Jon-Erik Kawamoto, Personal Trainer
So earlier in the week, I was quoted on Women’s Health (my first appearance) with Lee Boyce (a colleague of mine and fellow fitness writer/trainer from Toronto) in a short article on how long it takes to see muscle definition.

Link here: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/muscle-definition

I was asked several questions about the topic and the author took my quotes, along with Lee’s, to write the article.

There has been an outrage that the article missed one very important piece of the “seeing muscle definition” puzzle: your body composition!!

I was even asked about fat levels and how it contributes to seeing muscles but he did not included my answer. So just to clear things up, here are a few of his questions about seeing defined muscles along with my answers:

Q: When should you start to see more muscle definition when you’re strength training? Could you give a rough ballpark?

JK: This is a tough question to answer as the timeframe can be influenced by several variables. If the trainee is a beginner in the gym, the initial improvements in strength are mostly neurological, meaning better movement and neuromuscular coordination. This usually takes 4-8 weeks depending on the frequency and consistency of training, exercises performed and the sets, reps and weights used for each exercise. Following this time period, muscle development and muscle definition become the prominent adaptation from weight lifting. Genetics, exercise technique, training intensity and nutritional support are additional factors that can play a role in how fast trainees can start seeing defined muscles in the mirror. If the trainee has past the beginner stage of training and is a novice or advanced lifter, muscle development can happen in a shorter time period.

Q: What things factor in when it comes to growing muscles and showing off muscle definition? Like body fat levels.

JK: You are totally right. Seeing defined muscles and even muscle striations requires a decrease in body fat percentage or in other words, better body composition. This can be achieved by modifying one’s diet and by expending many calories in the gym, from both weight lifting and cardiovascular workouts. To develop muscle, for the most part, weights lifted should be above 60% of your maximum weight lifted. For example, if you can bench press 100 lbs, you will need to lift over 60 lbs for various sets and reps to develop muscle. Science has also shown us recently that muscle damage caused by lifting weight, the intramuscular or mechanical tension placed on a muscle during exercise and metabolic stress resulting from energy production and substrate metabolism within muscle fibers, are three primary factors responsible for triggering the muscle growth response. For more information, you can refer to Brad Schoenfeld’s article The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and their Application to Resistance Training in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (pubmed link here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847704).

Q: What about your diet? I know this will definitely play a role. What foods should you eat to help bulk up and show off your muscles?

JK: Diet plays a very influential role in determining how much muscle you can grow, how well you recover between workouts and how much lean and fat mass you have. The building blocks for muscles are proteins, so eating a diet that meets daily protein requirements is a must for developing muscles. Striving to eat 1.6 grams or protein/kg of body weight daily is a good goal to shoot for. So, for someone who weighs 60 kg should consume ~96 grams of protein throughout the day. Leans meats, beans, yogurt, cheese, and protein powders (e.g. whey, rice, pea, hemp, etc.) are good food choices that are high in protein.

So, there you have it. Seeing defined muscles requires an improvement in body composition: an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat mass. This applies to both females and males. What most refer to as toned, defined muscles (and when you see them) are influenced by several factors and requires work both in and out of the gym.

photo credit: Joint Base Lewis McChord via photopin cc

The people and the training set JKC apart from other gyms or programs I’ve tried in the past. Truly Jon and Thomas meet you where are and help you get to where you want to be. There are no expectations and never any judgement. You can go there having the worst day and you always leave feeling better. Truly JKC has given me a level of strength and confidence I would not have had otherwise ❤️.

I’m 43 and started at JKC just over a year ago. I started at JKC because of multiple recommendations from existing clients. There are 2 main elements that distinguish JKC for me. Firstly the sense of community. I’ve been to multiple gyms in multiple cities/countries, you just  can not manufacture the sense of community and support you get from other gym goers and the team. It’s very motivating and happy to say I’ve made some friends at JKC.

The other major distinguishing factor for JKC is the expertise and passion of the team. Jon, Thomas and Craig craft highly personalized programs based on my fitness goals and know how to push me best without being pushy. They pay close attention to ensuring my form is solid before encouraging me to take on more weight for the exercise. Plain and simple they love what they do and it shows.

I chose JKC because I was looking for something different. I’ve seen and done the trendy workout programs before, I was looking for something that I knew I could see myself still doing a year from now! JKC has a lot of clients that have been going for years. That was a huge motivator for me! The small group coaching sessions are great and I really enjoy the format. It’s nice having 2-4 people working-out with you during your session. The camaraderie is great, everyone is very upbeat and positive – zero gym judgment!

I heard somewhere that achieving your health goals is determined largely by what you do in the kitchen. I am grateful to have found Julia who brought direction and accountability to this most important piece for me. Having Julia in my corner has brought me confidence and certainty that I am on my way to achieving my goals. I highly recommend her if you are serious about making a change and feeling better about your health.

Kathryn Sparrow

Nutritional Coaching by Julia Howard

From my initial consult with Julia, she was professional and knowledgeable as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and athlete. She was interested in my nutrition and fitness goals and the development of a plan that would set me up for success.

Julia designed weekly meal plans that were complete with recipes and shopping lists. The food choices were nutritious, easy to prepare, and ensured that I felt well nourished and energized throughout my training and non-training days. Not only do I feel leaner and more fit, but I have more energy and I feel much more in tune with my body and food choices. Julia really helped me put everything in place so I can continue this process going forward- I cannot thank her enough!

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