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Last Update  On September 20, 2012
Re-composition is it Possible?
Re-composition And Why It Simply Does Not Work

The following text is an excerpt of one of the many e-mails send to me.

„I read your section on body re-composition, and I understand that you believe this kind of stuff doesn't work in reality. You don't give any reasons why you feel that way, and that got me curious. To me, this is the most important part of your argument. Do you base this on personal experience, or is this a biological limitation supported by scientific facts/research? Based on the note at the end, I think it's most likely personal experience. In that case, I think it might still be possible for other people...I am a big believer in not taking shortcuts and putting in the hard work, but at the same time I want to maximize the results from that hard work. No harm in being more efficient, right? So I say to you: But do you know re-composition won't work for me (or other people)? :-)

Re-composition seems to be a very hot topic.....why?

Well, bro, everybody wants to keep their weight the same but lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Why? It's simple: when you have the “bodybuilding bug” in your head it's all about how much you much you lifts...etc... and when you lose fat you usually lose weight too. So, it seems nice to replace it with muscle.

But is it possible?

Not really. Unless you use steroids and other drugs I am not aware of. I can assure you that there is not a single person on this planet that can go from something like 20% BF to 10BF% while gaining any muscle whatsoever.

The reason for that is simple - in order to lose fat you need a serious diet and caloric restriction. When you are at caloric restriction you are basically losing a little bit of you every single day or in other words your body is eating itself in order to survive and tries to save energy. That's why there is some metabolic rate reduction and your metabolism slows down on a diet. During that process adding muscle is extremely hard. Extremely hard. It's possible with some kind of insane carb cycling and ultra-precise nutrition and refeeds at the right time. Honestly, you can't expect more than  1-3 pounds in months anyway. Although 3 pounds of real muscle is much more than it seems or sounds. However I am not competent enough to tell you how to do it and to be honest I don't believe it's worth the trouble especially if you are not a pro.

Most people will have much easier time losing fat when they want to lose fat and gaining muscle when they want to do that. You can't press the gas pedal and the brake at the same time.

Your body while smart have one single goal in mind - SURVIVE. It does not care about six pack abs or how much you only cares about survival and when you are cutting on food severely you can't expect it to build muscle besides what you already have. In other words it's not very likely to buy a new car after having your salary cut in half. Right?

But what about eating at maintenance?

Eating at maintenance is just that - maintaining. Yes, if you replace a pack of candies with tuna it will be better and you can expect some changes but when your caloric intake is meant to maintain your weight you are not very likely to experience any profound benefits in terms of fat loss. Not gonna happen even if you have the cleanest diet ever.

Also nobody on this planet unless on steroids can replace each pound of fat with a pound of muscle simply because fat melts faster and during that time no muscle is built.

My advice to all people currently looking for the “best answer” is this:

FAT People

As fat people I consider anybody over 25% BF regardless of age, gender, religion...etc who however has somewhat decent for his training career muscle underneath that fat.....usually this person will have thick and big bones as well.

What those people should do is focus on conditioning and eat at caloric deficit of at least 500 calories every day.

Once you get to 10-12% BF for boys and 15-17% for girls you can start eating at caloric surplus of 500 calories and adjust from there. Anything over 2 pounds of weight gain in a month is fat. Maybe even less e pounds is a lot after the initial gains.

Skinny people

Skinny people are quite rare these days. Wait....hear me out...

To me a real skinny person is someone who has very little lean body mass but also very little bodyfat as well. In other words skinny would be 6'1 135 pounds and 5-13% BF. That's skinny.

My advice to those people is to start bulking right away. Try gaining 25-35 pounds in 6-8 months. It's doable because you are skinny and far from your potential. After that expect the process to slow down like crazy.

Skinny Fat People

Most skinny people are actually skinny fat. You have very little lean body mass but high (17% +) BF.  I fall at this category. When I started training I was 6' and 145 pounds with 17% BF.

To be honest this is the most fucked up category of all because we are fat and skinny at the same time. There are two options:

1. Bulk and Get Fat

Sorry, but life is hard. We can't have it all right away. That's why you can't expect to gain 20 pounds of muscle and lose 10 pounds of fat at the same time . Not gonna happen and since you are skinny you have to gain weight. And in order to gain weight you will have to eat more and some increase of body fat is expected. Don't be surprised if you end up at 23% at the end of your bulk. Sorry. It sucks but at least now you have some muscle on you. Go lose some fat.

Pros: You are gaining muscle and a lot of strength right away.
Cons: You get fat and it sucks.

2. Lose Fat Then Bulk

I guess that if you are skinny fat losing weight is the last thing you want to do. And it's true if you really are skinny but now we are talking about skinny fat. Focus on high intensity conditioning - sprints, interval training, P90X....etc. You will also have to eat at caloric deficit or at least maintenance.

Once you get to be 10-13% BF you can bulk.

Pros: You won't get fat and your conditioning will improve right away.
Cons: You get to be super skinny.

My story

I choose the first way but not by choice. Like I said I was 145 pounds. In six months I gained 45 lbs of weight...maybe even more. I was 205 pounds and 23%+ BF. It sucked. I gained a lot of muscle for my standards - at least 15 pounds but I refused to see how fat I was. And I was eating really clean, paleo diet but sometimes consuming around 4000 calories....most of the time around 3400.

I started cutting and got to 180 pounds but I was still the same fat ass I was before and I stopped. In six months I got to 210 lbs and fat....I thought I was 15%BF but I was 20% BF. Again.

I was so sick of it and decided to cut again. I reduced my calories by more than 50% because at the beginning I was not losing any weight at all (not recommended). I got to 165 lbs and around 10% BF. Then I gained 10 pounds back (water weight, glycogen and little muscle mass) and currently I am 175 lbs and 10% BF.  Keep in mind that I have very light and thing bone structure. Actually I am the example of the worst muscle building genetics. Not to sound too cocky but I guess that's why I know so much - I sucked so hard that I had to try everything and pay with blood.

There is not a single doubt in my mind that I would've been able to save a lot of time, effort, money, food and frustration if I was simply realistic about my gains and avoided gaining so much fat then losing it....etc.

Currently I don't want to get any bigger or leaner and I am basically done as far as that goes. Currently I focus on just improving my performance and to be honest it's a relief and a significant one. There are far too many people who are not even professional bodybuilders who spend too much time thinking about stuff that does not really matter. I know because I was one of them.

My advice would be to see where you fall in the above three categories and to suck it up. Re-composition while possible is so damn slow and really hard to track. I would not waste my time on it.

That's my take on re-composition. I don't know but all I know is that I am not willing to wait for six months and hope that “change is going to come because I am eating at maintenance or below and my body is using fat to fuel my muscle building process”.....this sounds way too optimistic and never practically happens.
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