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Weight gain, fat loss and confusion

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 23, 2013 at 9:01 PM

I am female, 26, 163 lbs (11.5 stone), 5 ft 10 in and I have been paleo for 4 months. Only recently (last 2 months) I have started weight training. The stats I gave you are the current stats, I have, since starting weight training, increased weight according to my scales. I am not bothered too much by that, I don't know how you are meant to figure out what your ideal body weight is. According to the scales in one month (from November to December) I lost 5% body fat (then 20%) and gained 4% muscle mass (then 46%) - this led to the increase in overall body weight. As I said, the weight gain doesn't bother me too much but what I do want to know is, should I be concerned? I know nothing about weight training and what to expect but I expected that I would lose body fat, perhaps gain muscle (if I was in a calorie excess which I didn't think I was) and look more athletic, dare I say it, 'toned'. I just think I am getting bigger without looking like I am working out, I don't have defined muscles. I just feel bigger/fatter/big boned which is why it was a surprise when I saw I had lost body fat!

The stats are taken from scales which apprently can measure body fat (I realise I should probably take this with a pinch of salt but as long as I keep using the same scales then I can use it as reference). My stomach looks flatter but it also, I think, looks thicker. I feel I am undegoing body recomp but not in a fat loss, "waow you look athletic and toned" but in a "Ooooh isn't she curvy and with hips" I have never had hips before but now I do! I don't mind at all but I would loike to have lower BF and look like I am muscular/defined muscles/flatter, bikini body. I think fat is just moving round my body.

Can anyone shed any light? Is this natural? Is it normal to gain weight then lose it perhaps?

My weight training consists of 2/3 times a week of: Squats, bench press, military press, deadlifts, pendlay rows and most of the time finish with ketllebell swings, planks and bridges. I do it 5 reps, 5 repeats.

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on February 01, 2013
at 10:03 PM

Ah, ok, cool, thank you cocobean!!

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on February 01, 2013
at 08:34 PM

It depends on how many sets, reps, and different exercises you do. I don't just do one tricep exercise on tricep day. I do some dips, skull crushers, weighted push ups, and cable tricep pulldowns. I work each part hard since I only work it directly once a week. Other days may have exercises that work it secondarily. however, all the focus is not on it

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on February 01, 2013
at 02:04 PM

I have generally been confused by this concept of certain muscles on certain days, wouldn't it mean you were in teh gym for as little as say 15-20 mins? I would feel like I was cheating myself! Also thanks for the tip on the book, I'm definitely going to take a look at that! :)

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 31, 2013
at 09:51 PM

Also, I should add...the free weights should be your focus. Machines are good for isolation exercises but don't tire yourself out on them. I would definitely suggest taking a look at Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book. Its a great resource for barbell training (powerlifts and olympic lifts)

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 31, 2013
at 09:49 PM

It's fine! Everyone has to learn the basics sometime! These are split over the week. I do back/bicep on tuesday, lower back/hamstring (deadlifts and such) on wednesday, chest/tricep on thursday, quads/glutes (various types of squats) on saturday, and shoulders/abs on sunday. I do this because I like working out most days of the week, and it would not be good at all to do full body weight training 5 days per week. I mix isolation and compound. Example: On quad day I do leg extensions (isolated) as well as squats (compound). On back day I do lat pulldowns as well as bent over rows

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 31, 2013
at 04:02 PM

How do you split these? Are they by isolation exercises or compund moves? Sorry constantly asking, I'm a newbie to weights!

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 29, 2013
at 12:44 AM

The arm exercises that you are doing are great! I would just suggest that, time permitting, you do a variety of arms. It may not fit into your schedule, but I do three days of arms a week and two days of legs. My arm split is back/bicep, chest/tricep, and shoulder/abs. And yes, planks are definitely better than your average crunches! they tighten up the 'pooch' that many women can't seem to get rid of. Weighted abs are great for building a solid core. Don't get rid of the planks! they are great for your entire core!

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 28, 2013
at 01:54 PM

Thanks for the support and advice! I think I am going to start incorporating more cardio, I am really limited on time these days but I need to make time! You say I am not doing much in the way of arms but doesn't the bench and pendlay rows work the arms? Also, I stopped doing situps as I read they don't benefit the abs and that planks are better. Is that false?

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 24, 2013
at 10:49 AM

That's great, well done!! Hahaha yeah I have to admit, I am getting guns but only when I flex can you notice I have muscle beneath the skin and fat :s What is your training regime and what's your diet like?

