If you’re lifting with the idea of getting shredded, like if you picture your ideal body in your mind’s eye and it looks like Ryan Reynolds or The Rock, then you need to start thinking about muscle definition. There are a lot of myths floating around about muscle definition however – so many in fact, that I decided to bust some of them.
Most usually expressed as something along the lines of “you have to eat clean to be lean,” this ethos is a staple of poor fitness advice articles and magazines for decades.
(And don’t even get me started on what a toxic and unnecessary phrase “clean eating” really is). You know what? It’s wrong too.
Ok, no you’re not going to get ripped eating nothing but buckets of KFC and French fries.
But when it comes to muscle definition, it’s not so much what you eat, but how much. We’re talking about your Macros here – fat, protein and carbohydrate. For great muscle definition you need lower overall body fat. It is body fat – especially subcutaneous, i.e. right under the skin that blurs muscle lines, and ruins definition.
At the same time, you don’t want to just cut calories, as that is going to affect your actual muscles themselves – the reason that you’re doing all of this in the first place! It’s a difficult balance but just “eating clean” is not going to do it.
Skip Gym Day
Sorry, you can’t throw your gym day pass into the trash just yet (click here to better understand why)! Another myth that does the rounds every now and then is that to achieve true muscle definition, you need to stop lifting and start doing cardio. Now, in theory there’s nothing to abstract about all of this. It kind of connects to the point above in that to achieve great muscle definition you do need to shrink back your overall body fat percentage.
At the same time, to have muscle definition you also need to have, ready for this, muscles!
Cardio is great and frankly we should also work some of into our fitness regimes. But cutting all lifting for pure cardio is not a recipe for great muscle definition!
Rep for Definition
If you’ve managed to ignore the above myths and have kept up your weight lifting routine, then that is great. However, you may also be leaving yourself open to the next daft definition myth – that you need to be hitting high reps to really get cut. We’ve all heard this before – that to get cut, to have real muscle definition, you need to be hitting high reps so that you can feel the burn!
Well, all your burning is your time because in reality, you should be looking to aim for the complete opposite – you want to be lifting heavy weights across a far smaller range of reps to get really chiselled and defined muscles. Again, if you want definition in your muscles, first you need to have muscles. Nothing grows muscles like progressive overload – i.e. small rep ranges of big weights.