muscle mass


This article has been written for Canadian Physique Alliance – Sept/Oct 2022 Edition

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Hello again to all my friends, clients, and athletes, to you incredible people out there reading this today. I trust that this article finds you all living this blessing of life to the fullest. What an incredible and awe-inspiring time to be alive! Yes, I understand the world is at odds with much of itself, there are many challenges, and it’s easy to be distracted by malevolence and toxicity so easily accessed through our ever-updating “window” into the world…but as the great Jocko would say “good“. Now, why would I quote this? Well simply because with all challenges we are exposed to, that directly and indirectly influence our lives, with it all comes our ability to grow, develop, strengthen, and evolve! Yes, we can actually enhance this by challenging ourselves more! Set aside the world the phone screen and all the noise, and in front of ourselves we place physical, nutritional and dedication to discipline challenges. By doing so, we become greater in all aspects of our inner and outer beings. So, I say again, what a magnificent and awe-inspiring time to be alive.

Think about it for a minute, if things are easy, we are encouraged to be lazy. If we all get a trophy for “participation” what’s the point of giving our all to pursue the title? Never being pushed to what we find our potential truly is an abhorrent misuse of our human experience. What mechanism would we be encouraged by to create change, development or evolve? Simply they’re would be none, so! We need, thrive on and require difficulty, and challenges. Challenges and our interactions with them, define us as human beings. Friends for many many millennia, we the human race have been forged by the challenge. Let’s never forget that, when in all our comfort and convenience we may become complacent.

Ok now, on the topic of challenge, change evolution and development. One of the most prominent things I am faced with in my career is the question, and challenge of RECOMP! more specifically body recomposition. Not just by athletes coming off a show or in the process of construction for the purpose of symmetry size and balance and proportion. But most often and consistently, from people who have lived a certain lifestyle, and as a result have a disproportionate body composition, little muscle and a large to an extreme amount of body fat.

What is Recomp?

So in today’s topic on RECOMP, we will discuss the process of our bodies development in accordance with muscle mass and body fat ratio and our ability to have control of the design of how we want our bodies to look, and some guidelines on how we can achieve and create a restructuring of our body.

Let’s start by identifying what exactly is, body composition, and how we have an influence on ours. Well simply put, body composition is how much muscle we have, and how much body fat we have. When we look at ourselves in the mirror where do we see our proportions most predominantly? We can all relate to what that is, where do we have the most body fat, where do we have the most muscle? Conversely, where do we have the least amount of body fat and where do we have the least amount of muscle? Please understand, that what we weigh is relevant, for heart health and biomarkers of longevity. For example, if our body composition is thoroughly muscled with little body fat we will weigh a certain amount. Rationally, it is much healthier for our body’s biomechanics and organs to have more muscle proportional to less fat.

Just like if we are heavily laden with body fat and have little muscle, we will weigh a certain amount that detracts from our health and performance. It is much less healthy for our body (joints and organs) to have a disproportionate amount more fat than muscle.

This is not only an important topic, actually foundational to us all as athletes, but is equally as important to the person who is not the competition-based athlete, but the person(s) whom I mentioned above who has lived a certain lifestyle that has created a certain body composition. Also for those who want to avoid manifesting unhealthy body composition as they age. For each of these categories of people, there is varying degrees from the extreme to the minimal. Example 1 let’s say the competing athlete, is big lean, muscle-bound and pushing that progression. Training regimentally, doing all things necessary to reach the “extreme shredded” look. Example 2 is the opposite extreme.

The person who has eaten without much thought or regard for the impact food and food products creates in their body. From when they were young, not taught otherwise, and have added to that certain lifestyle as they grew, and aged. Habitually and unconsciously ate a certain way. For example by 27 are pushing 400 pounds with a little muscle to show. Yes, we understand even at the most basic level, not healthy to maintain this extreme. Likewise, you can’t be 260 lbs with 1% body fat doing all it takes to achieve this, for an extended period of time and call it healthy. Friends, circling back, no matter what, you cannot be eating unconcerned, unconscious and disconnected from food as you age, at any age. This manifests obesity’s onset and can increase it to morbid obesity.

