed toward the ceiling) and again in a palm-down position.
  6. Repeat all three positions on the opposite side.

Move 3: Triceps Overhead Press

  1. Sit up straight on a firm surface.
  2. Hold one dumbbell in both hands, with the dumbbell in a vertical position.
  3. Lift the dumbbell up and over your head.
  4. Bend your elbows and lower the dumbbell behind your head. This is the starting position.
  5. Keeping your elbows next to your ears, press the dumbbell straight up toward the ceiling.
  6. Hold for one to two seconds, then slowly lower back down.
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