Strength training can be daunting, especially when you are uncertain how your body will react. It’s common to wonder what changes you may experience from lifting weights. In some cases, you may notice an increase in your body weight, but this should not be a cause for concern. The reasons for weight gain can vary, but ultimately strength training can lead to decreased body fat.
How Do Muscle and Fat Affect Weight?
A common saying is that ‘muscle weighs more than fat,’ but this isn’t true. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat both weigh the same. What sets them apart is their density.
Not all pounds are created equal. When two people weigh the same, but one has a higher fat percentage than the other, they can look quite different. An extra 20 pounds of fat can give you a softer, less toned appearance, while an additional 20 pounds of muscle will result in a firmer, sculpted look.
Muscle and fat also serve different functions in the body. While fat helps insulate the body and trap heat, muscle boosts metabolism, meaning you burn more calories when resting.
It’s been found that people with a higher percentage of body fat have a higher overall death rate, even if their weight or body mass index (BMI) is considered normal. This is because higher body fat levels increase the risk of health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
To prevent these risks, keeping your body fat percentage low is essential. While having more muscle is never unhealthy, having an excessive amount is not necessary. Recommended body fat percentages vary based on gender and age and can be further classified by averages seen among athletes, fit people, average people, and those with obesity.
Testing your body fat composition can be complicated, but high-tech devices can be found, such as a DEXA scan. Some smart Home scales using bioelectrical impedance technology are also available, although outside factors can sometimes affect their accuracy. A great one we like is the Withings Smart Scale. It’s also important to note that muscle mass isn’t related to your BMI, although research has shown a moderate correlation between BMI and body fat measurements. BMI can also be an accurate predictor of certain disease outcomes.
Increased Muscle Mass
Building lean muscle mass is one of the primary reasons why people begin strength training. When you start to train regularly and improve your fitness level, you may notice an increase in your body weight while your body fat percentage decreases. This is because muscle is denser than fat and takes up more space. It may take months to notice a significant change in your body composition. Still, you can confirm progress by using a body fat percentage calculator, trying on your old clothes, or simply looking in the mirror. If you notice that your body fat percentage has decreased and your muscles have grown, then the increase in weight may be due to an increase in muscle mass.
Sweating during a workout causes a reduction in water weight, and consuming salty foods can lead to water retention. Water weight can also cause a temporary increase in your weight. The fluctuation in your weight due to water retention is unrelated to your strength training program. Regardless of what causes the change, staying hydrated throughout the day is essential.
Stress can cause weight gain due to releasing cortisol, the stress hormone, which can cause fluid retention. When you are under stress, you may also experience increased hunger, which can lead to overeating. To alleviate stress, plan some downtime to recharge mentally and physically. Make sure that you also give yourself time to recover during the week.
Many factors can influence your weight, including hormones, stress, diet, water consumption, and workout routine. These variables can cause your weight to fluctuate. Instead of tracking your progress solely based on your weight, make healthy decisions, and consider using tools other than your scale to track your progress.
Weight Loss Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training can offer many health benefits, such as increased calories burned. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn every day. Building muscle mass costs energy, and muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. As you increase the amount of muscle you have, you will also increase your resting metabolic rate. Don’t fear strength training because it can lead to weight gain. Think of it as a long-term solution to weight loss, and your body will thank you.
Looking to gain muscle mass? Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
- Incorporate strength training exercises into your routine around 3 to 4 days per week.
- Make the most of your at-home workouts using your body weight with exercises like pushups, pullups, and squats.
- Combine strength training with cardio through high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines.
- Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by gradually increasing your weights during workouts.
- Consider scheduling a session with a personal trainer who can provide guidance and safety tips.
- Participating in recreational activities like rock climbing, yoga, or biking is also a great way to gain muscle mass.
- Ensure that you are consuming a high-protein diet to support muscle development. Increasing your daily calorie intake through lean proteins like chicken and fish can be beneficial if you aim to bulk up.
- Remember to stay hydrated and allow your muscles to rest and recover with proper sleep. By following these tips, you will be on your way to achieving your muscle-building goals.
Are you having trouble losing weight? Here are some helpful tips
Diet and exercise can help, but they’re not the only things you need to do. Here are some tips to help you lose weight and keep it off:
- Eat a balanced diet full of nutritious foods. It would help to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein and cut back on empty calories like sugary drinks and snacks.
- Avoid undereating. Cutting too many calories might slow your metabolism and sabotage your weight loss goals.
- Set realistic goals. Losing one to two pounds a week is a healthy goal for most people.
- Exercise every day. You don’t have to do intense workouts to lose weight. Fit extra steps by taking the stairs or getting off the bus a few stops early.
- Avoid the scale. Sometimes, focusing on how your clothes fit can be more helpful than obsessing over the number on the scale.
- Work with a nutritionist. If you’re eating healthy and exercising but not losing, you might need expert help.
- Switch it up. If you’re stuck in a weight loss plateau, try changing your diet and exercise routine.
- Talk to a doctor. If you’re concerned about your weight, it might be time to talk to a healthcare provider. They can help create a personalized plan for you.
The Bottom Line
Stay focused on the number on your weighing scale if you have consistent exercise and healthy dietary patterns.
Consider alternative metrics when you’ve just started intensifying your workout regimen and are worried about the slow weight loss progress.
If you notice your waistband feeling loose and your shirt sleeves feeling snug, it implies that you’re shedding body fat and gaining muscle mass.
Maintaining consistency and dedication is crucial to achieving successful fat loss. Prioritizing one’s health and well-being, ensuring proper nutrition, staying active, monitoring progress, and making necessary adjustments are all essential steps. If additional support or accountability is needed, seeking the guidance of a personal trainer who can create a personalized exercise plan can be beneficial. With healthy habits and proper fuel, obtaining a desirable outcome of professional fitness while sustaining physical health can be accomplished. Book a free assessment call with us by clicking here.