[ Editor's Note: Fitness author Jon Benson shared this letter with me and gave me permission to share it with you. ]
Just a word of warning:
I will be using the term “bodybuilder” or “bodybuilding” to refer to anyone who wants to build lean muscle and burn bodyfat in this article.
That means you.
Yep… you are a “bodybuilder.” That does not mean you want to look like a monster on stage and pose in front of thousands of people wearing nothing but your undies.
That means you want more lean muscle and less bodyfat — that’s it.
With that in mind, here’s something you have to know:
Bodybuilders do not “lift weights” — we “train” with weights.
We use weights as a tool like a sculptor uses a hammer and chisel.
The object of the game is not to lift some heavy weight from Point A to Point B and back. That’s weight lifting. “Bodybuilding” is about making the muscle you want to change do all the work.
Here’s two ways to do it:
1. Lower the weight and focus: Most people are just concerned with the lift itself. “Get this weight off of me!” seems to be the unconscious mantra. This will not get the job done. In fact you may end up looking bulky rather than sleek… or just not change at all. Instead, lower the weight slightly, slow the pace down (especially on the descent of the movement) and picture the muscle in your mind doing ALL of the work. Literally put your mind in the muscle. You will be amazed at how different the same exercise feels with this degree of concentration,.
2. Contract, hold, release: At the top of any movement, contract the muscle hard. Hold that contraction for a second or two, then release it and lower the weight slowly. This will not only cause faster muscle growth (that is a good thing) but also demand that you use less weight to get the job done. This means your joints — shoulders, knees, elbows — will last a lifetime. At 45 my joints are in perfect health. Protect yours at all costs.
Just remember: You are not just lifting weights when you train for muscle shape and “tone” — you are a sculptor. Treat your tools and your body with that degree of care.
I cover many more tips on how to build lean muscle and burn bodyfat faster in my book “7 Minute Muscle”.