Muscle definition... advice wanted

Okay… for awhile now I’ve put some serious effort into getting the lean, chiseled look. So far I’ve only seen minimal results. Part of this I’m sure has to do with my sucky diet, granted. Still I cant help but think my training methodology is flawed.

Here’s what Im doing now… 6 days of week alternating between one day cardio (30 mins.), the other weights. I dont lift heavy weights as I dont want to get big, just small defined muscles (ex. 40 curls at 35lbs).

So basically Im asking if Im doing something wrong, or if theres something I should be doing that Im not.

i wonder if the cardio is doing something to hinder developement for muscle definition. when i looked at some of the serious bodybuilding sites, they seem to always say 'stay away from aerobic" activity. a few yrs ago, i worked a regime similar to yours. with about the same results. last year, i stayed away from the aerobic stuff and the definition stayed with me. don’t know if there is a cause/effect thing or if i was pumping better.

IANADoN, but…

Your muscles are probably looking really good, but you have to depleat all the layers of fat that obscure them. If you want the Mr. Universe look, you have to lose the fat. I suggest a calorie deficit diet consisting of high protien, low fat and low carbs, i.e. tuna fish and salads.

There is also a deal called circuit training, where you do resistance training as an aerobic exercise. You can also do cardio every day to burn more calories.

You can google on circuit training to find a detailed workout, but you basically work from the inside out, squats, bench press, seated row, leg press, leg extentions, leg curls, back extentions, military press, abdominal curls, lats, triceps, then lastly, biceps. You can do two sets of 12-15 reps of those exercises in 40-45 minutes. Freeweights will burn more calories than machines, but machines are easier to use.

You can also check out these previous threads…

handsomeharry, I’ve always read that you have to do alot of cardio for your muscles to really show. I cant think of any way how it would hinder development… but who knows.

SandWriter, yeah I know diet is important, maybe more than I know. I’ve always found it easier to workout than to eat “right”.

  1. How long is “awhile now”?

  2. Muscle definition is the result of low body fat. Freakin’ muscle-free twit musicians have six-pack abs these days.

  3. Cardio helps burn calories and reduce body fat; otherwise, it’s got nothin’ to do with nothin’,

Heed the above advice, and whatever you do, don’t get tempted into using steroids. I’ve seen them really mess people up.

I don’t know what your body type is, but if you’re naturally thin or have a high metabolism, too much exercise and not enough fat could result in your body breaking down muscle tissue for energy. I don’t know exactly when or to what degree this happens though…

I think you’re looking for an excuse to blame your training and not change your diet.

You wanna look good? Here’s how you should break up your effort:

10% training
15% rest
75% diet

It doesn’t matter a bit how you’re working out if your diet sucks. That’s an inescapable fact of life–deal with it.

Your weightlifting regime isn’t really doing anything for you. Do a few sets of a few reps with a heavy weight, lifting the weight slowly and bringing it down more slowly. Pause at the top. A 2-2-4 cadence is pretty good. Those are (roughly) seconds. So two seconds up, a two second pause, and four seconds down.

Odds are that you are physically incapable of bulking up. We’re talking roughly an 80% probability here. And even if you can, it won’t happen overnight. If your diet, rest, and training are perfect, you might be able to add a pound of muscle every month. You’ll know if you’re bulking up long before it becomes an issue, and can adjust accordingly.

This is true for everyone. Note that your body won’t discriminate between skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles. Being underfat can quite literally kill you.

Au Contraire- Cardio builds up the Cardiovascular system. This makes walking up and down steps easier. :wink:
Cardio is fine even when bulking up- just make sure to add the extra calories you burn, otherwise it could be bad. I wouldn’t recommend marathon running if you are trying to pack on the lean muscle mass, but 1-5 miles a day could.

Also cut your lifting days to 3 times a week, twice if you are doing full body workouts. Your body builds its muscle when it is resting and generally takes 24-36 hours to fully heal. You are not going to get optimal results by tearing up your muscles before they heal fully.

Also forget about high protein diets. Excess protein is just converted into glucose and protein is generally pricey. Better to stick to complex carbs(or at least easier on your wallet). The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a diet of 10-15% protein, 55-60% Carbs, and 30% fat. Forget what they spout on Bodybuilder sites, most of what they repeat comes from their glorified suppliment company advertising magazines they call “bodybuilder magazines.” They will say anything to get you to buy their protein powder.

Lift heavy weights (heavy to you) with moderate reps. 8-15 and no more(15-20 reps on squats). Anything higher just produces lactic acid which people tend to confuse with muscle exhaustion. If you are an intermediate bodybuilder you can do 3-4 sets per bodypart on the larger muscles and 2-3 sets on the smaller muscles. Picking a split is important. A two day full body workout is good- Tuesday and Friday perhaps. Or a Three day split M-W-F, with a different body part(s) per day. I use this split- Mondays I do Back, Abs and Triceps, Wednesday I do Chest and shoulders, and Friday I do Legs and biceps.

The best way to muscle defintion is to lose bodyfat and build muscle. Two things that can be nearly impossible to do at the same time unless you are a beginner with decent genetics.

