You Can’t Be Lean, Strong AND Natural!

Have you ever been told that it is impossible to be lean, strong and natural at the same time? In other words, you can be two of these things but you can’t be all three. In this video, I’m going to show you whether it is achievable. Whether you can have ripped, low levels of body fat while still being very very strong and natural the entire time.

This starts with a common misconception out there that states that being lean and being strong don’t go well together. I just don’t agree. Look no further than Jesse. This is a young man who has perpetually carried low levels of body fat, has maximized his deadlift to more than 3 times his own bodyweight and has never taken a PED his entire life.

Now, there are some benefits to increasing your levels of body fat when you want to achieve your strength gains faster. This is because along with the body fat often comes more lean muscle tissue. The simple act of consuming calories in a surplus gives our body enough energy substrate to be able to more easily build muscle. That said, if the desire is ultimately to cut down to a level of body fat that is capable of revealing abs or simply to be more ripped, then the strength increases are almost always sacrificed on the way back down.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could achieve both high levels of strength and not have to lose your leanness in the process?

You can, you just have to be willing to put in a little more time to do so.

In the case of Jesse, he has been on this journey for 5 years. To some this may seem like a long amount of time. When you look at it in the scope of a lifetime of lifting, this is actually very very short. To be able to not only achieve the strength levels that he has achieved (in some circles – elite level powerlifting strength) and not have to sacrifice the leanness that he himself values and in his words “makes him feel much healthier and better about himself”, seems like the better way to go.

This is all individual however.

Any time we discuss aesthetic goals or preferences it truly is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe having Arnold level body fat isn’t something that you ever aspired to and in fact prefer the look of a much higher teen or low 20’s body fat percentage. If the fact that Arnold isn’t natural blocks you from even assessing his physique fairly, take any natural lean person that is well muscled but not maximally muscled and ask yourself whether you prefer that type of body or one that is much less lean.

Again, there is no right answer here.

It is truly determined by both what you aesthetically prefer your body look like and also, most importantly, whether you value the discipline of what is required to get yourself there enough to want to achieve it. This is a big issue for many that often times is the stumbling block to leanness and the factor that drives them to being “ok” with higher levels of body fat.

They will often argue that it is the healthier way to be and that it is much better for those that lift weights to do so in a much fluffier state. Maybe it is, for them. Maybe it’s just a way to feel better about an inability to achieve both at the same time again, with a little extra time investment along the way.

The key is finding out what means the most to you. If the answer is, you value your abs above everything else – you may never even want to pursue impressive strength gains since they likely won’t serve you unless you are a competitive powerlifter or a professional athlete. If your strength is the only thing that matters to you, attempting to maintain abs is just going to leave you frustrated when you can’t max out and be the strongest in your class.

If you want to have not just a little of everything, but a lot of both, then it absolutely is possible as long as you are willing to put in the time.

When you’re ready to follow a plan that will help you to not only build an impressively ripped and strong athletic body but be able to do so in a systematic step by step way, you can find the plan for you at via the link below.

If you’re looking for a no B.S. way to get lean, be sure to click on the video at the end of this one and remember to subscribe to our youtube channel via the link below and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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50 thoughts on “You Can’t Be Lean, Strong AND Natural!

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    *NOTIFICATION SQUAD GIVEAWAY* – Alright guys, I’m giving away a complete 30 Day Workout program to 100 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 100, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached!

    If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

    • M.Sheriff says:

      @cjthefirst me too!… which program did you get? I got the nxt one… but I’d say I’m intermediate level… so this will be a grind! Do you know if we have to start the course right away or can we delay it?

    • Cap10 squadwipes says:

      Just a lil tid bit sumos have a lower percentage body fat than the average Japanese person 15% or lower. What your actually looking at is considerable muscle with a fat layer over the top. Thanks for the hard work guys great as always ñ!!

