But I Dont Want Muscles! Part 1: What Muscle is, and how to Build (or Avoid) It
One of the common comments I hear from my female clients is, "Please don't give me any weights work ? I don't want any muscle, I just want to tone." The reasons differ from client to client, but it most often they seem to be based on a misunderstanding of what muscle is, how we build it, what it has to do with weight loss ? or some combination of the above. There's a lot of misinformation outside of the fitness world about muscles and what they do, so I'd like to spend the next two articles exploring the realities behind the myths.
WHAT IS MUSCLE?
When I was younger, I'd never really thought about what the 'stuff' between my skin and my bones was made of. I understood that muscles were what bodybuilders had, and fat was something that made you fat, and that I had some of each. I think, though, that I believed that they existed inside some kind of other substance that filled the space between my skin and my bones. Then, in secondary school, I learned that, in a healthy person, most of this magical substance was just muscle. In fact, I learned that, aside from my body's networks of organs, blood vessels and nerves, and my skeleton there isn't really much under my skin except for muscle and fat.
I learned that muscles were an incredible network of fibres that allowed me to move my limbs, to stay sitting or standing upright, to talk, breathe, and pretty much to translate any thought I had into action of some kind. I learned that if I didn't use them, muscles would shrink and weaken, and if I did, they'd grow stronger. And I learned that as my muscles grew stronger, so did I.
All of this was quite a revelation for me at the time, so I can understand the initial confusion that exists amongst so many of my clients ? why they want to tone without building muscles. The truth though, is that muscle is the only thing under their skin that can be toned, and that 'toning' often simply means that muscles become slightly more visible (which then makes the whole body look smoother and firmer). So without enough muscle to start with, there's nothing there that can be toned.
BULIDING THE RIGHT SIZED MUSCLES
Often, the clients I speak to don't have a problem with the idea of a little muscle. The problem is that many don't realise it isn't an 'all or nothing' thing. Unfortunately, because of the lack of clear information out there in the media, the only image they have to associate 'women' with 'muscle' is one of a female bodybuilder at the peak of her competition physique. Not that there's anything wrong with wanting such a physique if that's a client's aim, but for most of the women I speak to, the possibility of developing such large, defined muscles is really quite scary!
Those kinds of muscles, however, don't happen quickly or easily. Really large muscles require long, intense workouts over a period of time, and a base level of testosterone ? a hormone most women don't have in sufficient quantities (without the use of steroids, anyway) for size to become a problem. Granted, there are women with naturally high testosterone levels (and I'm one!), who will put on muscle more quickly. But even for me, muscles don't suddenly appear, fully-formed overnight. So if I notice I'm gradually building size in an area I don't want it, it's not difficult for me to change my training in that body area to gradually reduce the size again.
Also, many people believe any kind of weights work will automatically increase muscle size. The truth is that not all training produces size increases. There are a number of variables you can play with in strength training ? the heaviness of the weight, the number of repetitions of the movement, and the time you allow yourself to rest between groups of repetitions (or sets). Very generally speaking, training with a heavy weight and low repetitions in each set will increase strength; training with a medium-to-heavy weight and medium repetitions will increase muscle size; and training with a lighter weight with high repetitions per set will increase endurance.
In practice, it's not actually quite this simple, and there are other factors to consider. The important point is that not all training will increase muscle size, that some muscle is necessary if you want to tone, and that working with a competent trainer will help ensure you get only the results that you want from your training.
In Part 2 of the article (http://optimumlife.co.nz/Fitness%20Articles/Muscle/Muscle2.htm), we look at why muscle is so important for weight management and long- term health.
Copyright 2005 Tanja Gardner
Optimum Life's Tanja Gardner is a Personal Trainer and Stress Management Coach whose articles on holistic health and relaxation have appeared in various media since 1999. Optimum Life is dedicated to providing fitness and stress management services to help clients all over the world achieve their optimum lives.
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Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (Lose Body Fat) - Product Review
At first glance, this product manual's title (Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle) was a bit distracting. While the 300+ page manual does a good job of explaining how increased muscle strength helps lose body fat and why its more important to lose body fat versus lose weight; I wasn't sure about the content of the product manual until I read it in its entirety. The overall premise is to burn the body fat with exercise and feed the muscle with good nutrition plans. The author, Tom Venuto, is a body builder and that helps explain some of the direction of the manual.
Protein or Carbohydrates?
This has got to be the biggest controversy in modern bodybuilding. Bodybuilders will say you've got to consume loads of protein to pack on quality muscle mass and increase strength. Nutrition experts say that you must eat a high carbohydrate diet, particularly complex carbs, to improve strength and size, and say that a high protein is of no benefit.
Whats Your Body Type?
Yep, there are more than ones body types. I'm sure you've noticed it too. The ones who, even if they eat whatever they want, never gain a pound, and others who exercise like there's no tomorrow and STILL manage to gain weight. Well that's a key thing when it comes to training your body. You have to train for your body type, or else your actions may not be doing anything good! There are 2 bodytypes: ectomorphic, mesomorphic & endomorphic. To find out what type of body you have, think back to your teen years and try to remember what your body looked like before age began rearing it's ugly head. So let's get to each body type shall we?!
