How to Build 3D Muscle Definition
Band training for 3D muscle definition requires multi-pattern training using variable speeds, variable resistance and a variety of non-traditional exercises.
Let’s set the record straight. Getting lean is not just about working out. As they say “you can’t out work a bad diet”, so exercise alone will not create great muscle definition. Neither will training in the same direction at the same speed using the same single plane exercises. That is what happens when free weights are the only tool used.
For years I did nothing but free weight training and, in turn, struggled to achieve the muscle definition that was supposed to occur when you lift weights. I was strong but did not have good muscle definition. This was especially the case through my abdominal region where I still had love handles.
It didn’t matter how many sit ups, crunches or leg raises I did, I could not eliminate the love handles. It wasn’t until I broke away from exclusive strength training with weights and started training with bands that my definition started to drastically change everywhere.
I had to stop exclusively strength training with weights and train with bands in order for my definition to change.
Love handles quickly disappeared and my strength, flexibility, agility as well as my overall muscle definition started improving significantly. Plus, my body wasn’t constantly stiff and sore.
Why Did this Happen??
It wasn’t my diet or my training intensity since both of those were the same using weights or band training. The difference was incorporating multi-directional strength training exercises and the willingness to move away from straight plane free weight exercises week after week.
Since making that change in 2000, I have never gone back to doing exclusive straight plane free weight training personally and definitely not with my clients. I still incorporate gravity dependent free weight exercises into workouts, but it is always complimented with multiple directional band training exercises.
Four Key Rules to Developing 3D Muscle Definition
There are 4 key rules I discovered over the years that need to be followed if your exercise goal is to develop 3D muscle definition.
Rule #1: Don’t fall in love with an exercise
As noted earlier, muscles are 3 dimensional which means they need to be challenged in multiple directions. Falling in love with one exercise that you repeat every time you train a specific muscle group is not going to impact all 3 dimensions, especially if this exercise uses single plane free weights.
You must train a muscle group from multiple angles which may require decreasing the resistance and performing non-traditional exercises.
For example, instead of always doing barbell bench press which is a single plane chest movement, incorporate standing 1 arm band chest presses or band assisted 1 arm push ups or rotational single arm pushes will allow the body to move through multiple planes simultaneously.
By bringing in different directions it will require all muscle fibers to be recruited to do work.
Rule #2: Get your power center involved early and often
Our body is neuromuscularly wired up to the core (abs and hip) stabilizing muscles which means all movements require the core to be involved. The more involved the core muscles are the more efficiently the primary muscles of the chest, back, shoulder, arms and legs will work.
Getting the core abdominal muscles on board during every exercise will make primary muscles recruit and contract more aggressively. This can easily be done when exercising in a standing position.
Performing upper body training in standing brings in ground reaction forces that instantly turn on the powerful core muscles of the hip and abdominal regions.
Rule #3: Change up speeds
Speed is a variable few, if any, free weight disciples ever change. The weight on the bar is typically far more important. However, the leanest most defined muscle fibers in the body are fast twitch muscle fibers that only respond to faster training movements. Changing up speeds develops fast twitch muscle fibers, not to mention increases fat burning capabilities.
When you change up speeds, you develop fast twitch muscle fibers and burn more fat.
Building fast twitch muscle fibers and increasing fat burning both lead to greater muscle definition. Have you ever seen a FAT SPRINTER??
It is very possible that speed of movement may be equally as important as doing high resistance training when it comes to muscle definition. Moving away from slow speed, free weight exclusive training and incorporating variable ascending band resistance training allows this to easily occur.
Rule #4: High intensity training is a must
I am not a huge fan of Crossfit but obviously many individuals that train using Crossfit workouts are lean and well defined individuals. Unfortunately, for the normal fitness enthusiast, performing barbell snatches, 100’s of pull ups or explosive box jumps is not something their joints will tolerate.
However, with the right exercise, the crossfit interval strength training principles are an option. To develop lean, well defined muscles, it takes work and doing heavy, slow free weight lifting with long rest periods between sets isn’t going to get the body well defined.
Ultimately you are going to have to start throwing some sweat around and leaving a few pools of training tears on the floor. Resistance band training can accomplish this without beating up your body and risking injury.
Band Training Can Build Muscle Definition
As you may have already begun to sense, resistance band training is a perfect alternative for developing muscle definition and here’s why:
- Band training allows you to easily train in multiple patterns using multiple angles.
- Band training allows you to train using multiple bases of support including being on your feet, hands or knees.
- A band’s ascending resistance is perfect for changing rep speed on any exercise.
- High intensity interval strength training, like that used in crossfit, is extremely convenient and versatile using bands and does not beat up your joints and tendons.
The following band training videos demonstrate how to change up pushing, bring in athleticism and change up pulling to create a 3D muscle definition training effect. Many of these simple techniques can easily be implemented into any strength training program.