Weight and Resistance Training - how long before muscle definition?




teawithsunshine
05-28-2009, 05:11 AM
Hi everybody!

I'm doing great with weight lifting... from the end of march to now, I've been progressing on weight lifting... started at 10 lb dumbbells at the gym and I'm now at 15 lbs after some time at 12.5 lb dumbbells.

I'm also progressing on freemotion weight machines.

My question is this: I know you have to reduce total body fat % in order to see muscle definition....

I only recently have been able to see muscle definition in my biceps for example, when I flex my muscles. But when I'm not flexing my arms, they look the same: puny and flabby.

Anyone have an idea how long it takes before you can stop flexing your muscles and see muscle definition in your arms, et al? Does it take months of weight lifting in general? Or do I have to lose more body fat % before I see muscle definition (and don't have to flex my muscles to see it either!)?

thanks!

~ tea


kaw
05-28-2009, 07:49 AM
First, congratulations on 2 months of lifting! That's a fantastic start.

On to your question: the BF% at which women start to see muscle definition depends on the body part and a little bit on idiosyncracies in where the woman in question stores fat. The good news is that most women see definition in their arms and back before legs and abs. A ballpark BF% -- and this is just a ballpark -- is about 20-22 BF% for arms. By contrast, I don't see my abs until about 14-15%. (It's also a hard question to answer because there's seeing abs in the right lighting and pose and when the wind is from the northwest, and there's SEEING ABS -- it isn't an all-or-nothing affair.)

BUT, and here's some unsolicited advice (which you're of course free to ignore!), you may need to reorient your weight training in order to get there. You don't say what lift you use 15 lb dumbbells for, or what exercises you're doing on the machines, but generally speaking (a) free weights are better for building muscle efficiently than machines, and (b) you get far more bang for your buck from doing compound lifts that work more than one body part at a time than you do from isolation exercises (bicep curls, most machines). To learn more, check out threads on Body for Life or New Rules of Lifting for Women (both books/programs. Better still, and free, get thee to Krista Scott Dixon's site for regular women lifters at www.stumptuous.com.

Be strong,
Kim

LandonsBaby
05-28-2009, 03:52 PM
Tea, you are doing great with your weight training but it's really going to take lower body fat to see those muscles. You can lift like a madwomen but if you have fat over the muscle, you aren't going to see it. Like Kim said, your bf% has to get pretty low to start seeing the definition.

As Kim said, every woman's body is different depending on where we hold our fat. But here are some examples anyway based on what info has been given for these girls.

15%bf - http://figureathlete.tmuscle.com/myTNation.do?id=212642&section=Photos#18942

18%bf - http://figureathlete.tmuscle.com/myTNation.do?id=215108

16% (supposedly) - http://bodyforlife.com/challenge/champions/2007/bio.asp?comp=nancy_fish&cat=Grand%20Champion%20Women%20Age%2018-30

19% (she looks a little less to me but maybe it's just her body, who knows) - http://bodyforlife.com/challenge/champions/2007/bio.asp?comp=margi_faze&cat=Grand%20Master%20Champion


teawithsunshine
05-28-2009, 04:59 PM
Hey guys!

Thanks so much for your input! I'm new to weight lifting and I enjoy it. I have "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" and I checked out several other weight lifting books from my library.

I have yet to implement "NRLW" into my routine, but I am definately curious about doing so in the near future! I'm also reading "Body for Life" & "Champion Body for Life" as well.

I'm aware that I'll need to drop more body fat to see muscle definition. I think part of my question was, body fat aside, when do you start to FEEL muscle definition? I'm already beginning to feel it (muscle, not soreness from weight lifting!)

thanks again!

~ tea

LandonsBaby
05-28-2009, 05:14 PM
I'm not sure I know what you are asking. You can feel your muscles, right? So what do you mean exactly?

kaw
05-29-2009, 04:40 PM
16% (supposedly) - http://bodyforlife.com/challenge/champions/2007/bio.asp?comp=nancy_fish&cat=Grand%20Champion%20Women%20Age%2018-30

I'm also skeptical about the 16%. But, there's always a margin of error in every body fat test, even those that involve autopsies. :)

~tea: If you're asking when the muscles will start to feel hard instead of squishy when you tighten them, that feeling comes sooner than visible definition. But, it also varies greatly by body part. I "feel" definition in my biceps and triceps long before I'll feel it in my thighs, for example, because of where I tend to store fat. This is probably TMI, but even at 12% BF -- which is, incidentally, NOT sustainable for me -- I didn't feel like my hamstrings or glutes were defined.

Be strong,
Kim

PS. I like New Rules, aka NROLW. I haven't ever followed the specific program, but I've read it and think the general approach is very solid. (Others on this board have followed it.)