Pound of Feathers or a Pound of Rocks

As we've recently noted, the scale doesn't know the difference between a pound of water and a pound of fat. The same can be said about the difference between muscle and fat. Plainly put, "A pound is a pound is a pound" on the scale. However, there is actually quite a huge difference between the way a pound of muscle and a pound of fat looks on the human body.

When clients tell Jonathan that they're frustrated that they haven't lost weight despite their best

Flex Facts

Marathon runners typically "carbo load" on bread and pasta a day or two before their race in order to "top off" their glycogen stores. Jonathan is encouraged to find that the runners he coaches have gained a few pounds right before the race—a sign that their glycogen levels have increased.

Flex Facts

Marathon runners typically "carbo load" on bread and pasta a day or two before their race in order to "top off" their glycogen stores. Jonathan is encouraged to find that the runners he coaches have gained a few pounds right before the race—a sign that their glycogen levels have increased.

Flex Facts

Elite male marathoners generally carry about 4 to 6 percent body fat. Football linemen can range from 17 to 23%. When Deidre won her first World Powerlifting title she carried 14 percent body fat. This cycling season Jonathan is lugging 7 percent. Essential body fat, the amount necessary for normal physiologic function is approximately 3% in men and 12% in women. These levels may interfere with normal function, and are not necessary for optimal health. Males at 15-18% and females at 19-23% body fat are considered healthy.

efforts, he reminds them that they've dropped a dress size or a belt loop. The bottom line isn't what the scale says but your ratio of fat to lean mass.

Take, for example, two chaps who stand 5 feet 10 inches and tip the scales at 180 pounds. Mr. Stud Muffin has only 10 percent (or 18 pounds) of body fat, while Mr. Potato Latke is schlepping 25 percent of his weight as fat. That means Mr. Latke has more than twice the fat of his counterpart. The scale can't tell them apart, but a measurement of their body fat sure can.

While there are many ways to gauge your percentage of body fat—underwater weighing being the most accurate—most knowledgeable trainers with skin-fold calipers can give you a reasonable assessment. However, the best way to see where you stand is to step in front of a mirror in the buff and look for yourself.

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