Published On: Fri, Aug 23rd, 2013

Let’s Get Ripped!

resistancetrainingLet’s Get

Ripped!

by Mark Becker

There are many health routines that truly accomplish certain goals and objectives. However, I am willing to bet that if you asked 10 people to provide details about their routines you’d get 10 different answers.

Being physically fit is a personal interpretation of what YOU believe as being fit.  A bodybuilder, a marathon runner, and a yoga instructor will all have training goals and objectives. If they accomplish these goals, these health conscious people can claim that they are physically fitbut their goals will all be different.

People who want to be physically fit will often design a diet, supplement, and exercise regimen that will ultimately produce a healthy looking physique or that desired “toned” body. In other words, the body becomes firm with muscular definition and shape.

Misinformation, especially through the media, has led the public to believe that getting toned can be only accomplished by resistance training that focuses solely on high repetitions, little resistance, and moderate-to-long rest in-between sets. Here, cardiovascular exercise and diet are virtually ignored. That said, despite a plethora of other explanations, a toned body can be obtained by building muscle AND having a low enough body fat percentage so that muscle can be seen. The combination of increased muscle and decreased fat is the only way to obtain that elusive “toned”, “defined”, “ripped”, or “cut” look. Body fat percentage is crucial. The more fat that covers the muscle, the less visible it will be. Thus, a toned body can become a reality if you lose fat and build muscle…this is a physiological fact. 

What is Muscle Tone?

Muscle tone can be defined in either “scientific” or in “pop culture” terms as follows:

Scientific Definition: Muscle tone, also known as muscle tonus or residual muscle tension, is an unconscious low level contraction of muscles while they are at rest. Muscle tone makes muscles still feel firm while at rest and not flexing. Normally, muscles feel firmer when they are flexed. In contrast, there is a decrease in firmness if there is no voluntary contraction. The remaining firmness left in the muscle in an “un-flexed” state is muscle tone.

Pop Culture Definition: A clearly defined, muscular look that can also be described as “ripped” or “cut”. This look is very desirable simply because it looks good

Aside from the cosmetic benefits, there are other benefits to having muscle tone. Muscle tone is also beneficial because it keeps muscles in an activated state of partial contraction. This muscle state helps the body to maintain balance and posture. Interestingly, it also functions as a safety mechanism that allows for a quick, unconscious muscle reflex reaction to any sudden muscle fiber stretch. For example, we have all had our head suddenly jerk up when we catch ourselves from falling asleep in a sitting position…this is an unconscious reflex reaction that is made possible by the presence of muscle tone. Muscle tone also generates heat and keeps your muscles healthy. If the nerve to a particular/specific muscle is damaged, it may no longer be able to stimulate the muscle contractions necessary to maintain muscle tone. In cases such as these, the muscle will soon become flaccid and it will eventually atrophy, such as observed in stroke victims, for instance.

Let’s Get Toned

As previously mentioned, the combination of increased muscle and decreased fat is the only way to obtain that elusive “toned” look. For most of us, that means losing body fat…and his means adjustments to diet. Simply put, you need to eat a low fat, high protein diet. Good sources of “high quality” protein include lean meats, such as fish, turkey, and chicken, as well as raw nuts.

When people think about the foods which promote weight loss and a toned body, the thinking usually goes to low-calorie foods. Well, it is much more than that. One of the keys to losing weight and gaining muscle tone is including fiber into your diet. While not a magic bullet, fiber significantly helps with satiety as one of the key weight control challenges to control hunger. Appetite is affected by many things, including when you eat and the composition of mealsi.e., the amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and water in the diet. Consuming healthy high-fiber foods makes you feel full. Additionally, fibrous foods also take longer to chew, which signals the brain that you have had enough to eat.

Remember to always choose your carbohydrates wisely. Although everyone needs carbohydrates for energy, it is very important to avoid the carbohydrates typically found in processed foodsi.e., the foods that dominate the “mainstream” supermarket shelves.

How do you find foods that are truly healthy? For one thing, always (at least), consider shopping at health food stores rather than at chain supermarkets. Health food stores are everywhere now. These stores have fresh, organic foods, the highest quality vitamins/supplements, and are a good source of reliable nutrition information. If you are unsure of where to begin, there are now plenty of online resources.

A healthy diet is only part of getting a toned physique. Once you’ve begun to lose weight, you can now shift your focus on toning through exercise…and resistance training using free weights is a great start. In order to tone, use light to medium weights, and do many repetitions (reps) of a particular exercise. This type of training, by doing an increased number of reps, signals the body to burn fat for fuel. This leads to a leaner, more toned body.

Once you begin to feel comfortable in your new resistance training routine, try to push yourself. For instance, if you have been doing 20 reps, increase to 25, and then to 30. This extra effort will help your muscle tone because you are using (i.e., burning), more fat for the necessary fuel. Push yourself beyond your current capacity, because this is what will signal your body to burn more fat.

Cardiovascular exercise is a must to chisel the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 minutes of exercise daily may be enough to prevent weight gain, as long as your caloric intake is in check. However, I disagree. I recommend at least 60 minutes of exercise at least five times per week, that is a strategic mix of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise for optimal results. You should do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times per week.

Increase your cardiovascular workouts as your fitness level increases. This is when you will really see your body transform into a more toned look.

Yoga and More

When you’re trying to slim and tone without gaining muscle weight, think outside traditional resistance training and cardiovascular routines. There are other great options including Yoga and Pilates that promote the development of a lean, toned body. The movements in these activities emphasize balance and strengthen the body’s core, which, in turn, will lengthen and tone muscles. If working out with weights doesn’t appeal to you, try a Yoga or a Pilates class.

Your diet and exercise routine must include making changes to body composition and metabolism that increase the body’s ability to burn fat. The result; a decrease in fatty tissue and an increase in the ratio of lean muscle tissue to adipose (fat) tissue in the body. An increase in lean tissue (muscle tissue), not only burns fat, but it also promotes muscle tone. In any successful fitness regimen, you will be able to truly judge your progress by how you look in the mirror…and that’s sure to be satisfying.

about the author…

Mark BeckerMark Becker is an Account Manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, CA. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 15 years. Mark has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelor’s in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his master’s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For almost 30 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 100 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement and homeopathic regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marklbecker. Follow Mark on Twitter at https://twitter.com/becker_mark. For more information, access www.vivioninc.com or www.EnergyatLast.com.

 

 

 

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