Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy has always been a big dude. At 5’11 and 234 lbs., he's more wrecking ball than man.
But Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had some tough words for Lacy at the team’s end-of-season presser following the Packers’ loss to the Arizona Cardinals. “He’s got a lot of work to do,” McCarthy said. "His offseason last year was not good enough and he never recovered from it. He cannot play at the weight he played at this year."
Lacy has insisted his weight isn’t a problem, although he’s hinted at the possibility of slimming down in the past. “I'm not the smallest person," Lacy said in October, addressing rumors that he was seeing less on-the-field action because of his weight. “I'm just saying, not everybody's meant to look like Adrian Peterson,” (who, at 6’1” and 220 lb., is taller and slimmer than Lacy).
Lacy makes a good point. He also raises a question that lots of guys grapple with all the time: What’s the best way for a naturally big dude to shed some extra weight?
If you’re 6’3” and 250, it’s hard to see yourself training as if you were a 5’10”, 155-pound guy. For you, the treadmill probably seems like a medieval torture device. And forget restrictive diet plans—there’s no way you’re living on carrot sticks and kale juice.
But why should you train like a gazelle if you’re built like a grizzly bear?
To get the lowdown on how big guys like Lacy might get down to fighting weight, we got in touch with two pros from EXOS, the high-performance training facility that helped Lacy get absolutely shredded for his combine workouts: Scott Schrimscher, an EXOS performance specialist, and Joel Totoro, R.D., an EXOS nutrition solutions manager. We also talked to Luke Pelton, C.S.C.S., NSCA-C.P.T., a competitive powerlifting coach and weight training instructor based in New York.
Here are 5 fundamental strategies that a big guy should use to gain muscle and shed that extra weight.
1. CLARIFY WHAT YOU MEAN BY “LOSING WEIGHT”
First, it’s important to determine the difference between useless extra weight (the stuff you’re presumably trying to shed) and “functional mass” (which you presumably want to keep), Totoro says. “Ten pounds of fat is simply extra weight and extra stress on the body, whereas 10 pounds of muscle can produce force production, stabilize the body, and can handle more stress or physical loads.”
A big guy seeking to get lean, in other words, wants to “promote lean muscles maintenance or gains while promoting fat loss.”
This is especially important because gaining muscle tissue will also ramp up your metabolic needs. “Muscle tissue, by nature, requires energy to be used simply so it can exist and work minute by minute,” Pelton says. “If you have 10 lbs. more muscle than someone else, and you both sit in a chair for an entire day, you would theoretically have a higher caloric expenditure than the other person (all other physical attributes being equal),” Pelton says.
READ MORE: Train and eat like a big man