The top 3 reasons people join our gym are:
- Lose fat
- Get stronger
- Generally be a healthier person
If I had to pick one as the most important of those three, which would one I pick?
Lose fat? Surely a good thing
Get stronger? Also a good thing!
But what about generally being healthier? Great cause!
My pick – get stronger!
First, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day (ie – helping you to therefore lose the fat and improve body composition down the road)
Second, the more muscle you have, the healthier you will be. Decreased muscle mass leads to an increased risk of injuries. More muscle means you are more resilient!
Did you know that you lose 3-5% of your muscle mass per decade after age 30? Muscle naturally goes away. So we MUST strength train in order to keep it!
Last, what is it that all grandparents want to do? Pick up their grandkids! If longevity is a goal of yours (and I recommend it be a long term goal for everyone for this very reason) … strength training must be part of your routine. The simple things in life like picking up grandkids, putting away groceries, landscaping, going for a hike … they all get harder as we age if we get weak. The last thing anyone wants is to end up retired and unable to enjoy life because they did not pay attention to their health.
But how do you keep it and/or grow more of it?
First, you need to do strength training, that is a given. Body weight exercises are great for general fitness, but if you want to improve and grow your muscle, you need weights, ideally 3-5x per week.
Second, you need to hit your daily protein requirement. For most individuals, this is roughly 1g of protein per pound of body weight. So if I’m 200lb, I need about 200g of protein or more per day in order to sustain my muscle mass. If I eat less, I’m at risk of losing muscle. If I eat more, in combination with strength training, I can gain muscle.
I personally accomplish this by eating about 6-7oz of protein per meal, and having a post workout protein shake every day. Ladies, generally speaking, aim for 3-4oz per meal.
Third, you need to be in a calorie SURPLUS to build new muscle. Yes, you need to eat more calories than your body “needs”, so it has extra fuel to create this new muscle.
You cannot “diet” or be in a caloric deficit and built muscle at the same time.
Read that again – you need to pick a focus – do you want to lose fat first? or gain muscle first?
It can get a little nuanced from here, and we are here to help so if you want to chat with a coach, book that goal setting session and we’ll go into more details.
But generally speaking, you want to have a focus for about 3 month chunks. Q4 I’m going to work on building muscle. Q1 I’m going to work on losing fat. Etc.
To wrap this up, some quick context on calories.
Let’s say I want to put on 1lb of muscle in a month (a good goal … it’s not easy or fast to do)
As I mentioned, you need to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle. But your body can’t build JUST muscle, you’ll always get some fat with it.
It may look like this: 1lb of muscle in a month, and 3lb of fat.
(Playing the long game here, don’t worry, we’ll lose the fat later)
How do you accomplish that 4lb of weight gain?
1lb is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories.
So if we want to gain 1lb per week, we need to give our body 500 EXTRA calories per day than it requires.
Of course we want these 500 extra calories to come from good quality health sources, as we want for ALL our calories. And we also want to be above our protein requirement.
Last point – if you want to grow muscle, your recovery needs to be on point. Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep, your body needs to be in a low stress state, and you need to limit your alcohol intake. If any of these are not present, the likelihood of building that new muscle decreases.
If you haven’t done an InBody scan in a while, ask a coach. You need data points to see where you are in order to make the most meaningful changes!