  2. Jaz says:

    Jeff, can you do an in depth video explaining the importance of strengthening the lower posterior chain (and the entire posterior chain for that matter)

  3. The Godfather says:

    Video 2 of asking Jeff for a post about stretching routine (both upper and lower)..

    Desperately in need of it!

    • Joe DeFerrari says:

      Look up Tom Merrick, he was recommended to me by evidence-based athletes. Been doing his stuff for a month and feel much better.

    • rainynight02 says:

      @Marko Kilibarda
      I have to massively disagree with you.

      When I can get to and do my stretch routine, which hits most all of the body,

      I feel world’s better. It’s mostly passive “stretch and hold” stretching.

      I’m not the type who works out regularly (aggravatingly) but those stretches alone make me feel better and can be as strenuous as a workout themselves, depending on how long it’s been.

  4. Pinkmann says:

    Nobody said you can’t be strong, lean and natural, but what people do say is that you can’t be huge, lean and natural, which is true

    • Hypercube Master says:

      @Ivan Buncic That’s a logical fallacy. Why doesn’t it count? Your original argument said nothing about someone being natural or enhanced having anything to do with huge and lean being opposite terms, which has a great impact on whether your argument is correct or not. You cannot add terms and conditions to your argument after you made it, and expect anyone to take your argument seriously.

    • sudpriyan G says:

      You mean BIG, SHREDDED and NATURAL…
      You can be big and natural but not shredded
      Or big and shredded but then you aren’t natural
      Or you can be shredded and natural but not big…
      All three at the same time is impossible

    • Mitchell Rusten says:

      Perception of what a great physique looks like has become warped with the amount of people saucing their faces off, editing photos and so on. You can certainly have a physique that any normal person would see and tell you you’re in amazing shape, but the internet fitness folks would think you’re mediocre lol.

  5. zakura ayame says:

    Thank you so much for all your videos and information.
    I am trying to get healthy. I’ve survived cancer, heart failure, anemic, but no longer insulin dependent, lost over 130 lbs, but have no clue how to proceed. I am using your information to try and help. I am going through your stretching and no equipment excercises. I have resistance bands and a pull up bar on the way.
    I’m hunting for solutions to a lot of my issues. I have high hopes going through all the stretching routines and rebuilding basic strength in places I’ve become weaker will stop all the muscle pain throughout my body. My mate says my entire body is crazy tense, jokingly saying my muscles feel more like bone when she tries to massage me.

    My biggest concern starting out is to not push myself too hard. I don’t sense my limits well and tend to overdo it. I’ll never forget not being able to scratch my back/face after a aggressive training as a teenager 😀 but I’m not concerned about some muscle soreness, more so I don’t hurt my heart trying to get to a goal of being around 12% body fat and a healthy amount of bulk for my body.

    I plan to buy one of your programs once I get myself into decent condition basic condition and learn more about them and which one would suite me the best. Looking at the body weight Xero 1 or 2 when I can, maybe AX further in the future.

    I should try to remember to track my progress, I don’t have any pictures of my transition from over 330 lbs down to 200 lbs. Is there a chart somewhere pre-made to track measurements? Not that I’d be building any bulk, just discovered your channel this week and have over a decade of content to plow through!

    Thanks again! Hope you are well! Take care 🙂

    edit: thinking further, I believe I limit myself to the idea of 12% body fat but I want to change that goal for myself … 6-8% so I can look cut. I deserve that goal. I will never look ‘good’ like others because of decades of morbid obesity leaving my skin already loose and scarred, but I still would like to put the effort forth. Off for more research on all aspects. If I can afford a personal trainer one day, I hope I can find one with even half as much passion and care as these two gentlemen.

  6. Ethan Byrne says:

    I second that; the end goal that you’re trying to reach is a very important factor. Some may want to be super lean, while others are wanting to reach ___ lb on their squat max. Different goals will require different types of training. I’m glad to hear that there’s a way to be lean, strong, and natural all at the same time (since that’s my main goal). Thanks for the pointers, Jeff.

