Q: “I know everyone is always looking at the scale but in my case I am slimmer than ever but the scale shows I am almost the same weight as I was on my son’s 1st birthday (2 sizes up). I do 2x 50-minute exercise sessions per day, 5 times per week, in total I exercise about 500 minutes per week if not more, and do a mix of plyometric exercises, pilates and hand and ankle weights. I can see my body is getting firmer and slimmer but the scale takes my mood way down the higher it goes up. Is there a difference with different people’s muscle mass density they build?” – Michele
A: Hi Michele! This question is an important one. For help in responding, I turned to Clinical Exercise Physiologist Jeff Dolgan to help me provide you with the best, most effective answer. Here are a few key things to consider when it comes to your weight and workouts:
Scale Weight Vs. Body Fat Composition
When it comes to the scale, it’s important not to take the number too seriously. “The human body tends to have a favorite weight that it functions most efficiently at,” explains Dolgan. Scientists have termed this phenomenon the “set point” theory, which means the human body will adjust the components of mass to keep within a certain range. This allows for our center of gravity to stay the same and is helpful in maintaining biomechanical function, says Dolgan. Instead of worrying about the scale, says Dolgan, you should pay attention to your body composition instead. If you haven’t had your body fat tested yet, it may be a good idea to have a professional take this more objective measurement for you. Remember that you can be at a “thin” scale weight and still have a high level of body fat, which is not healthy! The changes in your body composition can tell you a lot more about the changes happening within your body (if you are building muscle for example) than a number on the scale.
Skip The Ankle Weights And Strength Train Instead
In looking at your current workout routine, Dolgan noted that although you are not completing any “traditional muscle building” activities, plyometric exercises place a large load on muscle mass and could be causing hypertrophy (muscle mass increases). Dolgan says, remember that different people can build muscle at different rates. “This is mostly a product of which type of muscle fiber is dominant in an individual’s body. Type I muscle (slow twitch aerobic) doesn’t tend to grow as much or as rapidly as Type II muscle fiber (fast twitch explosive). Plyometric training will predominantly train type II muscle fiber.” It’s important to train both within a balanced fitness plan.
You also mention using hand and ankle weights during your workouts, which I would advise against. Strapping on a weight near your joints can cause excess strain and wear on your joints and don’t target the muscle as effectively. Instead, start incorporating the use of dumbbells and or resistance bands for better, safer results. I’d recommend adding 3-4 strength training sessions per week to your routine.
Do Less, Not More
And, if I read your note correctly, you mention doing two 50-minute sessions a day, which in my opinion, seems a bit much! You may actually find the scale start moving in the right direction if you try a bit less — alternate your high and low intensity training days and choose one workout (20-60 minutes in length) a day and see how that works for you. We tend to forget the power of rest and it could be what is missing in your workout schedule. Plus, you may find that you have more energy to keep active during the remaining hours of your day, which can help you burn more calories around the clock!
Diet Plays A Big Role
It’s also so important to note that what you eat plays a huge part in changing your body. Sometimes there are daily habits that could be adding extra empty calories that we don’t even realize are stalling weight loss. Take a look at your daily consumption and look for any small changes (I don’t advocate any drastic, restrictive cuts!) that you might be able to make to be even healthier.
Keep taking great care of your body Michele! Hopefully some of this advice will resonate with you and help you reach your goals. And don’t forget to celebrate what you’ve already achieved! Not only do you have a healthy little boy, you also have lots of energy and dedication too. Keep up the great work!
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