scratch-mark

Setback?

I just came from the gym and if you're following along, I just reported how I was tossing 2 pounds per workout, twice per week. All my workouts except one since the new year have been fasting workouts, i.e., at the tail end of a 30-hr fast. It took a couple of fasts to get going, but then the last four times have been -2 each time save last Friday where it was -1.5, so I was down to 212.5.

I weigh myself twice per week under the same conditions — right at the end of my workout after I've stripped down. That cuts down on the normal water swings. But today, 28 hours into a fast and after a hard workout, I had gained a pound: 213.5. Setback? Well, I can think of three explanations. The simplest is that this kind of thing is never linear. I never expected the 4 pounds per week to hold up. Just like the stock market makes a surprising run in one direction or another, eventually there's correction one way or another. So, this could simply be the average attenuating somewhat. Four pounds per week is quite a rapid run and probably not sustainable for very long.

The other explanation is that the higher fat content I'm eating is having an effect, but given what I've been learning and reporting in the last couple of posts (and my carb intake is way low), that seems unlikely — though I suppose not impossible. Or, it could be in conjunction with the foregoing and my body is simply readjusting to a new hormonal mix and stimuli.

But I think the most likely hypothesis, and thus my favorite, is that whatever fat I lost since last Friday was exceeded by lean gain in the amount of one pound. Here's why, but first let me tell you why having a personal trainer is beneficial.

Everyone has known a guy who couldn't seem to build any upper body mass. Flat chest; skinny arms. He works that chest and arms, yet they never get bigger. Know why? It's because he's ignoring his legs. They seem fine to him. He wants pecs, tris, and bis. But what causes muscles to grow? Well, to get them to grow bigger than they are, you do need to shred them by exercising them to failure, and the "shredding" is signaled by the burn, which is lactic acid ("acid burn"). This actually causes micro tears in the muscle fiber. Your body repairs these, of course, but to get your body to repair them better then they were, i.e., bigger and stronger, you need a hormonal signal. Guess what? GH: growth hormone.

How do you stimulate its release? You do it by exercising your largest muscles, i.e., your legs. So, this is why my trainer has me shred my legs every workout (different exercises), but my upper body gets it only once per week: chest, triceps and abs one day; biceps, back/lats, and shoulders the next. It's the legs, the big muscles that stimulate the GH response, and the GH works all over the body, not just in the legs.

So, back to my hypothesis. Three workouts ago, last Tuesday, my trainer up and doubled my leg routing. Yep; twice the workout. This weekend I probably felt the sorest I have ever felt, but I noticed my legs seemed larger, particularly the hamstrings.

Setback, or does that sound plausible?

Well, it's now almost 30 hours since I ate, but after such a workout I'm not yet hungry (quite the opposite — I have no appetite right now). But it will be raging in another couple of hours. We're going out. I'll snap a pitcure of my birthday dinner. Can you guess?

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

3 Comments

  1. Adam Cilonis on January 30, 2008 at 09:56

    Setback, or does that sound plausible?

    Mostly plausible…

    I have a variation of your "favorite" hypothesis…with the doubled leg workout, hypothetically the micro-tearing would be close to doubled. These tears allow extra space in the muscle fibers for a variety of fluids, mainly H2O, to reside. And as stated, the largest muscle group can hold relatively large amounts of fluid during the healing period that follows. With all that said, I would hypothesize that an extra lb or two can be contributed to the fluid in the "new" space created by the shredding of that muscle group.

    About the enlarged hammies, tremendous amounts of lactic acid and creatine are produced in these groups during intense exercise. While most of it will diffuse into the blood stream and move to the liver, some will not. This coupled with my "pooling" hypothesis could explain the bulging hammies.

    And Happy Birthday Cous!

  2. Richard Nikoley on January 30, 2008 at 10:09

    Good info, Adam. And thanks for the wishes.

  3. Forest Carter on December 6, 2011 at 22:51

    Micro tears in the muscle fibers? Very interesting. I remember my 4th grade P.E. teacher saying she broke one of her ankles twice, and the doctor said that the bone got stronger with each healing.

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