First off, there is a very big difference between being lean (which can be sustainable year-round if preferred, and being shredded (contest lean) which requires taking your body to an unhealthy extreme for a short time, as you prepare to get judged on your conditioning.
When I say it can ruin your life, I speak from experience. Some people will lose touch with who they are because they attribute their identity to how they look. That’s not living. Imagine from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep you are solely focused on your body and how you look? Every time you see your reflection you flex. If you take a day off you feel “behind” or lazy.
What about everything associated with being this lean:
• Hormonal Disruption
• Mood Swings
• Disordered Eating
• Poor Sleep
• Social Isolation
Am I telling you to never get shredded or compete? No, I’m just sharing the truth. I’ve experienced this myself and I’ve seen others go through it. Damaged friendships, relationships, and insecurities. Always seeking validation to see if you look better than someone else. Never feeling quite good enough. And the problem is when the show is over, restoring your body and mind back to normal is another huge challenge in itself and a lot of people don’t fully recover from it.
Being contest lean should not be something one strives unless they are actually competing and IF that is the ultimate goal, I advise doing so under the supervision of a well-trained, educated and credible coach. Pushing yourself to excel at a higher level is a great way to challenge yourself, but understand it can involve health risks.
I talk about this because I want people to proceed with caution. Don’t let your physique determine your self-worth. There is so much more to life, and this isn’t for everyone. If you’re going to compete, do it for the right reasons.
Make sure you’re in tune with your body/mind and understand the hurdles. Make sure you have a support system around you. Hire a knowledgeable and experienced coach. Talk with multiple people who have competed before. Get blood work done. Your body is not something to play around with. You can end up causing some long-term damage if you’re careless with your approach.
I hope this opens peoples eyes and they really put serious thought into it. I’m just looking out because as a coach and as someone who has competed before, I’ve seen what getting absolutely shredded can do to people.
Don’t become obsessed with body fat percentages and numbers.
What is the advantage of being shredded compared to maintaining a lean physique? Meh, none really.
What matters is that you are truly happy with who you are and who you see and in the mirror.