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Building muscle vs. Toning muscle


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I am 5'4 and 128lbs. My goal is to reclaim my pre-preggo weight of 118lbs (I had a  beautiful baby boy in February and gained 55lbs while pregnant!!). Currently I am doing 60min cardio on the elliptical and 30min weight training 5-6 days per week (alternating major muscle groups).

I keep reading that it is impossible to build muscle while on a caloric deficit so my question is should I only being doing cardio until i've dropped the last 10lbs and then re-start weight training? Or is there a difference between weight training to build muscle and weight training to tone muscle that already exists (which is what I thought I was doing!)?

If anyone could clear this up for me it would be greatly appreciated! Foot in mouth

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You might not be able to gain muscle on a caloric deficit, but you can definitley lose it.  Keep lifting to keep the muscle you have and to burn fat more efficiently.

Weight lifting is actually a more efficient way of burning fat than any sort of cardio exercise.

There is a huge difference.  Cardio doesn't really tone you that much.  It does help to drop body fat.  Since you're only using the elliptical, try doing something else for a while.  Spinning, rowing, aerobics, etc.  Some other form of cardio. 

Toning muscles you have usually involves a moderate amount of weight and a goodly number of repetitions.  For example a bench press might be 40# with 20 reps. 

Adding muscle means working at very near the maximum weight you can manage with very few reps.  For example, your bench press weight would bump up to 70# and drop to 5 reps.  Upper body should be within 5# of your max weight.  Most of the rest should be within 10-20% of your max weight.  Once you get to a point you can do 10-15 reps, retest to find your max weight and adjust your working weight accordingly. 

If you want to put on muscle while maintaining a calorie deficit, you'll need to adjust your protien intake.  It's tricky to strike a proper balance between caloric intake, protien intake, and getting enough food not to be hungry constantly.   However, the added muscle will help you raise your BMR so you'll not be quite as bad off as you think.  It requires a lot of monitoring and weighing to nip any gains in the bud. 

Original Post by morrighu:

Toning muscles you have usually involves a moderate amount of weight and a goodly number of repetitions.  For example a bench press might be 40# with 20 reps. 

Sorry, not true.  Fewer reps with high weight will increase muscle tone.  From this article:

"Ditch the light weights (especially when you're dieting). You'll just end up with a fragile, weak, and soft looking body, otherwise known as the "skinny-fat" look. Your muscles will lack what's known as good neurogenic or myogenic tone (basically fancy words used to express muscle hardness). 

Simply put, there are two types of muscle tone: myogenic and neurogenic. The former refers to your muscle tone at rest; the latter refers to muscle tone that's expressed when muscular contractions occur.

Low(er) rep training increases the sensitivity of various motor units resulting in increased neurogenic tone. On the other hand, myogenic tone is correlated with the overall density of your muscles (specifically the contractile proteins myosin and actin) and is vastly improved by lifting heavier weights.

This is going to come as a shock to most women, but utilizing light weights (anything above twelve reps in my book) while dieting will likely result in loss of muscle, which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen.

When dieting, the body will adapt to the caloric deficit by down-regulating many of the hormones involved with metabolism (T3, T4, leptin, etc.), as well as getting rid of metabolically active tissue (muscle.) Obviously you'd want to prevent this from happening in the first place, which is why I always recommend that women drop the 20 rep sets and start training with heavier weights."

 

Ok, so what I think You are trying to tell me is that right now I am lifting to maintain my current muscle tone or mass at the same I am in a calorie deficit to lose fat. This makes me feel so much better thanks, at least I know I am not lifting for no reason!

How do core exercises fit in? is it considered the same as weight training?

I'm just trying to maximize my workout, i'm currently putting in 1.5 hours a day at the gym broken down into 60min cardio + 30min (alternating weights and core) 5- 6 days per week. Is this a good system for losing those last 10lbs? I usually create 1000 calorie deficit per day between diet and exercise.

Any thoughts!!?!

