Author: Rocco Lazaris, Store Manager / Certified Fitness Specialist, Racine Outlet, WI


This time of year reminds me of that show. Thousands of people are are going to go to battle with the dreaded scale as part of their New Year Resolution. For most of those resolutions the scale is going to be the judge & jury for their success or failure.

The reason this time of year reminds me of the show.... Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Is because of a common fitness myth.

If I were to ask a group of 5th graders and adults the question “Which weighs more...a pound of muscle or a pound of fat?” I’m willing to bet that more 5th graders will get the answer correct. As you’re reading this now you probably got the answer wrong.

For far too long, I’ve heard people toss around the notion that muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle can do amazing things, but I’m certain it can’t defy the laws of physics. I hate to burst the bubble of all you believers out there. I can assure you that a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, bone, brick, jelly beans, and even a pound of pillow feathers. Just ask a 5th grader, they’ll tell you.

For those of you who want to out-wit the 5th graders, I have a different question you can ask. Which weighs more...a cubic inch of muscle or a cubic inch of fat? Let’s see how those spunky 5th graders do with that one.

The reason the scale fails with the cubic inch vs the cubic inch is because muscle is significantly more dense than fat. An easy way to demonstrate this is to look at a 16oz. steak and a 16oz. bag of marshmallows. Clearly the marshmallows take up much more space (volume).

Imagine wearing your favorite shirt and jeans on a casual night out with family or friends. Now imagine having to store five 16oz. bags of marshmallows under those clothes. Then imagine having to store five 16oz. steaks under the same clothes. Which option do you think would look best?

I think the five steaks would be the clear choice, unless if you planned to be on a very unsafe boat and needed an extra life ring for support. Also, the marshmallows (fat) don’t play fair. They decide where they want to be stored (stomach, hips, thighs, ect). On the flip side, the steaks (muscle) for the most part go where we decide to put them.

I hope the examples given here have cleared up any confusion about muscle weighing more than fat. So if you’re one of those several thousands of people that will be going to battle with the scale this New Year, I have some advice for you. Don’t let the scale be the only judge. Think of it as a Supreme Court ruling from a panel of judges. Here’s a good list of judges to use along with judge scale.

    Judge Waistline
    Judge Feel Good
    Judge Energy Level
    Judge Look Better
    Judge Tone
(The last three judges were on winter break)

Using all those judges is a far more effective and motivating way to assess your progress. Don’t fall victim to the scale this New Year.

Now after reading this I have one last question......Are you smarter than a 5th grader? YES. YES I AM!

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