Archive for the tag - definition

Tips for Exercising Without Getting Huge!

Hey Davey,

I’m really on again off again about my fitness. It’s because I gain muscle SO quickly. I’ll work out really solidly for about 3 months and then start looking like a man and back off.

What should I do to prevent myself from turning into a body builder, but still keeping my muffin top on the shelf and off my tummy?


Hey Sarah,

You’re not alone – and your desire to tone without looking like a bodybuilder is one that knows no gender. Many guys are in the same boat. The desire to be healthy and fit without becoming overly developed or huge is both common and achievable.

In general, I advise concerned clients to fear not – and that it actually takes a lot of deliberate and intense training to develop the muscular build of a bodybuilder. It doesn’t happen by accident, and it’s especially challenging for women due to hormonal differences.

In your email, you mentioned that you gain muscle quickly. To prevent this, you can simply change the way you train; your body will respond differently.

Training for muscle growth usually involves a low number of repetitions (10 or under) at high levels of resistance. The last repetition should result in muscle failure – that is, you’d be unable to do one more rep. Moreover, someone looking to build muscle would constantly progress to higher levels of resistance.

Since you don’t want muscle growth, modify your routine to train for definition and strength. Perform a high number of repetitions (10 or more – try 15!). Since you’re doing more reps, you’ll obviously need a lighter weight. If you’re satisfied with the amount of muscle on your body, then there is no need to progress to heavier weights or higher levels of resistance. And because you’ll be staying at one set level of resistance, you’ll probably find that you’re not reaching muscle failure on your last rep – and that’s fine.

You can also shift more of your workout to cardio, and/or spend a bit less time in the weight room.

So fear not! You can enjoy the benefits of exercise without worrying about bulking up.

I hope this helps!


9 Really Effective Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

Boost your metabolism for weight loss or increased definition..

Your metabolism is like the fuel-burning furnace that powers your body. If you’re looking to lose weight or increase definition, then boosting your metabolism should be a top priority. Increasing your metabolic rate helps create the calorie deficit (more calories out than in) that results in the loss of body fat.

There are a number of things that you can do to boost your metabolism, including:

  1. Eat within 60 minutes of waking up. Within 15 minutes of starting my day, I always eat a banana to prime my body’s pumps and get my metabolism in gear. Research shows that those who eat breakfast lose more weight than those who skip breakfast. Think of it this way: Your metabolism slows down while you’re sleeping – and it won’t speed back up again until you eat. Not eating until lunch time or late morning means your metabolism is sleeping in.
  2. Get your daily calcium. There are a handful of supplements that improve metabolism, but I’m leery to ingest compounds like Betaine that I don’t fully understand. Calcium is a safe and effective way to boost your metabolism without the risk of serious side effects. You can simply take a calcium supplement – or consume so low-fat dairy products like yogurt.
  3. Drink lots of cold water. Water is a metabolism booster – especially if the water is ice cold; your body needs to work hard to heat it up. If your urine is dark yellow, then you’re dehydrated. Light yellow or clear urine is ideal. Gotta love the piss talk. ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. Add on a few pounds of muscle. Muscles incinerate calories. If you – or someone you know – has a muscular build, take notice of their appetite. It takes a lot of calories to sustain muscle, and even by adding a few pounds of muscle mass, you’ll do wonders to boost your metabolism.
  5. Lower the temperature of your home or apartment. This one falls into the strange but true category! Your body will have to work harder to keep your internal temperate at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so burns calories, increases metabolism – and saves money on your heating bill!
  6. Eat metabolism-boosting foods. Aside from calcium rich foods like yogurt, the following foods (for various reasons) have been linked to increased metabolic rates: Cinnamon, curry, jalapenos, oatmeal, beans, green tea, ginger, grapefruits, apples, coffee, almonds, blueberries, watermelons and turkey. Incorporate them into your diet.
  7. Don’t overdo the alcohol. No surprise here: Alcohol decreases your body’s ability to burn fat during and after consumption by as much as 73%, so limit your drinking for best results.
  8. Do intervals. I know that I sound like a broken record player when I espouse the metabolism-boosting benefits of interval cardio training – but it’s extremely effective. If you’re doing mindless minutes of repetitive cardio training (which can actually cause you to gain weight), learn how interval training can take your workout to the next level. I promise you’ll never look back.
  9. Eat before you get hungry – and never starve yourself. The best way to keep your metabolism in high gear is to eat smaller meals spread throughout the day. If you consume less than 1,000 calories in a day – your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow down immensely.

