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  • Body Recomping (Recomposition)

    So I stumbled on an interesting concept a few days back that i thought I would share here. I apologize at the length of this.

    What if how we look is more to do with our activity/lifestyle rather than nutrition? This is not to say that nutrition does not play a vital role, but more-so our activity/lifestyle dictates how our nutrition reacts to our body.

    For example, we look at sprinters and they are generally lean, ripped, or cut, or however you want to describe it and so are swimmers just to name a couple of examples. No one will argue that the professions of these sports are generally cut like statues. When you look at say professional power lifters, Olympic lifters, or Strongmen etc.., it is not uncommon to see these people carrying some impressive spare tires around their wastes despite putting in the same time, effort an intensity into their respective sports, so what gives? It's hard to say just who consumes more calories, but we do know swimmers like Michael Phelps have gone on record in eating 10K calories daily at times.

    I come across a concept that the reason this is the case, is simply because of the body's ability to adapt and recomp itself to make it easier for whatever activity the person decides to engage in on a regular basis (including it's intensity). It's no secret, carrying extra weight when trying to sprint or swim isn't going to do anyone any favors in speed. Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, or Strongman comps however, it really doesn't matter if someone is carrying an extra 50lbs around their waist or not. In some instances, the extra weight may prove to be more beneficial to add some stability and grounding with excessive weighted lifts (like deadlifts). So with the case of sprinters or swimmers, the body perceives these lifestyle activities to be made easier by simply shaving off the extra weight to make it more manageable. But not only that, may now redistribute both the ingested nutrition and actual calories the body is carrying to fuel and build the muscles regularly engaged in these activities as opposed to storing it as fat In other words, a sprinter requires less overall weight and fat to excel at the activity so the body simply removes the fat getting in the way and redistributes the energy to build up the muscles involved in the activity to make it easier.

    We've all come to know here that sprinting is an excellent way to break through the weight loss plateau. But what about another couple of known exercises that can be made easier carrying less weight? Pull ups and Dips. It's been said many times the easiest way to make pull-ups easier is to carry less weight, the same can be said for dips. For the example of dips, at the same time the body will require a good chunk of the nutrition to be used to fuel and build up the chest, shoulders, and triceps. So perhaps one of the secrets to weight loss is simply incorporating things like pull ups, dips, sprints, or even swimming into their exercise plan. That way when your body perceives these activities as a regular part of a person's lifestyle, it will need to recomp itself to reduce the stress and be made easier, so it can go back to it's happy balance it seems to love to find. Basically the idea is to engage in activities that would be considerably easier if one was carrying less fat. Pull-ups being a prime example, weighted pull ups even more so because your body may need to shed even more fat if it thinks doing pull ups with an extra 45lbs strapped to you is a regular thing. A heavy bench press however, it wouldn't matter if one was carrying an extra 50lbs or not.

    What do you guys and gals think? FYI, I have not incorporated any of these things into my own workout regularly other than sprints, and even that I've slacked on. I am going to give this a whirl though.

  • #2
    Makes sense Marathon runners and endurance cyclists are usually very lean.
    Take a walk on the wild side.

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    • #3
      Interesting, you essentially posit that we have an "invisible hand" guiding our body comp, much like a metabolic version of Adam Smith's economic idea. My elder son has recently decided to stop doing longer running events for much the same reasons you describe - people who are marathoners don't have the same body build as the sprinters. He pretty much has a sprinter's build already -- about 5'11, somewhere around 180, and is pretty ripped. He is an excellent all-around athlete and in high school was a top soccer player and in track was a very competitive sprinter. He has decided that he wants to "get big" and has my younger son providing long distance coaching. Younger son is a near expert in developing your upper body through weight training. Older son is and has been Primal for multiple years and was a featured MDA success story a couple of years ago (I've lost the link)

      At any rate, he is getting noticeably larger in the chest and shoulders and says he is maintaining his speed.
      Finally have given up on MDA Forum.
      My friends, I'll see ya at primalforums.com where I'm user #4, and we do have a moderator.

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      • #4
        Movement is part of a homeostatic system. You could read Katy Bowman, who advocates natural movement as opposed to exercise. However, when we are talking about obese or more than a little overweight people, their regulatory system has broken down. Higher volumes with body weight could be hard on the joints, which already discourages even everyday movement like walking for some. Weight training is more efficient, and losing weight by eating less will be the main means back to a body that has more options for movement.
        I moved to primalforums.com to escape the spam.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by sharperhawk View Post
          Movement is part of a homeostatic system. You could read Katy Bowman, who advocates natural movement as opposed to exercise.
          Haven't looked into her work yet, but realigning the body requires a lot of excersise in my experience. It's a lot of hard work getting back to natural movement after a lifetime of bad posture.

