The voyage to get jacked is one that many pursue, but many fail. By implementing suboptimal training programs, poor nutrition, inadequate rest, and little-to-no progressive overload, literally millions around the world give up on the gym, never to return and form excuses around why they choose a more sedentary, less healthy lifestyle instead.
Knowledge — most importantly, self-knowledge — is the key to getting jacked; finding lifting and nutritional principles is easy, but putting them into practice while discovering what works for you is the hard part.
It’s neat and all to know the main principles to get jacked, but if you train like a wuss, you’re not going to get far.
Likewise, if you eat like a bird, you’re not going to get far either.
Conversely, if you eat too much, you’ll end up gaining too much fat and give yourself an uphill climb to reveal those hard-earned gains.
Furthermore, if you overtrain or ego lift, you could be putting yourself in harm’s way, taking yourself out of the gym for several weeks or months.
To get jacked in 2021 is relatively difficult — considering how gyms are closed for millions around the world.
Thankfully, you only need gravity and resistance to get started — and to at least nail the basic principles to have you running out of the blocks when gyms finally reopen.
But, if you want to get jacked, you must realize that this is a lifelong endeavor; you can’t simply go to the gym, do a couple of cycles and look like an Instagram fitness model in half a year.
There are dozens of factors at play that will determine your muscularity, bodyfat percentage, insertions, growth, etc.
And all of these will take time to learn.
While one exercise might work for your favorite influencer, it may not work for you.
We can give you an introduction or an outline to exercise selections, but you have to recognize that no one size fits all.
The philosophy of fitness is fourfold:
- Discipline and consistency
- Trial and error
- Progressive overload
If you incorporate these four philosophical principles, you will enjoy AT LEAST some degree of success in the weight room.
So, let’s get started.
How to Train to Get Jacked
As we’ve previously mentioned, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all, but by sticking to key principles, you will begin to see progress.
You must begin to view training as a stimulus for growth.
It’s not an opportunity to “shock” the body, destroy the body, burn off that family-size pizza and sixer you shamelessly hoovered up on Saturday night.
It is a stimulus for growth.
And you have to train hard — harder that last time.
Without progressive overload, you’re not going to get jacked — simple as.
If you do tricep kickbacks for 3×10 once a week with a 15lb dumbbell, you’re NOT going to have sleeve-bursting upper arms.
You have to strive to add more weight on the bar or perform more repetitions every time you go to the gym with the idea to become as strong as humanly possible without sacrificing good form.
The sky is the limit.
The first few years will invariably yield amazing and addicting results, but taper down very quickly thereafter.
Once you become an intermediate lifter, you have to become more intelligent with your programming to continue making progress.
And I must stress again that you have to make each workout more challenging if you wish to see increased gains.
Some people who are happy with a certain level of muscularity can train at the same intensity with the same nutritional intake to try to capture a certain look or performance.
And this is fine, but don’t think you will get jacked by doing the same workouts until the end of time.
On your quest to get jacked, you might feel like focusing specifically on the beach muscles that pop — chest, shoulders, arms — while neglecting the rest of the body.
It would be a huge mistake to do so — even if you’re wanting to make your beach muscles pop.
Compound lifts will be an integral part of your training to get jacked.
These are exercises that require 2 or more joints to be involved and 2 or more muscles activated to complete the movement.
Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, lunges, dips, rows, pullups, overhead presses, cleans, and snatches are all amazing choices as your training centerpieces if you want to get jacked.
In fact, if you were to only include the above exercises, you would probably have larger beach muscles than somebody who only trained in isolation.
And while isolation exercises — curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, leg curls/extensions — are great for bringing out smaller muscles, they shouldn’t be at the forefront of your training.
Think about isolation exercises as the cherry on the icing on top of your cake; they are to be performed at the end of your workout, after you have done your compound lifts and when your energy levels have been depleted since they don’t require as much energy to perform.
When you become more advanced, you can use isolation exercises to pre-exhaust a muscle group before a compound exercise — but you shouldn’t have to worry about that just yet.
Compound exercises also boast significant carryover to day-to-day activities.
Compound exercises elicit a far greater anabolic response than isolation exercises, translating to a greater potential for growth.
To recap, these are among the best compound lifts out there:
- Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
- Overhead Press
Incorporate these movements at the beginning of your workouts before moving onto isolation exercises on your journey to get jacked.
Rep ranges are a subject of much controversy in the fitness community.
However, we recommend that beginners try implementing a rep range of 8-12 reps and 3-4 sets per exercise.
