Gaining muscle can be fun, and the scale going up doesn’t have to be scary.
Hey y’all! My name is Laura Savino, and I’m the Director of Operations for Paragon. I live in Colorado and I’ve been lifting for over 12 years. I just finished a 16-week (~4 months) bulking phase where I was intentionally eating more food and training hard to chase muscle gain.
Our goal is to hopefully showcase that your body changing, your body getting bigger, and the scale going up doesn’t *have* to be super scary or something you fear.
Appearance & Body Comp
There’s definitely a lot of misunderstanding regarding changing body appearance and body composition. It’s one of the most common reasons people get stuck endlessly dieting and restricting.
- Muscle isn’t easy to build.
- You may or may not find abs and/or a more defined-looking physique if you diet down to a lower body weight.
- And you also typically lose some muscle alongside fat tissue when you diet.
- Additionally, the longer you’ve been lifting and training, the harder it gets to quickly and easily gain muscle.
Body Recomposition (“recomp”)= losing fat AND gaining muscle at the same time.
^ This is the most common goal we hear from nutrition clients and Paragon Members. But, recomposition is difficult to achieve. They are conflicting goals with different calorie needs.
- Losing body fat = eating less than your maintenance needs.
- Often requires eating ~10-35% less calories per day
- Ex: maintenance = ~2200 calories, may need to eat as little ~1430-1980 cal/day
- Gaining muscle = eating more than your maintenance needs.
- Often requires eating ~5-20% more calories per day
- Ex: maintenance = ~2200 calories, may need to eat ~2310-2640 cal/day (or more)
If you have been working out or lifting for longer than 1-2 years, you may be better off having dedicated periods of bulking (to gain muscle) and cutting (to lose body fat).
Recomp is most likely to occur in:
- very overweight or obese individuals who begin exercising, being more active, and making changes to nutrition and lifestyle
- those coming back from an extended time off exercising and working out – such as surgery, injury, pregnancy and giving birth, or busy/stressful seasons of life
- those brand new to exercise, brand new to weight training, or making a big switch in training – ex: marathon runner switches to lifting, or someone switching to an evidence-based training plan with progressive overload when they’ve been doing group class or random workouts
How Calories Changed
- My Stats: 5’5, 30 years old
- Maintenance: ~2500 calories per day
- Workouts: I follow our 4-Day Physique program. I love walking my dogs & enjoy hiking/snowboarding in my spare time
- Goal: gain about 1 pound per month
- Bulk Timeline: 4 months (aka 16 weeks)
- Starting Cals: increased calories by 5%. 2500 cals + 125 cals = ~2625 cals
- 3 Weeks Later: the scale plateaued out. Increased another 5% = ~2750 cals
- 3-4 Weeks Later: scale plateaued again. Increased another 5% = ~2875 cals
- 3 Weeks Later: plateaued again. Increased another 5% = ended bulk at ~2950 cals
Recap & Thoughts
Goal Accomplished: I accomplished my goal of slowly gaining about 1 pound per month. My weight went up ~5.5 pounds over 4 months’ time
Change in Calories: I started with a 5% surplus. The scale seemed to consistently plateau every ~3-4 weeks. I ended the bulk at a 20% surplus (which was ~450 calories above my maintenance)
^ Both points above are SUPER important, (especially for females) because:
- You DON’T necessarily have to gain massive amounts of weight to effectively gain more muscle
- How much YOU need to eat greatly depends on your training age, body weight, and gender
- Females and/or those with a higher training age may only need to eat something like an extra ~150-450 calories per day. Be mindful of food choices. Consider (at least loosely) tracking macros so you don’t accidentally “dirty bulk” and gain tons of excess body fat.
Change in Appearance: when comparing my pictures, there really aren’t any significant negative changes in my appearance.
^ this is pretty cool, tbh. Most people fear gaining weight and fear the scale going up. But I really don’t look much different, even though my weight changed by 5-6 lbs!
Other Changes: I consistently had some of the BEST workouts of the year while bulking.
- I also noticed a massive improvement in my sex drive, energy levels, mood, and sleep
- It was also bomb to NOT stress as much over date nights, dining out, or enjoying more foods or treats that I wanted to eat (:
Given the changes in pictures, lift numbers, and based on the chart below (from Precision Nutrition), I’d estimate I gained ~1-2 pounds of muscle. Which is huge! I didn’t bother spending $$ on body fat testing, since even DEXA scans can have up to ~5% error margin.
And I’m feeling amazing, looking/feeling stronger, performing better in workouts, and able to lift heavier than 4 months ago. Which is what really matters.
Where To Go From Here
@paragontrainingmethods = the life-changing workouts, coaching, + online fitness community you’ve been searching for to help you build muscle, achieve your goals, and look/feel your best 🏋️♀️
Whether your goal is:
- to run AND lift
- workout 3 days/wk
- lift from home
- enjoy things you love (CrossFit, Olympic lifting, Peloton)
- or just look/feel your best
We have fun and effective remote workouts that will get you there!
Our Paragon workouts are evidence-based and backed by science. You can choose to work out for 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes per day. We have workouts for all goals and levels of lifting experience. As well as the option to still include things you love (whether that’s running, Olympic Lifting, or riding your Peloton).