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Old 05-31-2008, 12:34 PM   #1
Pat LaCosse
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Why did I lose muscle mass?

I started CrossFit in Jan 08 and I've seen dramatic results. For example, back then I could do about 1.5 dead hang pull-ups. Today I can do about 10 depending on how fresh I am.

About 8 weeks ago, my wife and I signed up for a contest at our health club to see who could lose the most body fat in 8 weeks. We got a Bod Pod reading at the start and at the end. In the meantime, I and a few friends from work did CrossFit 4-5 days a week. Many times we do more than the WOD each day. (We're kind of addicted.) Anyway, at the second Bod Pod reading, I was sure I was going to find that I had gained lean mass. But the results indicated I had lost 4 lbs of lean mass while gaining 3 lbs of fat.

I'm not very good with diet. I don't do the Zone, but I don't go wild with bad food either. I can understand gaining fat because of some bad eating, but I don't understand how I could have lost muscle in the last 8 weeks, especially since I feel stronger than ever. There are times where I have overdone it and don't sleep well. Also I did participate in a 127 mile bike ride a few weeks ago, but no long slow stuff to speak of other than that.

Does this happen to others? I've searched the forums and haven't really found much. The week before the final Bod Pod reading my buddies and I worked out really hard. Could it be that overdoing it has cause my body to use up lean mass? Thanks for any help you might be able to give.
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:38 PM   #2
Jake Di Vita
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

So you're doing more deadhangs now but think you've lost muscle and gained fat?
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:56 PM   #3
Joe Bernard
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

Have you done a BB routine before doing CF? Some people, when they switch to CF, lose muscle because they were disproportionally building muscle with their previous routine. Ex: bench press and doing bicep curls alot while avoiding the back or something like that. Muscle is redistributed more uniformly over your entire body when you do CF as compared to a BB routine, especially if you favor a certain muscle group such as the chest or biceps. So while you may be gaining muscle, you might have lost considerable mucle in your chest/biceps if you favored working them out heavily. So that may be one reason why.

Another reason is diet. If you are eating crap, you will get crap results, end of story. Try doing paleo, since it doesn't require any weighing/measuring. In a nutshell, it's: eat meat, fish, vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds. Avoid dairy, legumes and grains. Eat when you are hungry and eat only until you are full. Eggs are acceptable, even though they are dairy.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:26 PM   #4
Mike Hannan
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

It's actually quite common to lose muscle mass when transitioning to whatever you were doing before CF to a total-body strength & conditioning approach like CF. And bad diet, bad sleep, overtraining, and a long endurance event like the 127-mile ride (what's that, 8 hrs of cardio?) can easily explain a few lbs of muscle loss & fat gain.

If muscle-gain (i.e., not just strength gain, which you've definitely obtained) is your primary goal, then you'll want to tailor your CF work to be shorter in total duration (i.e., fewer exercises), with heavier resistance and longer rest between exercises.

If you also want to lose fat, nothing works better than improving your diet, but whether you're able to that or not, keep as much high-intensity interval training (15-20 min per day) in your routine as you can, and that will help lose the fat without cannibalizing muscle.

Last, if your a hard-gainer like me, you might also need to make sure you're sleeping/recovering sufficiently. Bumping up my sleep from 6 hrs/night to 8 hrs made a big difference, and being careful not to overtrain helped me gain muscle more effectively as well.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:41 PM   #5
Pat LaCosse
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

I was pretty much a flabby desk jockey before starting CrossFit. My buddies and I did this thing called Turbulence Training (sort of a watered down version of CrossFit) for about 1.5 months before discovering Crossfit. Turbulence Training emphasized interval training, so it helped us get to a point where, once we discovered CrossFit, we could at least attempt a Puppies or Pack level workout (referring to the BrandX scaling) without puking. I was 235 when I started doing Turbulence Training. I hover around 205 now, still with a good bit of belly fat. Once I started doing CrossFit, I began losing weight much more slowly, but that was fine because it was obvious I was losing fat and gaining muscle.

So no, I don't have any kind of weight lifting background. My shoulders, triceps, back, quads and hams are noticeably bigger because of CrossFit.

The bike event was actually closer to 12 hours of cardio because of a bad head wind.

