What You Can Do to Achieve Muscle Definition Without Overdoing It

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A Marine performs a shoulder press for morning physical training.
A U.S. Marine assigned to Combat Service Support Company (CSSC), I Marine Expeditionary Force Support Battalion, I Marine Information Group, performs a shoulder press for morning physical training during a field exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 10, 2018. (Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Here's an officer seeking to keep his strength but become more defined. 

Hi Stew, I am a 35 year old, 212 lbs Police Officer and Army NG, and I run and lift weights for exercise. My goal is to find a weightlifting program to get "cut/ripped," not "big." Do you have a workout program that might help me? Thanks for your work.

Yes, there are plans that will help you with your goals. I, however, do mix weights with calisthenics, too, so you will have to deal with pull-ups, dips, push-ups and lots of abs if that sounds good. The higher reps will help define you, and the cardio options will take off the fat. 

The workouts are arranged so you burn your blood sugar first (glycogen) during the first 25-30 minutes of lifting/calisthenics, then spend the next 20-30 minutes doing some form of cardio. See the "Cardio vs. Resistance" article for more on the arrangement of your workout.

Many who are overweight prefer to do a non-impact aerobic activity, like swimming, rowing, biking and elliptical gliding. 

Note: If you are choosing a machine to get non-impact cardio done, I would recommend increasing the levels of resistance to at least 50% of the max (say, level 10 out of 20) in order to get a good workout. For an added challenge, make every minute a bit tougher than the one before by increasing speed, resistance, incline, etc.

The workouts to which I am referring have cardio options of running, swimming or biking -- all of which can be used, or you can select one or the other. The goal is to burn some fat with a moderately paced cardiovascular workout at what I call conversational pace. This means you still can talk, but you do not necessarily want to.

Another way to increase results is to watch your sugar intake. Read the "Low-Carb Diets and Weight Loss" article for more information on the topic.

Feel free to email me at stew@stewsmith.com. I am here to help.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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