As fitness and health professionals for years, we occasionally get asked this question. It is almost comical because when we start to see progress some of our clients get discouraged. They say, “I cannot fit into my skinny jeans”,“My legs feel huge”, “Am I bulking up?” This could be for a number of reasons:
Fat is squishy and muscle is hard as a rock.
We usually respond with the question, “Do you usually stuff your legs into your jeans?” If yes, of course your jeans do not fit, they are not wider in circumference they just have a different consistency so they are hard and not malleable like fat. Also a lot of female clients think their legs look bigger because their stomach is getting smaller. This is progress you want to see because the most unhealthy area to have fat is around the waist.
Muscles feel different than fat.
Also some clients are uncomfortable with their new frame because their body is changing and they are also becoming more aware of their body. They are used to having arms and legs that consist more of fat than muscle. Also, muscle is hard. When you train and build lean muscle mass it feels different. You are just on the cusp of seeing real results because you now have muscle to burn fat and increase your metabolism because you have been training correctly. There is a stage in training where you have hard muscle underneath a layer of fat and it feels different and less desirable to clients who have never had muscle before. This is the time to hang in there with your regimen because success is on the way.
Eat right to promote fat loss!
When it comes to your body composition, almost 80% of it is determined by what you put in your mouth. You probably don’t want to hear this, but training only affects your 20% of it. If you are eating non-inflammatory foods such as lean or grass-fed/wild-caught proteins/, lots of vegetables, healthy fats and some fruits you will significantly decrease the fat layer above your muscle. Many overeat non-vegetable carbohydrates and other processed foods stating, “I work out so I can eat all I want.” Sometimes clients even increase their caloric intake with unhealthy foods and negate their workout all together in fat loss terms. You will still see health related benefits from working out but not significant results if this your approach.
Streamline Training- some training methods can bulk you up
Yes, some weight training programs can contribute to bulky muscle if you are pre-disposed to certain genetics and depending the amount of weight used as well as the amount of repetitions. However, if you are doing High-intensity interval (HIIT) training and routinely combining it with primarily body weight exercises for resistance training and Mind/Body exercises to strengthen your core, then bulking up is rarely a concern.
Chronic cardio kills fat loss
After about 20 to 30 minutes of steady state cardiovascular exercise, you start to lose your calorie-burning muscle. Once again, HIIT is one of the most effective ways to achieve overall better results, leaner muscle mass, better heart health, and increased metabolic after burn.
So why should I exercise if diet is everything?
Yes, because diet is not everything! It plays a significant role in your body composition (close to 80%) of your metabolism. However, you need both a great exercise program and a healthy eating plan to reach your goals…not just one or the other. Sorry, the old adage that you need both exercise and nutrition is true.
Think you are doing everything right?
You may be doing all of the right things. Even with an effective exercise program and eating right, it’s possible to not reach your goals. If you find yourself in this category, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider to rule out other underlying conditions such as hormone imbalances etc. that can prevent desired results.
“No training seems pleasant at the time but those who are diligent will reap a harvest if they do not give up” Hebrews 12:11