Now here’s the thing, to influence body composition in a healthy and positive way. For each other these categories it is essential for all to be critically involved in their nutritional, health, fitness, and longevity endeavors. Yes, it’s easy to see why the person that is obese needs to pay attention to this, but the athlete? For those reading this that are unfamiliar, or inexperienced with competing, imagine this as you read on. Think of the competitive athlete who yes gets shredded, almost inhumanly for a show, the kind of shredded that just makes you stop in awe. Now you’d maybe think “this is great body composition hardly any fat and lots of muscle”. But then, because of being so lean and having gone through the process of the fitness and exercise and supplements strategy to create this result, this person has the potential to put on magnificently unhealthy levels of body fat, very easy and very fast after the show. Why? Well simply because of being that lean. Ultimately our body’s purpose is to survive and the biological imperative is set to ensure that. This has a much stronger influence on women than men. Because women’s biological role is to produce grow, feed and successfully birth a child, then feed the new baby until sustainable with solid food. So the body needs body fat for every part of that biological imperative, hormones, insulation, organ protection and of course most of all nutrient-rich energy.

When that lean, body is at the point of shredded it is ultra nutrient receptive. What you give it at that point will proliferate and manifest physiological and biological results very fast. Now, you must understand unless the individual is a genetic marvel, the one percent, that has naturally high thyroid hormone production is very very lean all the time, the other 99% of bodies don’t want to stay that lean. Ergo it’s not easy getting that lean, nor is it easy directing the body to RECOMP without getting fat. To be gaining 50+ pounds in a week is very easy, however. Yes no joke, I’ve seen it way too many times to be candid.

recompNow, for the overweight person putting on 50 + pounds is not terribly hard, however it is something that happens progressively over many weeks or months from lack of exercise and consistent poor nutrition. Well, 2 things.

1. Understand that shredded body composition is not maintainable at that degree, without extreme cardio and diet, and the body cannot stay healthy at pushing anything to the extreme for extended periods. So that means this is not a healthy level of body composition (for long periods) unless you are from childhood to adulthood the 1% genetic marvel.

2. When there is the potential to gain so much fluid and fat weight so quickly that as well it’s not healthy (blood pressure and kidney health, compromised the same as it is for the obese individual holding and gaining all that fluid and fat.

For all of us who need to understand the epidemic of obesity further, please read “Estrogen Crisis”. On my website in the newsletter section, subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on all my latest or here in our Canadian Physique Alliance newsletter from our March /April 2022 edition. The point is, that both represent an example of something that is not particularly healthy at all. Again, extreme body compositions of very fat, or very big and shredded are not good for us. Unhealthy (extremes) as they are similar in the extreme, but opposite in composition, nonetheless critical to address how we go about the deconstruction and reconstruction of these scenarios. There are certain fundamentals that are overarching to both scenarios, and in life, in general.

So what can we do, to help create a healthy maintainable sustainable and progressive body composition for the competitive athlete, coming off of a show? How can we create a healthy progressive and sustainable body composition for the person who has made themselves obese? Well dig in with me here folks and let’s unpack this for a while. There are many moving parts, much detail and information that I am very enthusiastic about sharing with you. It could however be a very, very lengthy topic. So for the sake of being concise, I will compartmentalize and summarize as efficiently as possible. Anything of greater depth feels free to reach out any time. Just click the logo on the last page of this article and it will direct you to our website.

Let’s start off with the identity of something that all competing athletes and people who have done extreme diets can relate.

Here’s a scenario you’ve prepared you’ve delved 12 to 20 weeks into prep, you look phenomenal you’re incredibly shredded. Either you compete, or you have prepped for something alternative like a photo shoot, an event an acting role, something along the lines that you all can relate to that brings your attention to the fact that right now here you are! Absolutely the best shape you’ve ever been in. For all of us out there who’s been there, sitting at the precipice of the best shape You’ve been in are two roads. Both are potential recomps.

