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Myth: Can't Gain Muscle With Low BF

Can’t gain muscle when at a low body fat (< 12%)

I have been hearing this from multiple people, including a coach that has been coaching people with various goals since the 80’s.

I personally don’t buy it, but is there any truth to this?

Note that I am not talking about trying to maintain low body fat while building muscle.

CT has an analogy for this…

Quote: "I like to use a construction worker analogy to explain this. Imagine that your muscles are like a house you’re trying to build. The bricks used to build the house represent the amino acids (from the ingestion of protein) while the money you’re paying the workers (so that they’ll do the work) represents the carbs and fat you eat.

Finally, the workers represent the factors involved in the protein synthesis process (Testosterone mainly) and the truck bringing the bricks to the workers represent insulin (which plays a capital role in transporting the nutrients to the muscle cells).

If you don’t give the workers enough bricks (protein) they won’t be able to build the house as fast as they could. So in that regard, an insufficient protein intake will slow down muscle growth.

Similarly, if you don’t pay your workers enough (low carbs or fat intake) they won’t be as motivated to work hard. As a result, the house won’t be built very rapidly. In fact, if you really cut the workers’ pay, they might even get mad, go on strike, and start demolishing the house (catabolism due to an excessively low caloric intake). So in that regard, not consuming enough protein or calories to support muscle growth will lead to a slower rate of gains.

Now, what happens if you start to send more bricks (increase protein intake) to the workers? Well, they’ll be able to build the house more rapidly because they aren’t lacking in raw material. However, at some point, sending more and more bricks won’t lead to a faster rate of construction because the workers can only perform so much work in any given amount of time. For example, if your crew can add 1000 bricks per day to the walls, giving them 2000 bricks per day will be useless: it exceeds their work capacity. So the excess bricks will go to waste (literally).

In the same regard, if you increase your workers’ salary (increase caloric intake) chances are their motivation will also increase and as a result they’ll build the house faster. However, just like with bricks, there comes a point where increasing the workers’ salary won’t have any effect on the house-building rate: the workers will reach their physical limit. Once this limit is reached you can increase their salary all you want; they won’t be able to add bricks to the house any faster.

What I’m trying to say is you can’t bully your body into building muscle by force-feeding it. Adding nutrients and calories will have a positive effect on muscle growth until you reach your saturation point. After that, any additional calories will be stored as body fat.

So while it’s true the more you eat the bigger you’ll get, the additional weight will be in the form of fat, not muscle tissue."

you must have misread.
Most say you gain muscle at a maximum rate below 12%

it is next to impossible to gain muscle when on a diet going from 8% to 6%.

It is very easy to build muscle when increasing fat from 6% up…(this is below 12% yes?) ask any competitor.

It is perfectly achieveable to gain well while maintaining a bf% of 10-12% too.

One is capable of gaining the MOST muscle when no regard for fat accumulation is taken, as there will ALWAYS be more than enough “building blocks” so in a sense he is right…

BUT it is perfectly reasonable and advisable to gain well enough while maintaining decent bf levels, as many do. Dexter Jackson doesnt go too high,(neither do i and you all know how similar “Dex” and i are…) as do many other top pros - then some do go above and beyond, like Coleman and Preist (as we all saw!)… most likely due to body types - endo-meso, as opposed to ecto and ecto-meso’s.
Are the results different? Only based on genetic ability, drugs, training… not how MUCH of a surplus there is…

As long as there is a surplus of energy and aminos, there will be growth, that surplus could be 100kcal, which would add little to no noticeable fat accumulation.

If the surplus is 1500kcal… the same amount of muscle is built, but there is a hell of a lot more fat gained.

Eating more than a reasonable surplus doesnt gain more muscle.
Eating more than maintenance or a deficit does… obviously.

JJ

Thanks,

Here is a quote from the guy (translated to english)

“You can not gain muscle when you are under 12% Body fat”

Ofcourse that is BS, But is it a total myth or is there some truth behind it?

Excuse my poor english

12% is not that low…

[quote]Joris wrote:
Thanks,

Here is a quote from the guy (translated to english)

“You can not gain muscle when you are under 12% Body fat”

Ofcourse that is BS, But is it a total myth or is there some truth behind it?

Excuse my poor english[/quote]

If your english is also poor, why would you assume he wasn’t simply saying that below 12% may make it harder for SOME people to make further progress? It makes more sense that he was making a point of being at a very low body fat percentage instead of some point of specifically “12%”.

I agree with this but understand that it would take some training time to know just how many “bricks” you need. A guy that’s been at it a while may know that he grows better at whatever calories, etc but having it so dialed in that you maintain (or even lose) BF while gaining muscle is tricky. You have to know what you’re doing and it’s not like the body will need exactly 2351 calories to grow everyday. I imagine some days it needs more, some less.

Most would argue that to gain the most muscle in the least amount of time, err on the higher side and don’t worry too much about BF numbers until they get too high.

I don’t understand the idea that any magic number (high or low) is where you need to be to grow or that when you reach it, you should start to cut. Most on this site who ask about the magic BF number do not in any way need to be worrying about it. They need to be eating and training and seeing what “sticks” before trying to see their abs like it seems most guys want to do.

CW article today was interesting in that he believes that you can gain at a lower BF, say sub-10% than a higher one, it will simply take longer. But then I wonder how lower and higher BF percentages affect hormone levels…it’s known to for female athletes so there must be some affect…I’ll have to do some research into that (or if someone knows off the top of their heads then pipe up) and I don’t mean starving-reaction cortisol levels…I mean an chronic affect of hormone levels over time.

My aunt always used to say "to make good beef jerky…you first needa lotttttttsa beef.

[quote]medevac wrote:
…[/quote]

Nobody will get it perfected.

…But if your magic number is for example; 3487-3921 (Depending on daily variables) and you eat 4000 a day you’ll gain a hell of a lot less fat than if you ate 8000 and just didn’t give a fuck.

read this…

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1268956

[quote]Professor X wrote:
If your english is also poor, why would you assume he wasn’t simply saying that below 12% may make it harder for SOME people to make further progress? It makes more sense that he was making a point of being at a very low body fat percentage instead of some point of specifically “12%”.
[/quote]

He really ment that under 12% it is not possible to gain muscle mass.

I don’t understand where he gets that number from, but at the end he means that you need fat mass to gain muscle mass.

You need to eat a minimum of four whole chickens a day in order to gain muscle.

There. Now you have more arbitrary advice from another random person. Go start a thread about whether or not it’s a myth.

You can also tell people I’m a coach who has been coaching people with “various goals”, but only since the 90s.

Including the beak and feathers.

[quote]toddthebod wrote:
You need to eat a minimum of four whole chickens a day in order to gain muscle.[/quote]