Building muscle, gaining fat, and even losing weight all seem to be easier than achieving stunning muscle definition that gives you that coveted “cut” look. Whether you’re a “hard-gainer” and find it difficult to put on weight, an overweight individual trying to slim down, or an athlete who would like to be less bulky and more defined, the following five tips should help you achieve better muscle definition.
First, you need to stop focusing on lifting heavy weight and start focusing on doing more reps with lighter weights. A good rule of thumb is to only use weights that you can comfortably do sets of 20 with. If you can’t get to 20 repetitions several times in one workout then decrease the weight. To put on muscle that is bulkier and stronger, but less defined, simply increase the weight and do 8-12 reps each time. Once you’ve gotten “ripped” you can incorporate heavier weights into your regimen to add mass while retaining definition.
Eat 5-7 Meals Per Day
You may be wondering how eating more meals per day will make you lose weight and gain muscle definition. The trick is that each of your 5-7 daily meals will be a fraction of the size of a regular meal. In essence, you’re spreading your daily caloric intake out over the course of more meals. Doing this will not only give your body more time to digest each meal, it will also stimulate the metabolism by keeping it active throughout the day.
Focus on Aerobic Activity
The real key to getting extremely defined muscles and tendons is building stamina and blood flow. When your muscles have more blood flowing to them they’re able to rebuild quicker and bigger. By regularly participating in aerobic activities like hiking, running, cycling, jump-roping, swimming, basketball, and tennis you can build your heart muscle to supply more nutrients and oxygen to your tissues during strenuous exercise and the ensuing repair process.
Strengthen Your Core
One of the reasons many people struggle to achieve ideal muscle definition is because they can’t do a high volume of abdominal exercises without becoming very, very sore. If you have ever attempted 50 sit-ups after not doing them for a while you’ll know what this feeling is like. The soreness can literally make you dread getting out of bed in the morning. Your core muscles hold your spine together and serve to bring almost every component of your upper and lower body into unison. When your core is strengthened the rest of your body becomes stronger. Fortunately, you can drastically strengthen your core with just a handful of exercises.
Remember to Rest
Most people believe that rest comes naturally so you shouldn’t have to remind yourself to rest, but in reality a large percentage of bodybuilders and other athletes are actually hurting their potential by overtraining. Failure to rest and recuperate can be caused by working out too many times per week, working out until the point of exhaustion too much, not getting enough sleep every night, or not getting enough nutrition to match your output.
The effects of not getting enough rest/nutrition include decreased stamina, lack of overall energy and vitality, decreased strength, muscle loss, and stress. On the other hand, if you give your body all of the fuel and rest it needs you’ll see satisfying results as quickly as possible. Most experts recommend working out 3-5 times per week, with at least one day of rest between each workout. When you start to build stamina you can work out several days in a row consecutively without hurting progress.
Sergio Martinez is an experienced health writer/personal fitness expert who regularly emphasizes the importance of adequate rest and optimal workout nutrition.