One is, as soon as you’re off stage eat everything you possibly can, and continue to do so unchecked and irresponsible for days and weeks. Some people do this for many different reasons. Often, it’s because you feel like you have suffered and have been deprived for a super long time. You are “starving” or feel like you are. So you cave in and give in to it, you indulge monstrously. It’s a strange dichotomy; considering you’ve treated your body with such care and attention for many weeks and months. You treat your body like a person you’re courting and you want them to think the best of you, you do everything you can to produce a said result. You succeed you’ve done it! Then… all of a sudden you polarize and become abusive, literally treating your body like it was worse than an enemy. You inflict malevolent and sabotaging behaviour upon the thing you treated with such love kindness care and attention for so long. You just eat everything under the sun for a period of days or weeks. So yes yes, within a matter of a day or two of eating like an abusive jerk you’ve gained size, weight + pounds, you think hey I look great “I’m huge, still lean”! “Wow, everyone who told me otherwise most specifically my coach WAS WRONG”. For those who are experienced, you know this is short-lived. By day 4 or 5, your ankles and knees are indistinguishable. Understand that, this whole time of monstrous eating, your ultra receptive lean depleted body, was hard at work proliferating new fat cells to meet the requirements of storage of the enormous amount of calories from mainly, carbohydrates simple sugars and chemically altered fats. Happens every time to people that eat like like this they think they look great for a short window, and they do they look great for a couple of days but then within a week they come to you and say I have this fat in places I didn’t before, and it’s hard to the touch.. I look like I have cellulite. So you remind them of the plan you created the “strategy of harnessing the rebound” sometimes they correct the course, but often they disregard and keep eating all willy nilly, again treating their body like they don’t really have much respect for it.

Over my 19 years of career experience, I find the people that do this more than others, started dieting very very out of shape actually “fat” most certainly. In my opinion that is above 20% body fat. Staying body 10% -15% makes it much easier on you. Now to do that you’re ensuring you are eating clean year-round with strategized cheat meals/days. Not “dirty bulking” but rather “lean gaining”. So When this scenario takes place and a person has to diet off 50 + pounds to get in shape, yes they have very much suffered, but have they suffered at the hands of a diet? Or have suffered at their own hands from being so out of shape when they started the prep/ diet.

So from the outset of the diet, out of shape or in shape, way before the precipice of being in the best shape of your life, you must strategize your anabolic / and potential lipogenic rebounds. Have a plan, have a guide and a System of accountability. If you cannot do this yourself, be subordinate to someone that you listen to and you do not go against in any way. It’s why having a coach is not only effective, but as it provides a mechanism of accountability that stands in front of our own potential for sabotage. Follow that plan, your tactical strategy of regimental discipline. You will be able to harness the power of your body’s ability to grow new muscle, without excess and absolutely unnecessary fat gain. You kids today call this reverse dieting I call it, nutritional reintegration, to effective carb and calorie cycling. It is, so Simple. Have a plan FOLLOW IT!

OK, I know what you’re thinking, but what if I want to do this yet I started dieting “fat” well over 15-20% and I had to diet off 50+ pounds to get in shape, and I suffered at my own hands and at the hands of the diet, I’ll be there at the end“starving“. Right? OK, I understand that, but there’s only one answer, you still have to correct this. So again, eat strategically and carefully even more so if this was you in the above scenario. Because you have to start somewhere, you have to Either not start the cycle for the first-time competitor, and for the experienced competitor, you have to end of the cycle. If this is you, you are much more sensitive to the potential of Lipogenic rebound (fat gain). Simply as I detailed above our body, carbon-based biological entity has one main purpose and that is to survive. So to ensure survival necessity, from when the body has been extremely restricted the body will use any means necessary to produce adipose storage to ensure long-term survival “Biological imperative”. So I say yes, this will be even harder for somebody like you if you fall under that category, yes it will. But here’s to your strength and dedication, discipline so it only has to take one time for you never to get that out of shape again.

