Fitness Myth #4
Muscle Weighs More Than Fat

Welcome to Week 4 in “Debunking Fitness Myths.”  Last week we covered “Women Who Lift Weights Will Bulk” where we debunked the idea that if you’re a woman and you lift weights, especially heavy weights, you will become bulky.  Continuing with fitness myths, this week we will debunk the belief and clarify the myth that muscle weighs more than fat!

I’m sure you have heard or have even repeated the saying that “muscle weighs more than fat.” When you really think about it though, it’s like saying 1lb of muscle weighs more than 1lb of fat.  We all know that 1lb weighs the same, regardless of the item.  However, this myth isn’t completely inaccurate, there is some truth to it.  Muscle does indeed weigh more than fat in terms of volume, which is where the saying “muscle weighs more than fat” comes from.

This misunderstanding comes from the fact that muscle is in fact heavier by volume, as it is much more dense that fat.  If you were to compare two 4×4 blocks, one muscle and one fat, the muscle would indeed weigh more because it is denser by volume.  Keep in mind that in terms of volume, although muscle weighs more than fat, it does not take up as much space as fat does.  A 5lb block of muscle would indeed take up way less space than a 5lb block of fat.

muscle weighs more than fat
5lbs of fat above compared to 5lbs of muscle below

Since muscle weighs more by volume than fat does, it is easy to see where the saying, “muscle weighs more than fat” comes from.  While this isn’t entirely wrong, it would be accurate to say, “muscle weighs more than fat by volume” because as you know 1lb still equals 1lb.

You may be asking yourself, “why does this even matter?!”  Let me explain the importance and role of muscle vs. fat when it comes to weight loss, fat loss, and body composition.  I would assume that you now understand that per volume, muscle does indeed weigh more than fat and also occupies less space than fat.  This is important to understand as it can really impact your weigh-ins, especially if you’re tracking your progress only on the scale.

When exercising, especially when incorporating resistance training, it is entirely possible for your body to change composition without losing weight.  In fact, sometimes the scale may even go up!  If you remember from “Cardio is King“, what happens is your body builds more lean body mass, which is comprised of more muscle.  Simultaneously, your body fat is going down which results in a leaner body and smaller clothing sizes.  This is why you can have take a bunch of people who all weigh exactly the same and are the same height, but because some have more muscle and less fat, they look entirely different.

muscle vs. fat
An example of various body compositions at different body fat percentages

Keep in mind though that if you’ve been exercising for months and the scale hasn’t changed, or it has gone up, and your clothes still fit the same, then saying that you haven’t lost weight because “muscle weighs more than fat”, most likely doesn’t apply to you 🙂  The truth is there is a good chance that you’re consuming too many calories or not exercising enough to create a deficit and see some change.  Also keep in mind, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you should see the scale come down significantly as you have more fat to lose.

When it comes to tracking your progress, we recommend using various tools.  The scale is fine to use as an overall tool to track your weight loss, however as mentioned above, it does not take into account muscle gain and fat loss.  This is where other tools such as tracking your body fat and doing measurements can be great.  Even if you aren’t seeing weight loss on the scale, you may see a drop in body fat as well as your measurements.

fitness myth muscle weighs more than fat
Tracking your body composition through body fat and measurements

Catch last week’s myth, “Women Who Lift Weight Will Bulk” and stay tuned for next week where we’ll debunk, “If You Exercise, You Can Eat Whatever You Want!”

Written by Sophie DeHenzel
Fitness Myth #4 – Muscle Weighs More Than Fat

About DeHenzel Training Systems: DeHenzel Training Systems offers In Home Personal Training services throughout Northern Virginia and Washington DC.  Aside from in home, personal training is also available at the office gym or outdoors at a local park.

Within Northern Virginia, we service Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William Counties including: Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Fairfax, Falls Church, Great Falls, Herndon, Lansdowne, Leesburg, Lorton, McLean, Oakton, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, Tyson’s Corner, Vienna and Woodbridge.

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