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In the first article on set points, we looked at an example of clothing sizes to present the idea of a set point. For more specialization, we'll now take a closer look at how to utilize a set point in your bodybuilding lifestyle.
In review, a set point is establishing and meeting a goal in conditioning of your body or a level of fitness - and then maintaining it. For instance, Mark Dugdale has stated that 10% body fat is optimum for maintaining fitness while still being able to add muscle mass.
Lower or higher levels of body fat might interfere with the muscle gaining process. If you're current body fat percentage is 16, which is your current set point, then you might want to make 10 percent your new set point.
In some schools of fitness and bodybuilding it can be argued that a set point does not exist. If set points existed, then new ones would never have to be established. People's bodies constantly change and statistics show that after age 24, people gain a pound a year, every year.
Somehow folks believe this proves that set points do not exist. All this proves is that statistics show there are a lot of lazy couch potatoes out there who aren't too keen on setting goals to become outstanding bodybuilders with ripped abs.
Set points aren't magical. They're simply a way of setting a tangible goal that makes it easier for you to achieve that goal.
It's Story Time
Here's a short story to illustrate how to establish and use set points in your training. Bodybuilder Joe had been training for seven years. Although he had managed to gain some size, he didn't look like a bodybuilder because his body fat levels were too high.
With his pudgy look, Joe looked very much like the other guys with big guts who were sweating it out for an hour on the elliptical machines. Joe decided it was time to make a change when a new female acquaintance remarked, "Oh, you work out?"
Joe had read about a few pros staying within 10-15 pounds of contest weight and he had always balked at that. Joe liked to eat and didn't want to be skinny. Joe had eaten five to six meals per day for a long time, but many of those meals were Big Macs and pizza.
He'd worked hard to put on his muscle and didn't want to risk losing any muscle by going on a silly diet, but that one single comment, "Oh, you work out?" kept gnawing at him.
Time for a change
Joe estimated his body fat percentage to be around 12. He had it tested and to his surprise, it was nearly 18! Starting Monday, Joe was going to eat cleaner.
No more McDonald's or Pizza Hut. French fries would be replaced with rice and he was going to pack his lunch every day, whether he felt like it or not.
He remembered what Dugdale had said and he was going to trim down to eight percent and never allow himself to be more than 10 percent ever again.
He knew it was going to take hard work and determination, but after so many years of looking like a smooth tub of butter, he was ready to step up to the next level. He wanted to look like those guys in the muscle mags. He knew he had the muscle, but no one could see it.
After about three months Joe stayed with the diet. He lost about 25 pounds and was teetering at about nine percent body fat. He liked how he looked and was determined to stay this way. It would be easier maintaining this new physique than pigging out and doing the process all over again. After many years he finally understood what the pros were talking about.
Stay close to your contest weight all year long.
Joe's Set Point
He liked the way he looked at nine percent body fat, but decided that if his weight fluctuated a couple pounds he would still be within his new goal. His set point would be around 10 percent.
After one year of paying careful attention to his diet and doing his cardio diligently, Joe remained at his set point. He was in control of what he ate and would occasionally eat some desserts or indulge in a pizza, but he wouldn't binge, pig out and then balloon back up to how he looked at 18 percent body fat.
Joe even decided to take a shot at competing, something he wanted to do for years.
Preparing For The Show
Joe wanted to come into the show at about 5-or-6 percent body fat. That would be his competition set point. He'd be lean and adjust his water levels and drop another few pounds of water the day before the show.
Joe was very pleased with his results and really liked being ripped so he decided rather than eating everything in sight after the contest, he'd indulge a little for a day or so and then keep his diet clean again.
This way he could stay around seven or eight percent body fat for a few months during the summer. During the winter he'd concentrate on gaining more mass and eat a little more, but he still wouldn't go over 10 percent body fat.
The Moral Of The Story
This little story explains how Joe established set points to achieve his goals. Joe now has three set points that he uses throughout his training. In the winter, Joe would meet his set point of 10 percent body fat. This would allow him enough energy to train heavy and allow for total recuperation to take place so growth could occur.
During the summer, Joe would lean down to eight percent body fat. He liked having ripped abs at the beach.
When it was contest time, Joe would drop to 5-or-6 percent and eventually try to get to three or four percent body fat so he could place higher at competitions.
(Although we didn't discuss the details of workouts or diet strategies that Joe used, you can find numerous helpful articles throughout this web site to assist you in meeting your physique goals.)
Establishing set points takes careful planning and plenty of dedication to reach them. It takes hard work to stay at a set point too. Intelligently utilizing these phases to refine your physique works well.
It's not necessary to be the typical bulk-up bodybuilder who gains 30 - 40 pounds of pure fat in his quest to gain three pounds of muscle, only to lose seven or eight from starvation dieting.
Yo-yo dieting is a thing of the past. Step up to the new-school way of doing things and keep your body fat levels in check. Set points are an incredible way to help you do just that.
Oh, and by the way, Joe is now asked, "Where do you work out?"
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