You see it on the big screen. You see it on an athlete. Guys and ladies with muscle definition you probably dream of but simply do not know how to achieve. So how do they do it and how can you get that body?
Most of us can remember Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” and more recently Ryan Reynolds in “Green Lantern,” and Alexander Skarsgard in “True Blood,” with bodies that were not only ripped and lean but looked athletic. I often hear people at the gym complain that getting a body that lean takes too long and requires practically living in a gym 24-7. This is far from true.
You Don’t Have To Live In The Gym
The myth of the gym rat spending an entire day seven days a week pumping iron in order to look ripped and achieving incredible results is pretty much that- a myth. Unfortunately that approach is often pushed by professional bodybuilders.
Years ago when I started reading fitness magazines religiously I read bodybuilder’s workouts and profiles and it was always the same story, do a cookie cutter workout that takes a couple of hours or more to complete and you too can look like them. The sad thing is I still see these workouts pushed in the bodybuilder magazines.
Doing long workouts is perhaps something that bodybuilders and actors do but they do not spend long periods at a time following this approach. In fact, if you try this approach it is almost a guarantee that your body will burn out in a matter of weeks. Believe me, I know, I have experienced it.
Shorter Workouts Equals Better Results
After a couple of years of trial and error and following the right advice I learned that longer workouts are a quick way for those with less than stellar genetics (so I am guessing that is 99 percent of us) to burn out, plateau and see little or no improvements. I tried doing long workouts just like what I read in magazines, but all I ever got was a body that looked the same month after month.
After getting the right advice I decided to change it up and do short workouts (no more than one hour per workout). Although the common advice was to do workouts that lasted 2 hours per session one thing that became clear was that keeping a workout at less than 60 minutes long gave me better results. It did not matter if I was trying to bulk up or if I was trying to look lean, my body reacted this way.
Whenever I was trying to gain muscle size my muscles increased with shorter workouts and whenever I tried to look lean it looked better when following brief workouts done over a set period of time.
Shorter workouts allow the body to recover much quicker while also maintaining the intensity high in the brief time spent per workout session. By keeping the time period of your workouts brief in duration you end up avoiding a decrease in blood sugar levels which zap your energy in mid workout, something you definitely want to avoid.
Most people think that you can either build more muscle or burn more fat by simply working out more, but the truth is that the time spent in the gym is only one component to getting a better body.
Using Shorter Rep Schemes To Your Advantage
Talk to a typical gym rat and you will probably hear the typical advice- do high reps to get lean and low reps get bigger. Although this advice is given time and time again, without proof or explanation, it turns out that quite the opposite is true.
Doing high reps only help in gaining muscle or adding bulk. Doing exercises in the range of 8 repetitions or higher is a great way to put on size, however, this is also a way to look puffy if done for a long period of time. A typical result of doing higher reps causes a short lived pump. If you want to get lean and ripped one of the best ways to do so is by increasing muscle density. In order to increase the density of the muscle is by using a lower number of reps with heavier loads.
A good range of reps to work with for density is 4 to 5 reps per set. Performing sets in this range helps build strength without putting on too much size. The muscle will develop a hard, solid appearance if done over a period of time and if it is combined with low body weight percentage.
Maintaining Low Body Fat Percentage Using Burst Training
I recall a conversation not long ago between two guys in the gym and they were discussing muscle striations. Striations are basically when there is such high definition that you can see muscle fibers as if the skin was wrapped tight to the muscles. This is also called “the shrink wrap effect” and Rusty Moore goes in to great detail in his advanced program, “Visual Impact Muscle Building.”
The conversation these guys were having blew me away, in not a good way. During this conversation one of the guys was explaining that certain exercises bring out striations and definition. As an example he said that cable flyes bring out striations in the inner chest and lateral raises bring out striations in the shoulders.
Here is the truth.
In order to bring out muscle definition you will not get it by doing a certain exercise or series of exercises. Bringing out muscle definition requires having lower than average body fat.
One of the best ways to burn fat is by doing cardio in short bursts or burst training. This method of cardio is also known by its most common name, interval training. Even though traditional cardio, like going for a jog or getting on a treadmill for one hour is not a bad thing and can be healthy, it is not the best method to burn fat.
If you want to burn fat in an effective and quicker way then it is best to do it in bursts or intervals. By doing cardio in a short series of intervals you end up burning more calories and developing fast twitch muscles (the kind you see in a lean athlete) in a way you simply cannot by doing long cardio sessions.
A simple way of doing burst training is by alternating your cardio between intense activity and short rest periods. For example you can start with a simple warm up and jog lightly for five to ten minutes before doing intervals.
For the next 15 to 20 minutes you can alternate between rest periods of 30 seconds to 1 minute and bursts of cardio for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This type of cardio can be done using your favorite cardio exercise and still achieve excellent results.
Interval training is a sure way to boost your levels of HGH (human growth hormone) which has been shown to increase muscle and burn fat.
Celebrities use this type of cardio to get a very lean and athletic body. By training in this manner they are able to look athletic, burn fat and have great physiques year round.
Eat Right And Get Leaner Than Ever
This is probably the toughest part of getting a lean body. Following a training problem that is effective can be easy when someone is highly motivated. Most people who want to get in shape are mentally prepared to do the workouts but the hardest part for most is eating right.
In order to really lean down, lower your body fat to a level that will bring out a high degree of muscle definition you need to eat the right way. There is no way around it.
Although the typical approach that many follow is by doing fad diets this is perhaps the worst way to get a better body. Eating healthy is easier than doing a diet that is not only extreme but a hazard to your health.
In order to look lean you do not have to do a weird diet. The easiest and safest way is by simply eating less calories than what you currently consume. For example, if you calculate the number of calories you consume you can simply reduce them on a daily basis. This is probably not the ideal method of lowering your calories for most people as it can be difficult and time consuming to count calories.
However, an easy approach is to do a process called intermittent fasting. Intermitttent fasting is simply not eating a meal over the course of a 24 hour period. Brad Pilon talks about this approach in “Eat Stop Eat,” and although it may sound like it is tough to follow it really isn’t. All it takes is choosing one or two non consecutive 24 hour periods in a week. You can have your last meal late in the day and not eat for the next 24 hours. Your next meal will be the following day at the same time which essentially has you sleeping through the period when you are most likely to feel hungry.
The important thing is not to do this method of fasting on a daily basis as this will definitely cause a loss in muscle mass over time. However, when done only once or twice per week the body does not lose muscle and ends up seeing a spike in HGH.
Here is Brad Pilon discussing how HGH increases with intermittent fasting:
Bringing Out Muscle Definition With Higher Reps
Once the fat percentage in your body has gone down and you have developed muscle density by following the tips outlined above, the next step is to put on some size. Putting on some muscle mass is very important as this will allow the skin to wrap around the muscle as the muscle size increases.
Earlier in this article we had discussed how higher reps add muscle size. For best results stay within a range of 8-12 repetitions per set for each exercise you perform. You can do 3 to 4 sets for each exercise. Doing sets in this range will increase sarcoplasmic growth which will make your muscles look full.
The process of learning how to get muscle definition is not something that can be done overnight and cannot be achieved in a matter of days. However, by following a focused plan it is achievable. You can learn more by reading my free Muscle Definition course.
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