Ever wonder why some people in the gym work so hard and never really change their physiques? It could be due to many reasons – too lax in their eating, not consistent in their training, not using progressive intensity and proper movements in their weight programs….
Or it could be that they are ALWAYS trying to lose weight, so they binge and restrict, binge and restrict…and the body doesn’t know what to do with all the roller coaster stuff that is being thrown at it. Or they simply restrict too much, year round. No fuel for the fire, so to speak.
Remember ladies, you have to EAT to build…if you restrict calories too much, you will halt your progress. You simply cannot build in a deficit. That is why we focus on either losing the weight or building (now I’m not saying that if you are 40 pounds overweight, you don’t want to focus on losing, because you do. And if you lift and tend to your eating, you surely will. It naturally has to happen).
But if I want to sit at a yearly fat percentage of, say, 18%, then I know it’s gonna be tough. I’m naturally lean in my limbs, but not in my tummy or glutes…that’s where I hold it, so for years I stayed super low in bodyfat to be thin year round. It was ok for awhile, but I made NO GAINS in the gym because there wasn’t the fuel to feed my muscles, my strength suffered.
I thought a 20 lb shoulder dumbell press was good, but now I do 30+ pounds and have added nice muscle onto them, but only after I started to EAT MORE. For me, adding more to my shoulders was (and still is) a work in progress! But I simply could not do it when I was only eating around 1200 calories. For ME, this didn’t work. I am a hard gainer, it takes a long time to gain muscle, and my joints aren’t always in agreeance (I think with 30 years of lifting and being 54, it’s all adding up to more aches and pains, and I have to be very careful in my lifting!). So I increased my calories, paid super close attention to my macros, started eating lots more protein and carbs, and learned about proper lifting intensity (I thought I was intense until I saw how REAL women lifted, and how much they were lifting!). I also backed down on the cardio so I would have more energy to LIFT, which led to better BUILDING, aka PROGRESS and RESULTS.
Now some women can stay lean and build at the same time but it’s rare, and it’s what every new competitor thinks will happen when she starts on the body-shaping journey, but it’s (usually) not so. That’s one reason why your IFBB Pro’s like Nicole Wilkins, Erin Stern, Ava Cowan, are, well, pro’s. They only add 5-8 pounds off season, but even if they were to add more, they still look aesthetically perfect because they put on bodyfat evenly throughout the body, a rarity in women, for sure. (I don’t know about you, but mine goes on in the middle of my body! Wham BAM!). And so when we read that they eat such-and-such and take in this many calories, we think we can do the same. But it just ain’t so for the majority of us. They are genetically gifted. That’s why they are pro’s. I am NOT saying they don’t work for it (have you ever seen a pro train? My gosh, it is INTENSE!) The pros have superb recovery and a strong immune system that they have built up over the years through quality nutrition and consistent, progressive training.
So decide what you want, and make that your majority…if you are holding a lot of extra weight (20+), then you may want to focus on losing a good chunk of that first. Or you may not…you may want to keep the fluff so you can continue to lift heavy to build some more, change your physique, improve your consistency in the gym.
Or, if you want to live lean year round, then try it out…see how hard (or easy) it is for you…see if you can find that ‘sweet spot’ and live there, the place where you can still make changes in your body while staying lean. You may be able to do it (I personally couldn’t, or I wasn’t seeing the gains fast enough, anyway). You may be able to do both – add nice shapely muscle year after year, while staying at less than 20% bodyfat year round. How nice for you!
That’s the beauty of the human body. It is our canvas, our work of art. We can alter it, add to it or subtract from it. And your relationship with your body is the most intimate of all relationships, and it takes time to learn and grow together. It also takes consistency and a clear focus, day in, day out, year after year. Progress is slow, to be sure, but it makes the rewards all the sweeter.
So ask yourself ‘what do you want at this moment?”‘ Then carve out a plan to get there…and STICK with it! And know that it can change – and should – as you progress, learn, and assess your results!