A thin, toned body is a lovely thing to look at; but good looks are only one of many benefits offered by a lean physique. We all want to lose weight, to shed that extra layer of fat around the abs and show off the natural, alluring muscle tone beneath. We have become victims of the bathroom scale. We base our performance, and perhaps even our self-esteems, on the number the scale displays on its cold, unbiased digital screen. The truth is, the scale does not tell the whole story. Often, the secret to shedding fat does not lie in losing pounds, but in gaining them -- pounds of high quality, lean muscle mass, that is.
Lean muscle mass benefits the body in many ways. It strengthens the bones to fight against osteoporosis; it raises the metabolism by an average of thirteen calories per day for every pound of lean muscle mass. It gives the body a shapely look, pleasing to members of the opposite sex. It causes the body to become more powerful and capable of more intense activity. Those who understand the benefits of gaining muscle mass do everything in their power to pack it on. They also understand that the scale only tells half the story.
A better method of measuring fat loss lies in calculating the body's composition. This can be done using a skin-fold caliper fat percentage measuring device -- such devices can be purchased online or at any health and fitness retail store. It's important to remember that muscle is three times more dense than fat. As you build muscle mass, using an effective bodybuilding program, your scale weight likely will increase. However, by measuring your body fat percentage, using a skin fold caliper and calculating your body composition, you can quickly determine how many pounds of fat you are losing. The following calculation determines the quantity of fat pounds on the body: [body weight in pounds] * [body fat percentage] = [pounds of fat on the body].
GAIN A POUND AND CELEBRATE For example, a man who weighs 180 pounds and, with a skin fold caliper, determines that his body fat percentage is 18%, can calculate how many pounds of fat he has by using this calculation: 180 * .18 = 32.4. By this calculation, it is determined that a 180-pound man with 18% body fat has 32.4 pounds of fat on his body. After engaging in an effective bodybuilding program for several weeks, the same man, using this calculation, might determine that he has lost 11 pounds of fat, but gained 12 pounds of muscle. If this man uses the scale alone, he might feel discouraged that, after slugging it out in the gym three times a week, he has gained 1 pound of body weight. In actuality, he has lost 11 pounds of fat. The increase of 12 pounds of lean muscle mass will burn, on the average, 156 extra calories a day by merely existing. The loss of 11 pounds of fat will trim and sculpt the man's body. It's a win-win-win.
It can be discouraging to get on the scale day after day and see only marginal changes in body weight. The truth is, with an effective strength training routine, it is more effective, and more motivating to use scale weight in conjunction with a skin fold caliper to determine the reduction in actual pounds of unwanted fat than to base body training progress on scale weight alone.
- Craig, Nybo
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