Posts Tagged ‘lean mass’

Recently I presented a nutritional seminar to a hockey team. And although not the topic for that presentation one of the questions was how to put on weight.

And it’s important that we make the distinction between putting on weight and putting on lean body mass. Because it’s really easy to put on weight.  A few extra meals through a window everyday and you’re set.

But putting on quality lean body mass (think muscle) is more of a challenge. Especially when you play a sport where mobility, speed and agility matter as they do in hockey.

Because if we were talking about bulking up a lineman playing football this is a lot easier. But hockey players can’t afford to carry extra mass that doesn’t contribute to increased performance.

So that’s the first rule of putting on weight for hockey. If extra weight slows you down it’s not good weight. If extra weight diminishes your athleticism it’s not good weight. And if extra weight causes you to become fatigued more easily during a game it’s not good weight.

And putting on extra lean body mass is not easy. I don’t know how many times I’ve had athletes, particularly males, come in for training and tell me one of their goals is to put on 20 lbs of muscle.

Ha! As if it were that easy. Consider what an eight ounce steak looks like…

Now know that it takes 2 of these to make one pound of muscle protein. And for 20 lbs of muscle it would take 40 eight ounce steaks slapped all over the body. But since hockey relies so heavily on lower body strength and power we’ll say that the majority of these steaks are going to be applied to the legs, hips and low back with a small amount through the upper body and arms.

That’s a huge amount of muscle protein and should make you appreciate how hard it would be to put on 20 lbs of muscle.

But it gets better.

An increase in lean body mass is the result of a increase in energy intake. In other words we need to eat more. And this increased consumption in quality, nutritious calories will help contribute to the synthesis of lean body mass.

But we don’t simply put on muscle mass when we increase our calories. While the goal is to put on as much of this weight as muscle the truth is that we may increase our bodyfat as well.

When we are talking about the reverse situation, weight loss, we don’t simply lose fat. There is a loss of lean body mass as well as a loss in fat mass. But the losses aren’t the same for everyone.

People with more fat mass will lose more fat, and retain more lean mass, on a weight loss program than lean people. And it would seem intuitive to assume that the reverse condition would also apply. Lean people will have a more difficult time putting on mass than larger people will. Yeah, I know. Life isn’t fair.

In part II of this article I’ll share some tips to putting on lean body mass without compromising your performance on the ice.