The Importance Of Being Lean

By: Bobby DeThomasis


Here at PTS we have the good fortune to be able to work with a very wide demographic of clients.  We work with clients of all shapes and sizes.  From youth to professional athletes and business men and women of all ages.  Everyone that begins to work with us has specific and unique goals that they want to accomplish but the only thing that is constant amongst all of our clients is the need for an improvement in body composition.  You will notice that I said ‘an improvement in body composition’ and not ‘weight loss.’  Those two things may correlate with one another however they don’t always have to.  In some cases an improvement in body comp could actually mean an increase in total body weight.

When I am putting an new client through the evaluation I will always spend some time discussing his or her specific goals.  Much of the time people  have the misunderstanding the weight loss and body comp improvement are synonymous however the truth is that I have had many athletes that will decrease body fat percentage and increase their overall body weight through and increase in lean mass (AKA muscle tissue).  Why is this an important distinction to make?  Well, consider that muscles have contractile components.  From a physiological standpoint all physical work is done by muscles contracting and producing force.  That muscular force is what propels you forward when you walk and is what gives a basketball player the ability to jump up for a rebound (and all other body movements).  What some people forget is that adipose tissue, or fat, does not have contractile capabilities.  Therefore it could be considered ‘dead weight.’  Meaning that it does not help produce force and as such any excess fat will just weigh down the individual.   From an athletic stand point this has huge implications.  Lets use the example of the basketball player again.  Think of two athletes with almost identical physical traits.  Same height, same strength but one of the athletes has a 25 lb sand bag tied to his waist.  It would be logical to assume that the athlete without the sand bag around his waist will be able to jump higher and get the rebound.  This is kind of a crude example because there are obviously many other factors that play into getting a rebound but the point is that excess body fat is like that 25lb sand bag.  It does not have any capabilities of producing force and therefore is just excess weight.  I have seen dozens of athletes with body fat percentages above 25% when they should be closer to 10%.  Many of whom have never been told how important it is to be lean nor have they ever been taught what proper nutrition actually is.  Now all that being said I still think that for some athletes, having high levels of body mass is important.  For instance, offensive and defensive lineman need to be heavy.  Many coaches (especially at the professional level) place minimums on the body weight of their lineman.  But, just because some needs to be heavy does not mean that he/she needs to be fat.  Through the use of proper dietary guidelines and training protocols athletes can decrease body fat percentage, increase lean mass, get stronger and more powerful all at the same time (often without any decrease in body weight).

First and foremost, I think that coaches and athletes in general need to start putting much more of an emphasis on body composition improvement.  Decrease body fat percentage, increase lean mass and improve overall functionality.  I can guarantee that the majority of the athletes of on the planet can improve their athletic capabilities by just improving their body comp.

Whether you are a professional athlete or just someone who would like to look and feel better about your self email us at to set up an evaluation.