Building without “the bulge” is critical to the female psyche. And, Week 4 is where your dedication starts to pay off. People start to notice or look at you differently, so you don’t mind the number on the scale…even though, it has possibly gone up! Many of my clients report the same. They get frustrated by the slow-moving scale, but their significant others, co-workers, clothes, and mirrors tell them a different story.
This is where the scale can be extremely misleading and borderline dangerous. I do not condone owning a scale or weighing yourself daily… or even weekly because you don’t want that read-out to deter or frustrate you. Those who do will typically short-change or limit their transformation.
In this stage, maintaining or even gaining weight is not prep fail; it can and should be prep win. Prep win occurs when you’re not adding pounds of body fat; you’re adding pounds of muscle while starting to lose body fat. This is where you start to see and understand that body composition shifts are different than simple weight loss.
In my eyes, the most noticeable change this week has been in my mid-section because… that’s where I fixate… and also because I’m female. What I mean is the female hierarchy of leanness is typically torso, arms, then legs. (Note: men tend to have the opposite order of leanness.) In clothes, I can also detect (feel) that my inner thighs are starting to tighten. In my husband’s eyes, the most noticeable changes are in my upper back and booty where he can see the muscular development.
The Seven Secrets of this week, therefore, start here:
#1 We build in order to lean-out better.
With my studio’s Tanita body composition analysis scale, I can quantify the changes occurring since starting contest prep. Before contest prep, my body weight fluctuated very modestly within a 2-3 lb range and my body fat levels, in particular, stayed stubbornly still. So, what’s changed?
- First off… full disclosure… my body weight has drifted over 140 lbs for the first time since I was carrying human life (i.e. pregnant!)
- Of this 4-lb weight gain, 5.2 lbs is muscle gain while I have lost 1.2 lbs of body fat, which leads me to Secret #2:
#2: Sloppy “bulking” involves gaining weight indiscriminately. Succinct building involves increasing muscle tissue while maintaining and starting to lose body fat.
- In losing body fat and gaining muscle, my body fat decreased 1.5% to 21.9% and is now in the “Under” blue category for the first time. I actually dropped two tiers in a month, which is considerable in my observation and experience.
- The % of body fat in my trunk declined the most (from 15.5% to 13.3%).
- In order to get to lower percentages of body fat, understand that higher levels of muscle mass assist…in raising the denominator and boosting your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Body Fat Percentage = (Body Fat Weight / Total Body Weight) x 100
- My BMR went up by 62 calories to 1,465. This equates to an additional 62 calories that I’m a-burnin’ on a daily basis just because I have more muscle on my frame. Muscle works for your physique, fat does not… leading us to Secret #3:
#3 You can continue to lean out consuming the same number of calories.
Many of my contest preps have maintained a steady diet from start-to-stage. The process itself leans you out. No trickery or voo-doo!
- The muscle mass in my trunk has seen the most impact as my trainer / husband has been focusing on building my upper lats and booty. (Trunk: 59.9 –> 63.0 lbs)
- We made modest gains from training triceps, a little bicep, hammies, and, his favorite… calves! (Arms: 4.8–>~5.1, Legs: 15.0 –> 15.8)
#4 Consistency over time is what creates change.
- Morning Cardio 5x a week
- Dedicated strength-training 3x a week
- 6-7 meals/day….bringing us to Secret #5:
#5 Never skip a meal even if it’s inconvenient – in the car, in front of clients, or in the middle of your hair appt…
I am consuming more calories than before (2,500-3,000 cals/day), but, with better choices of foods along with more protein, and an optimization of macro-nutrients (protein, carb, fat) appropriate for this stage of prep… which, leads us to Secret #6:
#6 You can’t grow a booty without food & “iron”.
Now, adding muscle indiscriminately or inadvertently to quads, traps, and biceps will give you a more husky appearance than building muscle in your delts, lats, glutes, and hammies. With a bodybuilding mindset, build muscle strategically, while creating the metabolic furnace to decrease body fat systemically (from head to toe).
This is why you’ll never see me flipping tires, doing ropes, shrugs, or anything that targets the “manly” muscles. As a female over forty, I want to build the areas that tend to sag or look lackluster with age…namely the booty and back of thighs. I also want to create the appearance of an hourglass figure (and smaller mid-section) by building out my shoulders and upper lats…which brings me to this week’s final and most important Secret to Stage:
#7 The same weight can look dramatically different on you depending on the underlying composition of body fat and muscle.
The truth is I feel much more body-confident heading to the pool in a bikini today at 140 lbs than I did a month ago at 136…and, when I return to 136 (and beyond) the contest prep way, I’ll appear as a very different “136”.
There is no reason to “fear” building muscle because, when you do it the competitor’s way, there is no bulge, there is actually tightening as the number on the scale remains flat or even trends up.
Dream big. Desire more.