I spent 60 minutes in the gym, max.
More than that was (and still is) simply too much for me. I have a wife and son and full-time job. If I couldn’t complete a massively effective session in less than one hour, I was either daydreaming or too fatigued (or, less commonly, going for too much volume). Either way, I got out of the gym at my self-imposed one hour cutoff, even if I had not completed the session. One technique I sometimes used to ensure that I never spent more than an hour in the gym was to promise my son that I would read a book to him when I returned from the gym and before I began getting ready for work. If there’s one thing I won’t do it’s breaking a promise to my son. You can read about the strength routine I use here.
I didn’t do a single abdominal exercise or biceps curl.
Yes, you read that right; I haven’t performed a single exercise meant to isolate the abs (e.g. crunches, sit-ups, all flavors of leg raises, etc.) or biceps in more than two years. I personally find them to be boring, too narrowly focused, time wasters, and in my experience, they also have also tended to create imbalances in my overall musculature. The definition and deep strength in my abdominal region and trunk is the result of low body fat via establishing a caloric deficit and performing heavy compound lifts. I’d also much rather perform heavy close-grip chinups, which hit the biceps hard in addition to the rhomboids, traps, lats and posterior deltoids. It’s also really hard for the core in general to escape some serious isometric work when heavy chins are being performed. There are no secrets to this (as far as I know).
I dropped structured cardio altogether and learned the value of walking.
To get ripped, I created a daily caloric deficit, and of the most effective tools I used to accomplish it was walking. I found that walking was (and still is), hands down, the best and least stressful way to increase my deficit. My personal belief is that our bodies are built to walk more than any other activity. I have been exercising all my life, and until I rethought the way I was trying to get ripped, I was in the chronic cardio/ CrossFit/ P90X/ HIIT camp. I could outlast literally every single person I knew or saw at any cardiovascularly intensive activity, yet I was still bouncing between 11 and 12% body fat with sub-optimal lean mass. Sure, my resting heart rate was 40 BPM, but I was chronically fatigued, tight, and could barely bench my own body weight or front squat to save my life. Needless to say, I put most of that behind me, save for some metabolic work that I program for once every five weeks as part of the periodization schedule that is part of the RF Strength Method.
To keep track of how much I was walking, I used a FitBit One activity monitor. I wore it (and continue to wear it) all the time. It’s completely unobtrusive. On non-lifting days, I aimed for at least 12,000 steps, which is somewhere around six miles, while on lifting days I made sure to get at least 10,000. Because I live in Brooklyn, NY, and neither my wife nor I own cars, it’s almost a given that I reach those step goals without thinking about it. All those steps add up to anywhere from 500-800 calories per day. Burning all those calories over the course of an entire day is FAR easier for me than attempting it in a single balls-to-the-wall session on a treadmill. I also believe it’s much healthier and sustainable for 1) the joints since it’s low-impact, and 2) for the muscles since the effort is spread throughout the day and blood is kept flushing through them at a more even rate. This is why I also find walking quite helpful in recovering from heavy lifting sessions. If the end of the day is approaching and I for whatever reason haven’t achieved my step goal (once or twice per week), I’ll literally walk or jog lightly through my apartment to make up the extra steps.