Tristyn Lee is one of the (if not the) most popular internet fitness celebrities. He is known for his trademark shredded-to-the-bone physique. Plus, unlike most pro bodybuilders who whittle for a show, Lee remained diced (sub-five percent body fat) for two years straight. TWO YEARS!
Maintaining a sub-five percent body fat for such a long period is no joke. To stay in this shape, you need to follow a strict diet, training, and recovery program. Additionally, you need to know what to do to achieve the goal without compromising your health. Notably, many health, fitness, and bodybuilding experts have criticized Lee for maintaining such a low body fat percentage at his age.
Lee started lifting weights in 2013 to improve his performance on the soccer field. However, his lifting practice got him international fame before his pro soccer career ever kicked off.
Lee started posting on Instagram in 2015. He did not post photos of his physique until early 2017. Long story short, at the time of this article’s publication, the young bodybuilder has over 2.1 million followers on Instagram and 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube.
Lee initially caught people’s attention on Instagram with his insane soccer skills. However, it wasn’t long before people started noticing his shredded physique. Lee’s popularity launched into the stratosphere when he revealed that he was just 15 years old.
Since then, Lee has collaborated with online fitness influencers and pro bodybuilders like Larry Wheels, Regan Grimes, Joey Swoll, Bradley Martyn, and Jeremy Buendia.
Tristyn Lee’s Low Body Fat Secrets Revealed
In early 2022, Lee shared an in-depth video about his bodybuilding journey and his infatuation with a low body-fat percentage. We were sucked into the video from the moment go as the 20-year-old opens the video with, “Let’s talk about how getting shredded ruined my life.”
Before we get into the nitty-gritty about how Lee achieved and maintained a four percent body fat, let’s address the elephant in the room — genetics.
Besides being an incredibly talented, hardworking, and resilient individual, Lee undoubtedly has extraordinary genetics. His hamstrings are striated and have the perfect drop in the side chest pose, his quads have surreal separation and definition, and his calves could give a few former Mr. Olympia champions a run for their money. Okay, we probably went a little overboard on the last one, but you get our point.
Lee’s vascularity, V-taper — broad and round shoulders and small waist, and chiseled abs make him stand out in the oversaturated social media fitness influencer space. Plus, we should also consider that the 20-year-old is still in his formative years, and his physique will improve as he achieves muscle maturity.
Check Out: Top 5 Bodybuilders With The Best Genetics Ever
Low Body Fat: An Obsession
The 5-foot-3-inch bodybuilder didn’t always want to get paper-thin skin. “I was having 3,000 plus calories, and I was playing soccer as well as doing bodybuilding,” revealed the 20-year-old. Lee switched to consuming 1,800 calories a day in his quest to get as lean and shredded as possible.
In the article, we discuss:
- Lee’s mental state when he was maintaining 4.4 percent body fat levels.
- How Lee consciously convinced himself if he was hungry or not.
- How the young bodybuilder forced himself to do more cardio.
- Lee’s sleep cycle.
Related: Does Lifting Weights Stunt Growth?
When it All Started For Tristyn Lee
Per Lee, his obsession with dieting and getting to a single-digit body fat percentage began in 2018. Lee was consuming 3,000 calories a day while he was playing soccer and bodybuilding. However, when he left soccer for bodybuilding, his focus went from using food to burn as fuel on the field to trying to get as lean as possible for bodybuilding.
“I started obsessing over every little detail of my food and diet just to get to this sub-five percent body fat level.”
Furthermore, Lee revealed that his obsession with weighing food and eating the exact amount of food and calories to achieve and maintain his “look” made him delusional.
As Lee got leaner and entered the single-digit body fat percentage, his body’s biological hunger signals went for a toss.
“My satiety was no longer determined by whether or not I felt hungry on a particular day or at a particular time. It was instead just determined by what number I see in MyFitnessPal,” shared Lee.
Lee further revealed that he consumed carbonated drinks as they curbed his appetite by making him feel bloated.
Per Lee, he followed a competitive bodybuilder’s dieting phase for two years straight.
“I was shredding for a show, and I never brought my calories back up, and that was eventually to my detriment.”
The soccer player turned bodybuilder added that he consumed multiple (up to five) carbonated drinks every day to curb his hunger and cravings. This combined with hardcore training, made his adrenaline rip through the roof, which helped him ignore his hunger cues.
Giving Up His Social Life
To begin with, Lee clarified that he didn’t have an active social life before starting his insane calorie-deficit lifestyle.
“Going out to restaurants, seeing meals on the menu, and not knowing the macronutrients became an issue for me. I wouldn’t let myself go out and have a bite to eat with a friend or go out because I didn’t know the calories in the food.”
Furthermore, Lee was obsessed with burning calories so much that he continuously thought about his next meal and training session to ensure he did not put on body fat.
The Role of Social Media
Social media can lead to body dysmorphia; it was also the case for Lee. As Lee started posting photos and videos on social media, he started receiving accolades from his fans, which made Lee want to push even harder.
Step Counting For the Win(?)
“Another thing I was extremely obsessed about was the number of steps that I was hitting per day. It didn’t matter if I was on the treadmill, Stairmaster, or whatever cardio monster I was doing, I had to hit 15,000-20,000 steps a day.”
Lee added that he’d beat himself up if he didn’t meet his daily step goal. Per Lee, he drove his body into the ground every day and did not give it the time to grow, fearing that he might get fat.
For two years during his shredathon, the 20-year-old worked out seven days a week and often twice a day.
Tristyn Lee’s 4 Percent Body Fat Cheat Sheet
Here is a TL;DR version of how Lee achieved a sub-five percent body fat percentage:
- Dropping from 3,000 calories a day to 1,800.
