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How to Gain Muscle Definition

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
How to Gain Muscle Definition
A close-up of a man using a weight machine at the gym. Photo Credit: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

Get ready to incorporate regular trips to the gym if you’re looking to improve muscle definition. For muscles to be visible, you've got to build muscle tone while simultaneously reducing your body fat percentage. Therefore, participate in a weight-training program designed to build muscles, incorporate regular bouts of cardio exercise to burn calories and follow a healthy nutritional plan so that you're properly fueling the muscle-building process.

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Building Muscle Tone

Step 1

Schedule three weight-training workouts throughout the week on non-consecutive days. Your muscles need 48 hours of rest between each weight-training session.

Step 2

Complete a workout that targets all of the major muscle groups, which include the chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, legs and core. Select one to two exercises per muscle group. Exercises that work your chest include bench presses, dumbbell chest presses, chest flys and pushups. Work your shoulders with shoulder presses, upright rows, lateral raises and front raises. Hit your triceps with dips, lying triceps extensions and overhead triceps extensions. Develop your back with lat pulldowns, seated rows, kneeling rows and bent-over rows. For your biceps, incorporate dumbbell and barbell curls. Work your legs by including squats, lunges, deadlifts and leg presses. To work your core, incorporate an array of crunches, bridges and planks.

Step 3

Complete all compound exercises before moving onto isolation exercises. Compound exercises require movement around multiple joints, such as bench presses, which involve movement at your shoulders and elbows. According to the American Council on Exercise, compound exercises are more effective for building muscle.

Step 4

Perform at least three sets of each exercise, with each set consisting of six to 12 reps. Georgia State University’s Department of Kinesiology and Health recommends this volume for building muscle. Rest about three minutes in between each set.

Step 5

Use a weight that’s appropriate for each exercise. For your muscle tissue to become overloaded, completing each set should be challenging. The weight you’re using should allow you to do at least six reps, but not more than 12.

Lowering Body Fat Percentage

Step 1

Get in at least five cardio workouts every week. Cardio exercises, such as jogging, swimming and riding a bike, are efficient at burning a high number of calories, leading to fat loss. Each session should last at least 30 minutes. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 to 200 minutes of cardio every week for those looking to lower body fat.

Step 2

Increase the intensity of your cardio workouts gradually as your fitness improves. According to the American Council on Exercise, high-intensity sessions burn a greater calories than those done at a low intensity, and also cause your metabolic rate to be elevated after you're done with your session.

Step 3

Follow a healthy eating plan to limit your calorie intake while still adequately providing your body with nutrients and fuel. The American Council on Exercise notes that you can support a healthy body fat percentage by eating primarily whole grains, non or low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and reducing your meal portion sizes by 10 to 15 -percent

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