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Improving muscle tone

If you are on the hunt for that toned look you might be in for a big surprise!

According to exercise scientist Wayne Westcott part of how ‘toned’ you become basically boils down to genetics.

But don’t get disheartened! We all have muscles and we can all work to develop them.

“Some people are born with long muscles and short tendons while others are born with short muscle bellies with not much muscle to work with,” says Westcott.

The fact that you are taller and have longer arms and legs does not necessarily mean you have long muscle bellies compared to your bones. A shorter person, for example, can still have longer muscle bellies relative to their bones and subsequently “just as much potential”.

Although the percentage of fat you carry around with you is definitely a factor in noticing lean muscle mass, your muscle fibres also contribute to your overall appearance. People with a higher level of body fat will benefit the most from cardio work to boost their resting metabolic rate, burn additional calories and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Strength training can be added to your cardio sessions as part of your weekly training routine.

Westcott explains: “We are all born with slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibres. When we strength train, the fast-twitch ones are more responsive and grow more easily. People born with a higher-than-average percentage of fast-twitch fibers respond quickly and more effectively to the strength training stimulus.”

Genetics aside, there are three major components of sculpting a better physique:

  • Regular strength training with weights
  • A sensible diet to lose body fat
  • Cardio that will burn calories efficiently

Westcott suggests following a combination of strength training and cardio that will target different muscle groups. He further notes that building muscle is hard work and takes time. “You will likely see visible musculature within four to six weeks. If you have a bit more fat, it might take longer—about eight to 12 weeks.” Cycling the calories you consume so that you are eating more food on training days and less on others can also boost muscle growth.

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