college bodybuilder tips: weighing yourself

Dear K***,

I want to take a moment to respond to the comment in your last letter, that you haven’t “gained or lost any weight yet.”

You are on Week 3 of this workout and diet plan right now. Your body is adjusting to learning new exercises, and your body is just starting to get used to a new diet where you are not only getting more calories, but are getting a different composition of calories than you were before (more protein, less fat, and so on).  Your body hasn’t had a chance to really “kick into gear” when it comes to muscle-building yet.

But even as time goes on, you have to realize something about how your body’s weight works. Over the course of a day, your body can fluctuate a good 5-10 pounds depending on how much salt you’ve eaten, or how full your stomach is, how dehydrated you are.  You can lose a good 2-5 pounds just from going out for a hard night of dancing all night on a Saturday night… and then gain it back again over the course of the next day! This isn’t a change in your muscle or fat, it’s your body losing and gaining water.

I’m mentioning all of this because I want to get you out of the habit of checking your weight.  Or if you feel compelled to use your weight as a way of checking your progress, you should not check your weight more often than once a week.  My personal recommendation would be to check in once a month.  After a month, you can expect large enough gains that they will be larger than the “noise” fluctuations that happen day-to-day. If you check every day, whatever small fraction of your change in weight is due to muscle or body-fat changes will be completely overpowered by changes in weight that are due to “noise”: food in your stomach and water in your tissues.

Personally, I think you should track your progress by measuring changes in the amount of weight you can lift, and how you look in and out of a t-shirt.  To me, if you want to “look good and get stronger” then that is what you should use to measure your progress.

Remember, you’re in this for the long haul: you want to make some dramatic, long-term (permanent) changes to your physique. That takes time.  Honestly, if you did see a drastic change in your body in 2 weeks, I would be worried… because that would mean something was wrong.  And you know what they say: “easy come, easy go.”  The types of weight gains you get in two weeks are rarely healthy, and they rarely last.

So I’ll be checking your progress after 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, and so on, of course. But don’t be checking your weight weekly…. that kind of thing keeps your mind focused on the wrong things, and can only lead to frustration.

 

—Greg

 

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