4 Tips to Get Defined Muscles

Posted on September 10th, 2017 at 12:36 am by

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In addition to strength, impressive gains, endurance and overall stamina, almost every gym-goer craves a defined physique, but few of them understand the mechanics behind muscle definition.  In fact, they mostly rely on endless lifting sessions, training to failure and starving themselves, before they realize what sort of balance their body needs to achieve this goal.

Instead of jeopardizing your health and increasing your risk of injury through trial and error, follow these essential steps to a chiselled body.

1. Fine-tune your diet to shed fat

One of the greatest factors that affects the visibility of your training results is your  photo 4 tips Muscles 1_zpsmtmtdge0.jpgbody-fat percentage.  While your training helps in burning extra pounds, your diet needs to be on point in order for your training to take effect.

More often than not, the greatest culprit of excess weight gain is a diet teeming with processed sugar, starchy carbs, trans- and saturated fats, all of which end up stored as fat, and put your body into a state of consistent inflammation. No amount of exercise can help when your diet is crap.

Depending on your state of health, body type, and lifestyle, you will need to start counting those calories and balance your macronutrient intake.  Teaching your body to use nutrients to build muscle and tap into your stored energy supplies (aka fat) is a process, so you will need to have patience and stay consistent with your diet to see results.

2. Balance strength and hypertrophy

Although weight training can be adapted to achieve greater strength and muscle size, if your goal is to have visibly defined, toned muscles, you will need to find the right balance.  By definition, hypertrophy is the growth of your skeletal muscle tissue, and your strength directly depends on the size of your muscles.

A defined physique for an average athlete, however, requires sacrifices.  First of all, you cannot build the same strength as a powerlifter if you want to shed enough fat for a toned body.  Secondly, you cannot be as lean as a bodybuilder if you’re not lowering your strength expectations.

However, you can learn from the best of the best, such as Layne Norton, who is an incredible weightlifter with an equally powerful physique, and maximize your potential in both segments of your routine.

One of the many ways to achieve this is to perform heavy compound movements to activate your CNS, which will in turn learn how to recruit an increased number of muscle fibres for any intense exercise.  Then use your less-loaded accessory work to build those extra fibres, which will have a greater potential to exert greater force during strength-focused training.

As you see, the two segments complement each other, so you can work on your functional strength and your chiselled appearance without completely abandoning one or the other.  In fact, addressing both will give you much better results when accompanied by a healthy diet.

How does this translate to your toned physique?  Thicker muscles will have a better chance of being prominent and visible once the excess fat is gone.

3. Rest for optimal muscle and CNS recovery

Powered by enthusiasm, many people overlook the importance of rest days in  photo 4 tips muscles 2_zps3tkn4n5k.jpgtheir weekly routine.  Overly excited, they tend to burn through their painfully earned gains, so by the end of the day, they have nothing to show for, despite all the groaning and swearing at the gym.

Instead of spending six out of seven days breaking a sweat, a four-day split is more than enough for muscle growth, greater strength and enough time for your brain, connective tissues and torn muscle fibres to recover and get ready for your next training session.

While your muscles will recover much faster, heavy loads put much more stress on your nervous system, which can lead to fatigue, hormonal imbalances, compromised immunity and many other long-term issues.  So, in addition to regular rest days, you can improve your recovery with other methods, including adequate sleep, Epsom salt massages, and ice therapy, to name a few.

I’ll also use this opportunity to emphasize the importance of the right gear – you can’t train in an old T-shirt and any shoe, not if you are serious about it. You will need the right weightlifting shoes, which will provide proper support to your ankles, and which will help you recover faster, avoiding the risk of injury.

4. Adapt your expectations

Another key element in achieving your fitness goals is, of course, your attitude. People tend to be unrealistic when it comes to their expectations, either in the form of pushing themselves too hard, thinking that’s all it takes to succeed, or completely driving their motivation into the ground with negative self-talk.

Athletic performance is naturally affected by age, because your muscle-mass decreases as you grow older, but there’s also your lifestyle, genetics and many other environmental and outside factors to take into consideration.  Every single one of us deals with our own superpowers as well as setbacks, but age, challenges or plateaus are not valid reasons to hinder our desire to become better, healthier versions of ourselves.  If anything, they should be our motivators.

If your goal is to maintain a lean, toned physique throughout your life, as well as your functional strength and mobility, you will need to assess your workout routine from more standpoints than purely your desire to look awesome.  As a result, you will look awesome!

Nothing should prevent you from chasing your fitness dreams, but you need to train smart, eat well and have plenty of rest for your results to show.  Now, summer is just around the corner, so go get buffed!

Images courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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