First of all, muscle does weigh something, STRONG friend.
Secondly, my purpose in writing this article is to help women look at the scale as only one tiny measurement of progress, and it never tells the whole story!
Also, I hope that you, the reader, walks away with a better understanding of muscle mass & body composition. And, lastly, why the scale fluctuates and what causes it to do so, because it is the KEY to having a healthy relationship with the scale!
Scale fluctuations are inevitable. You can’t control it, periodt! It’s going to do what it do!
So, let’s dive in!
What is muscle?
There are three types of muscles: Skeletal, smooth, and cardiac.
- Skeletal muscle makes up 30-40 percent of our total body mass.
- Smooth muscle covers all of our internal organs.
- Cardiac muscle covers the walls of our heart.
Muscles are made up of individual fibers that are bundled together and connected to bones by tendons.
Muscles are made up of proteins such as actin and myosin, and they need a rich supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly.
Muscles also need to be exercised regularly to stay strong and healthy.
Our muscles – the ones we think of when it comes to tone, shape, curves, etc. are full of water, because carbs are stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. Glycogen is what the muscles use for energy, and each gram of that glycogen holds approximately 3-4 grams of water. So – more stored glycogen = more stored water, and that results in higher scale weight!
Does muscle weigh more than fat?
It makes me cringe when people say that muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat. Peridot!!
One pound of muscle weighs the same as 1 pound of fat.
Muscle takes up less space – Fat takes up more space.
Muscle is more dense – fat is squishy.
Muscle burns more calories – fat stores the calories for later use.
Muscle is more compact.
You can take two people of the same weight but with different levels of muscle. The person with more muscle will look tighter and more compact than the other person that weighs the same but with more body fat.
You will weigh more with muscle mass on your frame!
- If you’re a woman who lifts the things, you may weigh more than you thought you would on the scale, and that’s okay!
- However, your clothes will fit better & differently, and you’ll look physically different, even if your weight doesn’t change much, if any at all.
I’m heavier in the photo on the right but much leaner; I have more muscle and less body fat.
Now, if you want to be lighter and can’t let go of insisting on a lighter scale weight, then…
- Don’t eat
- Do some dumb ass diet!
- Don’t lift weights!
- Don’t eat protein.
- Do a lot of cardio activity!
- Do light weights with high repetitions.
- Cut a limb off, lol – I am being facetious, but there are a lot of women who will do just about anything to lose weight. It’s pretty sad!
STRONG friend, you will end up a lighter, smaller, skinnier version of yourself with no muscle tone. You’ll be skinny fat. If that is the look you are going for, then do you!
I’m willing to bet that is not what you want!
If you want to be STRONGER, have visible muscle, a roaring metabolism, tone, shape, curves, etc…
Not only that, but if you like to be able to do push-ups, pull-ups, deadlift your body weight, etc., then…
- Do Lift the Heavy Things.
- Do lift more overtime! #ProgressiveOverload
- Do Eat enough food, whether you are in a cut or building.
- Do eat plenty of protein.
- Do sprinkle in your cardio activity, but do it wisely.
What the scale weighs when we step on it:
EVERYTHING, but let’s dive a little deeper!
First, the scale weight is just weight. Say it with me again; it’s just weight. It’s a number that does not define you. It’s really arbitrary.
It doesn’t define you or your body.
A bodyweight scale measures our total body weight – TOTAL BODYWEIGHT – TOTAL BODY MASS. <<< Read that again!
Yes, fat-free mass (everything but body fat)+ fat mass ( all the fat in your body) + everything else!
To put it another way… The scale doesn’t separate muscle and fat; it’s not weighing one or the other. It’s weighing our TOTAL BODY MASS!
That means the scale weight accounts for your muscles, fat, bones, blood, tendons, and water – the body is made up of approximately 60%-is of water, your brain, hair, organs, skin, and connective tissues.
Let’s now look at Scale Fluctuations and why they happen.
Scale Fluctuations are NORMAL!!!
