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    Jun 15, 2007 5:24 AM GMT
    I'm not really sure if anyone has posted about this. This is my own personal quest, so I'm pretty sure that someone will say "different strokes for different folks"

    What I am after is more tone in my muscles.

    I have tried my own work out plan according to some personal homework that I acquired through people and online.

    To keep things simple: I am fit. I look fit. I'm muscular but not toned. You can tell I work out, and I have a flat stomach. I am okay with how I look, but better muscle tone would set it off.

    I don't know what to do for cuts though. I've upped my cardio to calories, as opposed to how long. I have changed my repititions, and have actually become as strong as I was when I first started working out. (I fell off the wagon for a few months) I have always maintained my eating habits (only have one "cheat meal" per week and drink only water)

    I am able to lift more weight, while keeping my reps the same. As a matter or fact, in 2 weeks I'll be upping my weights by 10 pounds.

    I think though that my problem may be my lifting technique. Or perhaps I'm lifting too much instead of not enough times....I don't know.

    Can anyone offer me some help?
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 16, 2007 11:17 PM GMT
    I'm a little lost...
    What exactly do you mean by "toned"
    is it size? definition?
    or something else?
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    Jun 18, 2007 1:10 AM GMT
    Well...I guess you would say muscle definition.

    Like, cuts. I want to look more defined in my muscles than just "buff".
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    Jun 18, 2007 1:16 AM GMT
    From my experience and what I've read, definition just comes with reduced body fat. What's your body fat percentage?
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    Jun 19, 2007 2:56 PM GMT
    These are my stats:

    5'7" 165 18% Body Fat (I don't know what is average percent, but I know 18% has to be semi normal, right?) 32" waist....uhm as for size of my chest and arms I don't know.

    What can I do to reduce the BF percent to an amount that can help me.

    I eat foods low in fat, and almost none. SUch as chicken, beans, wheat pasta, vegetables, low fat hamburgers (7% fat), protien shakes, all natural peanut butter, Albacore Tuna, Salmon...that's pretty much it. Turkey and baked ham sandwiches on whole wheat bread, 2% cheeses, or non fat if I can find them, drink all natural juices, non fat yogurts, ocassionaly ill eat Kashi Brand cereal with skim milk, tend to eat about 3-4times a day.

    I do about 200 calories of cardio every gym session before I hit the weights.

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    Jun 19, 2007 3:20 PM GMT
    Eating fat has little to do with having body fat. Fat is just a calorie source like any other. It does happen to be very calorie-dense, but still, you can eat no fat at all and be fat, if you eat enough calories.

    In my experience, and from all the conventional wisdom, you don't show a six-pack until you're at 10%, and usually a bit less than that (I've got maybe a four-pack and I'm at 10% right now.)

    The best way I've found to lose body fat:

    - Track everything you eat, including portion sizes (I approximate this stuff, but still, pretty closely.) Use a tool like

    - Estimate your resting metabolic rate, i.e. the number of calories you burn every day just via normal activity. If you're not currently losing or gaining weight, your RMR is whatever you are accustomed to eating in a day, so just log a few days and see what it works out to.

    - Armed with your RMR, eat less than that. I'm currently eating about 500 calories fewer every day than I burn.

    - Pair that with exercise to burn more calories. FitDay will let you log exercise too, so do that. Make your cardio intense, as it'll raise your metabolism for a day or two afterwards. Light cardio for long periods doesn't do as much for fat-burning.

    A pound of fat, stored in the body, contains 3500 calories, so if you eat 500 calories fewer a day than you burn, you'll lose a pound a week (7 * 500 = 3500.)

    OK, but in addition to all this, you need to make sure to still eat enough protein, and continue doing resistance training (lifting or whatever it is you do) or else your body will burn muscle along with the fat, which you obviously don't want.

    It's not really as hard as it sounds, although it does involve eating much less dessert than I'd like.

    Oh yeah, and finally, it's important to eat foods that make you feel full, which primarily involves avoiding refined grains. Eat brown rice, not white, eat whole-wheat pasta instead of normal pasta. Eat whole wheat bread. Avoid processed sugars, candy, etc. All that stuff just burns up like tinder and makes you hungry again faster, and dieting sucks if you feel like you're starving.

    OK, that's basically everything I know about losing body fat, condensed into one entry.

    Good luck!
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    Aug 03, 2007 7:00 PM GMT
    "Tone" in the medial sense is bascially your neurological reflex, your DTR. High tone is pathological, it means your central nervous sytem is damages, and you see this in spinal cord, CP kids, and stroke patients, where their muscles become so "high toned" that they become spastic and eventually rigid.

