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STRONG_SARAH Posts: 1,203
6/2/13 1:41 A

This has been all very interesting to read. I don't have access to a body fat percentage caliper, but I'm moving soon and so when I look for a new gym maybe they'll have one.

I guess I was over-thinking things and what you both said makes sense. I need patience and consistency, what the experts say over and over. I'll eat towards the top of my calories range unless I'm super hungry, and I've already stopped eating junk food, so that should help too. I am enjoying the workouts and the progress, although I'm still not sure about the medicine ball.

It would be nice to have a formula (x calories in -x calories expended = x results) but it doesn't work like that, our bodies aren't computers. I need to relax a bit and trust the process.

Thanks again.

222NICHOLE SparkPoints: (9,845)
Fitness Minutes: (3,097)
Posts: 129
6/1/13 3:07 P

Thank you for sharing that useful information, MPLANE37. I didn't realize the difference between gaining and remodeling muscle, and have wrongly attributed weight gain during strength training as muscle mass. This is helpful for me to know as I start my strength training program on Monday.

SCAPP3LL3: Sorry if anything in my posts led you astray but what I think the sum of what I've learned here is that your weight gain must be attributed to water weight, not muscle or fat increase, and that doing strength training is important because it speeds up your metabolism, makes you stronger, and helps you looked more toned even if you aren't actually building more muscle, because your existing muscle will be remodeled. At the same time you are remodeling your muscle, you will lose fat because your muscles will need the energy from it. So basically, you can become and look stronger and lose fat at the same time but it may take a while for the results to show. I would suggest using non-scale progress like your energy level, measurements, and clothes fit in the meantime. Keeping track of your body fat percentage may also help. Thanks for making this post, I learned a lot about strength training/muscle through it. emoticon

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (78,864)
Fitness Minutes: (77,635)
Posts: 2,170
6/1/13 1:14 P

Muscle building is a very slow process even under ideal conditions (of heavy lifting and enough caloric surplus). In addition, you need enough of testosterone. For women, this means even slower muscle gain because women have low levels of this hormone.

However, what happens is that there is a lot of remodeling of existing muscle tissue when one engages in heavy lifting, even at caloric deficiency. This is kind of making use of the existing tissue (without adding any new tissue) in a better way so that more strength is produced. However, to cope with the energy requirements of heavy lifting, the muscle must store much more fuel in usable form (i.e. in the form of glycogen), which will be taken largely from the fat deposits if there is a prolonged caloric deficiency. As a result, one would still lower the body fat % even though there is no new muscle tissue built. But to store that glycogen, the body needs enormous amount of water, otherwise that glycogen can't be stored. Consequently, the weight increases quite a bit, and there may be considerable swelling of the body too, both are alarming for people who are trying to lose fat. Because of this, I measure my weight only to be able predict the calories that I burn during cardio workouts, otherwise I don't monitor it for fat loss. I do monitor my body fat % though.

222NICHOLE SparkPoints: (9,845)
Fitness Minutes: (3,097)
Posts: 129
6/1/13 12:34 P

Thank you for the information MPLANE37. But I am confused because a couple years ago when I was doing P90X which alternates days of strength training and cardioish workouts I was eating around 1800 calories a day which would be used by my BMR and exercise so it shouldn't have been a surplus. But I definitely did gain some muscle and my body fat percentage went down at the same time. Also a year before that I was running 5 days a week in addition to alternating between cycling and strength training every other day. With P90X I gained more muscle and lost less fat and with running and strength I lost mostly fat and gained a bit of muscle (I was also eating less then.)

What you are saying about anabolic and catabolic modes totally makes sense so I don't know how to reconcile the two. Do you think it's possible to gain at least a little muscle and lose a little fat simultaneously. I understand that if you are a body builder and trying to gain large amounts of muscle you will get no where by eating at a deficiency. You need to eat more to gain muscle. But just with gaining a little more to get toned and losing a little fat, can that happen? Is it just that the muscle that you already have rebuilds itself to get stronger and that you don't gain extra muscle? But how do you explain simultaneous weight gain of about 15 pounds and body fat percentage loss? Could it be a combination of the two?