The following is generally believed when it comes to rep ranges:
- 1-5 reps for strength @ >80% of 1 rep max
- 6-12 reps for hypertrophy (building muscle) @ 60-80% of 1 rep max
- 12+ reps for resistance training @ <60% of 1 rep max
If you’re not powerlifting, we urge that you use a 1 rep max calculator instead of testing your strength limits!
While there is a lot of truth behind that rep range breakdown, you can build muscle at any of the above rep ranges as long as you’re consistently training close to failure.
Powerlifters commonly train in the 1-5 rep ranges but boast some of the most impressive physiques out there.
It is because they consistently train close to the wire.
The best rep range you can choose is one that works best for you — as long as you train close to failure.
If you’re training with few “reps in reserve” (RIR) each set, you are well on your way to get jacked.
Reps in reserve, in simpler terms, are how many reps you have in the tank when you end a set.
For example, if you complete 12 reps, but could crank out 14, you’d have 2 reps in reserve.
Ideally, to get jacked, you need to train with 1-3 reps in reserve every set.
And one of the reasons why we prescribe rep ranges instead of a fixed number of reps is to give you leeway as you might not be able to complete 4 sets of 10.
Instead, you might be able to do 1 set of 12 to at the start of the session before struggling to hit 9 reps on the 4th set.
Generally speaking, if you can do more than 12 reps, we advise you to increase the weight; likewise, if you can’t do more than 8 reps, we’d advise you to reduce the weight.
Compound Rep Ranges
I, personally, have enjoyed a lot of success with lower rep ranges (1-6) on all compound movements.
However, it should be noted that some compound exercises — squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, presses — are both taxing and form-intensive.
It might be a sensible idea to either reduce weight loads or rep ranges for these exercises to ensure proper and safe execution.
Taking deadlifts close to failure if you’re a novice lifter is not a good idea.
For most of the other lifts, we urge you to use a spotter.
Isolation Rep Ranges
As smaller muscles, on the whole, take less time to recover after exercise, they can withstand higher rep ranges, more training volume, and frequency.
We generally recommend a slightly higher rep range — such as 8-15 reps — for isolation exercises for this reason.
Smaller muscles such as biceps, triceps, and calves can be trained 2-3 times a weeks at relatively high volume.
See our article on how to build cannonball deltoids for a deeper explication for incorporating this training structure into your routine.
Contrariwise, you shouldn’t be able to do high volume squat or bench press workouts with such frequency — because it would hurt!
How To Structure Your Workouts to Get Jacked
A lot of new lifters fall at this hurdle.
Strangely, more often than not, a lot of new lifters stifle their progress by adding TOO MUCH volume or changing up their workouts too often in the name of “confusing the muscle” or “shocking the body.”
While the spirit is amiable, the only thing that genuinely works is sustainable progressive overload.
Some of our clients have shown us workout models with 30-40 exercises for one body part in a session to be done twice a week.
Your workout program should seek to find balance to avoid injuries or postural issues from creeping up.
One rule you should abide by is a 1.5-2:1 pull to push ratio where for every 1 rep of pressing exercises, you perform 1.5-2 reps of pulling exercises.
Say you did 6 reps of overhead pressing, do 9-12 lat pull downs or chins to counterbalance this presses.
If you read our FREE eBook on the strength training principles, you will learn that there are a total of 7 key movements from which lifting is founded.
- Pushing (overhead press, bench press, incline bench, dips)
- Pulling (lat pull down, pullups, rows, facepulls)
- Squat (squat, front squat, vertical jump, goblet squat)
- Hinge (deadlift, cleans, kettlebell swings, cable pullthroughs, hyperextensions)
- Lunge (lunges, Bulgarian split squat, walking lunges)
- Twist (One arm dumbbell rows, Russian rows, renegade rows, minesweepers)
- Carries (farmer’s walks, Zercher carries, yoke walks)
All exercises to get jacked are based around the above — everything else is purely cosmetic.
You should strive to strike a balance incorporating all of the above.
For leg days, you should include at least one squat, hinge, and lunge pattern exercise into your routine.
For back days, try to complete 1.5-2x more total reps than on chest day.
And overall, to get jacked, you need to find a training split that you can neatly fit into your daily life.
Please read the following excerpt from our article on so-called “bro splits”:
Pick any mainstream fitness publication and most of them will tell you to do training split similar to this:
Monday — Chest and Triceps
Tuesday — Back and Biceps
Wednesday — Rest
Thursday — Legs
Friday — Shoulders
Saturday — Arms
Sunday — Rest
While the principle behind the programming may be sound — as a method by which to instill routine and progressive overload — but it ends there for natural lifters as far as training splits go.
