The order of operations for shredding

There is a whole lotta bullshit and misinformation out there about what you need to do in order to get ripped. Guys are often prioritizing all the wrong shit. And they’re often neglecting the most important shit.

I’ll hear things like “I want to lose weight so I’m doing Keto” or “I really want a six pack so I’m vegan now, except for fish” or my personal favorite “which supplements do I need to take to look like you?”.


It’s painful to see so many young, enthusiastic guys focus all their energy on the wrong things. So I sat down and developed an “order of operations” for all the guys out there who want to get shredded.

I’ve listed the things you need to focus on, in the exact order of importance. So before you think about number 2, you must be sure you’re taking care of number 1. And before you take care of number 5, you must be taking care of number 4.

You follow what I’m saying? Ok, great. Here’s your “order of operations” for getting shredded:

  1. Calories in vs. Calories out
  2. Macronutrient Balance
  3. Sleep Pattern
  4. Micronutrient Balance
  5. Training Protocol

These 5 items above are all you need to focus on to get ripped. You literally don’t need to focus on anything else to get your six pack. Before you try anything else to get ripped, you must be sure you are getting these 5 things right, in this order.

If you really want to dominate, then here are a few “extra” things you can try which will help you take it to the next level:

  1. Mindset Protocol
  2. Nutrient Timing
  3. Supplementation

Now let’s break down each of these…

1. Calories in vs. calories out

  • You must be in a caloric deficit, or else you will not be losing weight.
  • Don’t know what this means? Google “caloric deficit”
  • Are you eating slightly less calories than you are burning each day? Great, you can now focus on number 2.

2. Macronutrient Balance

  • You must achieve a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat intake which enables muscle protein synthesis, provides adequate energy for training needs and supports hormone function.
  • Don’t know what this means? Google “IIFYM”
  • Are your protein, carb and fat intake levels all within the appropriate range? Great, you can now focus on number 3.

3. Sleep Patterns

  • Less than 6 hours on average each night? You can forget about ever getting a 6 pack. You are better off skipping the gym entirely and just focusing on eating a great diet and sleeping more.
  • 6-7.5 hours average each night? That’s more like it but you need to manage your time more effectively. You must prioritize getting 8 hours per night on average and never less than 7 if you’re serious about getting truly fit and shredded.
  • 7.5+ hours average each night? Great, you’re getting enough sleep to support your body’s immune function, hormone function, recovery abilities, etc… you can now focus on number 4.

4. Micronutrient Balance

  • Are you getting the vitamins, minerals, etc… that your body needs to operate optimally? You should be getting a healthy dose of all the vital micronutrients every day in your diet.
  • Don’t know what this means? Google “micronutrients”
  • By focusing on balancing their macronutrient intakes and eating a varied diet, most young men are going to be getting a solid balance of micronutrients to support their body’s basic needs.
  • Some people will witness deficiencies in a particular micronutrient or set of micronutrients, which will sometimes necessitate dietary adjustments. In rare cases, some form of supplementation will be advisable. ie. vegans are commonly deficient in Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron and Zinc so doctors may advise that vegans ingest supplements containing these vitamins and minerals.
  • Are you getting the appropriate balance of micronutrients in your diet? Have you addressed any deficiencies? Great, you can now focus on number 5.

5.  Training Protocol

  1. Consistency
    • the most important determinant of success is how frequently and consistently you train, regardless of what that training looks like.
    • So if you’re into cycling, the most important determinant of success is “how many times per week do you ride your bike on average each year?
    • If you’re into weightlifting, the most important determinant of success is “how many times per week do you hit the gym on average each year?”
  2. Quality
    • AKA “intensity”. The next most important factor in your training protocol, after consistency, is: what are the actual activities you are doing and how intensely are you doing them.
    • So if you’re into cycling, then the second most important determinant of success is “how do you ride your bike?” (ie. what intervals are you doing and how hard are doing them?).
    • If you’re into weightlifting, then the second most important determinant of success is “how do you lift?” (ie. which lifts do you perform and how much weight do you lift?)
  3. Volume
    • AKA “time/distance/total workload”. The third most important factor in your training protocol, after consistency and quality, is: how much volume are you doing per session, per week and over the course of the entire year?
    • So if you’re into cycling, then the third most important determinant of success is “how much time do you spend ride your bike?” (ie. how much time per session? How much time total per week?)
    • If you’re into weightlifting, then the third most important determinant of success is “what is your total workload in the gym each time you lift?” (ie. how many sets and reps are you doing?)
  4. Notes on Training Protocol
    • Pay attention to the fact that volume is less important than consistency and quality. Before you ever increase your training volume, you should first aim to increase consistency and quality of your training, without increasing volume.
    • An athlete who is consistently doing high quality training but a very low overall volume will dominate an athlete who is inconsistently doing a high volume of high quality training. Think about this for a minute.
    • Is your physical training protocol dialed in? Are you prioritizing consistency and quality ahead of volume? Great, continue focusing on everything in this list and you will get ripped! If you want to take it to the next level, then go ahead and focus on number 6.

