How to Define Muscles

Three Parts:Burning FatBuilding StrengthChanging Diet

It would be nice if you looked ripped after just a few gym sessions, but the body takes time to form six packs and defined biceps. If you want to sculpt a new shape, keep up a fat-burning, strength-building routine for at least eight weeks to define your muscles.[1]

Part 1
Burning Fat

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    Do cardio exercise five to six days each week. Cardio sessions focus on fat burning, while strength training builds muscle. While these two types of workouts can do both, they are best when used together.
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    Work out for at least 30 minutes. Most bodies use carbohydrate stores for the first 15 to 20 minutes of medium intensity exercise. This means you will get the biggest fat loss after this point.
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    Use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for the best fat-burning results. Consider tabata training, aerobics or a boot camp to learn how to push your body to maximum speed for one to four minutes and then rest for one to four minutes. Studies have shown that HIIT is the best way to burn fat quickly.
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    Do longer cardio exercise on days you don’t lift weights. Consider doing 45 to 60 minutes instead of 30 minutes to lose more fat and define your muscles. However, overtraining can be very hard on your body, so take one to two days of rest each week.

Part 2
Building Strength

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    Plan to do a strength training session of at least 30 minutes three days per week.
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    Take 36 to 48 hours of rest between sessions. If you are doing your sessions correctly, you will tear a lot of muscle fibers. Meanwhile, your body requires the rest to rebuild your muscles and make them stronger.
    • If you have limited time to devote to total body strengthening, isolate your upper body one day and your lower body the next. Ab strengthening can sometimes be done with only 24 hours of rest in between.
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    Choose a weight amount that only allows you to do 12 to 15 repetitions. While the argument used to be that heavier weights give you mass, while lighter weights with high reps give you definition, modern training suggests there is a happy medium.
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    Focus on quality of movement and good form. Don’t contract your muscles unless you can do it all the way. Move slowly through the pushing and pulling motions.[2]
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    Do a set, then rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat this for three sets.
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    Bring your muscles to fatigue. Three sets of bicep curls, flies or push ups should leave your arms shaking. If they don’t, you need to add more weight.
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    Work as many muscles as possible. Don’t work your biceps without working your triceps, shoulders and chest. You won’t achieve good resting definition unless your whole body is being worked hard.
    • If you don’t know a lot of different exercises, sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer. They can tell you how to create a well-rounded workout.
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    Judge how your muscle begins to contract while resting. When your muscles feel harder, you will begin to get definition. As you burn fat, the muscles will look sculpted.

Part 3
Changing Diet

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    Eat or drink a protein-rich snack after your workout. Protein helps rebuild muscle and it will ensure a faster recovery. Try a protein shake, an apple with peanut butter, chicken, nuts, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.[3]
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    Make diet a priority. Trainers often say, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” because too many people eat more carbohydrates and fat as they increase their activity. If you want to define muscles, you need to eat more intelligently, focusing on protein and vegetables, as well as complex carbohydrates.
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    Cook more vegetables and lean proteins. You may need to up your intake to help your body recover. If possible, get your carbohydrates from vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and squash.
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    Eat ancient grains. Quinoa, spelt, oat bran, amaranth and other grains are actually very high in protein. Replace normal wheat and rice with these grains.
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    Drink more water before, during and after a workout. Your body may require double the water it did before you increased your exercise regimen.
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    Try drinking coffee right before you strength train. Some studies have shown that you exercise harder and build more muscle by consuming caffeine before a workout.

Things You'll Need

  • Clock/timer
  • Protein snacks
  • Ancient grains
  • Lean protein
  • Vegetables
  • Water
  • Coffee

Article Info

Categories: Building Muscle & Strength | Body Type and Fashion