How CrossFit Is a Surprising Way To Gain Lean Body Mass

How CrossFit Is a Surprising Way To Gain Lean Body Mass

You look at magazines, tv, and social media … what do you see? Lean and muscular bodies everywhere. Who doesn’t have the desire to improve their health and look better? 

Here at Haven Athletic, we are dedicated to providing you with reliable information to help you make the most informed decisions about maximizing your overall health and fitness. 

Today we will look at how CrossFit can be an excellent way to meet your health and fitness goals.


What Is Lean Body Mass?

Lean body mass (LBM) is the fat-free mass in your body. LBM can be calculated by subtracting your body fat from your total body weight. 

What is included in lean body weight/mass? Your organs, skin, bone density, body water, and skeletal muscle mass are included. The less body fat you have, the leaner your body will look. Building muscle mass is an excellent way to increase your lean mass and stay at your ideal body weight.

There are many ways to assess body composition — it doesn’t stop with your total weight. 

Some people heavily rely on taking body mass index (BMI) measurements, but these are not always accurate. BMI is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. Medical professionals then use your BMI range to determine if you are underweight, have a healthy weight, are overweight, or are in the obesity category. However, this doesn’t consider muscle mass, fat distribution, age, or several other important factors, so it isn’t always the most useful measurement. 


Other Ways To Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage

Here are other ways to calculate your body fat: 

  • Skinfold Measurement Technique: Skinfold measurements are popular among personal trainers, as it requires a high level of skill to determine accurately. Skinfold measurements are based on the belief that approximately 50 percent of body fat lies just under the skin. This technique is completed by measuring the thickness of the skinfolds at standardized sites. 
  • Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA): This prediction equation is based on a three-pronged approach that divides the body into total body mineral, fat-free soft mass, and fat tissue mass. The DEXA scan completes a body fat distribution analysis that shows how fat is distributed into different parts of the body. This is considered the most detailed and accurate way to calculate your body fat percentage.
  • Body Circumference Measurement: This method uses a tape measure to take measurements of specific parts of the body. The measurements are then entered into an equation to determine body fat percentage. This is a fairly reliable method of measuring body fat. 

You can also find lean body mass calculators online to help. 


How Do You Gain Lean Body Mass?

The first way to gain lean body mass is simple weight loss by dieting and decreasing body fat with exercise. Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, is a connective tissue that extends throughout your body. Body fat is found under your skin, especially between your internal organs. While some level of body fat is needed to protect a healthy adult’s body, if you really want your gains to show, you’ll want to decrease how much there is. Think: less fat = leaner. 

When focusing on your diet, a key point is to increase protein intake and decrease foods that are high in simple sugars (this is not always the case, but works for many people).

To achieve a lean body mass, exercise is a must. Increasing lean muscle mass while decreasing fat mass is the key. There is no one way to do it, but some examples include incorporating Olympic-style lifting, high-intensity weight training (HIIT), or bodyweight exercises into your workout regime. 


Lifting Heavy Weights

Heavy lifting consists of lifting a weight that you can rep between one and six times. Lifting heavy pushes your body to the max on every set, which leads to increased heart rate, causing a maximum fat burn.

Lifting heavily also helps build muscle mass to replace fat. 


Damaging (and Healing) Your Muscles

When lifting heavy or completing resistance training, your muscles will be damaged. However, this doesn’t mean muscle loss. When you’re working your muscles, you are creating small tears in the muscle tissue that will eventually rebuild even stronger than before.

After the muscle is damaged, it repairs itself, which creates more growth. 

Muscle damage happens at the molecular level and is very important to build muscle and muscle mass. When done properly, muscle damage like this is not only safe but is necessary to see growth.


Emphasizing Nutrition

Diet is vital to fat loss and developing a lean body, and that starts with ensuring you have enough lean protein. Lean protein comes from meats like chicken, turkey, and fish, as well as non-animal sources, like beans, nuts, and seeds.

While you are trying to decrease body fat, it is still vital to intake the proper amount of calories. Not eating enough will set your body into survival mode, which will save fat in the body. That can be counterproductive to your goal.

If you ever need extra dietary guidance in your nutrition, you can always consult with a nutritionist. Nutrition is important to any program you choose, especially CrossFit. When your goal is to become lean, then you must focus on protein intake, which can help repair your muscles. The more protein, the better. 


How Can CrossFit Help You Gain Lean Body Mass?

CrossFit is a combination of high-intensity and strength training conditioning. Because it combines exercises of varying intensities, CrossFit provides excellent results for lean body mass. The exercises attack fat while also building muscle.


Intense Effort While Working Out

Crossfit uses functional movements that build stamina, strength, and speed. Many Crossfit workouts will increase your heart rate and provide significant resistance to muscles for a certain period of time. You’ll also maintain the intensity of your workouts for the majority of the time since you’ll only take brief breaks between exercises.


Try a Wide Variety of Exercises

One of the biggest perks of CrossFit is that it is doable for people of all levels of the exercise experience. Exercises range from complex Olympic lifts to bodyweight exercises to combination exercises. Because the exercises are so diverse, it creates a perfect workout program to burn fat and increase muscle mass.

Most of these exercises have accommodations that allow participants who can't perform the exercise correctly yet to learn and build to that exercise. The media buzz surrounding CrossFit can be intimidating, but CrossFit is adaptable to any level. 


A High Volume of Reps

The goal of CrossFit is to push your body. It's more about the intensity of the workout than it is the reps.

This pushes your body to burn calories, and pushing your body near its failing point means that you’re creating enough muscle damage that you’ll be able to make gains. 


The Bottom Line

CrossFit can be beneficial for increasing your lean body mass. It works because it combines diverse exercises, can be tailored to fit any skill level and pushes your body to the limit. Additionally, doing CrossFit ensures that you are around a community that encourages you to overcome your own limitations.

No matter what program you choose, your diet will be just as important when decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass. CrossFit can help amplify your fitness goals and improve your overall health. 


About Adult BMI | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC

Body Mass Index (BMI) In Adults | American Heart Association

Estimation of body fat and lean tissue distribution by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and abdominal body fat evaluation by computed tomography in Cushing's disease | NCBI

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