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The Official Newsletter of
updated: July 8, 2017

Your Proportion of Muscle 
to Fat Affects Your Physique

by Ron Brown, Ph.D., author of The Body Fat Guide 

"Ron Brown is a certified fitness trainer who doesn't have an inch of flab on his body. He'll tell you what you can do to become fit and trim too." 
Washington DC


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGAR wrote that there is something about abdominal exercise that makes the abdominal muscles appear more defined, even though scientists insist that sit-ups and other ab exercises cannot spot reduce fat off the abs or off of any other body part. What Arnold was referring to was the improved affect on the appearance of the physique from changes in the proportion of muscle to body fat.

Muscularity, or how much a muscle stands out on the physique, improves the more the muscle is developed, but muscularity is diminished the more the muscle is covered with subcutaneous body fat. For example, if one builds muscle mass, regardless which area on the body is involved, including the abdominal muscles, muscularity increases only if similar amounts of body fat are not also added along with the gained muscle. Unfortunately, many people who attempt to bulk up rapidly to develop muscle do not control their calorie intake sufficiently to avoid also gaining large amounts of body fat along with muscle. If one adds more body fat than muscle, muscularity actually decreases, even though a greater amount of muscle mass is developed. 

On the other hand, if one loses more muscle than body fat, as when crash dieting to condition the body, muscularity also decreases. Even though the body is leaner and smaller, the physique looks flat and sags. This is because there is now a lower proportion of muscle to support and push out from under the remaining subcutaneous body fat. That explains why, as Arnold noted, dieting alone does not improve the muscularity of the abs much unless one also conditions the abs with muscle-building exercises, 



It is also not likely that one can add muscle at the same time that one is losing body, because adding muscle requires a surplus of intake calories and losing body fat requires a deficit of calories consumed. Finally, providing one is exercising sufficiently, it is not likely that one will lose muscle while eating surplus calories to gain body fat. This is not the case, however, for many people who neglect exercise entirely, allowing their lean body mass to atrophy while their body fat levels rise from eating excess calories.

The solution to improve muscularity while developing muscle is to restrict extra calories consumed to allow muscle growth without storing excess body fat. Keeping track of changes in your body composition, lean body mass and body fat levels, is the ideal way to adjust your caloric intake to accomplish this. Likewise, to improve muscularity while dieting to lower body fat, you must eat a sufficient amount of calories to maintain lean body mass levels while adding aerobic activity to burn off excess body fat. Again, keeping track of changes in lean body mass while you adjust your caloric intake and physical activity level to lose body fat is the ideal way to accomplish this. You can do all of this with the information in The Body Fat Guide.

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