T Nation

How Soft Should Muscles Be in Relaxed State

I’ve been noticing my muscles softening… There’s a chance this is normal, or it’s in my head but I figured I’d post anyways. See if I could get some other opinions. When I’ve searched for this the answer I get on the web is “Muscle is hard, Fat is soft”… This isn’t my problem question. I really barely have any body fat, It really is “the muscle”.

How “mushy/soft” should a muscle be in a relaxed state?

I’ll use my pecs as an example because 1. It’s what I notice the most (but I feel almost all muscles very 'soft" 2. It’s easy to say what my lifting stats are for pecs.

So here’s a quick rundown

23yr old male
5’ 11"
I don’t know my body fat, but I’m one of those “skinny” guys who’s abs show without any training.

Pecs - Generally alternate between flat bench press (185-195 x 6-8 x 3) and incline dumbells (70-75 x 6-8 x 3) and then I throw in some lighter sets of flys etc.

When I flex the entire pec is rock hard. But as soon as i’m not flexing the whole pec feels almost like a woman’s breast. After a pec workout I get a little pump and they harden a bit, but not much and it doesn’t last very long.

Diet wise. I’m not eating perfectly, but mostly it’s high protien diet. Eggs Bfast, Tuna lunch, Meat/veggies supper, snacks chobani yogurt/granola, fruit… supplements only whey protien.

Any help, ideas?

So I did a quick picture… Umm not sure how much this will help cuz its more about “feel”… but this is unflexed vs flexed.

Yes. You will be mistaken for a woman if you dont start eating more and gain some weight.

Well I don’t think my pics or stats are impressive. I’m not posting this in the ‘rate my body’ section.

And btw… I’m looking to go to 185lbs---- but I was at 150 6 months ago… So don’t knock a brother for trying.

Muscles should be soft when relaxed. If they’re not it means they’re tight, and tight muscles lead to pain and injury. No references, this is just what I find to be true.

Muscular tone varies. Some say that it increases along with strength and size. Find out if that holds true for you. When you bench three plates per side, I doubt that you will still have this problem.

well… In a related question… are there exercises that target toning, hardening of muscles?

From what I’ve looked into most “toning” exercises are high-rep to promote fat-burning. The idea being get rid of the fat and you’ll see the muscle. Which in my opinion is a different issue, since my body fat isn’t the problem. The actual tone is… Or is it just genetic?

Thanks for the posts so far.

There’s no such thing as tone. Get that notion of “toning” out of your head forever.

Muscle is soft when not flexed, just like rubber bands are soft when not stretched. You’re worrying too much about tiny insignificant stuff, when the REAL problem is just that you need to eat more and get stronger.

tone? for real? toning?


Just walk around with your muscles flexed all the time. Many problems are solved by taking the simplest approach

c’mon son

Ha- well thanks for keeping it real. I guess it’s in my head a bit and I probably just need to step it up a notch training/diet wise.

I’m sorry. I’m talking about muscle tone in the physiological sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_tone

I should have thought about how it would be interpreted. The word has been hijacked. “toned muscle” =/= muscle tone

When someone mentions “toning” while talking about lifting weights, it means that you should stop listening to that person. Get stronger while eating more than you want to eat and your problems will disappear.

Yeah I think that’s what I’m getting at. “Unconscious nerve impulses maintain the muscles in a partially contracted state.”-Muscle tone Wiki

I guess genetics would dictate how contracted your relaxed muscles are… in that case there isn’t anything you can really do about that?

[quote]chadmuscles wrote:
I guess genetics would dictate how contracted your relaxed muscles are… in that case there isn’t anything you can really do about that?[/quote]

I don’t know that that’s necessarily true – I notice considerably more tonus when I’m training heavier and to failure. Bear in mind that I have no research to back this up, but my guess would be that your nervous system takes longer to “calm down” and let everything relax completely when you push it hard like that.

Think of your dick, brother.

This is applicable advice in more areas than I care to mention.

thanks guys–

I guess I’m a grower not a shower.