Well, I am back to writing this week.
I would have done a Video Log, but Kevin is in Florida with our crew of lifters at the USAPL Raw Nationals, and no one wants to watch me by myself for 10 minutes.
So, with that in mind, I am going to talk about something that I go over with clients and athletes almost daily.

The scale.
Is it your friend or your enemy?

I’ll explain why.
But of course, there is back story.

Bear with me, it’s the Irish in me, we just can’t tell a quick story.

At TPS we have a wide range of clientele ranging from competitive athletes in weight classes, to people who just want to Look Better Naked.

Most people who sign up for Personal Training Services simply want to look better naked, even if they will not say it.
Who doesn’t?
Maybe Clint Darden because he is just a handsome bastard, or Casey Williams AKA McDreamy.

Darden Clint Dec 5 630

ipa meet casey and yessie
I digress.
Let’s look at the competitive lifter first.
For them, the scale may be a friend but may be an enemy.
Most lift in a weight class, and we will assume that for this example that the person DOES need to make weight.
First and foremost, with any meal plan or strategy we implement, we are concerned with maintaining or improving body composition.
When you are watching your weight for athletics, it is critical to maintain your lean body mass (muscle) and/or improve it.

This is why I say the scale may be your enemy.

If you only look at the scale while being aware of your weight class, it might lie to you.

Weight isn’t weight.
When going through a cutting cycle to make weight you need to maintain as much Lean Body Mass as you can to perform optimally.
Simply getting on the scale and checking weight doesn’t tell the story.
Are you:


  • Losing body fat
  • Losing muscle (NOT LOOSING-I HATE THAT)
  • Maintaining your muscle mass
  • Losing/gaining somewhat equal amounts of fat and muscle

This is where the scale lies.
Let’s say you need to cut 20 pounds and all you do is slice your calories, only using the scale will not tell you what is going on, it only tells you what you weight.
We monitor body composition closely with our athletes to make sure that they will not suffer, or only suffer minimally after a cut.
Here’s an example of what people say can’t be done.
I was referred a client for a drastic weight cut in a short amount of time by a friend of mine who is a coach. The client did a USAPL meet and qualified for Raw Nationals-but was a little surprised that she did.
She decided to do Nationals, but had gained too much weight after the meet, and needed to be in the weight class that she qualified for.
She was under eating and not eating properly for what she needed to do and it showed.
She came to me on September 13th at 132 pounds and 28% body fat.

That translates to 95 pounds of Lean Body Mass and 37 pounds of fat.
We needed to get her to 57 kg (125.4 pounds or less for those who live in Countries that aren’t Communist) in 5 weeks.
That is not a long time to lose the 7 pounds without risking a  loss in lean body mass.
If it was a guy at 250, it would be a breeze.
I also wanted to increase her muscle mass so that she would be strong(her) at the meet.
Without boring you with all of the details of how I did this, we set up a plan to improve her lean body mass and lose weight (fat), and make weight.
We did a mid-point check in at the 2 ½ week mark and she was a little concerned about the scale when she got on it.
I wasn’t.
I could tell by looking at her that she was much leaner.
We did a comp test and she was at 131 pounds and 20.5% body fat.
Her results surprised even me at this point.
She was now at 131 pounds, and 20.5% body fat.
That is 104 pounds Lean Body Mass and 27 pounds fat mass.
A 9 pound increase in muscle and a 10 pound decrease in fat.


I am not making this up.
The calipers don’t lie.
The scale does.


The scale. Friend or enemy
Had she continued on what she was doing I am sure she would have dropped to less than 90 pounds of muscle mass at this point and performed poorly.
If she looked at the scale only using her method, she would most likely have been pleased at the weight loss, but severely disappointed at the meet.
We did a final check the day before she left for the meet and her numbers were:
128 pounds, 18.5% body fat.
104 lean body mass and 24 pounds fat mass.

She maintained the lean mass that was gained and lost fat.
Using only the scale, she would not have seen this.

It lies.
I tweaked her final plan and gave her a fluid cycle to guarantee that she made weight and maintained Lean Body Mass.
NOTE: Her husband just emailed me; she made weight with a pound to spare and is more muscular now.
This is a perfect example of how the scale is required for an athlete, but can also be your enemy.
Now let’s look at the “normal” client.
Most of our clients just want to look better naked as I said.
I’ll begin this with a common example.
We’ll use a 175-pound female at 35% body fat.
That is 61 pounds of fat mass and 114 pounds of Lean Body Mass.
I’ll review basic nutrition with them after getting baseline measurements and then order them to STAY OFF THE SCALE until they meet with me again.
I explain that we want a positive body composition change and not a weight change in the short term.
I even tell them that if they do everything we say, the scale might go up, but their dress size will go down.
This is usually met with resistance because girls have been programmed to only focus on weight, and not body comp.

I’ll explain that The Scale.
It lies to you.

I review how changes can be made that make them look and feel better but may not be reflected by the scale.
A usual example is that they may gain 4 pounds of lean mass and lose 3 pounds of fat.

That is a 7-pound change in the positive direction in body comp, but only 1 pound on the scale.
Sometimes it takes a little more explaining, but they usually get it.
I also like to explain that they will not keep gaining muscle.
If we continually gained muscle from training at the rate we do as beginners, all of us who have been lifting for 30 years would be 900-pound shredded Hulk sized beasts.
I let them know that the scale WILL go down, but we need to increase lean mass as much as we can to make the metabolism into a roaring fire.
For these people, I feel that the scale is the enemy because it doesn’t paint the whole picture.
Yes, I know that many experts say people realize more success by watching weight daily, but in my experience, it has not been the case.
To sum up, whether you are an athlete in a sport with weight classes, or someone who wants to look better naked, avoid the scale as your only source of information.
Find a coach or a skilled person to monitor your body composition.
You’ll get far better results that way.
Good luck.





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