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          • #6
            skier lindsey vonn was interviewed recently and she said changing her diet was the biggest factor in her body recomp. she was already a force of nature on the slopes and very strong, but had been following cw diet advice of high-carb for her training and always looked "puffy". she hired her own trainer, dumped the bread and pasta, added healthy fats like avocado and salmon, and leaned out a LOT, while maintaining strength and winning gold medals. she didn't change her training, just her foods.

            michael phelps is a genetic outlier with a body unlike most humans and is basically a merman, lol.
            As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

            – Ernest Hemingway

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            • #7
              Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying one can over-look nutrition as part of reaching their goals, it simply is a case of you are what you eat. I just think people don't need to be as neurotic about it as some get. The calorie counters making sure they hit all their macros; perhaps don't need to be following such a regimented plan anymore.

              I had a chat with gf about this recently and I brought up the concept to her and specifically used the show "my 600lb life". Someone say carrying an obscene amount of weight has the potential to lose weight very quickly because pretty much anything they do is a struggle, even walking. Will a 200lb person lose weight walking the same distance as a 600lb person? Not likely, because now a 200 pounder should be able to effectively walk 10K fairly easily while still carrying their current body mass. That 600lb person will have to shed excess weight for the body to find a happy medium walking 10K regularly.

              Now take that same 200lb person and make them sprint 4x a week, now that extra body fat they're carrying the body could perceive as detrimental, and need to shave it off.

              Now if you take 2 people, of similar size, lets say they're 6ft 200lbs with equal amount of weight lifting experience. Both follow primal and eat equal amount of calories. One decides to get really good at pull-ups while the other bench press. Both expend the same amount of energy (calories), but say at the end of 6 months, one should theoretically have a bigger (stronger) chest and triceps, while the other should have a stronger lats, forearms, and possibly now be carrying less weight around the midsection.

              This isn't a quick fix, the video I saw where this was brought up mentioned specifically this is an over time thing, the long haul. Don't expect it to happen over a few months time, but over the long haul, your body recomps itself to handle what it perceives is a regular activity. The only way your body can find that new balance is to shave off the excess weight causing the issue. At least that's the concept. Eat regular food, and fuel your body for what it needs, but don't stress out over ever little macros or calories

              Either way I'm going to put this to the test. I'm going to just workout mon/wed/fri now until the track opens up near my place so I can resume sprints again. Monday will be focusing more on pull-ups (to burnout), with dips as a finisher, and some other exercise in there. Friday will be the opposite, focus on dips, with pull-ups as a finisher. Wednesday will be the generic compound movements (deadlifts, squats, power cleans, etc..), curious to see how it turns out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by WestCoastFire View Post
                Now if you take 2 people, of similar size, lets say they're 6ft 200lbs with equal amount of weight lifting experience. Both follow primal and eat equal amount of calories. One decides to get really good at pull-ups while the other bench press. Both expend the same amount of energy (calories), but say at the end of 6 months, one should theoretically have a bigger (stronger) chest and triceps, while the other should have a stronger lats, forearms, and possibly now be carrying less weight around the midsection.
                Sounds like magic. Show me the studies.
                I moved to primalforums.com to escape the spam.

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                • #9
                  "Either way I'm going to put this to the test. "
                  So are you taking starting point statistics on your body - size of chest/waist/arms etc? You need that to do a proper eval on the success of your effort, right?

                  Your two exercise comparison examples leave me flat. The 200 pounders by most any expectation would develop bigger muscles to support the areas that are being exercised, seems like a "well, duh" moment to me, and the 200/600 pound walking seems to ignore the obvious that the 600# person has to exert a whole lot more energy in moving the bod over the distance. Or maybe I miss the point completely.

                  At any rate, hope you have success with your effort.
                  Finally have given up on MDA Forum.
                  My friends, I'll see ya at primalforums.com where I'm user #4, and we do have a moderator.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rig D View Post
                    "Either way I'm going to put this to the test. "
                    So are you taking starting point statistics on your body - size of chest/waist/arms etc? You need that to do a proper eval on the success of your effort, right?

                    Your two exercise comparison examples leave me flat. The 200 pounders by most any expectation would develop bigger muscles to support the areas that are being exercised, seems like a "well, duh" moment to me, and the 200/600 pound walking seems to ignore the obvious that the 600# person has to exert a whole lot more energy in moving the bod over the distance. Or maybe I miss the point completely.