 

 Well, when you're down to those last ten pounds, you'd want to read  The Last 10 Pounds by Alwyn Cosgrove :)
#6  
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Hey, I know this isn't an answer to your question, but I was really inspired by the fact that you have a baby and are able to be so dedicated to your workout! That is awesome! Do you find it exhausting or is it all about time management?
I think that is my number one fear of having children...getting too tired to workout after chasing kiddies around all day!

You CAN build muscle on a calorie deficit.  It is just much harder.  Anyone who says otherwise is wrong, wrong, wrong.

High repetitions of low weights = muscle tone and endurance

Low repititions of high weights  = muscle mass and strength

Exercises that put your heart rate into the "cardio range" will burn some muscle as well.

Exercises that put your heart rate into the "fat-burning range" tend not to burn any muscle.

Original Post by babybelly1:

How do core exercises fit in? is it considered the same as weight training?

I'm just trying to maximize my workout, i'm currently putting in 1.5 hours a day at the gym broken down into 60min cardio + 30min (alternating weights and core) 5- 6 days per week. Is this a good system for losing those last 10lbs? I usually create 1000 calorie deficit per day between diet and exercise.

Any thoughts!!?!

Stay dedicated and keep this up and it sounds like you will achieve your goal in no time.

Core exercises are very good for you.  They are critical in preventing future injuries and keeping your back healthy for a long, long time while you chase your kid(s) around the house.

So, in short, floggingsully you agree with me.  If you read my entire post, you'll see that we're both saying precisely the same thing.  Drop the puny weights, lift heavier and do less reps. 

I agree w/previous posters!  I've been maintaining a caloric deficit and have added at least 15 pounds of muscle weight while losing at least 22 pounds of fat.  I'm lifting heavy (for me) and doing cardio 5-6 days/week.  Protein is about 25% of calorie per day.  I'm 5'3" and just down to 200 pounds (as of today, hooray!).

Also, I've read that if you're breast feeding you should be burning about 300 calories more/day...

Good luck!

Original Post by dcyounts:

You CAN build muscle on a calorie deficit.  It is just much harder.  Anyone who says otherwise is wrong, wrong, wrong. If you aren't taking in enough calories to maintain your current mass, how do you have enough calories to build additional mass?

High repetitions of low weights = muscle tone and endurance

Low repititions of high weights  = muscle mass and strength Low weight and high reps are better for mass and tone, read the article I linked above.

Exercises that put your heart rate into the "cardio range" will burn some muscle as well.  Weight lifting can put your heartrate into the higher ranges, will that burn  muscle?

Exercises that put your heart rate into the "fat-burning range" tend not to burn any muscle.  Have you ever seen an endurance athlete (who do lots of low-intensity, "fat-burning range" workout who have big muscles?

 

Original Post by dcyounts:

You CAN build muscle on a calorie deficit.  It is just much harder.  Anyone who says otherwise is wrong, wrong, wrong.

High repetitions of low weights = muscle tone and endurance

Low repititions of high weights  = muscle mass and strength

Exercises that put your heart rate into the "cardio range" will burn some muscle as well.

Exercises that put your heart rate into the "fat-burning range" tend not to burn any muscle.

 I just dropped my intestines out my butthole reading this but it looks like I was beaten by floggingsully

Check this metastudy from the  Journal of American College of Nutrition on protein needs and muscle building - you'll note that your body normally does not go into positive protein balance (i.e. retain more protein than you excrete) without a calorie surplus.

 Positive protein balance is the definition of gaining muscle - which means that under normal circumstances you don't gain any muscle while in a calorie deficit.

 However, there are exceptions; some of them pretty significant.

Complete beginners to strength training can build somewhat significant muscle while in a calorie deficit. The "newbie shock growth" or "beginner's luck" period usually only lasts 3-6 months and is only really signficant for the initial 6-8 weeks, but if you're lucky and train right you can extend this to up to 12 months.

 Then there's the naturals, who essentially keep a beginner's metabolism their entire lives.  There are definite individual genetic variations in this area - people like Duke, Jasontarin and Blondie have muscle-building genes so good that their "beginner's luck" never runs out. However, it's not something you can really plan on or control since it depends on you picking the right parents and getting born with superior muscle-building genetics, a rather impractical suggestion at best :-P

 Also, if you're regaining old levels of muscle or conditioning, you can do that in a calorie deficit - the regaining process is considerably easier than gaining in the first place was. Though the how and the why of it is a bit unclear; at least I haven't seen any really compelling explanations for exactly how that works on a physiological/biochemical level.

