What you'll read below:

  • How to build lean muscle
  • How to lose weight
  • How to calculate your body fat percentage
  • How to measure BMI

How do I build lean muscle? 

  "The most important nutritional factor affecting muscle gain is calories — specifically, calories from carbohydrates. Building muscle requires systematic intense training.  Muscle must be challenged and stressed in order to break down, and then grow back stronger and more robust. "  Oxygen Magazine.  Dr. Sue Kleiner

 A number of items go into building lean muscle.  Perhaps the most important is diet and what you put into your body.  If you want to get lean - eat lean!   Proper fuel is essential.  Don't worry about quantity per se.  Be most concerned with quality.  You're body will tell you, for instance, when its full.  Listen to it.  React and respond to what it is telling you.  Don't over feed it.  It is fuel.  If you pump your car with gas the tank will overflow if you don't stop pumping.  Same with your body, in essence.  AND, DON'T feed it with low quality or garbage products. 

Protein - augmenting your protein intake will not only help muscle recover and grow, it will help speed up your metabolism and help lean you out.

 Carbohydrates -  The most commonly over-looked workout fuel are carbs.  There is a stern movement to go "low-carb".  Don't buy into it.  You're just starving your body and mind of vital nutrients.  Your mental focus is 90% of your successful workout.  The brain utilizes carbs to function - exclusively!  Don't deprive it of power and focus!  Vitargo - Fastest Muscle Fuel, is the most effective PRE/INTRA and/or POST workout supplement of delivering those essential carbs to your system.  Remember, just as there is good fat and bad fat, there are good carbs and there are bad carbs.  

Carbs are NOT the enemy.  Slashing carb intake may certainly help you drop water weight but, it'll leave you feeling crabby, tired and lethargic (short of energy) and that water will come-back if you haven't built the muscle to stave it off.  Additionally and foremost, depriving your body of carbohydrate will force it to look elsewhere for fuel.  Your body will burn its own muscle as fuel BEFORE it turns to the nasty fat your working hours on the gym to trim.  So, don't "low-carb".  You're working hard to get lean, trim, firm and fit.  Muscle gains don't come easy.     

  Vitargo is a complex carbohydrate and is made of a barley extract.   Get it.  Use it.  Drink it.  It is currently used by the following NCAA swim programs:  StanfordFloridaDuke and CAL.  

When your body consumes muscle mass for energy, this is called catabolism ... your body turns to your muscle to burn fuel.  It loves to do this.  Muscle is great fuel for your body.  Think about it... when you sit down and eat a chicken breast or a steak, do you like eating the fat and gristle?  No. Probably not.  Its not a good, clean, strong source of energy for your body.  Unfortunately, the same is, in principle, how your body burns energy from its own muscle.   Don't ALLOW  this.  Don't restrict carb intake.  Don't "low-carb".  Don't deprive your body of carbs... it will turn to its muscle as an alternative.  With that said, as pictured above, the best carbs, I know of (supplements) that you can put in your body for your workout come from Vitargo.  

 “Carbs are essential for life as our brain and CNS require them continuously to work properly. Restricting carbs completely will allow  for any muscle mass to be metabilized to provide us with energy,”                    

                                                                               - Tim McComsey (HumanFitProject)

So, let's breakdown the basics on carbs.  There are 2 different categories.  Simple and complex.  Easy tip for you: avoid simple carbs.  They burn quick in the body and leave a nasty exhaust.  Like putting cheap gas in the tank.  

Simple carbohydrates ("bad"):  are sugars.  All simple carbs are made of just one or two sugar molecules.  They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested by the system. 


Simple carbs to AVOID

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Artificial Syrups
  • Sugar
  • White rice
  • White bread
  • White pasta
  • Pastries and deserts 

 Complex carbohydrates ("good"):  are made up of sugar molecules that are strung together in long, complex chains.  Complex carbs typically digest slower and sustain energy levels for a prolonged period.  Both simple and complex carbs are turned into glucose (blood sugar) in the body and are used as energy.  


 Examples of complex carbohydrates: 

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • fruits and vegetables


The most important thing to remember in building lean muscle is diet.  And in exercise:  a good balance of cardio v. muscle strengthening exercises. 

 The human body has about 650 muscles so, it is key that the entire body be exercised.  Swimming is perhaps the BEST all around workout for the human body.  Running would be a close second in my opinion but, it can wear-down the knees quickly.  Sports like basketball, baseball, soccer and football are also excellent means of exercise.  Pick up games of basketball and/or soccer are perhaps the easiest to find in the community.  Triathlons encompass running, swimming and bike riding.  What ever your sport, the best way to build lean muscle is decrease the amount of body fat while either building or toning muscle.   Not as hard as you think. 

 How do I lose weight? 

