02 Sep How Heavy Will You Be When Lean?
Back in 2014 before dieting for my first bodybuilding show, I remember asking my coach at the time:
‘So how much weight do you think I need to lose, and what bodyweight will I end up at?’
Before asking, I thought I knew the answer already. I was 84kg, as strong as I’d ever been, and thought I’d be need to lose about 8kg to be ‘stage lean’.
His answered completely threw me:
‘You probably need to lose about 13-15kg, and will likely end up around 70kg’.
He wasn’t wrong either. 17 weeks later, I was bang on 70kg while being completely ripped.
This was my first taste into the reality of natural bodybuilding. And it served as a realisation that up till then, I’d fallen for all the marketing and claims thrown out in the magazines and on social media.
At my most recent competition in 2017, I reached an ‘off season bodyweight PB’ of 90kg, only to require 21 weeks to lose just under 19kg to end up a little over 71kg (and considered a ‘middleweight’). I was far more muscular and conditioned than 2014, but I was still nowhere near the numbers that I thought I’d be when I started this journey a decade ago.
It turns out I’m not the only one. Recently, I’ve learnt just how many people (guys especially) overestimate how much muscle they have, and completely underestimate how much body fat they carry.
Before starting a transformation, I always ask the client what their goal is. And almost without fail I’ll hear one of these three responses:
‘I want to be 80kg shredded’
‘I only need to drop about 10lbs’
‘I don’t want to go below XYZ bodyweight’
The misperception created by the media is insane. All it’s done is create unrealistic, almost fantasy like goals in people that only serves to cause frustration, stress and living in constant search of the magic bullet.
Realistic Bodyweight Targets for the Average Person
On a recent RNT team call, we were discussing realistic bodyweight targets for the average person with average levels of muscle mass and average genetics.
The average, everyday person.
Not the Rock, John Cena or Arnold. Or anyone else with the best muscle building genetics on the planet.
During this discussion, we seemed to all come up with these numbers to achieve lean, photoshoot level condition (for men):
If you’re 5’5” – 5’6” – 54-62kg
If you’re 5’7 – 5’9” – 58-65kg
If you’re 5’10 – 5’11” – 63-70kg
If you’re 6 foot+ – 68-80kg
Now bear in mind we’re largely generalising here, and there will be overlap, but these numbers seem to fall in line with the data we’ve all collected over the years.
It will of course depend on your training experience, levels of muscle mass, genetics and all. But if we consider the guy with a few years experience, has some muscle tissue and doesn’t have the best genetics, which is who we deal with on an everyday basis, these numbers are bang on.
There are tons of formulas out there to work out your ‘ultimate bodyweight’ according to your potential, and while I don’t put much stock into them, I did find one from Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains particularly interesting.
His formula is extremely simple:
(Height in cm – 100) = Maximum Bodyweight in kg When Lean
These figures are a little higher than the ones listed above by about 5-10kg, but if you consider where our clients are in their journeys, this is probably about right.
His formula is based on working with successful natural bodybuilders, who live and breathe the lifestyle, have decades of training experience, and have good genetics. Which makes the 5-10kg difference in line with who we’re speaking about.
Forget the Scale
The scale is a funny one. On the one hand, it gives us a good gauge of what’s happening in terms of fat loss, muscle gain and rate of progress.
On the other, it can be a real limitation while you’re getting into shape.
In fact, I’d say that for many guys who’ve never got into incredible condition, their irrational fear of going below a certain number is holding them back.
I’ve been there, and almost every client we come across who wants to be photoshoot lean has been there too. But once you disassociate your pre-conceived perceptions of the ‘right’ scale weight, and instead focus on pushing yourself into the dark place required to go to that next level, that’s when you achieve that jaw dropping transformation you’ve been after.
The best way to explain this is to show you a few examples of different clients who have gotten into ‘shoot condition’, but all have different backgrounds, heights and finishing bodyweights.
