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Exercises for "Shaping" and "Toning": A Myth


Exercises for "Shaping" and "Toning": A Myth

It's not uncommon to see yesterday's realities turn into today's absurd myths in the realm of fitness and bodybuilding as scientific methods advance and allow us to examine more closely at the inner workings of our bodies.

Unfortunately, someone who exercises but doesn't understand the fundamentals of anatomy and kinesiology might just as readily be persuaded to accept some bodybuilding myths as fact.

One of the most fundamental truths that everyone tends to overlook should be mentioned at the beginning of this piece.

Here it is: there are no specific exercises that can separate, define, or sculpt muscle mass. Alright?

Let's now talk about the reasoning for such "startling" comment.

The muscle may stretch, shorten, or stay the same when under tension.

Because of this, a muscle can only shorten when it contracts, which causes the joint in between to either bend or lengthen by bringing the origin and insertion closer together.

Since muscles can only change their shape in response to exercise, there is no such thing as a muscular contraction that can do otherwise.

The widely accepted idea of "toning" your muscles actually entails losing body fat and increasing muscular mass.

Anyone with a basic understanding of human anatomy will be able to tell you that you cannot alter a muscle's shape, the direction in which its muscle fibers are linked, or the quantity of nerve innervations.

While exercise can help you gain a little more lean mass, the key to this process is adhering to a food plan that will help you lose extra body fat, which will lead to more defined muscles.

The more muscles are seen, the less body fat there is to hide them.

That means the only way to develop those "toned" muscles is through a combination of physical training and healthy eating.

Added muscle mass and fat loss produce a ripped physique. But on the other hand, people don't appear to value the ease of life too often.

The myth of spot reduction

This introduces us to the spot reduction, another mythical bodily function.

If you've never heard of it, spot reduction refers to the practice of attempting to eliminate extra body fat from certain body parts by conducting activities that target those areas, such as performing numerous abdominal exercises to reduce belly fat.

Because the body does not function the way you would like it to, this CANNOT happen.

Exercises that target a specific region of the body won't result in fat reduction in that region since fat loss is not site-specific, however muscle building is (meaning that if you want to build a muscle you need to significantly engage that portion of the body).

They can bolster the muscles involved in certain actions, but at most they have a minimal effect on the fat that is stored there.

Everybody's body goes through a regular metabolic process that results in weight growth or loss, and each person's body has a naturally occurring, genetically determined pattern of where more fat is added or lost.

You must decrease weight overall if you want to reduce fat in a specific place.

Yes, it would be fantastic if spot reduction were possible because it would make achieving the ideal body much simpler.

However, it's not, therefore to all advertisers worldwide, stop the BS already.

Let's get back to developing muscular mass. Muscles can only grow when they are worked with high intensity exercises, such as heavy weight, high reps, or a mix of both (requiring strong rather than mild muscle contractions).

That is essentially all that has to be said about that, in fact.

Depending on how much growth you want to achieve, you can either raise or reduce intensity; nevertheless, you cannot directly change the muscle definition without reducing body fat, and you cannot improve muscle separation with specialized exercises.

Muscle separations result from genetic expression and cannot be brought about by exercise; they are already present.

A working muscle can only distinguish between different loads, to which it can only respond by producing the force required for adaptation to the task at hand, eventually entering the hypertrophy mode—a process that causes skeletal muscles to enlarge by increasing the size of their constituent cells.

Because a muscle becomes thicker and stronger through hypertrophy, it is better able to carry the load while experiencing less tiredness.

From a biological perspective, that process is very useful and practical, but in modern society, we also exploit it to enhance aesthetics.

Now consider what the functioning of more defined muscles might be.

As previously mentioned, definition occurs when you significantly reduce your body fat and your muscles stand out.

Strength vs. Size

You've probably read a ton of articles describing the distinctions between workouts for mass building and mass shaping; the former group uses heavy weight, while the latter group uses movements that do not.

It is possible to lift a larger weight when more than one muscle is engaged in an exercise, but this does not mean that any one of the muscles being worked is exerting more effort than it would if it were working alone in an isolated exercise.

Muscles can't discern when other muscles are helping them out; they just keep working as hard as they can to complete the lift.

But having more muscle mass won't necessarily make you stronger.

Sarcoplasmic and myofibril hypertrophy

Myofibrillar hypertrophy (denser muscle fibers) and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy are two distinct forms of hypertrophy that can occur within the muscle (bulkier muscle fibers).

Since their goal is to have strong muscles while maintaining a low body weight, most martial artists and non-heavy weight lifters will choose for myofibrillar hypertrophy, while bodybuilders prefer sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which increases muscular size but is typically considered as form above function.

In other words, myofibrillar hypertrophy, which is best achieved by exercising with heavy weights and few repetitions, results in a greater density of the contractible myofibrils, which enhances the ability to exert strength.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which can be attained by high-rep, low-load training, is a rise in the volume of the sarcoplasm, a non-contractible muscle cell fluid that accounts for up to 30% of the size of the muscle.

In order to achieve the best results in terms of both strength and bulk, you must combine the two types of training.

Keep up the good work, eat well, and don't believe everything you hear because the only visible change that can possibly occur in any muscle with the aid of any exercise is growth.

Throw out the "shaping," "toning," and "separation" exercises and concentrate on gaining muscle and strength instead.