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:53 PM

I am just scared as I thought I was putting on fat weight until I saw the scales say my BF had decreased. It kind of makes sense as I was eating less though I guess more densely calorific (trying keto) and also because my muscles do feel more toned to touch but I just can't SEE them!

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:49 PM

Thank you very much!

7efe820ea2b10a1d2a78977ce7a4f215

(348)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:30 PM

Just keep on truckin'. Unless you're injecting testosterone, you're physically incapable of bulking like Schwarzenegger. Also, making sure to incorporate stretching may help elongate your muscles. I don't know if you're familiar with barre workouts, but here's an article about this bulking, then leaning thing from the founder of Bar Method: http://bit.ly/veCR8N

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:21 PM

So just keep going? I won't just keep getting bigger and balloon? I don't want to look like a body builder. If I had to choose it would be power lifter but in all honesty I would just like to have lower FB as wellas be strong and powerful for my goalkeeping.

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5 Answers

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2
7efe820ea2b10a1d2a78977ce7a4f215

(348)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:17 PM

I'm under the impression that bulking and then leaning out is common, especially among the ladies. As your build muscle underneath your fat layers you will appear more bulky, then as you lose the fat you will lean out and that's when your toned body becomes visible. Obviously, no hard and fast on this one, but it's definitely not unheard of or anything to be concerned about.

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:21 PM

So just keep going? I won't just keep getting bigger and balloon? I don't want to look like a body builder. If I had to choose it would be power lifter but in all honesty I would just like to have lower FB as wellas be strong and powerful for my goalkeeping.

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:49 PM

Thank you very much!

7efe820ea2b10a1d2a78977ce7a4f215

(348)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:30 PM

Just keep on truckin'. Unless you're injecting testosterone, you're physically incapable of bulking like Schwarzenegger. Also, making sure to incorporate stretching may help elongate your muscles. I don't know if you're familiar with barre workouts, but here's an article about this bulking, then leaning thing from the founder of Bar Method: http://bit.ly/veCR8N

1
E8625b8af639c7a1c66cf6987ee32dde

on January 23, 2013
at 11:28 PM

I began weight training about 2 months ago as well. I initially gained 2 lbs and now have lost a total of 4 lbs. More important is that I am measuring myself as well - when I had gotten back down to my original weight I had lost more than an inch around my waist and hips even though I felt that I looked the same. Only now am I starting to see the difference in my body and feeling that I look "toned". We definitely build muscle before losing fat and it will take time to see the toning but little by little it will happen and it will be a more permanent change. I felt the process also sped up once I mixed cardio and weight training. I start with 10 min. cardio to get my heart rate up - then some weights, then 4 min. cardio then more weights, repeat. I also finish every workout with some Yoga to help lengthen rather than bulk up my muscles. Since starting that routine I have lost 4lbs from original weight and am excited to get to my next measuring date. Also, my husband is jealous of my new "guns" which I show off at parties now! :P

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 24, 2013
at 10:49 AM

That's great, well done!! Hahaha yeah I have to admit, I am getting guns but only when I flex can you notice I have muscle beneath the skin and fat :s What is your training regime and what's your diet like?

1
92b9b1b6996d3dcb7e42a172ea821157

(10)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:45 PM

I would advice you to ditch those scales as they are very inaccurate, especially as you get leaner (20% is quite lean for a woman), and continue weight training and paleo - it's the best combination for ideal body and health. Your muscles are retaining more water now that you are training heavily, that makes the difference but it will diminish with time. And then accompanying fatloss will help to show off more muscle. Although dialling in some nutrition might be required for that.

I have been weight training for 3 years now, for 2 of them 4 times a week on pretty intense and heavy programs (given to me by my PT with an aim to gain muscle). I supplement and eat very high protein and haven't gained more than a few % of muscle - my trainer measures my fat % using calipers at 12 sites (not the most accurate measure either). AT the same time the difference in body composition is pretty amazing - I feel 'toned', my muscles are much more defined. Best thing I ever did for myself :D

We just don't have enough testosterone to build significant amont of muscle (unless you are 1 out of a 100 exception). Men have at least 10 times more and even they would struggle to build muscle on 2-3 times a weel training regimen.

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 23, 2013
at 09:53 PM

I am just scared as I thought I was putting on fat weight until I saw the scales say my BF had decreased. It kind of makes sense as I was eating less though I guess more densely calorific (trying keto) and also because my muscles do feel more toned to touch but I just can't SEE them!

