Weight Loss
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How fast do muscles grow?


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How fast do you think you can build muscle? I mean, if real weight loss occurs at a pound or two a week, how long would it take to gain a pound of muscle? Because fat doesn't turn into muscle, right? The fat disappears (where to, I wonder) and the muscle grows. I'm at a plateau again, just trying to reassure my self that something good must be happening since I am working out more than I used to.
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It all depends on your genetic heritage. Some people build muscle faster than others. However, I think I've read for someone who's new to strength training it's somewhere around only 4-5 lbs a year, max. You get the most benefit early on, every year after it gets harder, maybe on a 1-2 lbs per year.

Fat doesn't "turn into" muscle. What happens is that an unfit person's muscles are marbled through with fat. The fat goes into the muscles before it is stored subcutaneously (under the skin). Fatty muscles are short and round. As you get more fit, the muscle within the fat goes first, and your muscles become leaner & longer. (*)

This is why someone who is fit in their teens and 20s, who then takes on a sedentary lifestyle, can stay the same basic weight for years, but look more and more out-of-shape. Because muscle is atrophying and fat is being added to it. For example about 10 years ago I hit my peak at 13% body fat. Then I got injured, and became increasingly sedentary. I maintained my weight just fine for 10 years, but my body shape slowly changed. Overtime I became fat and poofy, even at the same weight.  You see this happen most dramatically with ex-football players! (**)

Also depending on your choice of exercise, your body may simply redistribute muscle first. For example if you are a runner who does no upper body training, your body will dismantle muscle on your upper body, and add muscle on your lower body. This makes sense, because a runner performs better if he/she doesn't have a lot of upper body weight to carry around.

The higher your lean mass, the lower your body fat %. But bear in mind that there's more to lean mass than just muscle. Lean mass also includes bones and capillaries. Strong, dense bones support your chosen activity and stronger muscles. Capillaries aid in transport of oxygen to fuel aerobics, and quicker removal of lactic acid built up during anerobic exercise.

Footnotes:

* if you only diet and do not exercise, then you lose subcutaneous fat, not muscle fat, and your muscles will stay short and round.

** this is also why so many people here reach their goal weight through diet alone, only to be disappointed that they still look fat. It's because they've reduced their scale weight but not changed their body fat percentage. They ARE fat. The most effective way to know whether you are fat or not, is the "eyeball" test. You don't need to dunk yourself in a tank or pinch yourself with calipers. You just need to look at yourself. If you look fat, no matter what the scale reads, you probably are. BUT, losing more weight is not the answer!! The answer is to get fitter, which requires gaining muscle and lean mass weight.
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