- Giving up social life.
- Training seven days a week, twice a day.
- Staying super active by walking 15,000-20,000 steps every day.
Drawbacks of Maintaining a Low Body Fat Percentage
Getting to a low body fat percentage sounds intimidating, which instinctively draws the challenge seekers to pursue the goal. However, there are several drawbacks to getting to a sub-6-7 percent body fat that you should know about, including, as revealed by Lee:
1. Sleep Loss
Per Lee, he was only sleeping 4-5 hours a night after dropping calories from 3,000 to 1,800 a day. Notably, this wasn’t out of choice, but he woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. To sum it up, Lee was literally losing sleep over achieving a low body fat percentage.
2. Drop in Strength
Lee noticed a gradual fall in strength after a prolonged plateau in the two-year window when his body fat was 4.4 percent. He went from pressing 120-pound dumbbells on the incline bench press to three months later only being able to press 110-pound dumbbells for the same reps. A study showed that it can take up to six months to rebuild the lost strength and muscle after you come out of a cutting phase. 
“I started to bite my nails and crave super sweet things. I didn’t want to be around other people and I was a little more irritable,” revealed Lee.
Fats are important for neurologic function, and low levels of essential fatty acids can result in irritability and severe mood swings.
While these three are the only issues mentioned by Lee in the video, it doesn’t end here. A low body fat percentage can:
- Make you more prone to serious health issues as your body immunity takes a hit when you enter the single-digit body fat percentage. 
- Negatively affect the quality of your workouts as your body won’t have enough glycogen or fat stores to push you through the training session.
- Sap your energy.
- Worsen your skin health.
- Hamper your testosterone levels.
- Make you cold.
- Negatively impact your recovery post-training.
- Cause mental fog.
Lastly, it’s a full-time job. If you want to attain a single-digit body fat percentage, you will have to put it in the center stage of your life. Your schedule, routine, and preferences will have to be modeled around your goal.
Tristyn Lee Diet Program
Here is a sample meal plan Lee follows to stay shredded throughout the year:
- 5 eggs
- Steak or ground beef (4oz)
- Chocolate almond milk sweetened with stevia
- Kale chips
- Per-peri chicken
- Bacon salad
- Ground beef
- Coconut oil
- Protein shake
- Coconut shrimp
- Cheddar cheese
Tristyn Lee Workout Program
Although Lee followed a restrictive diet to achieve a four percent body fat (as seen in the section above), his strict training program was just as important in building a chiseled physique. Lee now trains six days a week and performs high-volume, high-intensity workouts to achieve a peeled look.
Tristyn Lee Leg Workout
While Lee is shredded to the bone, his legs are his most prominent muscle group. Besides his intense training routine, years of soccer training certainly contribute to his lower body gains.
- Leg Extension: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Leg Curl: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Hack Squat: 4 sets 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 4 sets 8-12 reps
- Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets to failure
Tristyn Lee Shoulder Workout
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 5 sets 12-15 reps
- Smith Machine Shoulder Press: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Cable Front Raise: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Machine Lateral Raise: 3 sets 12-15 reps (superset)
- Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly: 3 sets 12-15 reps
Tristyn Lee Chest Workout
- Incline Bench Press: 3 sets 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell Incline Press: 3 sets 8-12 reps
- Flat Bench Press: 3 sets 8-12 reps
- Smith Machine Flat Bench: 3 sets 8-12 reps
- Machine Chest Press: 3 sets 8-12 reps
Tristyn Lee Arm Workout
- Straight Bar Pushdown: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Reverse Grip Pushdown: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Rope Extension: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Overhead Extension: 4 sets 8-12 reps
- Cable Curl: 4 sets 12-15 reps
- Preacher Curl: 3 sets 12-15 reps
- Barbell Curl: 3 sets 8-12 reps
Tristyn Lee Back and Biceps Workout
- Bent-Over Row: 3 sets 12 reps
- Lat Pulldown: 3 sets 10 reps
- Seated Row: 3 sets 12 reps
- Single-Arm Row: 3 sets 12 reps
- Biceps Curl: 3 sets 12 reps
- Machine Low Row: 3 sets 10 reps
Tristyn Lee Circuit Training
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Clean and Press: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Kettlebell Two-Arm Swing: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Goblet Squat: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Reverse Lunge: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Floor Crunch: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Burpees: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Butt Kicker: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Squat Jump: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Mountain Climber: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Side Lunge: 3 sets 10-15 reps
- Leg Raise: 3 sets 10-15 reps
Tristyn, with his brothers, Braedon and Tyler, own a supplement company called Chimera, which sells two supplements — a pump formula and a pre-workout. It is no wonder that Lee could push through a workout and lift the weight he did while staying below the five percent body fat mark. For your reference, the Chimera pre-workout supp has 325mg of caffeine.
You can check out Tristyn Lee’s low body fat percentage experience video below, courtesy of his YouTube channel:
Now that Lee is no longer pursuing a sub-five percent body fat, he has switched to eating 2,700 calories a day, which is a more stable approach.
Tristyn Lee accepts that he was dealing with body dysmorphia while pursuing his sub-five percent body fat goal. His perceptions about his body were self-admittedly irrational and delusional.
While losing body fat and building muscle mass can improve your overall health and aesthetics, you shouldn’t go overboard in your pursuit. You should consult your physician before starting any new supplement, nutrition, or fitness routine.
- Rossow LM, Fukuda DH, Fahs CA, Loenneke JP, Stout JR. Natural bodybuilding competition preparation and recovery: a 12-month case study. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013 Sep;8(5):582-92. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.8.5.582. Epub 2013 Feb 14. PMID: 23412685.
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