                    At any rate, hope you have success with your effort.
                    You're right, it kind of is a "well duh" moment with a bit of a twist. Obviously a 600lb person will exert more energy than a 200lb person, which in a round about way is the point. No matter what way we look at it, if one partakes in an exercise where their body is fighting gravity, any excess weight is always going to require excess energy expenditure. Now the question is, does the body prioritize removing the excess weight as to not have to struggle expending excess energy? If we assume our body's fight to stay in balance (which for all intensive purposes, I believe they do), it would technically have to remove the excess weight to make it easier, in addition to re-enforcing the appropriate muscles.

                    If we take the example of the bench presser, the only way the body will adjust to handle that load is create a very strong set of pecs, front delts, and triceps. As far as carrying the extra belly weight, why would the body need to shed the spare tire? It's not getting in the way of the lift?

                    If we look at athletes in their respective sports in their respective positions/roles, we find they all generally look the same. Sprinters all have the same body type; so do soccer players, so do hockey players (with the same role). We find football players are no different, all running backs are generally the same, just as linemen are, and receivers are. Same with swimmers, same with baseball players (the heavy hitters I've seen usually carry somewhat of a gut, no real need to run). Power lifters, strongmen, Olympic lifters, volleyball players, marathon runners, you can practically draw comparisons with nearly every sport if we look closely. That basically tells me anyway, that it makes sense for the body to recomp itself for the long haul for any activity done regularly.

                    As I said, it's all experimental for me at this point, and the best way to try it is put it to the test . I'll be keeping tabs looks and progress. The only thing I'm changing is putting a much larger focus on exercises like pull-ups and dips, and less focus on heavy compound exercises (though I still do them). I can say though even after 1 workout where focusing on dips, I did notice a different look and pump than I have in the past from doing traditional chest and tricep exercises separately.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WestCoastFire View Post
                      If we look at athletes in their respective sports in their respective positions/roles, we find they all generally look the same. Sprinters all have the same body type; so do soccer players, so do hockey players (with the same role). We find football players are no different, all running backs are generally the same, just as linemen are, and receivers are. Same with swimmers, same with baseball players (the heavy hitters I've seen usually carry somewhat of a gut, no real need to run). Power lifters, strongmen, Olympic lifters, volleyball players, marathon runners, you can practically draw comparisons with nearly every sport if we look closely. That basically tells me anyway, that it makes sense for the body to recomp itself for the long haul for any activity done regularly.
                      1. They are intentionally shaping their bodies in ways that fit their sports' demands.

                      2. The sports select for athletes who have advantageous body types. There may be obese sprinters, but they never make it to the Olympics. There may be anorexic lifters, but they don't make the lifting team.
                      I moved to primalforums.com to escape the spam.

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                      • #12
                        am going to have to concur with hawk. a little peanut like simone biles could train like a maniac and never become an elite powerlifter and michael phelps would be a disappointing jockey. there is a certain amount of self-selection for bodytypes which then excel at particular sports.
                        As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

                        – Ernest Hemingway

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Two responses really.

                          1. Selection bias, which I think has been covered. Essentially you weed out the body types unfit for that sport at higher and higher levels of competition. My best guess is the more extreme the demands the more extreme body type you see. I think swimming is rather extreme in selection bias. Not to say sprinting won't yield a better muscle mass than marathon running though. Just that looking at competitive athletes at really high levels can be tricky.

                          2. There is still some issue with the assumption. I see many "powerlifters" right on this board who aren't carrying one bit of spare tire for instance.
                          Last edited by Neckhammer; 10-27-2016, 11:33 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by noodletoy View Post
                            am going to have to concur with hawk. a little peanut like simone biles could train like a maniac and never become an elite powerlifter and michael phelps would be a disappointing jockey. there is a certain amount of self-selection for bodytypes which then excel at particular sports.
                            I get what you are saying, but powerlifting is by weight class. Short, strong, and low body fat does VERY WELL in powerlifting. I bet Simone would rock.

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                            • #15
                              Doug McGuff, in "Body by Science", uses the first chapter to dismiss pretty much all that is being said here. The most competitive individuals in any sport did not get that way by food. The sports self-selected the best bodies for that particular sport.

                              We all have a pretty much determined body type by the time we are born. Yes, nutrition and activities will nudge one's body type this way or that, but you'll never have a low center of gravity, stocky wrestler do well in a marathon. Might complete it, but not competitively.

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