0
C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

on February 25, 2013
at 04:28 PM

Well, just an update. I took a picture of myself after this post and a month later, have taken another. I felt I hadn't changed. I couldn't be more wrong. My stomach from the fromnt anyway, has gone through a rather large transformation. I also have more definition in my legs and my love handles are smoothing/tightening up. REally rather pleased to be honest, if a little surprised! I won't spoil the impact effect now but after a few more months I will post an update with a before and after picture. Hopefully I won't screw up along the way.

Cocobean, you were right: I changed my workouts to include a more upper body focus and actually started following the SS program. Currently have the book in my Aamzon basket and I think I am at the stage now where I can justify the expense. My squats are at a weight now where, eventhough it's not body weight, it's heavy enough for bad form to cause injury and I am struggling.

Also, Ruby you were right, 'keep on truckin' was the best medicine!

Thanks everyone!

0
Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 25, 2013
at 04:48 AM

From what you described as your training routine, it doesn't look like you are doing much in the way of upper body other than military press. Go hard with the delt exercises and try some olympic lifts and chin ups. Your leg muscles are growing, so your hips may look bigger in comparison in the rest of you. Doing HEAVY arm workouts will grow your arms and balance things out. Personally, I used to be more curvy with a smaller waist and big hips. However, I really liked the more athletic look of Crossfit women and female gymnasts with big upper bodies, smaller hips, and wider waists (by wide I mean bigger obliques. not flabby waists). To widen the obliques, do weighted sit ups (more than 10 pounds), weighted mason twists, weighted side bends. However, if you want more of an hourglass shape, avoid the weighted abs or keep them to 10 pounds or lighter.

Also, I would suggest some HIIT about 3x per week. Avoid steady cardio like the elliptical. This only burns calories while you are doing it. HIIT keeps the metabolism engaged. However, walking is always beneficial. Walking with a heavy backpack is great for the muscles too!

Be patient, too! It takes more than 2 months to build substantial muscle!

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 29, 2013
at 12:44 AM

The arm exercises that you are doing are great! I would just suggest that, time permitting, you do a variety of arms. It may not fit into your schedule, but I do three days of arms a week and two days of legs. My arm split is back/bicep, chest/tricep, and shoulder/abs. And yes, planks are definitely better than your average crunches! they tighten up the 'pooch' that many women can't seem to get rid of. Weighted abs are great for building a solid core. Don't get rid of the planks! they are great for your entire core!

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 31, 2013
at 09:51 PM

Also, I should add...the free weights should be your focus. Machines are good for isolation exercises but don't tire yourself out on them. I would definitely suggest taking a look at Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book. Its a great resource for barbell training (powerlifts and olympic lifts)

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 28, 2013
at 01:54 PM

Thanks for the support and advice! I think I am going to start incorporating more cardio, I am really limited on time these days but I need to make time! You say I am not doing much in the way of arms but doesn't the bench and pendlay rows work the arms? Also, I stopped doing situps as I read they don't benefit the abs and that planks are better. Is that false?

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on January 31, 2013
at 04:02 PM

How do you split these? Are they by isolation exercises or compund moves? Sorry constantly asking, I'm a newbie to weights!

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on February 01, 2013
at 10:03 PM

Ah, ok, cool, thank you cocobean!!

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on February 01, 2013
at 02:04 PM

I have generally been confused by this concept of certain muscles on certain days, wouldn't it mean you were in teh gym for as little as say 15-20 mins? I would feel like I was cheating myself! Also thanks for the tip on the book, I'm definitely going to take a look at that! :)

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on February 01, 2013
at 08:34 PM

It depends on how many sets, reps, and different exercises you do. I don't just do one tricep exercise on tricep day. I do some dips, skull crushers, weighted push ups, and cable tricep pulldowns. I work each part hard since I only work it directly once a week. Other days may have exercises that work it secondarily. however, all the focus is not on it

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 31, 2013
at 09:49 PM

It's fine! Everyone has to learn the basics sometime! These are split over the week. I do back/bicep on tuesday, lower back/hamstring (deadlifts and such) on wednesday, chest/tricep on thursday, quads/glutes (various types of squats) on saturday, and shoulders/abs on sunday. I do this because I like working out most days of the week, and it would not be good at all to do full body weight training 5 days per week. I mix isolation and compound. Example: On quad day I do leg extensions (isolated) as well as squats (compound). On back day I do lat pulldowns as well as bent over rows

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