So, what “type” of muscle do you want to build? Lean muscle? Bulky muscle? Toned muscle?
Those are usually the 3 most common “types” of muscle that a person wants to have. The question is, which “type” do you want, and how the hell do you get it?
This is a subject that brings a smile to my face every time I get asked about it or see it come up in some article or forum. It used to make me want to bang my head into a wall, but I figure it’s better for my brain function if I just smile in amusement instead.
Why the apparent hatred for this silly little subject, you ask? Allow me to answer…
Lean Muscle vs Bulky Muscle vs Toned Muscle
You see, one of the most common fitness related goals a person can have is to build muscle. Simple enough, right? Hell, I even wrote a super comprehensive guide to creating the workout routine that will best allow you to build that muscle (and included a fully detailed sample muscle building routine).
The thing is, some people like to go even further than just wanting to “build muscle” by specifying the exact “type” of muscle they want to build (or in some cases, the “type” they want to avoid building).
I’m of course referring to lean muscle, bulky muscle and toned muscle.
And why wouldn’t they? After all, there are countless magazines, books, websites, articles, forums and workouts out there that seem to be geared specifically towards building one of those 3 different “types” of muscle.
You know, here’s a workout routine for building lean muscle, and here’s one for building big bulky muscles, and here’s a program for building sexy toned muscles (the exact opposite of bulky muscle).
I’m sure you’ve seen it before. Different “types” of muscle are constantly referenced as though they have numerous physiological differences that require different types of diets and workouts in order to build.
This sounds all well and good, except for one tiny little fact.
It’s all complete and utter bullshit.
Muscle Is Muscle!!!
In reality, there is no such thing as lean muscle, bulky muscle or toned muscle. Muscle is muscle. There are no different types of muscle densities or textures. It’s all the exact same thing.
There is no muscle that is lean and another that is bulky and another that is toned. There’s just muscle, period. That’s all it can ever be.
Got that? Good. Here’s what you’re probably thinking now…
But I Swear I’ve Seen People With Different “Types” Of Muscle?!?!
I know, I know. Muscle sometimes appears “lean” on some people, “bulky” on other people and “toned” on others. If all muscle is the same, then why does it sometimes look like there’s different types of it?
Well, first of all, it’s not your imagination. What it is however is an illusion created by other factors that have nothing at all to do with one muscle tissue truly being a different “type” than another.
Instead, it has everything to do with the AMOUNT of muscle a person has built along with the amount of FAT they do or do not have covering it.
That’s the “smoke and mirrors” of this muscle illusion.
Confused? It’s cool. Here’s some common examples of what I mean…
Take 2 people of the same age and gender, and magically give them the exact same genetics and body fat percentage. Then, have one build 10lbs of muscle, and have the other build 30lbs of muscle.
To the eye of the people who don’t understand that there is no such thing as different “types” of muscle, it may look like the first person built “lean” muscle, while the second person built “bulky” muscle.
In reality, one person just built more muscle than the other, and it just looks “bulkier” in comparison.
The physiological makeup of the muscle tissue on both people is still exactly the same. It’s the amount of muscle they built that creates the illusion that it’s somehow different. It’s not.
Now take 2 people of the same age and gender, and magically give them the exact same genetics BUT different body fat percentages. Instead, give one person less body fat (making them leaner looking) and give the other more body fat (making them fatter looking).
Now have them both build 10lbs of muscle and then stand them side by side right next to each other.
Did that first person build “toned” muscle while the second person built “bulky” muscle? Nope.
It’s just that person #1 has a lower body fat percentage which therefore allows their new 10lbs of muscle to be more visible and appealing in that “toned, slim, sexy” sort of way people like.
Person #2 on the other hand has a higher body fat percentage which therefore causes their new 10lbs of muscle to be covered by a layer (or many layers) of fat. This in turn causes them to look bulkier and generally less appealing overall.
It’s not that different “types” of muscle were built or even different amounts of muscle in this case. It’s just a matter of one person having a higher body fat percentage than the other.
If that person just lost some fat, it would reveal the exact same “toned” looking muscle the first person has. And no, it’s not because it suddenly changed from “bulky” to “toned.” It was there just the same all along… only hidden under some fat.
Like I said, it’s never the muscle itself or the “type” it supposedly is or isn’t that makes a person look lean or bulky or toned. It’s just the amount of muscle you build, and the amount of fat that is or is not covering it that creates that illusion.
All Muscle Gets Built The EXACT Same Way
And here’s the final big point that needs to be made on this subject.
Since muscle is muscle (meaning there is no such thing as lean muscle, bulky muscle or toned muscle… it’s all the same exact muscle), that means you can take every single thing you’ve heard or will ever hear about building specific types of muscle and ignore it completely.
It’s all useless nonsense that, if anything, is usually counterproductive to what actually needs to be done to build muscle as effectively as possible.
So you know all of those supposed “toning workouts” with high reps and less weight and magical “toning exercises” that claim to build only “lean” or “toned” muscle? It’s bullshit. (More about that here: Muscle Tone)
And the idea that heavy weights and low reps and big compound exercises only build big “bulky” muscles? Yup… complete bullshit as well.
And so on and so on.
Muscle is muscle, and it all gets built the exact same way (details here: How To Build Muscle). No matter what you do, the muscle you build will always end up being the same “type” of muscle. There aren’t different ways and methods that build different types… because THERE ARE NO DIFFERENT TYPES.
In terms of building muscle… there’s just what works well, what works less well, and what doesn’t work at all. That’s it.
No matter how you want your muscle to look in the end (lean, bulky or toned), the things you need to do to actually build that muscle remain the same in every case.
And no matter how much muscle you want to build (5lbs or 50lbs), the requirements for making it happen as optimally as possible remain the same as well.
It’s the amount of it you build and the amount of fat that is (or is not) covering it that will affect whether or not it looks lean, bulky or toned on your body.
Choose Your Muscle Building Routine
Now that you know the facts, the only thing that’s left for you to do is find an effective muscle building program to use. In that case, I fully recommend The Muscle Building Workout Routine or any of the HIGHLY successful workouts I’ve included in my brand new program, Superior Muscle Growth.