Its the age old question. Perhaps the thought on the top of 99% of America's mind. The answer(s) are simpler than you think. The following is a quick and easy 4 step guide to losing weight. Don't be fooled by the "easy" mention. If it were this easy, 99% of America wouldn't be asking the question. But, the answer is plainly written. I look forward to hearing from you. So, lets begin:

First - MIND. Get into the right mental frame of mind. Your mental strength is 90% of your physical strength. Don't forget... its your brain that operates your body. If you're weak mentally, you wont be strong physically. And, you certainly won't be able to tell your body to move to get into shape.

Second - SWEAT. Know this basic. Most of the weight you have on your body... if it's the unsightly fat that's not attractive around your mid-section and its the kind that you want to get rid of... well, most of that is water. So, the more you sweat, the more this water will release. You're body is 70% water. It all depends on how it gets retained and recycled. I like to think of it like this: if you're body is retaining the water and it is building and accumulating and growing on your body, than you're body is fighting to hard to dilute the toxins in your body. Water help dilute these toxins (fat). Sound odd? Perhaps it is but, its the truth. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. So, don't let a scale throw you off. Our bedroom mirror can be our best judge. Also remember that this water concept is just a very basic concept. But, remember this basic: sweat = trim.

Third - WEIGHTS. Know that lifting weights burns more calories than does cardio. These are short power moves - but, very effective at burning calories and leaning body and muscle. Lean muscle will help burn that water off - get rid of the toxins in your body. Big muscles DO NOT mean lean muscles. If your muscles and body (are) weak, water will not come off quickly. And, to the same tune, it will re-appear just as easy. So, keep your muscles lean to stay lean. It all starts with your mental frame of mind.

Fourth - DIET. Possibly the MOST important: diet. I like to say that its not the quantity of food that matters - its the quality. If you put garbage in your body, you'll become what you eat... unhealthy. Eat good foods. Eat whole foods. Eat a well and wide balance of foods and always always exercise. Working out, whatever you do, whether it be swimming, running, cycling, climbing, jumping, gym, etc... whatever your regular or favorite activity be, the most important thing is to do it, just as I said: regularly. Exercising and eating healthy is not a fad. It is a WAY OF LIFE. It must become part of your everyday routine. Don't expect changes over-night. Stay patient, constant and committed.

 Body fat - what is my body fat percentage

Body fat % is the body's total mass of fat divided by its total body of mass.   Simply put: the fat in your body compared to everything else in your body (ie: muscles, bones, water, heart, liver, lungs, etc.)  Easy to figure out?  Yeah, for the most part.   

However, know this:  your body stores good fat and bad fat.  Just as there are good carbs (complex) and bad carbs (simple) and good calories and bad calories.  Same is true regarding fat.  Here's an excellent breakdown on "The Truth About Fat"  off WebMD.  Read here.   What you want to take away from this is the following term:  visceral fat.  That's the nasty fat that builds around your organs and can lead to ugly health problems.  Let's stick to the basics and most concern ourselves with subcutaneous fat.  That's the fat you can pinch on your waste. 

Percentages to know as we move fwd.  Note: "essential fat" is the amount of minimal fat your body needs to live and function. 

Great reads to help you lean up 

                 Body fat percentages  

Essential fat10–13%2–5%
Athletes (ie: Jim Thorpe)14–20%6–13%

 Body fat is essential to survival.  Your body stores fat as protection from peril (ie: as an energy store type insurance in case of hunger).   

Essential fat - Bodybuilders (2-5%) will allow themselves to drop down to this level in prep for a shows but, will raise back up to maintain their health the rest of the season.   

Athletes - for those interested in those coveted Ryan Gosling 6-pack movie star abs you'll want to hit that 6-13% mark, if you're a dude.  You're solid if you're around a 10% mark.  Here's my favorite silly video for gym motivation.  This is what you'll do to those guys who's muscles are bigger than their brains.  KICK BUTT!   

Fitness - The FITNESS MARK is what you want to hit for peak athletic performance.  

Average - The AVERAGE MARK will get you feeling good and looking good and will most likely start to turn some heads when you creep toward that 18% mark.  

*Note for women - common advice is to not drop below that 15% level for fertility or menstruation. 

There are a number of methods that can be used to calculate body fat percentage.   Listed below are three that I recommend.   Quickly take a peek at this article written by Leigh Peele that lists various (male) and (female) bodies and their differing (estimated) body fat percentages.   So, now the calculating....

Body fat calipers:  ($5 - $15)

Calipers are cheap and easy to use.  Just adjust and pinch. 

