T Nation

BF% vs. Muscle gains

Hello all,
Just a thought?. I was think out load to myself and wanted to know if anyone had any input.

Is there any studies or personal experiences with maintaining a ?ideal? BF% during heavy lifting periods. In my experience I have found that at certain lower bf% I can work and eat HUGE and never see gains in body or in strength. I haven?t tested out a theory on the subject but this is what I have seen:

A couple years ago I was at 145 lbs and about 6% bf I ate HUGE and lifted hard. I never gained any weight and didn?t see much of any change. Fast forward to now, I am 195 lbs maybe 15% bf and see gains and add plates faster then I ever thought possible.

I have learned that the body is a very smart beast. I am wondering if maintaining a lower bf% could tell your body ?hey, we don?t have the resources to allow any muscle gains?. Which could mean that maintaining a higher BF% would say to your body ?hey, we have plenty of resources stored away. Bring on the Muscle Gains!?

Has there been any studies or anything written on this topic? What do you think? I would love to hear your comments

I haven’t had any replies on this subject. I don’t know if this is just a stupid question or if nobody saw it.

I would too like to read a reply.

All I know is that higher bf (over 30%) makes you secret more cortisol. not good…

however anything before that…

Check out the recent thread on the Dog Pound entitled “Bf percentages of athletes.” In particular, read Kelly Baggett’s response. Basically, just as we have metabolic setpoints (maintenance calorie) that are determined by genes and our habits as youngsters, we have body fat setpoints that correlate to optimal hormonal functioning.


Personally, my strength is best at a BF% of 10-11% (assuming that caloric intake is sufficient). This is one of the primary reasons that it is difficult for most people to stay lean while adding appreciable amounts of LBM.

I’m just curious how you got from 145 @ 6% to 195 @ 15%. That means you added about 30 pounds of lean mass in two years. Did that have anything to do with eating HUGE and lifing hard?

d/c

Sorry I forgot to mention that the first set of stats was win I quit lifting, gave up. It wasn’t until some bumps in the road woke me up and I started up again.

Sorry, you still didn’t answer Dogchild’s question. You OBVIOUSLY increased your caloric intake, and I would guess changed routines/schedules several times. Were you overtrained? Malnourished? What was it? We will never know…

So as not to leave you hanging, with regard to your original question, you have got a point SORT-OF. If the body is in a distinct state of PEM (Protein-Energy-Malnutrition), then Testosterone and other androgens will be low. There IS a correlation between VERY low bf% (<5%) and low testosterone. I won’t go too deeply into it, but it’s thought to be related to the level of a hormone called Leptin, which in turn is related to body fat levels.

I would guess that unless you were physically sick at that time, that was not the case, so you had lower BF due to athleticism. T levels actually increase in trained individuals.

My guess, like Dogchild’s, is that you just found the right formula after a while. Hope this answers to some extent. SRS.

There actually have been studies done on this, reviewed by Berardi on his web site. The leaner you are, the more of your caloric intake will be used to build muscle. This doesn’t jive with your experiences, but then again, you left details out–how did you get to 190 except by eating vast amounts of food???

Eating really bad. Got lazy with a sit down job and eating out all the time. I am guessing stress and being laid up after Heart surgery had something to do with it too. So no training and eating out put me over the top.

its a mixed bag. the fatter you are the more test -> estrogen. but being fatter does help on some lifts like squating.