Men's Health Lean vs. Stage Lean

Every guy wants to get ‘lean’. But to what degree? How easy will it be? Is it maintainable? And what’s the cost of getting there?

The good news is Mr Average Joe can get Men’s Health lean (Abs, a few veins and some good muscle definition) without feeling like death or needing to live like a monk. Even better, once he's there he can maintain this dare I say pretty easily.

Getting stage lean is a different story. Now you’re talking about losing that extra few % body fat and probably putting your body under so much stress that you’ll actually lose some muscle too. You’ll often feel tired, weak, hungry, irritable, unfocused, feel a drop in libido... Not pretty.

It’s important you know this as competing is now a fluffy, mainstream thing to do in the fitness industry. Not only is the process of getting there tough, you’ll also will have to deal with the aftermath of psychological and physiological issues that come with it. The inevitable regaining of body fat, distorted body image, potentially binge eating, maybe not placing and how this can trigger some identity and self worth issues, mending the bridges you burnt with people you were an arse hole to when you were hungry and tired.. It might sound dramatic but I promise you as someone who’s stepped on stage 10 times in the last 3 years I’ve seen and experienced all of the above.

What I’m getting at is that you need to realise getting stage lean is no small feat, but equally do you really want to push the envelope that far? Do you need to? Is the risk worth the reward?

This may make me sound pretty hypocritical as someone who is deep into a bodybuilding prep aiming to get leaner than I have ever been before, but this isn’t a long-term thing for me. In a few weeks time i will be finishing up competing for the year I will be increasing my calories, putting on body fat and generally feeling back to 100% myself again. Every time I go through this process I learn a little more and make a couple less mistakes.

Show prep isn't as glamorous. If you want to compete, do it for YOU and not for likes or plaudits from anyone else 👍.