  7. Jere Rajala says:

    Hey Jeff, I don’t usually comment in videos but I want to thank you for all the great advise you are giving us for free. I’m following your PPL program, training 6 times a week, and after 3 weeks I’m already seeing bicep gains. We shall see what are my results after 3 months. Keep up the good work!

  8. Steve Anderson says:

    I’m 60. Still can bench 300. It’s difficult to stay cut cause I now gain fat so much easier. I have to watch everything I eat.

  9. Walt Anthony says:

    I’d say it is impossible (for most people, rare generic freaks aside) to be lean, (muscularly) BIG, and natural. I think that’s what that guy probably meant. I am talking shoulders that almost look like bowling balls while still have a skinny waist and visible abs.

  10. Benny BustDown says:

    Definitely some growth Jesse. Consistency is the key and when the motivation or excitement has fled then the the discipline must be nonnegotiable!

  11. Gym Garage Man says:

    Got in shape 15 years ago training old school bodyweight exercises in garage no special diet,no supplements just Discipline! Still pushing it to the limit in 50s!!!

  12. Daniel Klein says:

    The most important thing I have learned from Jeff is consistency. Some days life just gets in the way, but I still make it a point to hit the gym. It might not be my best workout, but it keeps my consistency and because of that I have achieved (and continue to achieve) my goals. At age 60 I am still 15% body fat and weigh only ten pounds more from when I graduated from a police academy 40 years ago. Thanks Jeff!

    • A YouTube Commenter says:

      Woow, that sounds crazy! Bet that 10 pounds isn’t even fat, rather some extra muscle from hitting the gym consistently over the years!

    • Daniel Klein says:

      @A YouTube Commenter Thank you, it’s fat. My diet has always been the weak point. I love to eat and I love to eat everything. But fat isn’t a bad thing. I used to be really crazy about it all, and for years working out was “work”. My attitude changed about ten years ago, now it’s a fun habit that I enjoy. I quit stressing about McD’s giving me free food and I just decided to enjoy the gym and enjoy the food. Life is really good.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      @Heisenberg g Thank you. The consistency part really hit home with Jeff’s help. Before that I was always in the gym or hitting the trail, but without much direction. Jeff has got me focused over the last couple years.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      @Heisenberg g I have to mention, since your tag is Heisenberg and I am in Albuquerque. Yeah, the Dog House, I love that place. That’s where the ten pounds comes from, ate their over the weekend, it’s now 11 pounds, lol. Heading into the gym now with no regrets.

  13. Bionic Foodie says:

    Definitely agree 100% on this one. Taking the time out of the equation, you can be lean, strong and natural! I will throw another one in there. You can be all three of those and above 40! I believe the older you are the easier it is to hit all three of those. You have a lot more time to be able to learn your body to shape it the way you wanted to be shaped. If that makes any sense. I think I have attained all three of these myself.

  14. Norman Huefner says:

    One thing I’ve never heard you touch on Jeff is what lean body mass looks good for with older athletes….over 50-60 y/o. My observation on myself (I’m 74 y/o) and other is that when the fat percentage goes down for us older folks making the body look good, that the face starts looking much older and less attractive. Your thoughts?

    • Corrie De Beer says:

      Check out Frank Medrano for an example. To be honest he does have a cancer patient look about him.

    • Norman Huefner says:

      @Corrie De Beer I did, yes precisely. His body looks great but face looks “old” or “sick”.

  15. Jason Brooks says:

    I really like what Jeff & Jessie had to say on this topic. I think fitness levels, strength levels, body compositions, etc. are dependent on what you want for yourself and what is necessary for you to function effectively in your daily life.

  16. Anthony Corona says:

    Jesse’s transformation is incredibly impressive. What a testament to determination and hard work!

  17. AL F. says:

    I love to see how Jeff”s “tough love” (bordering mocking) towards Jesse slowly turned into respect, as he grew stronger. Kudos to both of you, guys.

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