Get Shredded For Summer

Do you know the best exercises to get you shredded for summer?  If you search Google for information on this, you'll find an overwhelming amount advice from all types of "gurus", and some of it contradicts advice from other people.  So how do you know what to believe?  In this article, I'm going to explain what to do in order to get lean AND I'm going to link to clinical studies that prove my statements.  That way you'll know that the information that I'm giving you isn't just my opinion or broscience, but scientific fact.

First, let's define what it means to get shredded or lean.  Many people are focused on the wrong goal - weight loss.  If you want a lean, shredded body, then weight loss should NOT be your goal.  Your goal should be fat loss.  There is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss.  Muscle weighs more than fat because it's more dense, so if you lose muscle you'll lose a good bit of weight.  But you'll wind up with a soft, skinny-fat body.  Instead, you should be focused on retaining as much muscle as possible while losing body fat.  That'll give you the ripped, shredded look that you see on the cover of fitness magazines.

Common Shredding Mistakes

Many people think they have an idea of how to get shredded through bad advice that they've heard or read online.  A common mistake that many people make is to attempt to spot reduce body fat.  You see them working their abs to try to reduce belly fat, doing squats to reduce thigh fat, and rows to reduce back fat.  Unfortunately, the body doesn't work like that and it is not possible to reduce fat from a specific area of the body.  If you train the muscles underneath the fat, you will actually make that area bigger as the muscle grows, not thinner.  Fat loss is a full-body process, although some areas are a bit more stubborn than others.

Is Cardio The Best Way To Get Lean?

Whenever someone wants to get lean, the go-to exercise of choice is cardio.  However, studies have shown that cardio actually does very little in terms of fat loss.  It has even been shown to make some people fatter because they tend to over eat when they think that they'll just burn it off later in the gym.  There are two reasons why a typical cardio workout is at best a mediocre fat loss tool:

  1. Cardio doesn't burn that much fat.  The typical cardio workout consisting of 30 minutes or so of running on a treadmill only burns around 400 calories.  This can easily be eaten back from a small snack during the day and then you've completely negated all of that hard work.
  2. Your body begins to burn less energy while doing the same amount of cardio.  When you are in a calorie deficit, which is required to lose weight, your body is constantly fighting against you to get rid of this deficit.  So over time, your body will begin to burn fewer and fewer calories while doing the same amount of cardio in order to eliminate this calorie deficit.

Because of these two reasons, I don't recommend long cardio sessions when trying to lose body fat.  As contrary as it may sound, you should keep cardio to a minimum for fat loss.

However, make no mistake, I'm not recommending that you cut cardio out of your fat loss plan altogether.  Some cardio can definitely help you reach your goals faster, and some types of cardio are better for fat loss than others.  So what types of cardio should you do?

What Types of Cardio Are Best For Fat Loss?

There are two types of cardio that are best for fat loss:

  1. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) - HIIT Cardio is a style of training where you alternate between periods of extremely high intensity with periods of lower intensity.  To show how effective this method of cardio is, consider the following study.  The University of Western Ontario divided 20 people into 2 groups for 6 weeks of training.  One group did 4-6 30-second sprints with 4-6 minutes of rest between each.  The second group did 30-60 minutes of jogging.  At the end of the study, the group doing the 4-6 30-second sprints ended up burning MORE fat than the group jogging for 60 minutes.  Yes, 4-6 30-second sprints burns more fat than 60 minutes of jogging!  Another advantage of HIIT cardio is that the sessions are short and that means that there's less opportunity for muscle breakdown.  When getting lean, you want to keep as much muscle as possible while only losing fat, so preventing muscle breakdown is key.  
  2. Walking - I know this will come as a surprise to many people since walking seems to be on the opposite end of the cardio spectrum as HIIT, and that's exactly the point.  How is walking an effective type of cardio for fat loss?  For one, walking causes very little stress to your body (unlike HIIT) and studies show that it even helps counteract the effects of stress and reduces cortisol levels.  Elevated stress levels, and therefore elevated cortisol levels, can cause significant muscle loss when you're already in a calorie deficit.  Because walking is so low-stress, it can easily be incorporated into your day.  If you walked a few hours per week, you could easily burn an additional 1,000 to 2,000 calories which translates to 1 or 2 pounds of additional fat loss per month.

Is Weightlifting More Effective At Fat Loss Than Cardio?

Most people associate weightlifting with getting bigger, not leaner.  The fact is that weightlifting isn't great for WEIGHT loss, but it is great for FAT loss.  If you're only paying attention to the number on the scale, you may think that you're getting fatter if you start weight training.  But in reality, if you're in a calorie deficit, you're getting leaner.  This is why it's important to distinguish the difference between weight loss and fat loss.  

A study at Duke University separated men and women into 3 groups: one group did resistance training only, another group did aerobic training only, and the third group did resistance and aerobic training.  At the end of the study, the aerobic training only group lost the most weight.  However, they also lost the most muscle.  It was the resistance and aerobic training group that lost the most FAT (and even gained some muscle).

Losing fat while maintaining or even gaining muscle is referred to as a total body recomposition.  This body recomposition effect has been seen in several other studies when resistance training and aerobic training were involved.  So what types of weightlifting should you be doing to maximize fat loss?

Weightlifting Exercises That Maximize Fat Loss

In order to burn fat while weightlifting, you need to do exercises that burn a lot of energy while also overloading your muscles to stimulate muscle growth.  The types of exercises that accomplish this are ones that focus on heavy compound lifting.  By "heavy", I mean that the weight should be 70%-85% of your one-rep max.  By "compound", I mean exercises that use multiple joints and train multiple muscle groups (squat, deadlift, bench press, etc.).  Studies show that compound exercises burn more energy during and after the training than single joint movements.  They also help build muscle and strength, which helps to make you even leaner faster.

Putting It All Together

Now that you know the most effective ways to lose fat and get shredded, let's put it all together to form the ultimate fat burning program.  To maximize fat loss, try the following routine:

  • 3 to 5 1-hr heavy weightlifting sessions per week
  • 2 to 3 25-minute HIIT sessions per week
  • 2 to 3 30 to 45-minute walks per week

Along with the proper diet plan, this routine will guarantee maximum fat loss and get you leaner than you've ever been before.  To give yourself an even better edge, check out my articles about effective pre-workout and post-workout supplements to ensure that your body is getting everything that it needs to get lean.

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Michael McGill

Uproar Athletics



Michael McGill
Michael McGill


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