 The upshot is that if you're not regaining old muscle, a complete beginner or a genetic superior, best you can do is retain existing muscle through strength training.

 Some of my favourite studies:
 Kramer, Volek et al. Influence of exercise training on physiological and performance changes with weight loss in men.
  Hunter et.al. : Resistance Training Conserves Fat-free Mass and Resting Energy Expenditure Following Weight Loss

Wayne Westcott: Endurance and Weight Training for fat loss

In the Kramer study, a third of the weight loss in the diet-only group was muscle(2.98 kg, or 6.5lbs) and the diet+cardio exercise group also lost significant muscle(1.98kg or 4.35lbs), while the diet+cardio+strength training group mostly retained theirs, losing 0.297kg or just shy of 0.6lbs of muscle.

 In the Westcott study using complete beginners to strength training, the average strength training participant lost 10lbs of fat and gained 2lbs of lean mass. That's within the expected norm for newbie gains over the course of the first 2-3 months of strength training. While it doesn't last, it's still significant, and significantly encouraging, neh?

I just dropped my intestines out my butthole reading this but it looks like I was beaten by floggingsully

Thanks for the laugh!

Finally I agree with a thread on muscle growth and weight loss.  I would add, as an excellent read on the "final 10 pounds" The Ultimate Diet 2.0 by Lyle McDonald.

The long and short of it is that the body has feedback capability and "knows" when it has a surplus of fat. 

The body will build muscle while losing fat under less than optimal biological conditions as long as there is a gross surplus.   However, as your fat percentages drop (in comparison to the rest of you), your ability to gain/maintain muscle while losing weight is retarded.

When a man gets down to 10-15% and a woman down to 15-20% you need to optimize your biological condition (food and exercise intake) to lose fat and maintain/gain muscle.

What does someone such as myself do with the whole weight lifting idea? I had a lumbar fusion and laminectomy in February of 2009 and have a 15 pound weight lifting limit for the rest of  my life now. I bought 5 pounds weights to start off with for now since I am so out of shape. How long do I stay with these before going to the ten pounds and should I just be increasing the reps that I do or should I really be starting out with say a ten pound weight instead? Also does cardio help tone the muscles in the lower body or should I also be doing some lower body weights as well? Any help I can get is appreciated.

Hi!

Well done with balancing your dedication to your goal and your new little bub!  I've spent hours and hours researching the best way to burn fat, maintain/strengthen muscle and to be honest, there's so much conflicting advice that I don't feel like I've come to a conclusion!

I have a background in physiology, and I usually see good merits to most things I read, but I honestly think it comes down to what works for you- you've obviously lost most of your baby weight so what you're doing is working!  I've heard a lot lately about how many reps women should lift, but I think it ultimately it depends on how you want to look and how much muscle you want.

I'm on a calorie restriction atm, and between my diet/exercise I deficit between 700-1000 per day (except Sundays).  I've been working each muscle group with weights once a week (ie legs on Monday, upper body Thursday) and do about 2 sets, 15 reps of each exercise.  I've noticed that my shape has changed significantly in the sense that my abs are forming, and my legs are taking on the shape of my muscles, rather than the shape of my fat.  I don't agree with lifting heavy (<10 reps) for myself, because at 15 reps, I've increased strength (had to increase my weights), increased tone (my muscles are so much harder at rest than they were) and also increased in size.  I'm happy with my progress and refuse to lift heavier, as I do not want to get much bigger.

Having said that, other women obviously feel they benefit from lifting heavier, I think it ultimately depends on every individual's metabolism.  If you're unhappy with your muscle mass, perhaps try lifting heavier?  I'd only suggest that if you do that, don't place as much emphasis on your weight in lbs, and look at your body fat percentage (I use the scales at my gym which, while have a degree of error, I just use them regularly to determine a trend- I want to see that BF% going DOWN!

Good luck! :)

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