Muscularity describes the relative devel-opment of each muscle — its size, shape, separation, and the degree of body fat pres-ent. With most physiques, the lack of mus-cular is immediately obvious, with flaws ranging from poor quadriceps separation to poor lower lat development. In many cases, muscularity is there, but it is obscured by body fat. But let’s not focus on the nega-tives; let’s focus on the positives: how to hone your physique so that there are no flaws in muscularity. Although muscularity is a highly desired attribute among exercisers, bodybuilders, and other athletes, few really know how to attain it. Basically, it requires a multi-prong approach, something I call my six-step for-mula, mapped out for you in this column. If one of your physique goals is muscularity, I’d advise the following:Step One: Eat fewer starchy carbohydrates. Reducing your intake of starchy carbohy-drates – potatoes, yams, whole grains, and brown rice, for example – is an amazing way to start stripping away fat.
Metaboli-cally, this dietary reduction helps shift your body into a fat-burning mode. Your body simply starts burning fat for energy, since there is a deficit of carbs in your body. How much of a reduction will work? A good rule of thumb is to adjust your carbohydrate-to-protein ratio to between 1 to 1 or 1.5 to 1. Be aware that one problem with reducing carbohydrate intake is a potential decline in your energy levels. To compensate, try supplementing your diet with CapTri®, our medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil). This is a special type of lipid that provides quality calories and, unlike conventional di-etary fats, is not likely to be stored as body fat. Calorie for calorie, CapTri contributes less to body weight gain (fat gain) than carbohydrates or conventional dietary fat. Think of CapTri as an immediate energy source that will get burned before the body has time to store it. It is an excellent meta-bolic-support supplement.Start with 1/2 tablespoon at every meal. After a few days, increase to one table-spoon with each meal. During hard train-ing, many athletes go as high as two to three tablespoons per meal – a level they have found to be beneficial.
Step Two: Increase your dietary pro-tein.Protein is now recognized as a nutrient that helps stimulate the metabolism, and by that token, it is essential to consume ample protein in order to promote fat loss while maintaining muscle. You can meet your higher-protein requirement by eating between 1.25 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. At least 1 gram should come from chicken, fish, turkey, or egg whites, with at least another .25 or .5 gram of additional protein per pound of body weight from vegetable sources, which contain some protein as well.Step Three: Gradually increase your caloric intake. To lose body fat, thereby unveiling mus-cularity, most people are under the mis-taken impression that they must severely restrict their caloric intake. But when de-nied food, the body begins to feed on the protein in the muscles . Because muscle is the body’s most metabolically active tissue, depleting it interferes with your ability to burn calories. Plus, restrictive diets lower your metabolic rate, making it easier for your body to store fat.
With this step, you should gradually increase your calories 200 to 400 calories for a few days to re-charge your metabolism for fat-burn-ing. This will stimulate your metabolism for increased muscularity.Step Four: Place greater emphasis on heavy weight training. The development of muscularity is not all nutrition. Certain training techniques are required as well, but they do work best in concert with the nutritional guide-lines I just covered. If you want to obtain muscularity fairly rapid, there is a special set sequence that I recommend following. It is as follows: one warm-up set, three to five heavy pyramid sets (increasing the poundage each time and lowering the number of reps), and one to two high-rep sets (exhaustion sets). Put another way, you start off training a muscle slow and heavy like a powerlifter trains. You then finish training the muscle fast and intense like a bodybuilder does. This is the right training sequence for muscularity.Step Five: Increase the duration, in-tensity, and frequency of your aerobics.
Doing more aerobic work improves the muscle fibers’ ability to oxidize fats for energy, and you get leaner, with more mus-cularity, as a result. Let me explain the optimal way to train aerobically so that you can achieve the best results.For a long time now, exercisers have been urged to achieve their “target heart rate” during aerobic activity. This is the elevation of the pulse to approximately 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age). Reaching target heart rate and keeping it there for at least 20 minutes is supposed to boost general cardiovascular conditioning. Also, it’s al-ways been assumed that if you exercise at your target heart rate long enough, you burn fat.Optimal cardiovascular conditioning is not achieved by just raising your target heart rate, however. It’s achieved by increasing your “oxygen uptake” or VO-2max. This represents your body’s maximum capability to deliver oxygen to the work-ing muscles. So how do you boost your VO2max? By exercising so intensely that you’re breathing hard. The harder you breathe, the more energy you expend, and the more fat you burn because you’re doing more work. Train consistently like this, and some important metabolic changes take place in-side the body. First, the mitochondria (cel-lular furnaces where fat and other nutrients are burned) increase in size and total num-ber inside muscle fibers. Second, muscle fibers build up more aerobic enzymes special chemicals involved in fat-burning.
Third, aerobic exercise appears to increase levels of myoglobin, a muscle compound that accelerates the transfer of oxygen from the bloodstream into the muscle fibers. Larger mitochondria and more of them, greater levels of aerobic enzymes, and increased blood flow — these factors all boost the fat-burning capability of muscle fibers. The more aerobically fit you be-come, the more your body learns to burn fat for energy. So you can see why aerobic exercise is so important for leaning out.Endurance athletes have known these things all along. That’s why bodybuilders can learn a lot from the training regimens of endurance athletes. They train regularly and at long durations at near VO2max, and as a result, their muscles are conditioned to rely more heavily on fat for energy and less on stored carbohydrate (glycogen). To approach the training level of an endurance athlete, perform aerobics several times a week, for 45 to 60 minutes each time. But don’t “coast.” Work out hard, so that you’re breathing hard. The harder you breathe, the more fat you burn.Step Six: Stretch for mass andmuscu-larity.
A special training technique I developed called “fascial stretching” can be incorpo-rated into your training program to develop muscularity. This technique strengthens and stretches the “fascia,” a thick, fibrous sheet of tissue that envelops individual muscles and groups of muscles and, like a divider, separates their layers and group-ings. The fascia encloses other structures too, including tendons, joints, blood ves-sels, nerves, and organs. The fascia func-tions like a “shock absorber” for the tissues it surrounds, protecting them from blows of athletics or the stresses of training and competition. On the molecular level, fascia tissue is stronger than structural steel .To perform fascial stretching, you stretch between sets of weight training exercises when the muscle is fully pumped (the pump has an additional stretch effect on the mus-cle). Special stretching exercises are used, and these are explained in detail in the Par-rillo Training Manual .
Done consistently during workouts, fascial stretching stimu-lates muscular development and improves strength. The reason for this response is simple: When you stretch the fascia, you give the muscle underneath more room to grow. The result is larger muscles and bet-ter separation between muscle groups. I’ve seen this happen in working with athletes who use fascial stretching. What’s more, I’ve observed that their strength levels can increase by as much as 20 percent.I have just really scratched the surface of muscularity with this column. If you’d like to know more, call Parrillo Performance for information on the Parrillo Nutrition Program and the Parrillo Training Manual – and how you can make both of these books part of your training library.