Achieving the “muscle definition” aesthetic: Myths & Truths
These are just some of the buzz words that get thrown around when talking about fitness and the look you may want to achieve.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 10 years of working out and hundreds of discussions with people looking to change the way they look and feel.
First, most people who come to Elevate have no interest in looking “bulky.” Now, I think this is a blanket term that gets thrown around a little too much, but I also understand where it’s coming from.
You see, the majority of people don’t workout to become a larger version of themselves (unless they are serious about bodybuilding or powerlifting). People typically want to become a leaner, more defined shape of their current self.
Here are a few thoughts on what information needs to be disregarded and what should be taken as gospel when it comes to improving your physique (in a healthy manner)!
1) There’s no such thing as accidental bulk
New clients love to tell me about how they will just pack on muscle the second they start lifting weights. “I put on muscle REALLY easy,” they’ll say. Just looking at a heavy dumbbell will give me boulder shoulders!
Well, either you possess amazing genetics or you are full of crap (sorry). I have yet to find someone who accidentally packs on muscle mass while training 1 hour per day 4-5 days per week.
On the other hand, you need to engage in exercises that promote muscle growth (resistance training). It won’t be visible if you don’t HAVE it and your metabolism will never be optimal WITHOUT it.
2) “I’m in a bulking phase”
There’s often confusion about the relationship of muscle and fat when it comes to changing your physique. First, if you aren’t competing in the sport of bodybuilding then let’s just ditch the whole concept of bulking and cutting.
Body fat doesn’t contract (muscle does) and I don’t need you to gain weight in order to lose weight…it’s making my head hurt just talking about it. That whole concept works if you are, again, TRYING to get big by training a crazy amount and eating an even crazier amount. Us average Joes don’t need to do that in order to achieve a lean, defined look.
Know what’s way easier? Eat a diet that fuels and preserves muscle. More on that next.
3) Your diet doesn’t need to be magical
When it comes to leaning out and showing a little muscle (aka shape), it’s a pretty simple dietary concept. Provide your muscles with the right amount of fuel to grow or be maintained without excess calories to be stored as fat. That’s about it.
I’ve never seen one of our clients have undesirable results by prioritizing protein and vegetables first, with the right amount of carbs and/or fat to support energy. If you want to lean out, your overall calories simply have to be less than what your body burns through on an average day. Period.
4) Stop trying to create different “types” of muscle
Going back to the beginning of this article, it’s easy to get caught up in the buzzwords. I totally get it! Let’s change the way you think about muscle.
First, muscle IS lean tissue by definition. So if you are tall and have long limbs, you will build “long, lean muscle.” If you are shorter and have short limbs, your muscles only have so much space to grow.
Embrace YOUR body type and what it looks like when you are healthy. You cannot control (overall) the length of your muscles. That’s already determined by your genetics. You just focus on stimulating growth!
5) A simple balance
Look, the key to a nice athletic type of physique is a simple balance between your level of body fat and the amount of muscle mass you possess. Think of it like a statue being carved from stone.
It starts as a larger, less shapely structure. As we get rid of excess body fat, you are chipping away at the extra stone. The more you chip away, the more your lean body mass (muscle) starts to appear.
Consistent efforts to stimulate the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, coupled with consistent dietary habits that prioritize supporting that muscle mass result in a desirable aesthetic and a healthier body.
-Taylor Race, owner of Elevate St. Pete