Ask the Personal Trainer: Does Muscle Weigh More Than Fat?

We resolve the controversy once and for all.
trainerAsk The Personal Trainer

Q:Does muscle really weigh more than fat?



Muscle does not weigh more than fat, any more than lead weighs more than feathers. A pound is a pound is a pound. Where the misunderstanding often comes in is that muscle is much more dense than fat, so that, by volume, it seems to weigh more. That is, a pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat. In addition, because a pound of muscle burns more fat than a pound of fat, even at rest, by increasing your lean muscle tissue mass, you're helping your body burn more calories.

But back to your question. If you only have a small amount of weight to lose, then you may feel like the weight training is not helping you move down on the scale. In fact, the number may even go up, but you will look thinner. This is due to an increase in lean body mass (muscle, bone, blood volume) and a decrease in body fat. In other words, even if the scale doesn't change much, you will probably see a difference in how your clothes fit.

On the other hand, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you will also experience an increase in lean body mass and loss of body fat. But the results on the scale will probably be more dramatic.

In this Q&A series, William Sukala, MS, CSCS, answers questions about fitness and exercise. Read more articles from our personal trainer.

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