Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Maximizing Muscle; Minimizing Fat - Up and Down The Scale

170.0 today - at a 500 calorie deficit per day, I'm cutting down as planned.

After hitting 163, I decided several months ago to add some muscle. That means putting excess calories into the diet. It would be nice to be able to pack on muscle while calorie neutral or even deficient. This is the myth of losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time -- emphasis on the word "myth."

Reality is that if you want to add muscle, you have to be willing to add a little fat at the same time. Conversely, when you lose fat you'll lose a little muscle at the same time. The goal is to add as much muscle as possible on the way up and lose as little muscle as possible on the way down.

How can you do it?

On the way up, it is important to go slow. In the old days, bodybuilders would just eat anything and everything during their bulking phases. They'd put on a lot of muscle and a lot of fat. Now, there is a more scientific, healthy and effective way of doing it all while not having to have two sets of clothes. It is called "lean bulk" and it means adding calories slowly over a period of time, e.g., 2-3 months, and working out heavy and reducing the amount of cardio. In this way, you'll add whatever muscle your body is capable of adding while minimizing the amount of fat it adds at the same time. I added 500 calories a day over my BMR + exercise calories which added about a pound a week.

On the way down, it is also important to go slow. Trying to take it off 2 or 3 pounds a week only insures you will take off most of the muscle you've added during your bulking phase. Rather, I've stripped the 500 I added during the bulking phase and another 500 calories on top of that from my BMR + exercise. That equates to about a pound a week. I've lightened up on the weight and added reps and sets, and added more cardio (now 7 days a week). I have dropped from 173.8 to 170 in 2 weeks, a little more than I had anticipated but it will probably slow a little from here as the percentage of body fat drops.

The goal is to take as much fat off and as little muscle off as I move down the scale to about 165-166, and then take a body fat measurement and figure out how much muscle I added during the lean bulk phase. The acid test, however, is the look, and that is why I take a few photos as I drop (or add) each pound. By doing this you can compare your development over a period of time, e.g., 3 months, 6 months, a year. You'll be surprised at what you can do.

I'll keep you apprised over the next few weeks. Hope all is going well.

Train hard; diet harder.


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