Reader Question of the Week – February 1, 2016

Note: We’re starting up a new feature on Body Moment where we feature a great question from one of our readers. I love to get emails, and I reply to every single one. I thought that you guys would enjoy seeing what regular people like you have to say – and what advice I give them! Let me know what you think of this new feature in the comments. -Chris

Reader Question of the Week:

Hi Chris, here’s my question:

I’m working on my PATIENCE. Results are in, I gained 1.9 pds of muscle BUT gained .8 body fat since Sept (don’t understand how). I’m 43, female, 5’5, 136 pds & body fat 26. I’m currently working out to Hammer & Chisel.

I’m frustrated since I’m constantly questioning my plan.. “Am I running too much or to little? Am I in the correct food bracket?” (went from a D down to a C). It’s plenty of food for me. “Maybe I need to up my weights?” (which Is my next switch)

I feel like my plan is all over the place. I know I need to trust the process but my mind keeps telling me something needs to be tweaked.. Or not. Any input? Thank you.

My Response:

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? We just wish our bodies would TELL US ALREADY what we need to do…bodies are so great at telling us “I need water! I need food! I need chocolate cake!”, but they NEVER say “lift more, run less, do an extra 20 squats today”. Bodies kind of suck.

It’s natural to question a plan – and I think it’s healthy to question a plan, especially one like BB or H&C that’s engineered for the mass-market and not tailored to your needs. It doesn’t mean the program is wrong for you – it just means you’re being smart and analytical.

I do the same thing, ALL THE TIME: “If I start Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Size, he does straight 4×15 sets without laddering up or down – should I tweak his program because I like laddering up with bigger weights? And he doesn’t incorporate cardio acceleration into StS — should I do that? I’m trying to shed water weight for my weigh-in on Wednesday, should I lay off the creatine? And for how long? Should I skip the dextrose in my post-workout during my cut phase?”…and on and on and on. I drive myself crazy with that. I imagine you feel somewhat the same.

Here’s what I think you should do.

First, figure out exactly what you want your goal to be. Is it to build muscle like Sagi over the long term? Or is it to get cut and shredded like Autumn in a short amount of time? They have different requirements. Muscle building responds well to repeated cycles of bulking and cutting…but you need to be OK with adding fat on periodically. It’s tough to build muscle and stay shredded. Not many people can do it – not even the pro bodybuilders. If you want to go the shred route (and look like Autumn) this will come at the expense of less muscle but more fat loss.

Once you have that figured out, then take the program you want to follow and put your own slight personal modifier on it. If you want to go the cut route, then add cardio where you want and adjust the calorie bracket for a short term fat burn. If you want to go the bulk route, lift a little heavier and forego the extra cardio.

Stay on that track for four weeks. (Yes, four. It’s a long time – I know!). See where you are at the end of that stage (no matter where you are in the program, even if you’ve looped around and started it again), and if it’s not doing what you want, THEN change ONE other thing and do the four weeks again. Finding the groove takes time, and it’s hard, but it’s worth it. I promise you that.
And I can tell you’re a numbers person – how are you measuring the body fat % and the muscle mass vs. fat mass? Most standard body fat % measuring processes have a huge variance when it comes to the exact number. And although we don’t admit it, most of us aren’t working toward a particular body fat % or body weight – we just want to LOOK GOOD. Humans are vain. I know. So if you’re going for definition, I wouldn’t put too much stock in what the numbers tell you. Do you look like you want to look? Yes? Then keep on with what you’re doing. No? Then figure out which path you want to take and shoot for that.

I think you’re doing awesome. You’ve been on a great plan since September (did you start out with Body Beast?), you’re being analytical, you’re paying attention to the details and it’s skills like that that will serve you well for all your fitness goals. Keep on keeping on and you will get where you need to be. I have faith in you.


Do you need help finding motivation? Puzzled by your workout? Stumped by supplementation? Email your questions to You can also send me a text via SMS or call in your question to the Body Moment Question Line at (415)-300-BODY (that’s 415-300-2639); standard messaging rates or long distance charges may apply – check with your carrier. We read and listen to everything we receive!

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