T Nation

The Look!

Alright, I’m not a newb. I’ve been working out about two years. I havn’t been as extreme with dieting and training, though, until this past year. I can see a tremendous amount of gain. I lost body fat, gained lean mass. When I look at myself in the mirror, as I so often do, I flex and see a GREAT body I love to death. But, when I’m at rest, my body looks scrauny. It’s such a huge difference from when I’m flexing and when I’m not. When I’m not it’s like you can’t even tell I work out. Can anyone tell me how I can get my body to always look “hard” I guess? I’ve cut my body fat down, but it still makes me looks small. My arms look skinny unless I’m flexing! I just don’t know why they don’t look buff after two years of training and a year of dieting right. I look GREAT when I’m flexing though! LOL Help please, even though I know this is a retarded post. But, it’s important to my teenage ego!

I don’t know how much credence to give to this concept, but it might work if you have not tried it. Pavel Tsatsouline says you need to do high intensity and low reps to increase resting muscle tone/tension. You need to do this for all lifts. So for a while, quit doing anything over 3-4 reps and lift heavy. If you have the 4th ed. of the EAS sport supplement guide, he has a program in there, but the main concept was heavy weights and low reps.

I ALWAYS feel flat, puny, and soft right when i wake up, (and i’m 6’2", now 245) especially since i’ve been dieting. but as the day goes on, getting a few meals in me, i feel and look better.

This is something that just comes with time. It’s probably more hormonal then anything as if you notice when comparing women lifters vs men the discrepancy between a womans relaxed vs flexed measurements tends to be greater. I used to have the same question and problem as you and found that as I got older my physique did start to take on a more permanent harder appearance and not just appear this way when pumped.

maybe its just in your head? or clothing that makes you look skinny/bulky or what not that hides your muscles, or the ambient light or what not… CONFIDENCE BRO!

Damn! Today morning i was thinking about this, every time i go take that first piss of the day and look myself at the mirror i seem to be way smaller, and at night i always look way better. I thought this was my paranoia, is it really related with what Podge said??

Well - stay away from mirrors, they are evil :-)). Low reps, high load should increase the muscle tone and make you look harder. I don’t know for how long the muscle tone stays elevated and even more I don’t know if that would make you look harder (I think this is where the term ‘toning’ comes from). It seems to me that maybe your bodyfat is still to high and reveals details of your muscles (you may also try to get a tan if you’re white).

Are you guys talking about “muscle maturity”? Because I believe in this phenomena of you looking hard even in relaxed mode - and it being easier to achieve this look as you age. Many people in their teen years will look somewhat “soft” - due to that sometimes impossible to lose, babyfat. Give it time, dude.

(muscle maturity) good point ! i’m 31 and been lifting since i was 16. i read awhile back in the paper version #6 t-mag, that gives weight/rep schemes for people with different years of lifting experience… now i don’t think i’m so crazy for shooting for 4-8 reps most of the time, just feels the best, and i get hard as hell doing that. i remember “lookin’ good” too as a teenager, but muscle hardness was nothing then as it is now, but then again, maybe i’ve gotten more intelligent on the best ways to train for “ME”.

teenage self-confidence is extremely important and hard to obtain at that age. And definitely bodybuilding is a very positive and motivational hobby as a teen. Just don’t get too cocky ! And also newb, you must stay away from steriods. Wait at least until your 23 if you ever do consider it. (just don’t do it anyway, ain’t really worth it)

Thanks and you gave some good tips, as well!

I think looking smaller in the morning has something to do with hydration. I also seem to be smaller in the morning.

ya, I too am smaller in the mornings, but if I wake up in the middle of the night and have a glass of milk then wake up like 3 or so hours later I look normal. 2 cups of milk is like 18 grams of protein, maybe 20 grams of carbs 0 fat (no fat milk sweet) so it doesn’t seem like it makes much difference eh? but it does… maybe it spares the muscle glycogen from being eaten up during the night more or is enough to replenish it? who the fudge knows…

I was in your shoes about 7 years ago–I thought I was ridiculously skinny when I wasn’t pumped, but decent when I was. I know that 2 years of working out seems like a long time, but in the game of weights, it’s not. Unless you choose to use androgens, it takes years to build muscle. Even if you do use them, it’s not an overnight process. The mass and the look will come with time and effort. Just make sure your diet is sufficient to provide your body with the materials to grow.

Do this test, measure your calves as soon as you wake up. Just standing relaxed, then measure them again sometime in the evening. When i measure my calves in the morning i get a measurement of 15.5 inches, and at night they are 16 inches. This is not something that happens from time to time, every single day its the same. It may have to do with the fact that walking around and doing your normal daily activities is like a mini workout, and gives you a pump. Obviously not to the same extent as when you are in the gym.

It is not a mini-pump that is making your calves bigger, it is just gravity. Gravity will pull blood downwards and everyone tends to get venous pooling in the legs if they are upright most of the day. After a long night of sleep, your blood on the venous side is more evenly distributed throughout the body, but once you stand up, fluid tends to shift to the lower part of the body.