Friends, it is paramount, absolutely critical that you strategize the reintroduction of food in a way that can allow fully for a great muscle gain rebound, without unnecessary adipose deposition.

So you’re probably wondering how does this correlate to the individual who has for a lifetime of their eating habits lifestyle and behaviour patterns created an obese body.

Who is equally in need of recomp (recomposition)? Well, above I have given that scenario of what it takes to get out of control fat for the athlete. For the obese person, correcting this Shares many parallels, although it starts at a different origin than the lean athlete. We need to burn fat we don’t just need to lose weight. So this parallels a structured program, accountability to one whom you trust, you will you go to as a resource ever and always, regarding everything to do with your nutrition body composition and fitness journey. This is making yourself completely vulnerable, accepting that you’ve made choices that have led you astray understanding that you have the power within you to change and correct them. Yes, I understand that people have been raised to Eat by taste habit and ultimately leading to food addiction (mainly sugar addiction) As endemic as alcohol addiction is to the human race. That’s right folks the addiction to sugar is as deeply woven and toxic as it is to drugs and alcohol, sadly we are not taught otherwise. But that is not an excuse, nor is it reasonable to go on that way, choosing to cover your eyes and continue to mindlessly place a hand to your mouth. No matter how far gone you feel like you are, help is there, you must accept it, and submit it to the Advisory Council, coaching and mentor that provides the guidance.

So we must lose weight and burn fat, and build muscle. So for each individual that is overweight or obese, this takes a system of dedication discipline and commitment. It has taken someone’s whole life to get to the point where they are for example 27 years old and 400 pounds. There is not an immediate correction, there are years of work ahead of that person. But do not be dissuaded within 12 months a person of 400 pounds at 6 feet tall can lose over 100 pounds of body fat. (Just look at my IG page and website) you’ll see the proof. In that course of time, with the proper strategies and application of nutrition and physical fitness regimens the person can build 10 to 20 pounds of muscle as well. This is one of the most critical things about this origin of necessary RECOMP. Muscle burns fat, keeps the metabolism going 24 hours a day, enhances fitness mobility and longevity and joint and ligament protection, and lastly gives us confidence and a feeling of well-being, by the self-worth and self-esteem gained by recapping the overweight or obese body. So in all of this there is no one size fits all, there is no business model. Each person is different, and every individual needs to be treated with care and attention and tailoring to their life, needs, predispositions, both medically physically and of course emotionally regarding their program construct and their fitness journey.

Eat right, healthy, effectively and long term. No quick fixes, work with someone who educates you on how to reconstruct your nutrition and fitness understanding, habits and life. It is undoing a lifetime of habits and re-learning pretty much everything that comes along with food and fitness. Hard yes! “GOOD”. Hard makes strong!

The one main overarching concept, and folks this is the foundation for each of these categories of individuals. Can you guess what it is? DISCIPLINE, that’s right the choice we make every day to silence the mind that wants us to stay in bed, eat crap, not do the work. Our consciousness must take over and move our bodies. The mind/ego will sabotage us, justify and excuse away, for not doing the hard work.

“Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch”, Brian Tracy. That quote says it, it’s a conscious committed effort to meet the standard you set out to achieve from the onset of your journey. That standard must rise daily, human beings thrive on challenge. Is it hard, yes! Is it going to get harder absolutely! GOOD!

I leave you with this to marinate on. With all challenges we are exposed to, the ones we create to better ourselves, the ones that directly and indirectly influence our health, mind, and body, our lives and the lives of our loved ones. With it, all comes our ability to grow, develop, strengthen, and evolve! Become greater in all aspects of our inner and outer beings. So, I say again what a magnificent and awe-inspiring time to be alive friends.