It seems easy enough: watch the diet, work out a lot and suddenly anyone can be Arnold. However, the human body isn’t so simple. In fact, everyone’s body is so different that there’s no one guaranteed solution that will work the same for everybody. There are, however, approaches that are proven to help lose fat and build muscle. It will take a little trial and error to get the “perfect” body (whatever that might mean), but here’s a foundation to get started.

It’s 80% Diet

The equation of 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise works whether someone’s looking to get ripped, lose weight or just be healthy. Bodies are machines, so feed it accordingly. This means lean proteins, plenty of veggies and fruits, nuts and cutting out excess sugars and all chemicals. A strong vitamin regimen including AminoThree acids, creatine and a multi-vitamin is also in order.

Weight and muscle plateaus are a very real thing. Bodies need to always be guessing, and one diet or muscle-building approach probably won’t work forever. Experiment with a Paleo diet to push past a plateau and always exercise portion control. Especially when the goal is getting ripped, too little calories can be counterproductive. Experiment until the right caloric intake is achieved (roughly 1,500 calories for most people and more depending on the level of exercise).

Lift the Right Way

There’s an infinite number of ways to lift weights the wrong way, and only one way to do it right. YouTube videos aren’t going to correct anyone at the gym. Instead, invest in a personal trainer to set the right foundation. Even competing bodybuilders don’t lift more than four days per week. Less is more with lifting because the vast majority of bulk building happens during rest.

However, lifting more is something most people can work on. Women in particular seem to doubt themselves and don’t push to heavier weights. However, remember that lifting is dangerous, so always work with a spotter or trainer. Don’t discount cardio exercise, but always lift before cardio so that muscles don’t get too tired.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Someone can be incredibly muscular and look pudgy–just look at some wrestlers. The only way to look ripped is to reduce body fat. For men, 8 percent body fat (or less) is required in order for a six- or eight-pack to show. That’s a very low percentage, and something that can’t be judged from a scale. When working on getting ripped, keep weight, body fat percentage and measurements in mind.

Women often worry that they’ll look like a scary bodybuilder and shy away from lifting. That’s not the case. A beautiful body–for both men and women–requires muscular development that can’t be achieved without a solid lifting routine and diet. Keep in mind that it takes diet (including supplements), lifting the right way, cardio and measuring all aspects of fitness to get on the fast track to a killer body.