And I had heard that people who diet only lose up to 50% of their muscle but I didn't know that if you only do cardio you can lose up to 25%! That is good information to know. It at least is much better than dieting only but it is still definitely important to do strength training simultaneously if you don't want too much muscle loss.

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (78,864)
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Posts: 2,170
6/1/13 7:45 A

222NICHOLE: You can get stronger while losing fat, but that does not mean you build muscle. Building fat or muscle, both requires the body to be in "anabolic" mode, which only happens when there is a caloric surplus. At a caloric deficiency, the body is in "catabolic" mode, which means it burns away both muscle and fat to compensate for the caloric deficiency. Of course, the body frequently switches between anabolic and catabolic modes continuously, but what matters is which one of these modes dominates. If at the end of the day (or a week if you like) the body was in mostly catabolic mode, there will be both muscle and fat lost. However, if one engages in heavy lifting, the muscle loss is minimized. If one does only cardio, part of the lost weight is the lost muscle (and bone) tissue, as much as 25% of the total loss.

222NICHOLE SparkPoints: (9,845)
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Posts: 129
5/31/13 9:11 P

You can definitely simultaneously gain muscle and lose fat. Sorry if my post sounded otherwise. What I meant to say, that at least in my experience, I tended to just mostly gain muscle for the first couple weeks without losing much fat but I was patient and then the fat started coming down after that. I suggested cardio because I think it will help you lose fat faster. So if you are simultaneously gaining muscle during strength training and losing fat during cardio you will be toned in no time.
I wouldn't suggest doing just strength training for a period of time and then cardio afterwards with a higher calorie deficit because that may cause to lose a little bit of muscle. But still as long as you are working out you won't lose much. Usually people who only diet with no exercise lose muscle, but doing cardio will help you maintain most of it. But if you keep up strength training at least 2-3 times per week after that you will not lose it at all. So I would suggest doing them both together at the same time but either way, you can lose fat without losing a lot of muscle.

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (78,864)
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Posts: 2,170
5/31/13 4:10 P

You need to be at a caloric deficiency that is not too large, and you need to keep lifting heavy if you want to lose the spare tire. It will happen eventually, but you need to be patient. You can track the circumference of your belly to monitor your progress. You don't have to build muscle mass to lose the spare tire, you just need to ignite your metabolism and prevent your body from consuming your muscles when you are at a prolonged caloric deficiency, which you can achieve by heavy lifting.

Cardio is also necessary, if I neglect cardio too much, I feel that I go out of breath quicker even when lifting. So you should be doing short but intense cardio to keep your cardiovascular system in good shape.You can also use cardio to control your caloric deficit which will help reduce your hunger (because then you can eat more and still be at the required caloric deficit).

STRONG_SARAH Posts: 1,203
5/31/13 10:57 A

Ok thanks for the responses. I've calmed down now. This morning I was just so frustrated that I've been doing what I was suppose to do and it seemed like I was being punished but not rewarded. I will try and be patient. I will incorporate more cardio, walking, interval training, etc. I will eat at the high end of my range. I will do all of this and wait.

What I'm understanding from all of your great advice (really, thank you so much), is that I will not be able to simultaneously gain muscle and lose fat? So....what's going to happen? I'll get strong but then how do I lose the spare tire? I guess that's what I don't get. If I gain the muscle and then cut calories will I lose muscle after working so hard to get it?

222NICHOLE SparkPoints: (9,845)
Fitness Minutes: (3,097)
Posts: 129
5/31/13 10:34 A

There is no way any of that weight came from fat. Even if you have been eating up to 1800 calories, your BMR plus the calories you burn daily from exercise has to at least add up to that many calories so don't worry about it at all.

It's really hard going up in weight. I also did that when I started the P90X program. And it took a while for me to start going down but I did go down. I would just suggest being patient and not letting some muscle weight get to you. Soon enough you will start shedding fat too because maintaining muscle takes more calories than maintaining fat. It may take a few weeks but don't give up. Strength training is great for your health and after a while you will look lean and toned.