Natural lifters will have a 48-72 hour window for growth post workout, and the weekly, monthly, or even yearly volume one can fit into training a body part once a week is suboptimal for most lifters.
Therefore a different approach to training splits in order.
By hitting a body part once a week, the body is given 52 opportunities for growth a year when 104 or even 156 opportunities for growth can be had as a natural lifter.
Enhanced lifters can afford to break down tissue in epic weekly training split workouts for body part due to quicker recovery rates, higher nitrogen retention adding to lengthier sessions, and longer recovery windows.
Natural lifters, on the other hand, don’t have the [supraphysiogical] luxury of all of the above–and have to make do with more modest recovery times and volume toleration.
Optimize Your Training Split
Splitting one’s workouts into 2-3 sessions per week could go a long way for natural lifters.
One of the thing that encouraged me to train body parts several times a week was seeing Arnold’s regimen when training for the Mr. Olympia; he would hit major body parts 3 times a week.
This was early on in my lifting life, so I was none the wiser.
Trying to emulate the training splits of one of the most genetically-gifted and hard-working bodybuilders of all time is always going to be challenging.
But I molded a lot of Arnie’s principles when my lifting knowledge was lackluster at best.
And, lo and behold, this training split worked — it worked better than doing the prescribed bro splits.
Moreover, I was able to incorporate higher total weekly volume in my training and handled heavier working sets overall as I would have a few days’ recovery between each workout.
Squatting 600lb then Deadlifting in the mid-500s for reps immediately after can be done, but it’s difficult.
Some days you won’t feel up to it. And, if this happens, you’ve effectively half-assed one week of training for that entire muscle group.
It happens; you will have days where your performance is poop.
Why not split your training to 2-3 times a week? You will reap the benefits of loading your training with more total volume and extra muscular stimulation.
For example, a push-pull split or upper-lower split could go a long way for a lot of natural lifters.
Instead of breaking down muscle fibers to a near-catabolic state from training splits hitting arms for 2-3 hours, do 10-15 working sets at heavier weights over 2-3 sessions a week.
Try This Split Instead
You could try something like this:
Monday — Back and Chest
Tuesday — Legs
Wednesday — Back and Chest
Thursday — Legs and Shoulders
Friday — Back and Chest
Saturday — Legs
Sunday — Rest
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a simple 2 exercises with 2-4 working sets for each per muscle group will do.
You don’t need to be spending hours in the gym.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe a push-pull split would:
Monday — Push (Squat, Lunge, Bench, Military Press, Tricep Pressdown, Lateral Raise)
Tuesday — Pull (Romanian Deadlift, Barbell Row, Weighted Pull Ups, Glute-ham Raise, Hammer Curls)
Wednesday — Rest
Friday — Pull (Snatch-grip Deadlift, DB Row, Weighted Chins, Reverse Hypers, EZ-Bar Curls)
Weekend — Rest
Of course, there are several split variations you can attempt if these do not appeal to you.
The ultimate goal would be to see how your body best responds to 1) training frequency 2) volume 3) progressive overload 4) recovery.
Being a lifter is a marathon–not a sprint–that, hopefully, lasts a lifetime — [especially if you plan to get jacked].
We will now supply a workout structure of what you need to follow to get jacked.
In the past, we have criticized “bro splits” as an ineffectual way to get jacked if you’re a natural lifter.
But they are useful if you are new to the gym and wish to systematize your training.
Try applying a similar training structure to this (below) until you’re familiar with most gym exercises and equipment.
|Upper pec press||3-4||8-12|
|Middle pec press||3-4||8-12|
|Barbell row (horizontal) variation||3-4||6-8|
|Dumbbell row (horizontal) variation||3-4||8-15|
|Pulldown (vertical) variation||3-4||8-15|
|Pulldown (45 degree) variation||3-4||12-15|
|Rack pull (isometric) variation||3-4||6-10|
|Overhead press variation||3-4||6-12|
|Lateral raise variation 1||3-4||10-15|
|Lateral raise variation 2||3-4||10-15|
|Rear delt fly||3-4||10-15|
|Squat variation 1||3-4||5-8|
|One pressing variation (close grip bench, dip, etc)||3-4||8-12|
|One pushing variation (chins)||3-4||8-12|
|Tricep isolation 1||3-4||12-15|
|Bicep isolation 1||3-4||12-15|
|Tricep isolation 2||3-4||12-15|
|Bicep isolation 2||3-4||12-15|
To reiterate, this is merely for you to get an idea of how to structure your workout on your route to get jacked.
