What are the best exercises for defining muscles?

IMO the best exercise for defining muscles is the one called "pushing myself from the table."  When you have a higher percentage of body fat it is harder to see the definition in the muscle, the leaner you are the more easily it is to see muscular definition.

Reduction of body fat is number one but the second best way to see more muscular definition is to increase the muscular size of the muscle therefore increasing the density of that particular muscle and as you get leaner the muscle will look more defined.  

If you have a particular muscle that has plenty of size and density to it will appear more defined than if that same muscle is not as built up.  So increasing the size of that muscle helps to improve density but it is secondary to the reduction of body fat.  

The best combination of course is the increase in lean muscle tissue (density) and the reduction of body fat.  If you do those two things together you will see improved definition in the quickest manner.  Increase and shape in muscle comes from the ability to take a movement and put it through a full range of motion with greater intensity (weight), recovering from the workout (nutrition and rest) and then coming back to that workout again (4 to 7 days later) and being able to use more weight with the same form.  Keep doing that over and over again and the increase in muscle will happen.

Kettlebells are excellent because it gives the ability to use full range of movements and of course use greater volume and intensity in your training.  If you do not have access to things like kettlebells or other specialized equipment traditional weights and dumbells can still be used for the improvement in muscle definition.  

The equation for muscle definition is simple.

Decreased body fat + Increased muscle = greater muscular definition


Holly Brown
My favorite exercises for long, lean, well defined muscles are from The Bar Method and Callenetics. They both utilize interval training for increased calorie burn and isometrics to really shape your muscles. There are several DVD's available online, however, it's a good idea to visit a studio or certified teacher to make sure you are doing the movements perfectly. Of course the only programs that are 100% effective are the ones that you enjoy and will do on a regular basis. To ensure you can see those beautiful muscles make sure to watch what you eat by logging your food and keeping an eye on your total calories consumed.

The level of muscular definition you have is largely dependent upon the amount of adipose tissue or fat you have over your existing musculature.  To increase muscular definition, you should combine aerobic exercise with caloric restriction to decrease the amount of visible body fat on the body. As the amount of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat decreases the definition of your muscles will increase.  

Kettlebell is one of the best ways to define muscles. A kettlebell is a traditional Russian training tool that has been used since the turn of the century to develop full body conditioning and fitness.

A kettlebell looks like a cannon ball with a handle. The shape of the kettlebell allows for unique positioning of the weight directly above your center of mass (unlike a dumbbell or barbell which must be held in front of the body) and allows you to keep your hands and wrists in neutral alignment. This enables greater endurance and longevity in the core lifts so that you can produce a much higher volume of exercise and, thus, greater conditioning and fitness.

Some of the benefits of kettlebell training include:

  • Improved strength
  • Incredible work capacity (strength endurance)
  • Enhanced athleticism (flexibility, coordination, balance, etc.)
  • Weight loss
  • Injury prevention
  • Mental toughness
  • Lean and functional muscle mass
  • Strengthening of the entire posterior chain
  • Core strength
  • Sport and combat applications

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.