Gain Muscle, Not Fat

Proven Methods To Get A Body like A Fitness Model

Myth About High Reps For Muscle Tone

There are many fitness trainers out there that tell you high reps are critical for muscle tone.

Guess what?  Their expert answers are misleading you.  Now, I am not saying that they are doing this intentionally.  Because most likely they learned this from someone else who didn’t really understand the right way to build muscle.

So let’s take a moment to understand what nice muscle tone is and how to get it.

Muscle tone in an attractive muscular body is caused basically by nerve impulses that keep your muscles in a partially contracted condition.  This is done subconsciously by the brain/nervous system and affects the muscle fibers.

muscle tone nerves

This cool micrograph image by Dr Guy Bewick, Aberdeen Univ. is of living nerve terminals on skeletal muscle fibre. It allows us to the visualize branches of the motor nerve terminals. When activated, the terminals make the muscle fibers contract.

Basically this means there is tension in your muscle fibers that are creating the toned look.  The more the tension in the muscle there is, the more toned you will appear.

So how do you increase tension in the muscle?

By engaging in high tension muscle training with heavy weights.  The more stress you put on a muscle the more tension there is.  When you muscle is constantly required to engage in high tension situations, it adapts and your nervous system makes sure it is always ready for this time of effort.  Thus, it stays in this constant state of tension, and gives the toned look you want.

Ok.  I know that was some heavy brain gymnastics.  But go back and re-read it to be sure you understand the meaning.

Basically what I am saying here is heavy weight lifting, causes stress on a muscle which in turn generates a continuous stressed muscle state (on a micro level) with the effect that the muscle stays in a partially contracted state.  And that this condition is what muscle tone is.

Phew that was a mouthful!

Ok, you say, then…

Why do we always hear about doing high reps for muscle tone?

Here is the thing:  High reps are really just a type of cardio fitness exercise.

You workout in longer sets (high repetitions) for a longer duration of time, and burn a few calories in the process.  Unfortunately, you would probably burn more calories spending that time on the elliptical machine and you definitely build more muscle with heavier weights and lower reps… so what are you doing with the high rep approach?

With high repetitions you’re wasting your time & not gaining much for your effort.

Exercise Routine TimeLet me clarify this.  Yes you will see improvements.  But you could get those same improvements in less time and more efficiently by doing your training in a different way.

Right after your high rep workout you may look great because your muscles are all pumped… but this is temporary and fades as the day goes on.

Low reps with heavy weight however, will give you a permanent skeletal muscle tone (as long as you continue working out, as once you stop training the stress will lessen and the tone will fade).

This is the case with lower body, upper body, compound exercises and all weight training fitness exercises.  So we need to approach the way to build muscle in a no nonsense sport science way and lift heavy dumbbells, bar bells and other weight training equipment.

In addition to tone muscle, building muscle mass will also help you lose fat.  But that is a topic for another post…

Well that is a lot to chew on for now.  It is a big slap in the face of what we hear all the time about high reps and muscle tone.  So I am sure it will take some time for me to convince you to come back to the good side of the Force!  There will be many more post on this topic, but hopefully I spurred some thought!

So work hard, be good and may the Force be with you!  (sorry I couldn’t resist)


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