What Is "Lean"?
When looking at this photo, how many of you know that he still has 5-10lbs of subcutaneous fat he could cut, and easily yet another 5-10lbs of water to shed? In fact, look up some of his other photos (Helmut Strebl) and you’ll see he has gotten grainier than this wherein you can see the vertical fiber lines in the abs. Sadly, most people look at a world-class endurance athlete who is 5-8 percentage points fatter than this guy and think, “THAT is as lean as humanly possible.” No. Not even close. Runners and cyclists are thin, certainly compared to couch potato standards. But the top pros in the world aren’t even remotely close to lean by even mid-level bodybuilding standards.
To be fair, all of this is more on the extreme end of things. However, my wonder is why we aren’t interested in what’s actually humanly possible.
It’s a problem. When you think you have 20lbs to lose, it’s probably more like 60. When you admit to needing to lose 100lbs, it’s probably more like 160. When people are excited about 15-20lbs lost, that’s fine and all, but usually this is simply a loss of inflammatory water retention. After that is when the work BEGINS. If you’re already thinking the inflammation management was “hard,” you’re defeated before you’ve even begun.
When you’ve worked in a high traffic gym environment, you’ve logged maybe 10,000 skinfold caliper measurements in the first 5-6 years. When you’ve observed thousands of bodpod results, underwater weigh ins, dexa scans, InBody measurements, then, and ONLY then, do you know what is going on with composition. Influencers and online coaches who’ve never even pinched one person don’t know this. Regular people who’ve administered zero body fat assessments don’t know this. Most of the time people are opining on percents and figures with literally no real point of reference. Maybe they’ve received one of these tests. Cute. Maybe they caught a YouTube video. Awe. That’s sweet. Maybe they heard some pundits on TV. Isn’t that precious?
What is “lean”? It’s way further than you currently imagine. And it’s totally possible.
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