    In the work out arena, "tone" bascially means the apearance of muscle hardness.

    This has 3 components:

    1. Muscle bulk/strength/hardness: This is directly related to the strength of the muscle fibers. Resistive trainning will get you this part down.

    2. Low fat: You cannot see the muscle if it is covered by fat... Cardio will do this for you.

    3. Vascularity: this is multi factorial. It depends on your hydration level, blood pressure, genetics, etc, etc... I am not going to advocate playing with your hydration and blood pressure levels with medications or disturbing your electorlite balance like many competitive bodybuilders.. It can be LETHAL.. So just be happy with your genetics...
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    Aug 03, 2007 7:07 PM GMT
    And ATX is corect..

    Whatever you eat has to be processed by the body. It does not mean you eat more protient, then you will have more muscle if you do not train. It does not mean if you eat more fat, then you automatically will have more fat..

    Whatever you eat is broken down. If you are doing resistive training, then your muscles will demand more protient to build. So if you do not eat enough protien, your muscle will not have the ingredients to build no matter how you train. BUT if you eat alot of protien, and you do not train, the excess nutrients and calories, even from protien, will be converted to fat...

    Similary, if you eat a moderate amount of fat, butyou do a lot of training and cardio, your boyd will require a lot of fuel and calories. Fat can be broken down into sugar and water. So while I am not advocating eating tons of fat as fat is very calorie dense, it is not like you eat fat and the fat is going right to your wait line intact...

    And most eveil of all, sugar. If you eat a lot of sugar, you will produce a lot of insulin. And ANY excess calories, especially from sugar, will be stored as fat and glycogen (large molecules of sugar).

    The body cannot store protien, it has to be synthsized. The body can only sotre fat and sugar, and the amount of sugar stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles is limited, while fat storage is limited only to when it kills you by morbid obeisity...
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    Aug 03, 2007 7:17 PM GMT
    Excellent, some common sense from atxclimber and nycmusc4musc.

    It's not magic. It's not hocus pocus. If you stop eating you starve, regardless of what you are not eating, fat or protein.

    If you are burning more calories than you are expending, you will lose weight, and you will lose body fat.

    Yet, millions of dollars are spent by dieters and exercisers every year to buy books to tell them the same thing, disguised as weird diets. Or to tell them the wrong thing, disguised as weird diets.
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    Aug 03, 2007 8:55 PM GMT
    Oh sorry for being technical again.. If any of you wonder what DTR is: Deep Tendon Reflex.

    When the doctor taps yor knee to illicit a knee jerk, that is a quick stretch of the muscle spindle organs to illcit your DTR. Absent or too high are both pathological. Most acute central neurological disorders presents with no relfex or no tone (flaccid muscles) then progresses to abnormally high tone, untile the muscels become spastic and rigid, like how you see cerebral palsy kids walking with a stiff leg...
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    Aug 03, 2007 10:13 PM GMT
    I have a few comments.

    "In my experience, and from all the conventional wisdom, you don't show a six-pack until you're at 10%, and usually a bit less than that (I've got maybe a four-pack and I'm at 10% right now.)"

    This varies WIDELY from one person to the next. I happened to have my body fat measured yesterday (for the first time in something like ten years) and it was 19%. I am admittedly trying to bulk right now, but you can still clearly see ridges in my stomach. And frankly (sorry about the pun, FrankyPhoenx!), I don't want to be below 12%. For me to maintain any reasonable muscle mass at that low a percentage of body fat would require a diet and routine so obsessive that there would be no joy left in life whatsoever.

    One area where I seem to differ from people is in that I believe building the size of your abdominal muscles is, as with every other muscle group, just as important as tone. Doing 800 gazillian reps for your abs exercises isn't going to do much if the muscles are small... Unless you want to drive yourself to the edge of panic because you ate a slice of cheese or an extra cracker one afternoon. Lots and lots of reps will tighten and flatten your stomach, but by focusing on both muscle size *and* tone, it is possible to have a defined stomach without living in the dietary world of Karen Carpenter.

    Back to the original post, tone...

    "I am okay with how I look, but better muscle tone would set it off." This makes me suspect that a discussion of body fat percentage and the six pack isn't necessarily the answer. It sounds like you were referring to this in general terms... peakier biceps/triceps, etc.

    This sort of look is not solely due to having a low percentage of body fat. Things vary depending on your unique physiology, but quite honestly I don't hear anything that makes me wonder about your eating habits. To me, you already sound plenty knowledgeable and disciplined in that respect, and I would suggest keeping your eating habits and cardio right where they are for the time being.

