Many bodybuilders, both professional and amateur in the Fitness World, use the terms “body sculpting” and “muscle building” interchangeably, as though there is no difference whatsoever between them. But these are different terms, describing different goals – and there are different techniques for achieving these goals. This article will help to define these terms, but more importantly it will describe why it’s so important to be sure to use the correct techniques for the exact personal fitness goals you have in mind.
To start, let’s define the more general term: muscle building, and the concept of how to build muscle fast. When athletes talk about weight gain (in a positive way), building mass, putting on muscle, etc., they are simply referring to the general process of growing their muscles and becoming stronger. Simple enough, right? Building muscle means making dietary and fitness changes to get bigger in the right ways.
Body sculpting, on the other hand, is a more specific term. To sculpt your body is to fine-tune it; to put the last, most meticulous touches on your work of human art and look the best you possibly can. Body sculpting can involve muscle building, but not always. In fact, top-level competition bodybuilders sometimes purposely reduce the size of certain muscles in order to create and maintain the most symmetrical appearance for competitions.
Where many beginners go wrong is trying to body sculpt when they should just be building muscle (and probably cutting fat). The exercises required for sculpting are generally very specific, targeting only single muscles with surgical precision to create symmetry for competitive bodybuilders. A lot of the exercise equipment you see at gyms is actually designed for this purpose, but most people use it for general strength training without knowing any better.
And this is a problem. It’s a problem because it’s dangerous. When beginners, or even intermediates, start using high-level equipment for basic strength training, they’re isolating muscles without first building up the structural integrity of their underlying musculature. This leads to injuries, sometimes to the muscles themselves but more often to the joints and tendons involved. Joints simply aren’t made to support the great weight many people put on them; muscles are. Instead of starting with the most weight your muscles can bear, then, you should be starting with only the amount that your joints can safely handle – usually much less than people start with.
Then, as you continue to exercise on a regular basis, your support muscles will build up and reinforce your joints, and your “show muscles” that body sculpting tends to target specifically will also grow. The best exercises for those beginning to get serious about bodybuilding, then, are those which target entire muscle groups; both support muscles and show muscles. Taking this approach when starting out will be the best way to avoid injury as you approach your muscle-building goals. And you can start truly body sculpting once you’ve built up enough basic musculature to make it safe to do so.
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