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Lose weight or tone up? How to pop great muscle definition

Do you want to look like one of your well-muscled heroes who ripple with definition and ooze fitness? Well you can, but you have to work at it, and simply going on a diet is only the beginning.

Let’s say you’ve lost weight and – for example – taken up running, but you’re still not happy with your body. You look thinner but you’re still, for want of a better word, a bit flabby and unprepossessing when you check yourself out in the mirror.

This is because the human body has idiosyncrasies all of its own. Just as it will unhelpfully reduce demand for calories when you follow a calorie-deficit diet, so too does it show a certain reluctance to bulk up muscle and shed excess fat. From a survival point of view, this makes sense: fat is the nutritional equivalent of a spare 20 tucked into our wallet. However, it is not aesthetically pleasing, and in most first-world countries today, we do not need to carry extra fat in order to survive.

But it exists and muscle cannot show through a layer of fat. You can work out and have huge strong muscles, but still look a bit flabby because of that persistent layer of fat. So what’s the solution?

First of all, get your body fat measured. The best way to measure body fat is to have someone impartial do it for you. Something like a DEXA body fat measurement will help you work out exactly where you are carrying excess fat, and advise on the best way to start burning it off.

Once you know your body fat composition, you can begin to sculpt your body. You cannot target an area to reduce fat, the body sheds fat in its own order. But you can work on building the muscles underneath through targeted workouts, even as you work on burning off that layer of fat. As the fat comes off, your newly bulked and sculpted muscles will ‘pop’, giving you that highly desirable athletic look.

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