When it comes to improving our physique, there are two main tissues we need to focus on: body fat and skeletal muscle. Not only do these tissues affect our appearance, but they also impact our health and overall function. Therefore, making improvements in these areas can have a three-fold effect on our lives.
So what are some good physique goals to shoot for? To answer this question, we can turn to Dr. Peter Attia’s method of analysis. Attia is the go to medical expert on the science of living longer (longevity) and breaks down physique goals into four categories:
1. Under nourished, under muscled. This refers to individuals who are very slender and thin, and who need more calories and more muscle. To achieve this, one should increase their overall calorie intake, protein intake, and engage in resistance training.
2. Over nourished, under muscled. This describes individuals who are “skinny fat” and who need more muscle but not necessarily more calories. To achieve this, one should increase their protein intake and engage in resistance training. However, it is important to keep calories the same or slightly decrease.
3. Under nourished, sufficient muscle. This category is rare over the long term, but it could describe a bodybuilder or someone who is extremely lean close to a contest. To achieve this, one needs more calories but not necessarily more muscle. Increase calorie intake, maintain protein intake, and stick to a resistance training regimen.
4. Over nourished, sufficient. This category includes individuals who are bigger and stronger, but who need to lose some body fat. To achieve this, one should maintain their protein intake, stick to their resistance training regimen, and decrease overall calorie intake while increasing caloric output.
It’s important to note that “look better,” “lose weight,” “lose fat,” and “improve my physique” aren’t specific or well-chosen goals. Breaking down physique goals into these four categories or even more specific makes it easier to identify the measurable target metrics that need to be addressed, determine a plan, and track progress.
Now that we have a better understanding of Attia’s categories, we can take a look at some specific target goals to shoot for with regards to body fat percentage and muscle mass:
Body Fat Percentage: The ideal body fat percentage varies depending on a person’s gender, age, and fitness level. We’ll talk more about specific body fat percentages Wednesday but setting a goal to achieve a healthy body fat percentage can improve overall health and help to achieve a more toned and defined physique.
Muscle Mass: Aiming to increase muscle mass can improve overall strength and help to achieve a more muscular and toned physique. However, it’s important to set specific and realistic goals, such as increasing muscle mass by a certain percentage, amount in weight, or achieving a certain weightlifting goal.
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