We’re slowly migrating DaveThomasPerformance.com over to the Performance360 website and today we’re kind of retouching an old article on that site. Similar to how George Lucas likes to go back and fuck with old movies, this is kind of our attempt at an update to the scale article I wrote a few months back, given the timing of the 30-Day Challenge ending and what not.
Obviously, we’ve had the scale front and center in the gym the past month because well, we had a weight loss challenge. But those who have been with us for any period of time probably know that in reality, we absolutely despise scales.
Before getting started I would like to address one statement that needs to stop being said.
“Muscle weighs more than fat.”
Ahem. Let me clear my throat.
“Ow now brown cow…the human torch, was denied a bank loan.”
If you have one pound of muscle and one pound of fat…THEY BOTH WEIGH THE FRIGGIN’ SAME.
Something cannot arbitrarily weigh more than something else. The amount of people in our industry that say this is embarrassing, and we’re better than that. Yes, muscle is certainly more dense and compacted than fat but it cannot just weigh the same because it is absolute, not relative.
Thank you. I feel much better. Now onto why we elected not to have daily or weekly check-ins with weight management during the challenge, and why now that it’s over, the last thing we encourage you to do is subject yourself the the judgement of a scale every day, or even every week.
If I became Commander of Chief of Fitness for just 10 minutes I would make sure that in my supreme list of final verdicts I would eradicate the use of a daily weigh-in as a determination of progress. While a scale can serve a good purpose as a very baseline indicator of weight management, more often than not I’ve witnessed them turn otherwise sane and logical people into obsessed freaks who weigh themselves eighteen times a day until they finally lose it and drop a fierce ax kick on that be-yotch.
The scale can certainly be an A’IGHT tool as a very rudimentary assessment of body recomposition. Certainly, if you are very overweight (by at least 30 pounds), the scale will be a good indicator of fat loss as mostly likely all the weight you lose will be fat, initially. For folks entering a difficult training for the first time, yes the scale will provide a great baseline.
However, if your training program is heavily inclusive of larger compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, presses and cleans, like the one we all just went through at P360, then the scale will absolutely not reflect the true amount of pure fat you lost.
Not by a long shot. Nor will it be accurate past the honeymoon phase of initial weight loss.
It’s basically pulling a Jerry Sandusky, giving you absolutely minimum information, admitting to nothing you want to hear and ultimately leaving you never wanting it in your sight again…and possibly dead.
In a ditch.
Covered in feces.
If the goal is just to strip away overall body weight and pay no attention to precious lean body mass, then sure, knock yourself out on the scale until you become destroyed from too much cardio, and possibly develop that skinny fat look where your body isn’t sure if you are a skinny fat guy or a fat skinny guy.
The real driver of health is the amount of lean body mass (LBM) you posses and that’s where the scale fails since,
- There is no button on it to measure strength increase. You can double your strength while not having the scale drop an ounce.
- It does not reflect a trade off of fat for muscle. You could lose ten pounds of fat and replace it with four pounds of muscle, a completely common occurrence if you are weight training, and according to your weigh-in you would have only “lost six pounds”.
This is not to say you need to go out and turn yourself Arnold, but development and maintenance of some muscle is very beneficial. LBM drives metabolism, makes us more athletic, has proven to be an accurate predictor of long-term health, makes us feel better and just plain turns you into a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus.
(According to any scale, Arnold would have been classified as ‘morbidly obese’ meaning so fat he is on the verge of death, when in reality he was around 3% body fat in his prime and considered to be the most proportionate specimen to ever live.)
Additionally, your body can fluctuate as much as three to five pounds in a given day just by regular metabolic processes, glycogen depletion and replenishment, water weight retention and that time of the month if you are a woman. So, if you weighed yourself on Monday morning and read 135 you could very easily go back that very same night and have it read 140. This has happened to me on numerous experiments with the scale. In fact, on Monday morning after I treated my body like Kelly Clarkson the night before, I weighed eight pounds more than I did on Tuesday morning. I didn’t gain eight pounds of fat in one night, but that kind of fluctuation occurs when you splurge and a variety of other factors.
Would I honestly believe I put on eight pounds of fat in 24 hours while maintaining an intense exercise program? Well, maybe with that list of food I ate, but no. Not a chance.
The craziness of that scale number driving us Gary Busey has removed all sense and logic that you would normally posses. Often times, that frustration gets people to quit when they are actually making amazing progress!
It’s why we don’t normally keep a scale in the gym, why I weigh myself about once a quarter and why typically don’t give a rat’s ass about how much I weigh. I am far more concerned with how I feel carrying my weight, how my clothes fit me and how I perform physically. If my weight allows me to train hard four times per week then I have a good shot at maintaining long-term health, which is goal numero uno. Long term. Big picture, people.
Check out this lady below who, according to her scale, is yet to “make progress”.
Same net total weight yet dramatic reduction in body fat percentage and most likely jean size (for all you ‘fitting into your skinny jeans obsessed’ women out there. And I know there’s like a million of you.)
She has added muscle and removed fat, looks WAY better, yet weighs the exact same.
The take home message is that using a scale is fine as you start out but only if you do not obsess over it and understand that your body can be altered dramatically without so much as a hint from that pesky fella in the bathroom.
If you are more of a visual learner, which one do you think has the higher net weight on a scale?
Lighter scale number on the left, heavier scale number on the right. Which one would you rather have?
Personally, I look better in a thong and I’m going one on the right.
Ditch the scale. Focus on how you feel. Keep your sanity.