Why Don't I Look Like a Fitness Model Yet?
Since the majority of questions that came to me the last several months applied to figure and fitness body types, this same information also applies to bodybuilders, generally those new to the sport.
Flip through any muscle and fitness magazine and you’ll see fitness models and competitors, figure competitors, and bodybuilders sporting a flawless physique. They display lean and finely detailed muscle, and a present healthy looking tan.
What does it take to acquire such a muscular, yet feminine build?
Often times, when ladies train for that “competitor” look, they are under the impression that lighter weights and more reps will get them ripped, lean, and detailed. This is false.
Other women rely on endless cardio; as much as two hours a day for that polished look. This can be disastrous.
Finally, the last group of ladies that want the popular “competition ready” body resort to extreme low or no carbohydrate diets. This route is also a serious mistake.
There is no one right way or single method to getting a fit, hard, lean, and muscular body. Such desired physiques required vision, dedication, determination, focus, and effort.
I come across many ladies brand new to the sport of fitness that put in all the above factors. Many ladies diet down from a healthy 18% body fat to a good 8-10% body fat and wonder after all their hard and committed work, why they don’t have the hard and ripped muscles like the top figure and/or fitness models they see in the latest fitness magazine or the flashy personal websites.
This is a very good question.
The figure and fitness ladies that you see sporting very dense bodies that look so magnificent have worked very hard, and often times for several years or more to attain that look.
While you can build 3-6 pounds of muscle in a three months time-span, it takes a few years to build density.
You are fairly new to the sport of fitness. You read a few articles and got some basic information on nutrition and training. You may have even been on a fat-loss program for several weeks to see how well you could progress.
Through all your effort and dedication you managed to drop about 7 pounds of body fat and get to a stunning 9%! That’s excellent work. However, you step back to compare your 9% to the fitness model’s 9% in the fitness magazine and find you look much different. You are not as hard and detailed as the fitness model. You lack that certain “look” you were striving for. What went wrong?
The reason you may look dramatically different from the fitness or figure models at 9% is due to muscle mass and muscle density.
The finely-tuned physiques you see displayed in the fitness magazines are ladies in “peak” condition. Peaking is a temporary condition in which the body fat is reduced to very low levels, often times dangerous levels, so the muscle detail is predominantly visible. Most ladies in peaked condition are anywhere from 8-10% body fat, sometimes lower. The peaking process involves specific training and dieting methods, and is usually done for physique shows and photo shoots. In addition, a peaked physique is a severely dehydrated physique, posing health risks.
Competition Condition: Female 6-12%, Male 3-7%
This conditioned look is not something that is usually preserved year around. Granted, many ladies will have a good athletic and lean look all year, but it is difficult and unwise to keep such a low degree of body fat year around.
Fitness competitors put a LOT of work into their physiques. They train all year for muscle size and density, and then diet for months on end to lower their body fat and to get cut. It’s difficult to keep such a low body fat and muscle detail all the time. It's really not a glamorous lifestyle, unless you like continual detailed diet and training. I've competed for 7 years, and it is an exhausting chore to get cut, much less stay that way year around. Low body fat wears on you, puts a strain on your immune system, and leads to metabolic downgrade.
It’s Not an Overnight Process
The underlying factor in why you and the fitness model or natural bodybuilder looks strikingly different at such a low body fat percentage is due to muscle mass and muscle density. These are components you must build over time. You cannot just “bulk” for three to four months and think you have done the necessary work. You have to build the foundation to sculpt the masterpiece.
Factors that build muscle mass and muscle density:
-Intense Weight Training
-Sufficient Water Intake
It can take up to a year to build the foundation you need to carve the shapely body you want.
The Finer Details
Once you have the muscle mass and density necessary to carry you through a taxing dieting phase you can begin to lose fat, and then cut.
What many people fail to realize is that cutting is detailing the muscle. You can’t detail your muscles if you are 18% body fat. You have to first lose the excess body fat and when you are lower you can finely detail the muscle, a process known as cutting.
Cutting is a similar format to building muscle, you just have to tweak your diet and cardio that sparks fat loss and not muscle loss.
Factors that Propel Fat Loss
-Losing body fat and cutting requires eating properly and eating on time. This means no skipping meals and no overeating.
-Losing body fat and cutting requires cycling your carbs and/or calories.
-Losing body fat and cutting requires you to incorporate re-feed days.
-Losing body fat and cutting requires you eat real food and avoid restaurant food.
-Losing body fat and cutting requires you to incorporate progressive cardio. This has to be closely monitored to ensure you are not doing too much cardio or not enough.
-Losing body fat and cutting requires you to be on an outlined program that must be followed.
Losing body fat and cutting is a chore to say the least. It’s not easy, but the rewards are endless. The most important thing to remember is to be you, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else because everyone is different. Various body types and shapes will appear dramatically different, even at the same body fat levels. Therefore, set goals and images for yourself based on what you know you can do.
About The Author
Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988 and is a certified personal fitness instructor and specialist in performance nutrition. She is a nationally qualified natural female bodybuilder, holding numerous titles in the southern states including two overalls.
Karen has written six e-books on fitness. She also writes articles for several fitness websites, and distributes two monthly newsletters regarding weight loss and female bodybuilding.
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