    I don't know your workout routine, but I'd recommend trying this for a month or so, and see if you start seeing a difference:

    Instead of increasing your weights (as you mention you are about to do), try to maintain the weights you use now, and begin increasing the numbers of reps. You will definitely start getting tighter (obviously, be sure to stretch to maintain flexibilty, and minimize the chances of injuries), and I think this could gradually increase your muscle tone toward the look you have in mind.
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    Aug 03, 2007 11:02 PM GMT
    Italmusclbtm makes a good point when he talks about, for him, dieting being too restrictive and taking joy out of life for him if he had to eat a certain way all the time. Franky, it's all about where YOU want to be and what your willing to do to get there. You're utlimate goal should be to be healthy. Reduce your risk of heart disease, keep your cholesterol in check, etc. Beyond that it's all aesthetics and a matter of personal preference and how far you want to go.

    Just an observation I've had being around the fitness game like I am, and knowing a few competitive bodybuilders, there seems to be definite "levels" when it comes to describing someones physique as it equates to body fat level and muscularity:

    Average - seems to descibe someone whose body fat is within the acceptable (12 - 18% for sedentary males) level according to most health guidelines but doesn't really work out

    Toned - would be someone who works out and has noticebly firm and measureable muscle development but probably doesn't really watch their diet or do much cardio so they maybe average to slightly above average in the body fat department

    Lean - would indicate a person in good health with generally acceptable body fat levels (at the low end of the range, most likely right around that 12-14% area) but not low enough to really see much muscle definition other than how that shapes the body in general

    Tight - brings us into the start of seeing actual muscle definition. This would include a noticebly flat stomach, maybe the tricep is starting to show some outline, the delts are starting to come out and the general "V" shape starts becoming apparent

    Defined - brings us to where there is definite separation between muscle groups and the abdominal muscles are starting to peak through and may show a discernible "2 or 4pk" when flexed. The traps start to pop, the delts show some evidence of tie in at the shoulders and love handles are noticable less visible

    Ripped - this is where the 6pk is truly apparent especially when flexed. The horse shoe shape of the tricep is clear, the separation between the bicep/tricep and deltoid is there, the traps really pop and the muscles of the back are clearly visible. Some striation may be visible when flexing or working out

    Shredded - for the truly, truly low body fat. This is where pro body builders want to be at show time. Every muscle is separate and defined, when flexed the striations of each muscle are evident through the skin. The skin can seem paper thin and blood veins are popping out all over (the roadmap effect for those with veins close to the surface of the skin).

    All of the above are opinions of the writer and in no way reflect the actual definition of each of these terms. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and attaining any one of these levels says nothing about WHO you are, just how you look. I myself put me in the lean category at the a ways to go to move up to ripped!
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    Aug 04, 2007 6:00 AM GMT
    I'm confused as to exactly how one goes about determining his resting metabolic rate. Could someone describe this for me please?
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    Aug 04, 2007 9:10 PM GMT
    Resting metabolic rate - for me this was a trial and error thing, which I figured out over the last ten years...

    I still don't scientifically count everything that I eat. I find this a bit obsessive, as it's not a practical way to sustain yourself for your entire life.

    But I believe there are ways of coming close to an exact calculation of metabolic rate... A good, well educated trainer will probably be familiar with some formulae for calculating it... Or you can try some Google research. Actually this would be well within topic (and a great idea for a thread) on this web site... So if I see something, I will post it.
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    Aug 04, 2007 11:23 PM GMT
    Resting (or Basal) Metabolic Rate is calculated as follows:

    Total Calories = 66.4730 + (13.7516 x W) + (5.003 x H) - (6.7550 x A)


    W = your weight in kg
    H = your height in cm
    A = you age

    This is the Harris-Benedict equation (for men) for ESTIMATING RMR/BMR. Generally a more exact number would be derived via an oxygen consumption test where oxygen upate or VO2max can be measured accurately.

    This would give you a general idea of how many calories per day you would need to consume to maintain your current weight and body functioning at rest. From here you would add additional calories to support your level of phyiscal activity to give you a total necessary calorie number per day to support your current lifestyle. If you are overweight, it will give you and idea of how many calories a day you need to cut out of your consumption in order to attain a desired goal weight and activity level (along with a food journal to determine how many calories a day you are currently consuming on average).
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    Aug 07, 2007 3:35 PM GMT
    NYC agian I agree totally!! Listen to him Franky!!!!!