Arms like matches and legs like chicken thighs – Part 1

Recently I stood on the “magic scale”, as I call it, during a control appointment in the studio. This multi-frequency segmental body analysis scale not only calculates the weight and proportions of body fat, muscle mass, water and bones, but also goes into great detail: It differentiates between body fat, lean mass and muscle mass and displays their exact distribution (trunk, legs right/left, arms right/left…) and composition (visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat tissue…). It also calculates the health of our cells.

So it’s a great thing, especially if you consult it regularly to track progress or changes and adjust your training and diet accordingly if necessary. In my case it turned out that within four months I had lost not only body fat but – in my upper body – also muscle mass.

I think it’s perfectly normal nowadays and especially among athletes that my first thought was “cool, less body fat!” However, even this is a double-edged sword. Especially for women, a particularly low body fat percentage (usually below 18%) can lead to problems: weakened immune system, severe menstrual complaints, menstrual disorders. By the way – a low percentage of body fat usually does not help against our little “woman’s belly” – because it comes mainly from visceral fat, which protects the uterus and is the very last thing that is taken. 😉 That’s why it is especially difficult for us women to go from a four-pack to a six-pack. Before this happens, when the body needs energy and has no more fat deposits to draw from, it tends to go for the muscle mass – especially if there are muscle groups that are used less than others. This is where it finds quickly available energy! In my case it is the upper body and the arms, which are generally less exercised than the legs, both during running and Bodyattack.

That kept me thinking, of course – and for weeks. And then a friend came along and told me that I had become thin – that’s when it became an obsession! My meticulously trained muscles – gone… My arms – in my eyes suddenly thin as matches! And the legs on which I had built up muscle mass – strong as chicken legs!?

No, I absolutely had to counteract this process (even though I might not be able to reverse it, I at least wanted to stop the muscle atrophy):

  1. Nutrition: I had to generate an excess of calories. Difficult if you eat a very healthy diet and don’t want to change that… Definitely a topic I will deal with for some time.
  2. Sports: Strength training especially for the affected muscle groups and at the same time less cardio training – even if it hurts.

By now I know that the match arms and the chicken legs were of course just imagination. (Interesting, what power and impact such a psychological effect can have.)

Nevertheless, all this had the positive consequence that I thought about the balance of my sports program, which had become very unilateral (relatively lots of high-intensity cardio training in the maximum range through my two to three Attack classes per week, in addition running with 10-30 km per week and no strength training at all). I decided to adapt it to my current needs (more stability and strength in the upper body and restoration of lost muscle mass).

Since I usually run in the fat burning zone and less Bodyattack is definitely not an option, it was clear that I should give up running for now.

My current sports program now consists of two to three Attack classes per week (two to three hours), two times strength training with heavy weights and the goal of building muscle in the upper body (about two hours) and once or twice functional strength training of the deep muscles with CXWorx (one hour). At the same time I try to consume more calories overall.

I have been following this program for about eight weeks now and feel really good about it. Strength training with heavy weights can even be really fun! I’m also imagining that my arms aren’t so thin anymore… 🙂

But above all, I am incredibly curious what the scale will tell me at my next check. I’ll surely let you know.

In this spirit – FIBEEER and until next time.

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