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.




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