Don't be deceived - by your common weight scale.   The weight scale can be very if not entirely deceptive in regards to reading body fat.  I encourage you to always use a mirror to properly gauge progress.  Yes.  If you like what you see, you will smile and be more confident in your self.  If you don't like what you see, identify the problem area and concentrate on it during your workouts.  The issue with weight scales... you may be stepping on this device day after day, week after week only to see no change or possibly even an increase in weight.  That could simply mean, however, that you have INDEED burned the intentional fat YET, you have added weight because you've gained muscle.  Muscle is heavier than fat! Don't forget it.  So, do not be discouraged if you see an increase on the scale.  This is where calipers come into play.   

Stay focused and motivated as your body weight has nothing to do with your body fat percentage.   The pinch....



Here's a great video that explains how to measure body fat:  click here to watch video 

SKULPT ($199) -  for an electronic and more precise alternative to calipers,  SKULPT is incredible.  Developed by neurologist,  Dr. Seward Rutkove of the Harvard Medical School and MIT engineer, Jose Bohorquez, in 2009.   The Skulpt Aim measures both Muscle Quality (MQ) and body fat percentage.  This is how the Skulpt Aim works:   you place it on the area of your body you desire and it uses EIM technology to shoot 12 sensors and various frequencies directly through muscle to achieve accurate readings.   This technology rocks!  And you will LOVE it! 

Pictured: the Skulpt app 


 Video: describes Skulpt 

 I get body fat percentage now but, what's Muscle Quality (MQ)?  Similar to the IQ scale, the average person has an MQ of 100 (see diagram below from their website).  Higher scores correlate to leaner muscles. 

Muscle Quality (MQ) Chart 

Your bedroom MIRROR

So, you said something about a mirror, eh?   Yeah, absolutely.   If what you see (your progress) in the mirror every day doesn't motivate you, you're not working out smart.  Push yourself harder.  Sweat more.  Exercising and getting fit is all about having fun.  If it feels good, do more of it.   Don't be afraid to exercise longer.   Some folks say 45min max.  I say workout until your body says its had enough for that day.  Like anything, if you're just beginning, you need to build up a tolerance and build your conditioning.  Baby steps.  Start small and increase as you feel and see results coming through but, STAY COMMITTED.  Exercising is not a fad or something to pick up for a few months and then stop.  Its a way of life.  A daily necessity to health and well being.  I personally find basketball at the moment to be way more enjoyable and effective at sweating than treadmills, for instance.  Pick your poison, start sweating and melt that fat.  Here's a great diagram from a site called BuiltLean developed by Marc Perry that shows what the average male and female body will look like at these differing body fat stages.  

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Look, most guys want a girl to be about 15% - 25% and most women want a guy that's 5% - 15% so, don't stress if you're not too far from one of these respective margins.  

Which one are you currently?  Measure your body fat once a week at the same time (ie: Monday morning before breakfast).  Snap a photo each week after you measure.  Let your photos motivate you.

 What is BMI?  

Don't put too much weight into your Body Mass Index as body fat can only be very roughly estimated by calculating your BMI.  This is a common practice in Dr.s offices.   For instance, at  6'8" and 250lbs, Lebron James has a BMI of 27.46.  According to estimates that makes him obese.  What the estimate doesn't calculate is muscle mass.   And, on an athlete like that you can assume (per chart above) that his BFP (body fat percentage) is probably between 6-13%.  Thats far from the 25%+ that would make him obese.  So, remember, don't pay much attention to weight scales.  "Overweight" and "obese" celebrities and sports stars. 

Here's a Quick video on BMI.

Definition From Wikipedia:  "Body fat can be estimated from body mass index (BMI), a person's mass in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters; if weight is measured in pounds and height in inches, the result can be converted to BMI by multiplying by 703.  There are a number of proposed formulae that relate body fat to BMI. These formulae are based on work by researchers published in peer-reviewed journals, but their correlation with body fat are only estimates; body fat cannot be deduced accurately from BMI.

Body fat may be estimated from the body mass index by formulae derived by Deurenberg and co-workers. When making calculations, the relationship between densitometrically determined body fat percentage (BF%) and BMI must take age and sex into account. Internal and external cross-validation of the prediction formulas showed that they gave valid estimates of body fat in males and females at all ages. In obese subjects, however, the prediction formulas slightly overestimated the BF%. The prediction error is comparable to the prediction error obtained with other methods of estimating BF%, such as skinfold thickness measurements and bioelectrical impedance. The formula for children is different; the relationship between BMI and BF% in children was found to differ from that in adults due to the height-related increase in BMI in children.

Child body fat % = (1.51 × BMI) − (0.70 × Age) − (3.6 × sex) + 1.4

Adult body fat % = (1.20 × BMI) + (0.23 × Age) − (10.8 × sex) − 5.4

where sex is 1 for males and 0 for females.

Other indices may be used; the body adiposity index was said by its developers to give a direct estimate of body fat percentage, but statistical studies found this not to be so."

Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index)

pounds feet    inch years

(c) | Calculate BMI


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