As this who hit the gym frequently enough know, obtaining the perfect body can be harder than it looks. Most people, whether male or female, want neither to be hulking, overly muscled bodybuilders nor pudgy, out-of-shape couch potatoes. The most common ideal for virtually everyone who cares about fitness, instead, is one where well-sculpted, body-appropriate muscles show themselves through a minimum of fat.
In fact, studies into romantic attraction show that such body types are some of the most desired characteristics for partners. That fact explains why so many people work so hard in the gym to reach that ideal, and also why falling short can be so difficult for many people to accept.
There are good reasons why so many people fail to meet their goals of this sort, too. Building muscle in the body is a process that takes a surprising amount in the way of nutrition, with both large amounts of protein and sufficient overall caloric intake being critical to the process. Dedicated weightlifters and body builders have long recognized this by supplying their bodies with numbers of calories that would shock many laymen, in an effort to pile on the muscle while they trained.
Of course, diets of that sort fight against the other component of the ideal that many people hold so dear. Simply eating enough protein and calories while lifting weights extensively might help to build bulk, but it will generally contribute to the adding-on of fat, too, something that few people are interested in doing.
For body builders, the answer is often to break their training up into two phases, each with a different goal. In the main part, they work as hard as possible to add muscle to their bodies, not worrying so much about any fat accumulations that may result. Then, when they are close to competition time, they begin a phase known as “cutting,” where they lay off the heavy exercise somewhat, switching it up to emphasize more cardiovascular work, and cut down greatly on their caloric intake. Performed successfully, the result is the appearance of lean muscle that so many seek, albeit typically in a somewhat exaggerated form.