I would also suggest that you incorporate some cardio into your routine if you haven't already. That will help with fat loss and keep you from getting too bulky from just strength training. If you are already doing cardio, I know it's hard, but be patient with your body. You will see great progress in a few weeks and your 6 pound muscle gain will be a positive thing. Just keep working hard! You are doing great!

Edited by: 222NICHOLE at: 5/31/2013 (10:42)
MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (78,864)
Fitness Minutes: (77,635)
Posts: 2,170
5/31/13 10:12 A

The same happened to me when I started lifting heavy. The excess weight is water retention by your muscles to cope with lifting heavy. You might have gained some fat due to slight caloric surplus, but most of the weight should be water held by your body. To see that, don't track your weight, instead track your body fat %. Skinfold caliper measurements can be quite accurate in the hands of an experienced user. Or take your body measurements and monitor those measurements.

Also, you need to decide if you want to lose fat or if you want to gain muscle. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat at a caloric deficiency, but then you can't gain muscle even when you get stronger. If you want to gain muscle, you need to train heavy and eat at a caloric surplus, about 15% to 20% more than your maintenance calories. Note that you will also gain some fat while building muscle (gaining fat is cheaper than gaining muscle for the body), and thus you will have to start "cutting" at some point.

Edited by: MPLANE37 at: 5/31/2013 (10:18)
DMJAKES Posts: 1,635
5/31/13 9:06 A

If your spark range is 1200-1550, I'd shoot for the upper end of that and see how you feel and if the scale starts to move in the right direction. It's really tough to lose weight and gain muscle at the same time--for women it's almost impossible--we're just not built that way.

Are you doing any cardio at all? I found the best balance was 2 or 3 strength training sessions per week and then 2 or 3 cardio sessions--for a total of 5 workout days per week. Mix up the cardio to keep things interesting--do some interval work, some endurance, and some "fun" stuff like hiking or sports too.

Don't give just have to find the right balance that works for you!

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
5/31/13 6:50 A

Actually, it's a common response when you start/increase an exercise program for your muscles to retain water. This one-off gain in your lean mass can lead to an increase in the scale, even as you are burning fat.

A pound of fat represents about 3500 calories. As you almost certainly didn't eat an EXTRA 21,000 calories, the weight gain is NOT fat.

While a calorie surplus is a significant factor in building muscle mass (hence the advice in the book), a lot of the benefits of strength training come from improved muscle quality, not increased muscle mass. You don't need to eat at a surplus to get the benefits of strength training.

What to do? Honestly, it sounds like you are doing all the right things. Keep up the great work.


STRONG_SARAH Posts: 1,203
5/31/13 4:03 A

I need advice please because I've gained 6 pounds this week! I'm so upset.

I have been following the New Rules of Lifting for Women weight lifting program. I like it and I feel strong BUT I've gained weight every week. The author recommends eating a lot to build muscle, but I can't bring myself to eat more than 1800 a day. My SP range is 1200-1550 and I've been eating anywhere between 1200 and 1800. I've gained weight every week that I've been on the program. I'm 5'3", 152 pounds with most of my fat in my belly. I've been eating a balanced diet and I feel like I should be smaller in my middle, but I'm not.

This is the post I wrote in my weekly challenge this morning:

Good morning everyone. I weighed myself this morning and.......are you ready? 152... That's a 6 pound GAIN........ Holy @#!%!

So I did what most of us would do, I screamed and then ran for the tape measure. I discovered that the diameter of my arms and thighs has increased (a very little) and my belly has stayed the same. Since my arms and legs have always been somewhat thin, I'm assuming all of the weight lifting I'm doing has increased my muscle size and that would account for the weight gain. So I guess that's a positive, but..........6 pounds? I want to be lean and strong, not chubby and strong.

If I was gaining weight but losing inches in my belly it would be ok, but I'm not. What do I do?

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