I have heard it time and time again: “to tone, you have to do high reps!” In fact, I even heard a trainer say it today to one of his clients, in 2014, while I was working out!! (Albeit good trainers at big-box gyms are very rare, so I’ll give him a break, he seemed like a nice little guy…) Pair this with a second fitness myth, that jogging is the “best” way to lose weight, and you have a recipe for disaster… healthy people stumped on why they aren’t dropping weight or “toning” (I categorically refuse to say “toning” without quotation marks because of my disapproval of said word’s usage) nearly as efficiently as they could be–because they can, and there is a MUCH better way. I can’t prove it, but I am pretty sure a kitten dies every time someone perpetuates a fitness lie such as those mentioned here… The internet has this picture, so it has to be true, just like jogging and toning with reps….
How to ACTUALLY Build Your Dream Body – Guys and Gals Alike
Today’s blog article will be short and to the point. Here’s the premise: If muscle definition (notice how I didn’t say “toning?”) is your goal, then you need to have two things in place:
1) Some actual, tangible, real-life, organic, Non-GMO, Monsanto Free, Blessed by a Monk, fair trade, non-Photoshopped muscle mass
If you manage to somehow have #1, which is #1 because it comes FIRST, not second, then move on to 2 below.
2) Low enough body fat to see those muscles!
Let’s start with #1 — How do you gain muscle mass?
Just as you don’t “get fat” from a single scoop of ice cream, or even a day of pigging out, you also don’t gain muscle from hitting the gym once in a while, no matter how hard that one session may be. I say “build” your dream body because you literally do BUILD it one workout, one meal, one day at a time, slowly but surely. Each of those workouts, seperate, is almost negligible. But string together great workouts and a healthy diet on a daily basis, and now we’re cooking! Just like a building, you need a foundation, a base, from which all other sexy muscles, mad hops jumps, lean looking torsos, rock hard abs, and huge guns shall later spring. Adding muscle size and shape, of which we all have different desired looks and ideal selfs, takes the same biological processes either way.
It is THE SAME for both men and women. Ladies! Lifting weights will not make you huge. If it were that easy, all these stick skinny guys walking around would look like Arnold. It takes years of brutal training, forced feeding, and dedication, to look anything remotely like those huge bodybuilders you picture. Additionally, many of those “scary folk” take anabolic steroids, which greatly help add muscle mass. If you are not trying to get big with all of your might, you won’t.
Lifting will give you the “toned” arms you want, the sexy butt, the flat stomach, etc… faster and more pronounced than jogging, pilates, and yoga ever will. Those activities do, of course, have amazing benefits and places in a full rounded exercise regimen, but I won’t get into that today. This article is strictly on how to achieve that defined, muscular, lean self you want to achieve. You can do it, so let me go on.
Split your body up into groups, or body parts. A traditional 3-day split is a great, simple way to build muscle. Note, building muscle entails all of it; it will bring shape, size, and definition. Again, it is not just a lump of muscle, slabbed on, like many women fear. I, for one, am SO THANKFUL, for the new woman-empower slogans of “Strong is the new Skinny” or “Strong is sexy.” I agree.
Day 1: Chest/Back/Abs
Day 2: Legs/Shoulders
Day 3: Biceps/Triceps
For your major muscle groups (if it is a big muscle, i.e. back, legs, chest) shoot for about 20 total sets (roughly 3 sets each of 6-7 different exercises) at 8-12 reps each. Do what is called a pyramid. Lift a weight for 12 reps, add some weight just enough to get 10 reps, then add just enough for the 3rd set to get 8 reps. If you get close but fail, don’t worry. 12 reps, then 9, then 6, just keep working until you get all 12, 10, 8, and each of those last reps really is your failure point. Scientific studies show that hypertrophy (breaking down muscle to be built back up) is maximized in the 8-12 rep range. For the smaller muscles, 9-12 sets total, (roughly 3-4 different exercises of 3 sets each) with that same 12, 10, 8 pyramid, will suffice. I will break down each of these Days’ workouts in future blog posts, so check back DAILY!
SUMMARY WEIGHT TRAINING 101 CLIFFS NOTES: 20 sets of 8-12 reps total for big muscles, 9-12 sets of 8-12 reps for smaller muscles, trained once a week each on a 3 day split. Scientific studies show this is the optimal range of both sets and reps to achieve muscle growth.
Personally, I think that the following man (Bradley Martyn) and woman (Paige Hathaway) have ideal bodies. But this is MY opinion. No matter how much yours differs, the approach still should involve heavy weightlifting to build muscle. You’ll probably just stop before reaching the Herculean statususes below. If you want more than these.. go seek medical help!
Now, on to Step 2 – A healthy diet to achieve (or maintain) low bodyfat.
To build muscle mass, you want your macronutrients –the large scale nutrition categories of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — to roughly equal 30/40/30 meaning 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat. So, for a standard 2000 calorie diet (this is a median measurement, go online and search Base Metabolic Rate to find YOUR calorie needs) it would look like this:
PROTEIN: 2000 X 0.3 = 600 calories from protein. 600 calories / 4g/cal = 150g protein per day
CARBS: 2000 X 0.4 = 800 calories from carbs. 800 calories / 4g/cal = 200g carbs per day
FATS: 2000 X 0.3 = 600 calories from fats. 600 calories / 9g/cal = ~66g fat per day
There you have it. Chances are, you are NOT that average, 2000 calorie person, but I bet you are pretty close. As a general rule of thumb, you want a minimum 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight in order to gain muscle. +1g/lb is best if you can. Furthermore, if you already have a lot of mass and really only want to shred up, then you can reduce your carbohydrates even lower. I will write another article on low carb diets, ketosis and ketogenic diets, and the role of fats, but for now just know that you NEED CARBS if you are actively trying to build muscle.
You CANNOT build muscle in a caloric deficit — if your body has less calories than it needs to maintain its current self, it would certainly not divert already-needed energy to a non-essential function of anabolic muscle creation. It is physiologically impossible. “Phil… uh… what does that mean?” Simple! You cannot actively gain muscle if you are dieting. Your muscles may get tighter and become more apparent, but this is because you are losing bodyfat, thus exposing existing muscle. It is also awesome to know that just by existing with muscles, you burn more calories. Literally. Rather than jog for hours, which also eats away at muscle, by the way, put on some quality mass, and then watch as your own metabolic rate increases. You can either a) eat more food and not get “fat” as easy or b) maintain a great physique without following some crazy diet and doing cardio as if it were your religion.
Guys, gals, the rest… I THANK YOU for reading this article. This is a very, very basic look at some critical things that people need to know about their dream physiques. Follow me as I blog daily about many things mentioned in this article. Also know that I respond to EVERY SINGLE sincere and genuine comment below. Feel free to ask away. Thanks!