In November, I did something I never expected I would do: I started overeating on purpose. Yes, you read that right – I deliberately ate more than my body’s caloric requirements for the express purpose of gaining weight. Why would I ever do that after all of the effort that I have put into LOSING weight? The answer? MUSCLES.
You may be asking yourself, how does gaining weight result in muscles? Well, not all of it does, and none of it does unless you have an exercise plan in place that is designed to stimulate muscle growth. In short, though, hypertrophy training (lifting weights in the range of 7-20 reps) combined with surplus calories allows you to add more muscle in a shorter amount of time than simply working out alone. The downsides? You have to commit to putting in consistent time in the gym, you have to accept that approximately three quarters (or more) of the weight that you put on will be fat, and you have to accept that you will probably need to diet again before you get to see the muscle you worked so hard to build!
Why do I want more muscles? There are several answers. First, I want to improve my body fat percentage. I’m a small person who looks thin, and you would never guess that my body fat percentage is as high as it is. I want to change that, not to compete bodybuilding or anything like that, but because I will be happier and be a better athlete the better my muscle to fat ratio is. Small increases in my skeletal muscle mass now go further for me that weight loss in helping me achieve that goal, and a calculated mass will help me do that more quickly that I could do it just with time in the gym. Second, because I am not genetically endowed with a lot of muscle and was not particularly active as a teen and young adult, I have struggled with injuries to my shoulders and elbows. Assuming proper technique, building more muscle in my upper body in particular will allow me to do things like Olympic lifting more safely and more effectively. Third, I’m almost fifty. If I don’t put on muscle now, I risk being unable to do the things that I love and want to do well into my seventies, eighties, and perhaps even nineties (longevity runs on both sides of my family). Finally, more muscle equals more food, as muscle has greater energy demands than fat.
Now that you know what a mass is and why I decided to do one, stayed tuned for Part II to learn how it went!