What’s the difference between a pound of fat and a pound of muscle?


A pound of fat is a lot bigger and takes up more space than a pound of muscle. Muscle is much denser than fat, it takes up four-fifths as much space as fat does. Although someone is the same height and weight, depending on their body fat percentage, one will appear larger. Look at the picture above. As you can see, the fat pictured looks a lot more lumpy and bulky, whereas the muscle is smooth and shapely.


Muscle helps you burn more calories in your workout. Jeremy Smith, fitness manager for In-Shape gives tips on how to effectively lose weight while building muscle. “One pound of muscle can burn up to 70 calories a day, whereas fat burns up to 7 calories a day,” said Smith. Muscle even helps burn calories when your body is at rest.


There are many benefits to having a higher lean body mass. Lean body mass is everything in your body, but fat. Not only can it give you a leaner physique, but it can also reduce your risk of injury because it increases your strength, stability and flexibility as long as your program is built around them. In between workouts, you should take 1-2 days off for muscle recovery.


“Lean body mass helps you lose the body fat that takes you to an unhealthy category. It moves you away from being at risk and increases your ability to be at a healthy body range,” said Smith. The more lean body mass you have, the easier it is to maintain your weight. It also increases your stamina, so you’re able to stay in the gym longer.


The best way to maximize muscle gain is to incorporate resistance training into your workout, such as body weight training – when you use your own body weight as resistance. “As long as you are going above and beyond what you normally do, you will see results. Make sure you are conducting progressive resistance training. Continue to challenge yourself,” said Smith.


Step away from the scale, you cannot use the scale as your sole measure of success. Use other methods to track your progress. “Track your body fat percentage, measure the inches around your waist and compare how your clothes are fitting on your body,” said Smith.


Bringing on a personal trainer is another way to help you find success. They have the knowledge behind the workout and can show you safe and effective techniques that target your goals.


Although short term goals are important for long term success, you have to look at the big picture. Make it a lifestyle change. Always stay active and continue to incorporate resistance building exercises into your workout routine. Remember, it’s not all about the number of pounds you lose, it’s more about the muscle you build that helps you keep the weight off.


                Jeremy Smith has been a part of the fitness industry for sixteen years. He is TRX certified and an official RIP Trainer. As a personal trainer, he was formerly certified through NASM, ACE, NSCA and NFPT as well as held other specialty certifications. He is currently a Fitness Manager with In-Shape Health Clubs.