Shirt-ON-Big is when we are fatter and we look like we lift when we're wearing a shirt because we fill it out.
But, when we take off our shirt we look fluffy and average. Or worse, we're embarrassed to take off our shirt because of the excess fat.
Shirt-OFF-Big is when we are lean and we look small with a shirt on, but when we take off our shirt we look cut and jacked!
I have a preference for Shirt-OFF-Big. I’m more confident and it feels more congruent with who I am.
Plus, I love seeing the expression on peoples face when I strip off my shirt, because they didn't realize how muscular I am.
The issue of looking small with your shirt on can easily be solved with some smart shopping. So do yourself a favour. When you get ripped, go out and buy yourself some nice form-fitting clothes that highlight your muscular features. You’ll be both shirt-on and shirt-off big!
Now other than vanity and creating the illusion of looking more muscular there’s an even more important reason for getting lean first.
2) Optimized Hormones
When you begin a muscle building phase with a lean physique, a larger portion of your gains will be in the form of lean mass.
The predictor of the percentage of muscle vs fat you will gain during a muscle building phase is referred to as the partitioning ratio or p-ratio.
There are multiple factors at play here, one being insulin, which delivers glucose to your cells. Your level of body fat determines which cells the glucose will be delivered to first.
When your body fat is higher, the glucose gets delivered to your fat cells first, which signals your body to store fat.
When your body fat is lower, glucose gets delivered to your muscle cells first.
Therefore, when you get lean and stay lean (approximately 8-12% body fat for men) a greater percentage of your weight gained during a building phase will come in the form of lean muscle mass when you keep your caloric surplus in check.
Getting lean and staying lean is how you will gain more bang for your buck with your efforts to build a cut and jacked physique.