Case #1 – Rishi, 66.5kg, 5’11”
A lot of people look at this transformation and assume Rishi’s 80+kg. The reality is a little different, and he was only 66.5kg in the ‘after’ picture.
Case #2 – Bhaumik, 63.5kg, 5’10”
Bhaumik’s biggest limitation was actually getting below 70kg. Once he accepted he needed to go below 70kg to be in the condition he was after, that’s when it all came together for him.
Case #3 – Shyam, 63.1kg, 5’7”
Shyam’s got a decent amount of muscle mass, and what people forget is his extensive training experience, which is why his end bodyweight was similar to Bhaumik’s despite being 3 inches shorter.
Case #4 – Akash, 61kg, 5’6”
Akash needed to drop nearly 15kg to be in shape, and given his training experience, he was on the higher side of our predicted scale above.
Case #5 – Tom, 76kg, 6’1”
Despite having the height, Tom still didn’t make the elusive ‘80kg shredded’.
Case #6 – Anand, 56kg, 5’6”
Anand is still relatively new to training, which is why he comes out on the lower end of the scale. A couple more years of training will have him climb into low 60s when lean.
Case #7 – Biraj, 63.5kg, 5’7”
You’re probably starting to notice a pattern here. Biraj got into great shape, decent amount of muscle mass, and fell near that 65kg mark.
Case #8 – Sachin, 54.3kg, 5’5”
Sachin ended up quite light, but he’s also shorter than average, with lower levels of muscle mass too. A few gaining cycles should have him pushing higher up in the 50s.
Case #9 – Rashid, 75.6kg, 6’2”
For someone who’s comfortably over 6 foot, Rashid still clocked in at the mid 70s, despite a good level of training experience.
Case #10 – Graham, 72kg, 5’9
Graham’s extremely strong, has thick joints and good genetics, yet still only in the low 70s when lean.
Where You’ll Fall On The Scale
If you’re within your first 2 years of training, expect to be on the lower end of the predicted weights we’ve written.
Unless you’re blessed with incredible genetics, it’s going to take time to build muscle.
Which is why once you’ve got lean, it’s so important you spend time building muscle. This is where you make the improvements to your physique so that next time, your end weight is higher, and you’re leaner. That should always be the goal.
If you see a picture of someone and wonder why you don’t look like that despite being a similar height, it’s likely they’ve been training consistently for longer, and they’ve spent more time building muscle. That’s all it is, outside of genetics of course (which we’ll assume is similar).
Your goal shouldn’t be to compare yourself, but to continue improving yourself. If you’ve gotten lean and found yourself on the lower end of the scale, you know you just need to spend time building muscle. That’s exciting, especially if you’re fairly new to training. You’re going to get a lot stronger, see some of the best gains of your life, and ultimately start making headway to your ‘ultimate physique’.
Stay Realistic & Objective
This article isn’t meant to be written to discourage you, or set limiting beliefs on yourself.
It’s to save you from all the frustration, stress and disappointment I put myself through. I was once told I needed to be 85kg super lean to set a good example to my clients on the gym floor.
At the time, I was 78-79kg in ‘OK condition’, so I had about 10kg of muscle to gain to be able to meet that objective.
I didn’t know better, so thought it could be achieved, but just kept finding myself banging my head against a brick wall thinking I just didn’t know what I was doing.
The reality was that it was a goal that was never going to be achieved. Unless of course, I started all over with a new set of parents, or I decided to use performance enhancing drugs.
Once I accepted that I was never going to be 85kg super lean, it freed me to stop stressing out, stop comparing myself to everyone else, and allowed me to focus on running my own race.
I now sit comfortably between 85 and 90kg during my muscle building phases, and know that if I want to be lean, I need to be around 75-78kg. If I want to be shredded, I know that I need to be in the low 70s. Now that I’ve been through the journey multiple times, it’s liberating to know these numbers, and it allows me to focus on the process of getting stronger, eating the right foods and most importantly, enjoying it.
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