Can you get leaner without losing size?
YES, definitely… if you do it correctly.
I thought I’d share an email that I got from someone a couple days ago wanting to lose some extra body fat, but is worried he will lose the muscle size that he has worked so hard to get.
How are you doing Clifta!!!
I’ve just watched your newest video and I have to say that it seems that you really know how to train people. Let me tell you a little about myself.
The reason why I started to lift weights is because when I was young I was a really skinny guy, so I remember that when I was in high school no one would respect me. So I started to buy magazines about Bodybuilding and all I wanted is to get as big as Dorian Yates or Ronnie Coleman so I began to eat a lot and lift heavy weights.
Nowdays I feel that I have improved a lot, but now I have a dilema that I hope you can help me with. If you have seen some of my videos, you may have noticed that I have a lot of extra fat, I’ve decided to lose some weight since a few weeks ago, and actually I’ve lost some pounds since then, but my problem is that I fear that if I keep losing weight I may also lose some of my bodysize, and I don’t want in no way to become that skinny guy that I used to be.
So do you think that if I keep losing weight I may also lose some of my musclesize or I will only lose some of my bellyfat? I hope you can help me, I will really appreciate your advice.
Thanks a lot and keep posting!!!! See ya!!!!
I wrote back:
Thank you, I’m glad you subscribed and like my videos!
Congratulations on the pounds that you’ve lost so far! That’s great!
That is a tricky question to answer, being that I don’t know you or how you are going about your changes, but a very good question. This is my opinion and if I were talking to you in person I might pick your brain a little first with some of the questions below to see how you are doing things, because that will determine how well your success will be in keeping your size and getting leaner at the same time.
1) I would ask how you are going about losing your weight… by just adding cardio and not changing your diet, by just cutting calories and not doing cardio, by doing too much cardio while at the same time cutting calories too much, or by adding a little cardio at a time with making small changes with your diet?
2) Are you eating quality food or empty calories? Are you getting enough protein, carbs, and fat?
3) How much lean mass have you actually put on since you started lifting? Do you know if the weight that you put on was lean mass, or was it a combination of body fat and lean mass both?
When it comes to losing body fat… you can’t really control where the body fat comes off first… and it’s usually the first place you want it to come off, is the last place it does. LOL… So that usually means that you will start to get leaner other places first.
If you are wanting to lose belly fat, you might not see a big difference in your belly right away, but may notice that your getting leaner in your arms and legs and that they might appear smaller before your belly does. From what I’ve experienced, that is normal and I’ve seen it scare people into not leaning out because they are afraid they are going to lose their size. They basically quit before they get started.
If you are just going by the scale it’s hard to know if the weight that you are losing is fat weight or lean mass weight. Your weight will have to go down and always does when you have a little extra to lose, but make sure it doesn’t drop too fast! Then you could be doing something wrong.
Sometimes when people see the number on the scale go down, they see it as they are losing size and getting smaller… don’t get caught up in this trap if you are wanting to get leaner because this number will have to go down… again like I mentioned above, just make sure it doesn’t drop too fast. (That’s very important)
(Actually, the leaner you get, the bigger your muscles will look, so if the numbers on the scale go down… it doesn’t mean that you are going to look smaller)
Remember… Bodybuilding is an illusion. Sometimes the bigger weight doesn’t always look the biggest and most impressive. 🙂
If you want to make the RIGHT changes you have to know your body fat to lean muscle ratio.
So after all that, lol… the first thing I would suggest is getting your body fat taken and watch your progress that way, and not totally rely on the scale. You can also take pictures every 2-4 weeks to help you see your progress a little easier. That way you know where you are starting from and can adjust things along the way to get to where you want to be.
When I competed I used all 3 tools… the scale, body fat testing, and pictures, to keep myself on track. They helped me to learn about my body and to keep as much size as I could while getting leaner at the same time. I always looked bigger and better dieted down than when I did in the off season… even though I felt bigger “in my body” in the off season. Sometimes I think the extra body fat can give us the illusion of being bigger than we might think we are and sometimes we don’t know what we are going to really look like until we get dieted down. If you do things correctly, you should look bigger and better in the end.
I’ve seen this happen so many times when someone decides they want to get leaner… they diet down incorrectly, and then don’t like what they see. They think they look small now and then will blame it on cardio and say that cardio makes you lose muscle size. NO… cardio doesn’t make you lose muscle size… not doing things correctly make you lose muscle size. Cutting calories too much and doing too much cardio at the same time and trying to crash diet, is in my opinion, one of the number one causes of ending up smaller than you thought you would. I’m a BIG believer in taking your time to get leaner and taking baby steps.
Knowing your body fat % and the breakdown of your fat pounds and lean mass pounds will help you know if what you are doing is working. You can do that every month and if you’re losing too much lean mass with out your body fat pounds changing that much then you need to add just a little more food to your diet. (Make sure it’s good quality food.) Sometimes it’s more carbs that you need to add, sometimes it’s more protein, and sometimes both. And sometimes you have to adjust your cardio workouts too.
It will basically come down to this…
If your body fat % and fat pounds are decreasing on a regular basis and you are keeping most of your lean mass, then you are on the right track! Keep doing what you are doing! (Your lean mass will go down some as you are going along, but the trick is to lose more fat pounds with minimal lean mass loss).
And if you are losing more lean mass pounds than fat pounds… Something has to be changed in what you are doing.
You could look at it this way:
It won’t hurt to try… you can always put the weight back on if you don’t like what you see.
Hope that helps a little…