Getting lean is ONE thing- diet. If your diet sucks you will never make it. Unless of course you train so hard that you enter a negative calorie intake. With a bad diet though most people never make it this far and fall out.

I’ve lifted weights and worked out for most of my life. The only time that I got lean enough to actually see my abs was when I was doing a lot of aerobic type training. I would get up early in the morning and run 4 miles,5-6 days per week. I would also lift 3-4 times per week, just to maintain my muscle mass.

So instead of doing mostly lifting with a bit of aerobics, I was doing mostly aerobics with some lifting.

And of course, diet is important. Try to go to bed a little hungry each night. Stay away from all junk foods. Oh, and always try to do your aerobic training on an empty stomach, that way you’ll be burning fat instead of the food you would have ate. And then when you’re done working out, try not to eat for at least an hour or two afterward.

To get the muscle definition, you have to work on your diet. There really isn’t such a thing as working out to “tone.” Generally, working out with max weights work strength, medium to max work out hypertrophy (muscle building) and lower weights muscle endurance. But toning will only occur when you get rid of that fat around your muscles. I know, because I’m fairly fit (I can bench 275) but I look sorta fat because my diet sucks.

Eat 5 to 6 small meals a day to keep the metabolism going fast and steady. Generally a high protein diet and keep off smoking and alcohol of course. I was on this type of diet for about two months and quickly lost the fat, but I got lazy. :frowning: Aerobics is ok, though try to do high impact aerobics (swimming, boxing, running - fast running, not jogging). High impact burns glycogen and fat, while lower impact have potential to eat your muscles.


‘handsomeharry, I’ve always read that you have to do alot of cardio for your muscles to really show. I cant think of any way how it would hinder development… but who knows’-posted by Obvious Guy

Obvious, i thot that it was madness when i read it as well, but the ones that i read say don’t do it. one of them was emphatic. it sounds like pure-dee stupid to me, too, but they were tossing around names of the players pretty regularly.

On a similar note, is there any way to “decide” what shape of muscles that are built? Being a girlie, I want to go for the long, lean muscle look (think Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2), but seem to tend naturally towards bulkier muscle (think Arnie in the same movie :frowning: ). It that just something to be lived with, or are there ways to train that would make a difference?

By and large, you’re stuck with what nature gave you. It may be possible to lengthen your muscles by doing lifts that require the most force when the muscle is extended, but there’s not a whole lot of evidence for that. Best to just suck it up and live with it–you may not look exactly the way you wanted, but you’ll still look pretty good.

I don’t know where you heard/read this, but it just isn’t true. Your body takes about 7-10 hours to fully digest most types of food, and even then, it doesn’t finish the storage process for a few more hours. So, whatever excercise you are doing will be drawing on fuel provided from the previous days meals.

My advice would be to lift heavier weights with less reps and keep up the rest of what you are doing. 40 curls is a waste of time. Move up your weight so that you can only get 8 or 10 reps to a set for each exercise. You cant make your muscles look chisled if you dont have any to begin with. Also , muscle burns energy just by being there, so you will lose more fat if you have more muscle.

The only other things I would suggest is doing your cardio work on the same day as you work out. If you are too tired to lift after your cardio workout , then you are doing too much cardio. When you do lift , make sure that you have perfect form. The guys in the gym who toss the weights around are just makeing themselves feel better. You cant build muscle if you dont have any control over the weight. Try not to take advice from people in worse shape than you. In every gym I have been to there is always some tub of grease who thinks he can tell everyone the best way to workout. The only other thing I can think of is for you to get a book on the subject. Maybe try the Schwartzenegger body building bible or the Weider ultimate body building book. Both cover training routines,exercises and diet, they are also both big enough to give you a workout by just carrying them around. :smiley:

Another thing: watch your salt intake. You don’t have to cut salt out of your diet completely (in fact, that could be a bad thing), but don’t add any unnecessarily. Salt allows your body to hold on to water, which can decrease the appearance of muscle definition.

must do ‘laundry list’:

-burn more calories than you consume (doesn’t matter if through aerobics, weight training, etc)

-have body fat checked, and create a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat

-when training: muscle peaks are developed by performing each exercise/motion completely and w/out cheating, staying in the body builder rep mode of 6-8 reps, (no more than 10, no less than 6 in reg training sets)

-holding and pausing the weight at it’s peak: top of the bicep curl fro example…hold/squeeze for a sec and release slowly

-performing a variety of exercises to target the whole muscle: build volume in chest through heavy exercises such as bench, get ‘ripped’ as per Ah-nold by doing deep hard exhausting ‘flys’ (ripped requires diet…see above)

Smoothness alert…aka no definition:
high sodium?
only power training exercises like bench, press, squat?
poor diet?
poor technique?
no finnesse moves, like flys, pec deck, extensions.?
undertraining the abs, calves and other muscles that require intense amount of reps.?

I’ve know world class body builders that did almost no cardio/aerobics and were ‘shredded’ by competition day. Aerobics is a way to burn calories, and eventually burn fat should you deplete your cals for the day, but it isn’t the ONLY way. Some bodybuilders would rather burn cals weight training almost exclusively.