6. Mindset Development

  • What the fuck does this even mean? Here’s what I mean… Every ripped guy I have ever met (without exception) had a strong mindset. The more remarkable the rig, the more remarkable the mindset. This is no joke.
  • Getting fit and getting ripped is not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. This is hard. It’s a challenge. It requires effort, strength, resilience. By training your mind to be prepared for the challenging moments, you will greatly increase your likelihood of success.
  • If you’re a mentally weak person or you find that you have low willpower, then you must develop your “mental muscle” to handle difficult situations (ie. a challenging moment during a hard training session or a challenging moment of temptation during a strict diet).
  • The most mentally tough people I have met all spend a large chunk of time dedicated to refining and improving their ability to push themselves. They also spend time learning about how to improve their self-control, how to break bad habits and how to create good habits. Learning these skills is a conscious process, the same as training in the gym. Training your mind will build a stronger mind.
  • What does this actually look like in practice? Here are a few examples of mindset development: reading literature on the topic of discipline, reading self improvement books to learn how to be present and how to disassociate from your emotions, trying meditation in the mornings, practicing visualization techniques in bed at night, repeating positive affirmations in front of a mirror, routinely pushing past the point of “I can’t go anymore” in training… Try different techniques and find what works for you. These are all examples of practices I’ve seen work for other people.
  • When you engage in “training the mind”, you learn to manage pain. Nobody gets insanely ripped without developing discipline. Nobody gets incredibly fit without learning the art of voluntary suffering. Learn this skill and it will make getting ripped effortless and sustainable. This is a powerful tool.

7. Nutrient/Meal Timing

  • Is this seriously less important than “mindset development”? Yes, it seriously is.
  • Despite all the buzz surrounding time-restricted eating protocols (ie. Intermittent Fasting) and all the traditional focus on the 30 minute “post workout window” and all the other stuff you’ve heard about how meal TIMING is so important, the most recent science on all this stuff suggests that it’s just not as important as all the other factors listed above.
  • I have gotten ripped eating 8 small meals a day. I’ve also gotten ripped eating 2 meals per day. I’ve gotten ripped eating no carbs after 4 pm. I’ve also gotten ripped eating ALL my carbs at 8pm. I’ve gotten strong and fit smashing massive protein shakes within 15 minutes after every workout. I’ve also gotten strong and fit smashing absolutely nothing for 5 full hours after my morning workouts. I’ve gotten strong using intra-workout aminos. I’ve gotten strong using nothing but water. Any and all of these approaches will work. The simple fact is nutrient timing just doesn’t matter as much as the items listed above.
  • Can fasting be a helpful strategy for you to achieve your aesthetic goals? Yes, absolutely. I use intermittent fasting myself and it’s helped me tremendously. However, if “meal timing” is the focus of your strategy and you neglect any of the first 6 items on the order of operations, then you will not achieve your goal.
  • Get the first 6 items on this list right, then feel free to “optimize” your meal timing and nutrient timing however you please. If you are nailing the first 6 items on this list, then no matter how you “time” your meals, you’ll get the results you are seeking.

8. Supplementation

  • Dead last on the list? You serious? Yes I am serious. Supplements are generally the biggest waste of people’s time, money and mental energy as it relates to getting fit and getting shredded.
  • Do supplements provide any benefit? Yes I believe so, absolutely. If you get the right ones then they serve a purpose. That’s why it’s on this list.
  • There are many elite athletes and coaches who genuinely feel that supplements do not provide any benefit at all and they don’t use any supplements. I’m talking about world class professional endurance athletes who I know personally. So nobody can ever use the excuse that they aren’t getting results because they “aren’t taking creatine anymore”.
  • Most guys spend more time, money and mental energy figuring out their supplement stack than they do on these other crucial elements of their fitness: using a calorie calculator to determine their intake targets, tracking their caloric intake, hiring an expert for nutrition and training guidance, reading books on mindset and meditating on those lessons, etc…
  • The problem is not that supplements are bullshit. I like some supplements. I use a pre workout supplement and I use creatine. I take vitamin D and I took fish oil for years until I started eating sardines every day. But the problem is that most people put number 8 on this list up at the top of the list and they spend more money, time and energy on supplements than they do on other, more important items on this list. Follow the order of operations and you will get the results you seek.


OK… there you have it. This is the order of operations for getting shredded.  I hope you learned something helpful here. Prioritize your focus according to this list and you will unlock results you never knew were possible!

Pro tip: save this post to your favorites bar and check in from time to time to “check yourself” and ensure you’re focusing on the right things in the correct order. 

Alright, I gotta go train!



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