Weight Lifting 101
WHY WEIGHT LIFTING?
Pipes, Guns, Bazookas - Killer Biceps
Pipes. Guns. Bazookas.
Boost Your Anabolic Hormone Levels - Naturally!
Anabolic steroid use appears to be on the rise. With the great increase in modern recombinant DNA technology, steroids such as growth hormone, growth factors and testosterone-based analogs have become increasingly more available and affordable. Despite their renewed popularity however, anabolic steroids are illegal and have negative effects on health, reproductive status and even personality. In response, this article aims to provide some basic information on anabolic steroids and how to boost the body's own production levels naturally, using exercise.
Muscle-Building Exercises and Growth-Boosters
I have 'emerged' some subtle bodybuilding techniques that infuse rapid muscle-growth to any trainee. You see, the "factor of top intensity levels" in combination with "aggressive workouts that expel pure testosterone bursts", is the key to a fantastic muscular development.
Hair Removal Tips For Bodybuilders
One of the most time consuming and frustrating parts ofbodybuilding is not building muscles, it's removing unwantedhair.
Exercise The Right Way - The Seated Row
Other articles in this series looked at a number of exercises, mainly from the perspective of developing a comprehensive muscle building program. Sometimes we take things for granted, especially when it comes to performing the basic exercises that constitute the core of most bodybuiders' training regimes.
Complete Pec Training Tips
Put these pec techniques to use and develop that full, muscular chest today.
Bodybuilding Sins That Cause Back Pain and Missed Workouts: Part 5
Welcome to article number five in our 5-part series "Bodybuilding Sins That Cause Back Pain and Missed Workouts". In this article we are going to cover some basic, yet powerful training principles that are often overlooked and are responsible for nearly all bodybuilding injuries?
Current Dietary Recommendations in Strength Training
Efforts to expand the limits of human strength and endurance have kept the scientist and the athlete occupied for centuries. The quest for another pound of muscle, or to lift next couple of kilos has been relentlessly pursued in the gym and the laboratory alike. As the questions and conquests became more challenging, the answers have become more elusive and complicated. Few concepts and conclusions have withstood the test of time in exercise physiology. Even as we tackle the metabolic and genetic basis of skeletal muscle response to strength training, there are only some things that we know for sure.
Muscle On The Brain
"A six-week cycle's gonna cost ya $170, lady -- you wanna knowhow to use 'em?"
Shoulder Exercises For Beginning Bodybuilders
The main shoulder muscles that concern bodybuilders are the deltoids and although they work closely with the arms and chest muscles, it is possible to isolate the delts in a training session. Unlike other body parts though, the shoulder is not designed for heavy lifting in all directions so beginners need to take care and use lighter weights than usual for shoulder-isolating exercises.
How to Build a Bigger and Better Chest
Creating a larger more powerful chest is difficult but if you follow this easy workout you'll see results in no time.
Build More Muscle and Lose More Fat by Discovering the Power of Training Variables!
Everyone will inadvertently hit a frustrating plateau in their training at one time or another. You're cruising along for a while, gaining strength, losing fat, looking better, and then all of the sudden it hits. Suddenly, you find yourself even weaker than before on your lifts, or you find that you've gained back a couple of pounds. It happens to everyone. Most of the time, these plateaus occur because people rarely change their training variables over time. Many people stick to the same types of exercises for the same basic sets and reps and rest periods with the same boring cardio routine. Well, I hope to open your mind and bring some creativity to your workouts with this article!
How to Increase Your Bench Press by Doing Squats
My Legs Are Already Big Enough. I Keep Hearing Working Legs Is A MUST. Why Is That So Important?
Build Muscle and Boost Your Training Intensity Now
Build Muscle with a unilateral weight training program. Whether you are feeling stale on your current routine or just looking for a way to improve your workouts and start making progress again, unilateral training is a perfect way to increase the results of your training time and help you build muscle.
Why You Do Not have Killer Abs or that 6 Pack Abdominal Muscle
Ask any woman what is the most attractive part of a male body and most of the time, they will tell you it's the six pack abs, meaning that your abdominal muscle showing up with beautiful definition. Your abs is considered by many as a sexy muscle and is a symbol of a fit and healthy man. Women are instinctively drawn towards a man brimming with health and fitness because it is a primitive indication that the man is strong enough to protect her and her brood. A rippling six pack abs is one such indication. So is it any wonder that in every gym, you will see men of all ages doing crunches, leg raisers and sit ups religiously in the hope of obtaining the much coveted killer abs? Unfortunately, most men will never get to see their abdominal muscle in its glorious splendor. Why? The following fitness tip will show you why.
Know Your Muscles - The Lower Body
Becoming familiar with the muscles that make up your body has more benefits than simply allowing you to talk shop with your training partners. The more familiar you are with the muscles you're working, the better you'll be able to judge what's needed to make improvements. In this article we'll get to know the muscles that make up the lower body.
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