You may need to play around with the structure of this program so that it suits you better.
Remember to prevent imbalances from creeping in — you don’t want to be shelved for lengthy periods of time for silly injuries or niggles.
For every squat, counterbalance it with a hamstring-dominant exercise such as a Romanian Deadlift or curl.
For every exercise that hits your front deltoid, counteract it with an exercise that hits your rear deltoids.
Part of your quest to get jacked should be self-care and injury prevention.
If you’d like a guide on exercise selection and replacement exercises to get jacked, download our FREE eBook here.
Now, let’s get onto the diet plan to get jacked, shall we?
Eating to Get Jacked
Diet is the most crucial element to get jacked.
A poor diet can kill your progress dead.
Having said that, some people believe they have to stuff their faces with uncomfortable amounts of food to get jacked.
You don’t need 5,000 calories per day and 500g of protein to get jacked!
This is a profoundly poor dieting strategy that will only render you overweight and having to spend months — if not, years — to lose the fat you gained to reveal your hard-earned gains.
To get jacked, we revealed how shockingly little you have to eat — but this isn’t an excuse to eat like a bird.
The general rule of thumb is 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight and to eat at a caloric surplus of 100-200 calories.
If you’re 200lb, you should try to eat 200 grams of protein and 3100-3200 calories per day (assuming you are not doing any other exercise) in order to start gaining some muscle.
There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about how much food needs to be consumed in order to get big.
While there is some truth to the truism “you need to eat big to be big,” you don’t want to put on poor quality mass in the form of fat and bloat.
And, apart from being apart to grow in a calorie deficit, there is no upside to overeating. Think about it, do you want to bulk for 6 months, put on 5lb of muscle and 15lb of fat, only to have your abs fade and lose half of that muscle mass in dieting back down to reveal your hard-earned gains?
No, of course not. It’s a lot more sensible to eat in a marginal caloric surplus — no more than 100-200 calories above your base metabolic rate — than overeat to get big; slonking down thicc mass gainer shakes and shoveling pizza into your pie hole.
How Many Calories Do You Need Per Day to Get Jacked?
Well, to get big, it depends on a lot of factors ranging from activity levels, body composition, thyroid activity, testosterone levels, etc.
But assuming that everything is functioning within the normal range, you need around 15 calories per pound of bodyweight a day for maintenance. And muscle is metabolically expensive; a pound of muscle will increase your base metabolic rate by 20-30 calories per day.
Out of those 15 calories a day, 4 calories — just under a third — needs to be earmarked for protein. For optimal growth, you would need a gram of protein per pound of LEAN body mass. However, for most, this would be too difficult to calculate and we are trying to keep the math simple.
Then, out of the remaining 9 calories a day, it’s really up to you as to how choose to fill your macronutrients on your mission to get big.
Too many carbohydrates may leave you sluggish and [potentially] more insulin resistant [in the future]; and you need dietary fats from responsible food sources such as grass-fed beef, salmon, nuts, avocados, olive oil, butter, and hard cheese for healthy hormonal balances and joint health.
How Should My Diet to Get Jacked Be Divided Up?
My preferred macronutrient breakdown is:
or, put simply:
4 calories per lb bodyweight protein
4 calories per lb bodyweight carbohydrates
7 calories per lb bodyweight fat
Let’s keep the math simple and let’s assume you weigh 200lb, then your macronutrient/caloric intake should be as follows:
200lb x 15 calories: 3000 calories a day base metabolic rate (this is assuming that you completely sedentary and not taking exercise, lifting weights, and movement into account).
200g of protein: 800 calories
200g of carbohydrates: 800 calories
156g of fat: 1400 calories
This is, of course, an example of what the macronutrient breakdown could look like. You could increase intake of one macronutrient while simultaneously lowering another.
How to Increase Calories Sensibly To Get Jacked, Not Fat
So, if this hypothetical 200-pounder were seeking to gain muscle, he would have to slightly increase his daily caloric intake — and it doesn’t have to be anything too drastic.
He could eat an extra banana and apple as a snack or even have a scoop of protein powder in water to compensate for the slight increase in daily caloric intake.
It really is that simple when it comes to eating to get jacked.
No need to eat thousands of calories in junk or waste your money on ineffective and damaging dieting strategies.
But people wasting their money on their quest to get jacked is all too common a sight.
Which leads us onto our final point.
Which Supplements Should I Take to Get Jacked
The sad reality is that the vast majority of “legal” supplements are completely useless in the long run.
Taking all sorts of fancy protein powders is a waste of time and money if you’re already eating full and balanced meals.
