Two of the most interesting and frustrating statements that people make are, “I just want to tone my arms,” or “I just want to lose a little fat around my stomach/legs/butt/whatever.” Or this one, “I don’t want to get bulky, I just want some lean muscle.”
The simple truth is that all three statements are false, to be charitable – or delusional, to be a little harsh. Let’s not be harsh, let’s say that these folks are just misinformed. There is no such thing as toning (what is toning?). There is no spot reduction. Tom Venuto has a great article about doing 1000 sit-ups a day. And if getting bulky were easy, we’d all be extra-large.
But building that lean muscle, there’s something we can talk about.
Weightlifting, strength training, bodybuilding all do one thing and that is make you stronger. Along the way, as a byproduct of getting stronger, the muscles will grow. A small percentage, maybe 10% of men and 1% of women will get big, as in bodybuilding big. The rest of us will get some size, bigger than your average bear, but by no means a grizzly.
So, as you lift and challenge yourself at every workout, your muscles will get stronger and a little bigger. The visual effect will be a hard muscle. When people feel you, you will seem less like a marshmallow and more like a size of beef. That’s good.
And it’s all lean muscle – good right.
So, why do some look – well – bulky? Where’s the muscle definition? And you said that getting bulky was a myth!
Well, here’s the thing, exercises make your muscles stronger and leaner. Dieting strips the fat from your body and shows it off. In fact, dieting is really what makes your muscles stronger and leaner.
Exercises tear down your muscles and dieting builds it up. Simple, I understand; nevertheless, it is fundamental to building a leaner, meaner (in a good way) you. The two go hand in hand.
You cannot simply set a goal of building a leaner, muscular you without having a clean balanced diet to furnish all the nutrients. Larry Scott used to say that nutrition was 80% of bodybuilding.
If all you did was push-ups, pull-ups, dips, one legged squats, deep knee bends, crunches, and reverse crunches; you would do great, so long as your diet was good.
In fact, a good diet is your insurance policy. Whereas, you could have the greatest workouts in the world, but if you dieting is terrible and lazy; then you will have no progress. Clean balanced diet is the key to building a lean, muscular body.
A good diet doesn’t need Hoodia or apple vinegar cider whatever. A good diet consists of plenty of water, lots of veggies and fruits, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and balanced sources of protein. It does not include high fructose corn syrup, processed sugars, alcohol, white bread, and fast foods or Ho-ho’s. Okay, I’ll fight you on Ho-ho’s.
So, the equation for building lean muscle is the same as getting stronger: training to maximum effort plus good diet plus lots of rest equal great, strong body. Can’t beat that.
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