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When most people think about becoming toned and chiseled, they imagine hours spent bodybuilding in the gym with intense, exhausting strength-training exercises. While this is indeed part of obtaining a toned, defined, muscular appearance, other crucial components include maintaining a healthy diet and performing regular cardiovascular exercise to burn fat. Your success will depend on your ability to remain disciplined and put in hard work regularly.
Perform lower-body strength-training exercises at least twice per week, with a workout lasting at least one hour. Focus on working all lower-body muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. Ideal lower-body exercises include leg presses, squats, leg extensions, seated leg curls, seated calf raises, standing calf raises and lunges.
Perform upper-body strength-training exercises at least twice per week, working out for at least one hour per session. Work all upper-body muscle groups over the course of the week, including the traps, shoulders, chest, biceps, forearms, abs, lats and back. Ideal upper-body exercises include all variations on the bench press, military presses, butterflies, preacher curls, seated dumbbell curls, triceps pushdowns, lat pulldowns and one-arm dumbbell rows.
Combine your upper-body and lower-body workouts into a weekly strength-training program. For example, you might work your upper body on Monday and Thursday, your lower body on Tuesday and Friday, and rest from strength-training on Wednesday and the weekend. As you continue to make gains in muscular strength, mass, density and definition, you might add one or two days to your weekly strength-training schedule.
Eat a nutritious, balanced diet consisting of whole foods to support your strength-training efforts. Consume five or six meals per day rather than the usual three, ensuring plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates and unsaturated fats in every meal. Eat a meal with plenty of protein immediately after each weight-training workout.
Perform cardiovascular exercise for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise to burn away fat and reveal the developments you've made in muscular mass, definition and density. This will help to ensure that you don't gain excessive bulk in the form of fat tissue from your diet.
- Get plenty of sleep each night to maximize gains in muscle tissue and properly recover from intense exercise sessions.