First things first, please understand this, our WEIGHT IS NOT STATIC. It fluctuates all the time – day to day, from the morning to the evening, and so on. Furthermore, that fluctuation doesn’t mean you gained fat overnight!
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at some reasons why the scale fluctuates:
- A change in diet, such as eating more or fewer calories than usual.
- An increase in stress levels causes hormones to be released that can lead to water retention.
- You lifted the heavy things! Lifting the things causes the muscles to accumulate inflammation. Hello DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness)!
- Menstrual cycle, as hormones fluctuate and can cause water retention. Some women can gain upwards of at least 5 pounds, if not more, during their period.
- You ate more salty or high-sodium foods than usual, which can cause water retention.
- You ate more carbohydrates than usual, which can cause water retention.
- Dehydration, as the body, holds onto water when it is not getting enough.
- A decrease in sleep quality, such as lack of sleep, can cause hormonal imbalances and water retention.
- You need to poop! Not pooping regularly will affect your weight.
- There’s food hanging out in your system, or you ate more than usual!
- Last but not least, you’ve gained muscle mass – more muscle means more water stored in the muscle. Hello, gainz!! Muscle weighs!
- You had a cocktail or two! You can be lighter or heavier the next day from drinking, depending on fluid/water retention or lack thereof.
And, lastly, let’s discuss how to know if you are actually gaining muscle…
You’re gonna notice a scale change – the scale will increase when you gain muscle, or you’re at least maintaining your weight. Remember that muscles weighs something, right?!
You’ll have visible appearance of muscle in either a flexed or even a relaxed state.
- Track your progress through progress photos and measurements in a flexed and relaxed state!
- You feel and look firmer – you might even see muscular gains in an unflexed state.
- Your clothes will start to fit differently in your shoulders, arms, back, legs, and glutes! This is a good thing!💃🏾🙌🏾
If you’re getting STRONGER, then you’re gaining muscle.
- Are your weights increasing over time – are you able to lift more weight?! Then you are gaining muscle!
- You’re performing more repetitions.
- Performing the big lifts with more weight.
Check out my Reel on how to know if you are gaining muscle!
You can test your body fat through tests like Dexa or Hydrostatic Underwater Weighing to see your fat and muscle ratios.
This is how you will know you are getting STRONGER and gaining muscle!
Last but not least, STRONG friend, don’t allow an object to steal your joy or make you feel like you are a failure because the number isn’t going down continuously. It won’t be linear. None of the processes are linear, whether you are trying to lose or build muscle.
Along your journey, it is super important to look at other measures of progress and celebrate all your wins, no matter how small. As well as managing your expectations – body change, strength gains, fitness improvements, etc. takes time. Get your mind right because it’s a LONG game.
Here are some things to look at along your journey, also known as Non-Scale Victories:
- Measurement changes in the hips, waist, and belly.
- How are your clothes fitting – do you look and feel different in them?
- Your form and technique are improving on your lifts!
- What visible difference do you see in the mirror?
- What have other people noticed?
- You feel really good about yourself!
- Do you have more energy throughout the day?
- A downward trend in weight over time.
- Your metabolism has improved tremendously. You can handle more food without gaining weight!
- Are you gaining muscle and or strength?
- You’ve been more consistent with your workouts!
- You’ve developed a healthier relationship with all food!
- Eating brings you so much joy now!
- You’re sleeping like a queen.
- Your dietary adherence has improved.
- You can take rest days without guilt!
- You’ve established healthy habits that are sticking.
- Your quality of life has improved.
- You’re drinking more water.
- You snack way less than you used to.
Just to name a few!! Plus, a handful more here!
It’s uber important to look at other measures of progress throughout your journey, STRONG friend! Start your very own list of Non-Scale Victories and refer back to it often. You’ll be glad you did!
So, STRONG friend, strap in for the long haul because it takes years to build muscle. It is not an overnight process.
You must be doing the right things to gain the things! So be patient and consistent.💪🏾 Enjoy the journey because it’s a beautiful one!
Happy Lifting, Happy Gainz!
If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out; I am happy to help!
For coaching inquiries, email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org or book a STRONGER You Connection Call here.