Muscle Definition

The Secret to Improving your Muscle Definition

If you’re like most people who come to the Marc Dressen training program looking for help from an online personal trainer, then the chances are you don’t just want to get bigger muscles – you want toned muscles.

For most people, the goal is to look slim, toned, and beautiful – rather than just skinny, or covered in muscle. However, if you want to get the best results from your workout, then you can’t just do countless reps and expect an amazing outcome, instead, you need to target your ambitions towards better muscle definition.

But, here’s the problem…

There’s so many myths out there about muscle definition and building strength, that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. While you might never be able to look like your favorite model – thanks to genetics, I’m going to use this article to show you how you can use muscle definition to get the body of your dreams.

Let’s get started.

The Myths about Muscle Definition: Eating Clean

If you’ve been struggling to improve your muscle definition, there’s a good chance you’ve been buying into a few muscle myths. A lot of people hear that they need to clean up their diet if they want to tone their body, for instance. However, this is only partially true. When it comes to body composition, the truth is that how much you eat is so much more important than what you eat.

While the nutritional values of your chosen menu do matter, as far as losing fat and gaining muscle goes, it’s worth noting that macros and calories just aren’t as important as you think. Instead, the primary thing you need to think about is energy balance – which is the relationship that exists between the amount of energy you’re using, and the amount of energy you’re burning. Losing weight and cleaning up lean muscles means simply eating fewer calories than you burn.

It’s really that simple.

At the same time, your muscle definition doesn’t come down to eating a low-carb diet either. People are constantly told that if they could cut the carbs from their diet, then they’d be able to get the body they’re dreaming of – but it simply doesn’t work that way. Low-carb dieting won’t only fail to improve your muscle definition – it could actually make getting that lean muscle a lot harder.

Studies constantly show that so long as protein intake remains high, people with low-carb diets don’t lose fat any faster. In simple terms, if you eat the right combination of calories and protein, how many carbs you eat, or what you eat doesn’t really matter.

The Myths about Muscle Definition: Exercise and High-Rep Training

You might have heard this myth before too. People assume that if they want to get really defined, they need to do a lot of high-rep training. However, dropping the weights and increasing your reps doesn’t do anything but increase workout volume. This process won’t lead to better muscle tone, or vascularity. In fact, you’ll probably benefit more from doing the opposite to this myth, and focus on more heavy weight lifting, with fewer reps.

At the same time, you don’t need to use cables and machines to see results. Machines and isolation exercises can certainly have a part to plan in your training behavior, but when it comes to stimulating growth, these solutions play second fiddle to compound exercises.

Compound exercises are those that involve several muscle groups. Since people need to have more muscle to get more muscle definition, grinding away on machines isn’t the way to reach your goals. Instead, you should be focusing on the tougher stuff – the big movements that involve your entire body, rather than just the “fun” stuff.

Oh – and when it comes to exercise, remember that cardio isn’t as important as you think it is either. You don’t have to focus on cardio forever just to get lean. Cardio can help you to lose fat faster, because it burns energy, and can also help to control your appetite. However, the key is to make sure that you don’t do too much cardio. If you get carried away, you could lose muscle, and end up with the “skinny fat” look that plagues so many people today.

Increasing Muscle Definition: What’s the Answer?

Ultimately, getting great results in muscle definition is all about losing fat and building muscles. Most guys will need to add about 15 to 25 pounds of muscle to their frame, while getting below 10% body-fat for a great look. On the other hand, women will need about 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, while reducing 20% body fat for a more Instagram-worthy body.

The good news is that if you don’t have a year of strength training or more under your belt already, then you should be able to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. You don’t have to do anything special to make the most out of your training either, all you need to do is train hard, cut fat, and make sure you’re spending plenty of time on recovery.

The less fortunate news is that if you’re someone with a little more expertise in the gym, then you might need to choose between cutting fat or gaining size. Most of the time, I recommend that if you’re a girl over 25% or a man over 15% body fat, then you’ll need to focus on cutting fat first. The reason for this is that the lower your body fat levels are to begin with, the easier it will be to keep your body composition in check over the long-term.

Once you’ve reduced your body fat levels to 10-12% for men or 20-22% for women, and you’re starting to see the results, you can begin to focus on gaining muscle. This doesn’t mean that you have to go over-board in bulking though. Instead, you’ll want to go for a steady and slow gain of muscle and fat over the course of several months.

The Bottom Line on Muscle Definition

If you want to achieve leaner, more defined muscles, then you need to make sure that you have two very important things: more muscle, and less body fat. If you already have an above-average level of muscle, then you probably just need to reduce your fat levels.

On the other hand, if you don’t have high muscle levels, then you’re going to need to head to the gym and think about your diet at the same time.

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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