Which would you rather have?I pose this question because Donald and I have started a pretty intense workout regimen this week. It involves muscle building aerobics three days a week and muscle building weight training another three days with an off day at the end of the week. Basically, we have worked our tails off and I step on the scale this morning and weigh 4 pounds more than I did last week! I started researching this phenomenon. I know the workouts are working, I can hardly walk down the stairs! I feel muscles in parts of my bodies that I never knew muscles existed, so why then is the scale moving UP?
This is what I have found. While a pound of muscle is a pound and a pound of fat is a pound, a pound of muscle is more dense making it smaller. Therefore, if you carry more muscle for your body weight, you will appear smaller and leaner. According the the National Health Association a body can only build about 8-10 pounds of muscle in a year. Knowing that, the question becomes- Why in the heck am I four pounds heavier in one week?!?! I obviously can't gain 4 pounds of muscle in one week! The above mentioned article explains this quite well. Muscles contain glycogen which is 75% water. While an article by Shulman and Rothman explains, in very clinical terms, the purpose and function of glycogen on the muscles, what I surmised from reading this article is simply this: Glycogen aides in the balancing of glucose in the muscle. Muscles use these nutrients in the reparation process after strenuous workouts that break down the muscle. If you don't have enough glycogen, you may experience muscle fatigue which will prevent proper building of muscle. You want glycogen! Those levels will regulate as you continue working out. Don't freak out over that initial upswing on the scales after starting a weight training program. Just know that you are building muscle and your body is becoming smaller and more lean!
Humanity First illustrates how glycogen in stored in the cells when glucose is not needed immediately for energy. These cells can store from 1 to 3 percent of their weight in glycogen which can be attributed to the gain that is shown on the scale.
In short, the next time someone says, "I started working out this week and I actually GAINED weight" instead of calling it "muscle weight" you can tell them not to worry it is just glycogen weight. It is actually a good thing.