Joey Vaillancourt Fitness
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The X-Factors of Musculature and Size

April 28, 2011 by Joey Vaillancourt · 46 Comments 

For sometime before I really knew about muscle building, I was always concerned with my weight. Often time’s people measure a person’s muscularity by weight alone.

Hey, how much do you weigh”?

If I had a pound of muscle for every time someone asked me that, I would be the most muscular guy on the planet (which wouldn’t be a bad thing either).

This question gets asked so many times by novice bodybuilders and so called fitness athletes and it drives me insane…or at least it used to. I grew to tolerate it more since realizing that most people who asked the question were just misinformed or lacked knowledge on the topic.

 Weight alone is NOT the best factor in defining muscularity in a man or woman and in this article I will explain several reasons why that is and the biggest determinants in what X-factors influence a person’s perception of someone’s muscularity.

Why ‘weight’ alone is not the best indicator of muscularity

I remember having a conversation with someone about building muscle once and I remember him asking why even though he weighed more than me (by about 20lbs), I still looked bigger than him?!

This was a prime example what I mentioned above. People can be deceived by judging someone on weight alone because they are not considering body composition which is the true indicator of a person’s muscular status.

If you line up two people side by side; 1 person was 200lbs 20% bodyfat and one was 185lbs 10% bodyfat, who would appear more muscular? The 200lb guy? Nope! You would be wrong because even though the 185lb guy is lighter, he has more muscle mass on him and lower body fat which can also effect the perception of musculature (which I will touch on in the next section).

But for now, here is the math on this one:

200lbs & 20% fat = 160lbs of lean mass and 40lbs of fat mass
185lbs & 10% fat = 166.5lbs of lean mass and 18.5lbs of fat mass

Composition will always triumph weight alone.


Bodyfat – The deceitful fatty tissue

One concept people don’t always grasp is the role bodyfat levels play in the muscular appearance. Sure people know bodyfat is not a good thing, but did you know just how much it can affect your appearance? The answer is astronomically!

Take for example; when I bulked up to 220lbs I ended up at about 23% bodyfat…not cool! I put on a lot of muscle since I started at about 19% bodyfat, but it didn’t show at all.

It was only when I dropped the fat that I started to appear like I actually worked out!

Take this as a lesson; piling on a bunch of weight is not a good thing. The more bodyfat you have the less definition you have and definition is the most important aspect in looking your most muscular.

Even at times, after dieting down, I often get compliments about my physique and people will even start asking me if I have been working out more because I look more muscular. Keyword “look”; sometimes after dieting I might have lost about 5lbs of muscle, but yet I appear much bigger.

Finding the right balance: where do you look your best?

Everyone is different as I am sure you learned as early as you can remember, but let me clearly articulate some of the big differences between us to help you better understand at what composition you will look your best.

-          Bone structure

-          Genetics

-          Height

-          Fat cells already created

Those are some of the biggest differences in people and they determine the majority of a person’s composition without a person doing anything at all. Unfair for some and very advantageous for others.

The key is to do the best with what god gave you.

You cannot change those factors listed above but you can work upon them.

Generally what you want to do is find another individual who has similarities in those above aspects but have already transformed their bodies. This is the best way of going about things because if you do not have very wide shoulders, you should not try to match a person’s physique that does possess wide shoulders.

Also, learn to use the mirror to gauge your ‘best look’. If another person is 180lbs and you really want to look like them, figure out their composition first.

Are they taller than you? If yes, you probably won’t need to go to 180lbs. typically, the taller person is the more muscle they need to look big. The shorter, the less they need.

What is their composition? Bodyfat? Weight? Figure that out and start working it out based on your height as well. Again if you are shorter, figure it out for your stats.

What is the look you want? Do you want to be ripped up? Do you want to just be filled out with slight definition?

All of these questions will help guide you to develop the look you want instead of basing it on other’s opinions.  After all, everyone has a different opinion of what big and muscular really is.

I like to be at about 180lbs 10% bodyfat…that is where I find I look my best. Some people might say to put on more muscle, and even though I am working at that, I do not really care if I do or not because I found the ‘sweet spot’ for my body composition.

The bottom line is to just forget weight! Learn the finer points I shared with you in this article and  you will start to discover the answers to revealing your best body yet.


46 Responses to “The X-Factors of Musculature and Size”
  1. Doug Doug says:

    I am speaking my mind: Thank you for sharing such a great web site. It is very motivational. Joey, I can relate with all that you share, especially about forgetting the weight. Every morning when I rise, I am kind of obsessed with weighing myself. I realize this is not a good thing, but after many years of inactivity due to an accident, I am very excited about getting my health back on track. I had ballooned up to around 350 pounds and, make a long story short, just under 17 months, while taken baby steps, I am down to 237 pounds. Funny thing is, I am learning to look in the mirror more, weighing myself less. Cut to the chase, I stand at six feet 1 inch, whenever I look at my BMI measurement I do get very discouraged. I am far from sloppy – why I am tossing out the scale and tearing up the BMI chart…lol.

    Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

  2. james fleeting james fleeting says:

    Hey Joey, ive emailed u several times and appreciate all ur help. I have a very high metabolism and i am obsessed with my weight, prior to working out i was extremely skinny looking. now i take a weight gainer from LA muscle (recommended by urself) my weight is up to 164 pounds,which i consider still too light, i am over 6ft tall tho, however my bodyfat is at 17%, i appear to look very skinny and i was amazed it was so high, any help? Thanks as always joey

  3. Joey Vaillancourt Joey Vaillancourt says:

    @Doug – Doug, that is a really great achievement! Congrats on the weight loss. Sounds like your well on track and know how to properly judge things now..good for you man. and thanks for the comment.

  4. Joey Vaillancourt Joey Vaillancourt says:

    @james fleeting – James, thanks for the appreciation. Yeah, you might still need to gain more..keep at it and stay focused. right now your in ‘no man’s land’ where your above a certain bodyfat percentage that you will appear slightly flat..but keep going and put on another solid 10-20lbs, then cut back on the fat and your gonna look great!

    just be patient, it takes time as I am sure you know :)

  5. Doug Doug says:

    Joey, you are quite welcome! Thanks for your very sincere congrat’s! while your commitment to helping us to get a better body is greatly appreciated!

  6. Yow, thanks for the good read. I want to ask one thing though–How can I measure the exact % of body fat and muscle that I have? What devices and things like that?

  7. Reece Reece says:

    @perfit hollywood florida

    to find out your body fat u can pay for a body analysis or purchase a skin caliper which is alot cheaper and easy to use as they have instruction inside.

    once you have your body fat % the calculation you need to use is your total body weight x (times by) your body fat %.

    the following example is someone who weighs 178 lbs and has 13% bf : 178 x .13 = 23.14 lbs of fat.

    now we are going to – (subtract) that 23.14 lbs of fat from the total body weight (178lb) which will give us 154.86lb this is lean mass.

    I hope this helps.

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