T Nation

Changing bodycomp without changing weight

I’ve noticed both in myself and others whom I’ve trained that it’s much easier to make a big change in bodycomp if one is either gaining or losing bodyweight at the same time. I say “much easier” … but it would be more accurate to say that without such a change, I’ve found it almost impossible to make any significant bodycomp changes. :wink:

So my question is twofold: One, have you noticed the same thing with your athletes? And two, if you’ve had some success with altering bodycomp while staying at the same weight, could you tell us what you find to be the best method for achieving this?

Thanks!

The problem is that we are talking about body transformation we generally talk about making drastic changes in appearance in a short period of time. That’s what clients want, and it’s just not possible. Why? Because most body transformation clients are generally out of shape or have very little in the way of muscle mass. So they want to gain a lot of muscle while loosing a lot of fat. This is extremely hard to do! Unless everything is done perfectly, which it rarely is.

Take my transformation for example, which (without being pompous) I consider to be on the positive high end of what you can hope to achieve. Consider that at that time, even if it doesn’t shows on my before pics I actually had a large amount of muscle mass: I could bench press 400, squat 550+, deadlift 550+, snatch close to 300 and clean 350+. I also had a very extensive strength training background. So basically all I had to do was loose a lot of fat while retaining my muscle. In the process I was able to add a little muscle, but nothing to write home about.

However your average client won’t have the same muscle mass as I had in my beginning. So they cannot expect the same type of result.

It’s a matter of identifying your client’s priority: to look better what does he need the most? More muscle or more fat. Would he look better with 15lbs of added muscle with the same amount of bodyfat or with 15lbs less bodyfat with the same muscle mass? When you decide first focus on that goal: either try to gain as much muscle as you can while maintaining the same bodyfat OR loose as much bodyfat as possible without loosing muscle.

Once this is accomplished you change your goals around. In other word if you spent 3 months on adding muscle mass, you now focus on loosing as much fat as possible without loosing the muscle. THEN when both are accomplished you start a phase in which you try to maximize both goals.

That’s what I did, phase one was a max fat loss phase. phase 2 was focused on gaining a bit more muscle while loosing a bit more fat and phase 3 was the explosion! Because I already had a lot of muscle mass to begin with, I was able to use short phases. The farther an individual is from his goal, the longer will the phases be. That’s why body transformation can often be a long term process.

Christian, thanks for the reply. There’s a lot of good information in there.

I guess what I was asking was geared more towards people who are already in decent shape. Let’s say for example that you have an wrestler who’s around 14%BF. He wants to improve his bodycomp to where he’s around 10%, but doesn’t want to gain or lose too much weight overall due to being in a certain weight class for his sport.

In this type of case, are there specific strategies that you’ve found to be effective? (I’m assuming that you’ve encountered problems of this nature before, which you may not have, being more focused on performance than bodycomp numbers per se.)

Thanks for any light that you can shed on this.