Whomever came up with the phrase “use it or lose it” was clearly talking about muscle. Muscle has to be earned. While those with weight loss goals are so concerned about the number on the scale, they should really be focused on the number on the tags of their clothes (not the price).
Muscle, along with bone, blood, skin, organs, and connective tissue, is considered lean body mass. Without strength training, a woman sees about a 0.5 pound loss in lean body mass every year. Let’s look at how 20 years with no strength training can change the body.
Meet Sharon. Sharon is 25 years old, 150 lbs and 25% body fat. Being 25% body fat is considered “fit” for a woman. That means she:
- is composed of 37.5 lbs of fat (150 x .25)
- is composed of 112 lbs of lean body mass (150 – 37.5)
In 20 years, at the age of 45, Sharon has not been strength training but has been able to maintain her weight of 150 lbs. That means she:
has lost 10 lbs of muscle (20 x .5)
has gained 10 lbs of fat
is now composed of 47.5 lbs of fat and 102 lbs of lean body mass
is now 32 % body fat
With a body composition of 32% body fat Sharon is now considered “unhealthy” and at risk.
Sharon has also had to buy clothes in bigger sizes over the last few years.
This is where people make the mistake
Now, after some life event (a bad diagnosis, talk with a spouse), Sharon thinks she needs to lose weight. She sets an unrealistic goal for herself of 20 lbs and flat abs and strives to hit that goal. She spends several hours a week on the treadmill, does ab exercises 5 days a week, and even tries some fad diets and shakes. She, like a lot of clients of mine, has the wrong idea.
Her weight is fine….it’s just bad weight.
This is why most people never reach their weight loss goal. Their goals are unrealistic and they may not have an idea of how body composition plays a role.
Weight Loss is Really about Building and Maintaining Muscle
Sharon’s muscle loss and fat gain situation can be reversed by simply incorporating some strength training into her exercise routines. Just 3 to 4 days a week of 5 to 6 exercises that challenge her each time, will start to affect her body composition within weeks.
In regards to fat loss, the same eating habits she puts in place to start building lean muscle will be the same habits that help her with fat loss. Having more muscle will make it easier to control her weight because her metabolism will improve.
Also, feel free to comment and share!
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