Weight Gain and Exercise

This is a powerful article from a fitness friend that I thought I would share with you. It is something that we cover during our assessment but it is a question that pops up again and again.

Here it is…

“I’ve just started weight training. Despite exercising more and eating better, I’ve actually gained a little scale weight. What’s going on?”

This is a common question, especially from people who have not regularly exercised for an extended period of time.

The most common cause seems to be when you start a new and strenuous exercise program, you actually damage your muscle tissue. To some degree this is a good thing – this damage heals stronger and more resilient than before, which is what causes you to be fitter, stronger, and more injury-resistant.

However, when first starting a new program the damage level seems to be higher. And the body responds by causing muscular inflammation, which leads to swelling and fluid retention. This temporary fluid retention can actually result in a 3-4 pound weight gain. For those who are scientifically inclined, check out this study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24471859), which found that people starting a 16 week resistance training program had:

  • Total body water increased by about 7.5%;
  • Intracellular water increased by about 10%; and
  • Muscle mass increased by about 4%.

Lastly, a few other points should also be mentioned.

1) When first starting a resistance training regimen, muscle gain and fluid retention can often equal or outpace fat loss. This makes it appear that you are gaining fat when you are not. Your body composition is improving, and soon your water retention will subside and your fat (and weight) loss will outpace both the muscle gain and water retention.

2) Weight loss is not linear. It comes in fits and starts. You will often go 2-3 weeks without any progress, and then BOOM, 4 lbs are lost. This is incredibly common, and even more so for women. Women tend to have greater fluctuations in weight and fluid status, so fat loss progress can be harder to see and track.

The moral of the story is to keep working hard, eating well and ensuring adequate recovery. Good things will happen, just be patient. -Coach Brian St. Pierre.