I have to admit I've been eating way more garbage (e.g., fast food, vending machines) than I should. Maybe that plus overdoing it lately is my problem.
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Old 05-31-2008, 02:14 PM   #6
Brett Dartt
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

im confused where you gained 3 lbs of fat? your thirty lbs lighter
and maybe like someone else said your overtraining. maybe dont do more than the WOD
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Old 05-31-2008, 02:41 PM   #7
Pat LaCosse
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

Brett, I was 235 in the middle of November when I started doing Turbulence Training. Lost an initial 10 or so lbs doing that. Started CrossFit in January and continued to lose weight but more slowly because of obvious muscle gains. The Bod Pod body fat-loss contest was just in the last 8 weeks.

So since getting active again, and especially since starting CrossFit, the results have been great. I'm very happy. I was just puzzled why this machine is saying that in the last 8 weeks I lost about 4 lbs of lean mass and gained about 3 lbs of fat even though I'm getting better at the WODs and feel and look stronger than I ever have. I'm not surprised by the fat gained, because I eat too much junk sometimes. It's the loss of lean mass that seemed strange.
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Old 05-31-2008, 02:55 PM   #8
Brett Dartt
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

got it
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Old 05-31-2008, 03:28 PM   #9
Mike Hannan
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

Interesting...I got started on Turbulence Training before discovering CF as well.

If you were already naturally muscular (but not lean) as a sedentary person, and you've noticed visually obvious muscle gains & strength since starting CF, and meaningful fat loss with TT and CF, I wouldn't worry about the bod pod's readings a few lbs one way or the other. Keep working CF intensely, watch the overtraining, do what you can with the diet, and you'll make steady progress. If you're into measuring small improvements, or competing with training partners, then I suggest investing in a body-fat scale and a tape measure.

BTW, on the diet, it doesn't nec mean cutting calories. Replace vending machine candy bars & diet cokes by keeping a can of almonds and some apples around (Greens Plus protein bars are also a good alternative in a pinch), and stick to the water fountain. As for the fast food, I finally just had to go cold turkey on that...finally got to the point where those foods just look very unappealing to me now.
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Old 05-31-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
Steven Low
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Re: Why did I lose muscle mass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat LaCosse View Post
I started CrossFit in Jan 08 and I've seen dramatic results. For example, back then I could do about 1.5 dead hang pull-ups. Today I can do about 10 depending on how fresh I am.

About 8 weeks ago, my wife and I signed up for a contest at our health club to see who could lose the most body fat in 8 weeks. We got a Bod Pod reading at the start and at the end. In the meantime, I and a few friends from work did CrossFit 4-5 days a week. Many times we do more than the WOD each day. (We're kind of addicted.) Anyway, at the second Bod Pod reading, I was sure I was going to find that I had gained lean mass. But the results indicated I had lost 4 lbs of lean mass while gaining 3 lbs of fat.

I'm not very good with diet. I don't do the Zone, but I don't go wild with bad food either. I can understand gaining fat because of some bad eating, but I don't understand how I could have lost muscle in the last 8 weeks, especially since I feel stronger than ever. There are times where I have overdone it and don't sleep well. Also I did participate in a 127 mile bike ride a few weeks ago, but no long slow stuff to speak of other than that.

Does this happen to others? I've searched the forums and haven't really found much. The week before the final Bod Pod reading my buddies and I worked out really hard. Could it be that overdoing it has cause my body to use up lean mass? Thanks for any help you might be able to give.
Let's see...

Overwork in training = increased cortisol levels
Poor sleep = increased cortisol levels
Poor diet = increased cortisol levels
Too much stress = increased cortiol levels

Increased cortisol levels in caloric excess = increased fat
Increased cortisol in caloric deficit = muscle loss

I think it explains itself. Obviously, you're going to have some good results because good exercise with decent diet can cut some weight... but you're not gonna get the results you want ultimately if your diet is poor, sleep is poor and you overwork your body.

Considering top level athletes such as OPT/AFT/Josh Everett/Speal/etc. only tend to do the WOD and nothing else (and look at their numbers... CFT's above 800 some over 1000, sub 2:30 frans, sub 7 helens, etc), I think that it's generally enough and you don't need to add anything extra.
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Last edited by Steven Low : 05-31-2008 at 04:42 PM.
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