You should already be consuming enough protein; you don’t need to spend $50 on a tub of whey to get jacked.
Most preworkouts are glorified flavored caffeine waters that make your face prickle — instead of helping you to get jacked.
Coffee is the OG energy drink and has been proven to give you an edge in both states of sleep deprivation and fatigue. If you’re unwilling to dish out funds on preworkout, a black coffee more than suffices.
Test boosters don’t do much unless your testosterone levels are below the normal range — you won’t get a supraphysiological surge in testosterone levels from overpriced Fenugreek extract and boron.
While we do recommend some supplements for lifters, the one standout supplement that can be legally obtained is creatine.
Creatine is one of the few “legal” over-the-counter supplements that can actually give a supraphysiological edge to your muscularity and strength development. This means that creatine can actually help you surpass your preexisting genetic limitations. Granted, it won’t be as effective as stronger compounds, but creatine has been clinically proven to be both safe and effective.
The other two supplements we recommend are Vitamin D and ZMA.
Taken from our article on 3 supplements every man should take:
1. Vitamin D
This powerful vitamin is the only vitamin that is produced endogenously by the body.
With the exception of supplements, Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and egg yolks.
And there is a recent meme calling for men to “sun their balls” — as it is believed that, since testicles have Vitamin D receptors, the essential vitamin is absorbed more effectively.
Supplements, however, can also make the difference if you don’t have enough privacy to expose your junk to the sun.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body — both of which are essential nutrients for optimal bone, teeth, and muscle health.
Natural testosterone levels can increase in men who supplement Vitamin D. Consequently, mood can be elevated, sex drive increased, and performance in the gym improved via an increase in endogenous testosterone production.
Aside from the immediate endocrinological benefits derived from supplementing Vitamin D, Vitamin D can also:
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Boost immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Protect against Asthma
Of course, we would naturally advise for Vitamin D to be consumed via direct sunlight — but we know that it might not be possible for some.
Although a dose of around 1000IU is recommended, a lot of fitness personalities consume up to five times more than the recommended dose.
If you wish to supplement Vitamin D, you may click here to buy now.
This supplement has received a lot of hype in recent years, but it’s a supplement that replenishes crucial minerals that are lost through sweating.
ZMA is usually comprised of the following:
- Zinc monomethionine: 30 mg — 270% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Magnesium aspartate: 450 mg — 110% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 10–11 mg — 650% of the RDI
Some brands may vary with their dosages.
Zinc, usually found in certain shellfish, is necessary for healthy thyroid function to regulate your metabolism.
In fact, zinc is required for around 300 enzymes involved in metabolism, digestion, and the immune system.
Behind iron, zinc is the second most common mineral found in the body.
Magnesium, on the other hand, is the fourth most commonly found mineral in the body.
Found in dark chocolate, nuts, and avocado, this mineral plays a crucial role in energy and protein creation while regulating neurotransmitters — all of which are vital to success in the gym!
As mentioned, both Zinc and Magnesium levels are depleted through sweat — exercise. Taking ZMA supplements can help restore levels of these vital minerals.
Aside from exercising these supplements — which can be taken individually — can also combat depression.
Furthermore, magnesium has been linked with reducing chronic inflammation, lowering blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure.
In conjunction with Zinc, taken 30 minutes before bed on an empty stomach, ZMA has drastically improved my sleep quality, in my personal experience.
Supplementing ZMA can:
- Help improve sleep quality — crucial for post-workout recovery
- Boost immune system
- Increase energy levels
- Boost testosterone levels
- Improve metabolism
- Improve athletic performance
- Contribute towards healthy muscle contractions
- Help elevate mood
Aside from legal supplements, a lot of lifters resort to performance enhancing drugs to get jacked help achieve the physique of their dreams.
However, years of training and clever programming are required to get jacked. And if you wish to take the performance enhancing plunge, we recommend you train for at least 5 years before taking PEDs.
We have a complete article detailing how long you should wait before taking PEDs. We recommend you read this before making any drastic decisions on your journey to get jacked.
Moreover, as millions around the world attempt to get jacked, legal grey area PEDs such as SARMs have made a grand appearance on the international stage.
If you wish to gain access to a program that will help you get jacked and provide you with multiple training ideas, we recommend you become a Demigod and unlock all of our programs for a bargain here.
Don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com for personalized coaching to get jacked and a client questionnaire if you’d like DEDICATED tailor-made personal training on strength training, building muscle, losing fat, developing athleticism, and more — all to your liking, lifestyle, habits, and taste!
Alternatively, you can pick up a FREE eBook on fundamental strength principles offering an introductory workout program.