People come to me as a Strength & Conditioning coach because they have goals but don’t know how to achieve them. It’s the exact same idea when someone sees a financial planner to see what he needs to do to save for retirement. Often times the goals I am consulted abuot, generally by my personal training clients and not so much from my athletes, is how to lose weight or gain muscle. First, lets be clear – you can’t do both!
You can improve your body composition (i.e. lower your percentage of fat and increase your muscle mass) but you cannot lose weight while putting on muscle. The way we lose fat and gain muscle by definition the exact opposite – don’t let someone tell you that you can do both!
You need to pick a goal, map it out and pursue it. If you want to lose weight then take the necessary steps to achieve this goal. The same goes if you want to bulk up. Once you have a goal all you have to do is implement the plan, and I’ll show you how!
Until recently there has been a lot guesswork in exercise and diet when it comes to gaining and losing weight. A lot of people either over exercise thinking that’s the best way to achieve bigger muscles and/or a leaner physique. But exercise is this part of the equation – roughly 30% of it actually! But, as a great strength coach once told me, YOU CAN’T OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET! Whether you want to gain muscle or losing fat you need to know exactly how many calories your body needs.
Before you begin to decide how many calories you body needs. There is such a thing as Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This is simply how many calories your body needs just to stay alive (i.e. brain and organ function). To figure this you simply multiple your body weight in pounds by 10. So if your 180lbs then you’re RMR is 1,8000 kcal (180×10).
Now that you know how many calories you need to live you now have to factor in your activity levels. This doesn’t take into account purposeful exercise, this is if you have a labor job or are constantly moving around – stuff like that. If you are sedentary add roughly 20-40% of your RMR too your RMR total. Should you be moderately active then add 50% to your RMR. And if you’re very active then add an addition 60-80% to your RMR. So if we use the previous example of an RMR 1,800 kcal, lets pretend that you are moderately active:
1,800 + 900 (1800 x 50%) = 2,700
Therefore without purposeful exercise you need 2,700 kcal just to maintain your weight.
Ok, now lets add in your purposeful exercise. Keep in mind purposeful exercise doesn’t just include gym sessions but also any practices and competitions as well. There is a great chart that in the NSCA’s Fundamentals Of Strength & Conditioning that tells you the calorie cost of many common activities. On average though a typical resistance-training workout costs about 300 kcal. To get an even better estimate of calories burned investing in a heart rate monitor. Heart monitors have come a long way as it pertains to calorimetry. They now give you a fairly decent estimate of calories burned during exercise. Lets add that to the equation we have already used:
1,800(RMR) + 900 (Moderately Active) + 300 (Exercise) = 3,000
As you can see you’d need 3,000 kcal just to maintain your weight! From here it is a simple game of burning more than you eat. There are a million other resources that can tell you what and when to eat. My goal today was to tell you HOW MUCH to eat. Hopefully now you’ll be take a more scientific view of your goals and reach them successfully!