While all of these tips will help you boost your metabolism, it’s important to remember that “calories out” is just part of the equation when creating a calorie deficit for weight loss. The “calories in” part of the equation is just as important – so be sure to include proper nutrition as part of any comprehensive plan.

Toned Muscles Vs. Big Muscles.

When it comes to working out, I’ve heard a number of guys express their concern about getting too big: “I just want definition and toning – I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.”

As it turns out, there’s no need to fear big muscles. They’re really, really hard to get; it doesn’t happen overnight. Arnold Schwarzenegger trained 6 hours a day. And if you notice yourself getting “too big”, just ease up or take a week off.

To look like a bodybuilder, you have to work really, really hard for a very long time. It doesn’t happen by accident.

Along the same lines of “it’s better to shoot for the stars and land on the moon”, I recently heard a trainer dare his definition-oriented client to try to get big. “It’s hard. Really hard. Toneville is farther away than you think, so you should train like you’re going to Bigville.”

How to Tone (and Not Gain) Muscle.

If I look at this picture much longer, I'm going to start "toning" my right arm.

Alan writes:

Dear Davey,

What would you suggest for someone who wants to do a routine more for tone than weight gain or muscle mass? I love aerobics but hate doing any weight training. I am 41 5’8″ 157.3 lbs.

Alan, I’m a big advocate of finding ways to stay fit that you enjoy.

If your heart is in aerobic exercises like running, walking, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, rowing, skating, and machines such as stair steppers and elliptical trainers, that’s all great. All of these cardiovascular exercises are great for strengthening your heart, increased bone density, reducing stress and so on.

But just as man cannot live on bread alone, neither can he have a well-rounded routine without strength/weight training. Not only does strength training help boost metabolism (something that’s very important as we age), it staves off a whole slew of diseases, improves posture, decreases the risk of injury – and it will improve your aerobic performance.

And fear not: Strength training doesn’t necessarily equal large muscle gains. You can pursue a strength training program that tones rather than builds muscle. Such a program would involve high repetitions of low weights. Or you can ditch the weights entirely in favor of training with resistance bands. Or you could train with your own body weight – doing things like push-ups, pull-ups and the like – or even take gymnastics classes.

Regardless of our goals, cardio and strength training go hand-in-hand. It’s like bread and butter, salt and pepper or dildos and douches. Our cardio and strength training just need to be tweaked to meet whatever goals we set.

So Alan, I encourage you to find an enjoyable way to get the strength training you need in a way that involves high reps of light weights.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Rants? Raves? Share them in the comments below.

High Reps / Low Weight Vs. Low Reps / High Weight.

Which is better: Light weights and high reps or heavy weights and low reps? Well, it depends on your goals.

But first things first, let’s define low and high reps. A “rep” is one repetition of an exercise. For example, if you do three push-ups, you just performed 3 reps. Low reps are anywhere from the 6 to 10 range – that is, performing 6 – 10 push-ups, presses, curls, etc. High reps are anything including and above 10, usually the 10 to 15 range.

High Reps / Low Weight

Some trainers (i.e., Tracey Anderson) are big fans of using light weights performed at high reps. The truth is, it depends on the goals of the client. If you can curl a dumbbell 15 times, for example, the weight is generally too light to actually break down your muscle fibers. It is the body’s repairing of muscle fibers that builds muscle – so high reps will do little to increase muscle mass. On the other hand, high reps will get your heart pumping and a cardio effect occurs and you’ll burn calories and fat. In addition, high reps build muscle endurance which helps muscles work under stress. If you’re training for a triathlon, for example, high reps and light weights could be very useful. 10 – 15 is generally considered high rep.

Low Reps / High Weight

Lifting heavier weights at lower reps is the best method for building muscle mass. Increased muscle mass boosts metabolism and heavier lifting increases bone strength. There a lot of great benefits here, but again, it depends on the goals of the client. In general, you should select a weight that fatigues your muscles (in other words, you can’t do one more rep) in 6 – 10 repetitions.

The bottom line: Which is better? It depends on your goals. If you want to build muscle endurance and get some cardio, then high reps of low weights are for you. If you’re looking to increase your muscle mass, boost your metabolism and strengthen your bones, low reps of higher weights are your cup of tea.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments, below.