Is It Possible To Lose Weight And Gain Muscle At The Same Time?

This is something that has been talked about for years, is it actually possible to lose body fat and gain lean muscle tissue at the same time?

As always in the world of fitness, it depends.

In general, however, it is absolutely possible to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. This is called body recomposition and has been proven to work in bodybuilder circles.

Although it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, a lot of variables have to take place for this to occur.

If you’re interested in making this happen for yourself, read on!

How To Build Muscle While Losing Fat!

When your goal is body recomposition, there are a couple of things we need to take into account.

While the first two points are true, the 3rd statement is not.

You can lose fat without being in a calorie deficit. You can eat at maintenance and use weight lifting/cardio to create a calorie deficit.

Likewise, you can eat at maintenance and use body fat stores to build muscle mass. This is how you can build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.

Think of it like this, say you’re 250 lbs at 30% body fat. This equals 75 lbs of stored body fat. There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, this equals 262,500 calories stored in the body to build muscle.

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The next time somebody says you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time, remember all the stored body fat we have in our bodies. You don’t need to consume more calories to build muscle mass. It allows you to build more muscle sure, but it’s not necessary if your goal is primarily fat loss.

Now that we know that it’s possible, how do we have to train to make this happen?

How Should You Workout To Make This Happen?

If you want to build muscle while losing body fat, you need to train your ass off. This means training with high intensity, increasing volume, and getting stronger in the 5-20 rep range.

Here’s a couple of basic tips to follow:

  • Train upper and lower body 2 times each per week. Training each muscle group twice a week has been proven to build more muscle than lower frequencies. An example training program using this set up will be displayed below.
  • Train as much as your schedule will allow. This one is super simple, the more you train the more muscle you can build and the faster you’ll lose weight. The more you train and recover from, the better. If you can only train consistency 3 times per week, you better be making those 3 days count.
  • Use big, compound movements. I’ve gone over this in so many articles but to gain the most muscle possible, you want to use compound movements for the majority of your training. I’ve told you my favorites before: squats, bench, overhead press, deadlifts, rows, pull-ups, and dips. Pick exercises that allow you to lift the most weight and have been proven to build muscle for YOU. If you feel like you aren’t building as much muscle and progressing as quickly, pick something else. The best movements are the ones that give YOUR body a growth response.
  • Increase volume until you stop recovering. This is the maximum amount of volume you can recover from. You should spend time adding sets week after week until you’re not recovering properly anymore. Here’s an example: Week 1 Bench Press 3 Sets, Week 2 Bench Press 4 Sets, Week 3 Bench Press 5 Sets, Week 4 Bench Press 6 Sets, etc. You want to find the most amount of work you can do and recover from. Build it up slowly week after week, deload, and then work back up to it. A good way to see if you stop recovering is how sore you are, and if your performance isn’t improving. I’ll go over this more in the sample training program!
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Now that we have the basic tips out of the way, let’s create a 4-day training program incorporating them!

Workout Plan To Build Muscle & Lose Fat Simultaneously

This workout plan is something I’ve been working on the past month and tweaking to suit my needs. You can use something similar as long as the principles remain the same.

Here’s what the basic plan consists of.

MondayTuesdayThursdayFriday
Squat
3 Sets of 6-10 Reps
Superset:
Bench Press
3 Sets of 6-10 Reps
Deadlift
3 Sets of 6-10 reps
Superset:
Overhead Press
3 Sets of 10-15 Reps
Stiff Leg Deadlifts
3 Sets of 6-10 Reps
Meadows Rows
3 Sets of 10-15 Reps
SSB Squat
3 Sets of 6-10 Reps
Barbell Rows
3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
Wide-Grip Pulldowns
3 Sets of 10-15 Reps
Superset:
Landmine Press
3 Sets of 10-15 Reps
Neutral Grip Pulldowns
3 Sets of 10-15 Reps
Superset:
Close-Grip Bench Press
3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
Hammer Curls
3 Sets of 8-12 Reps
Barbell Curls
3 sets of 8-12 Reps

Again, the main things that matter are the principles. It has nothing to do with special exercises and diets, principles are your first priority.

These main priorities you need to follow are:

  • Push Sets 1-2 Reps away from failure. Volume and intensity are the biggest drivers for hypertrophy (building muscle). But if you do hundreds of reps without increasing the intensity, gaining muscle will be much more difficult. Especially when you’re trying to build it while losing fat. Pushing your sets 1-2 reps away from failure ensures that you’re training hard enough.
  • Increase your sets over time. If you just stick to 3 sets at a certain weight without increasing your volume, you’re never going to build new muscle mass. You need to slowly increase how much work you’re doing to build muscle, especially during a fat loss phase. The best way to do this is by starting small with 6 sets per week of each major movement pattern. Progress up to 12 sets and see how you recover. As long as recovery is good and you’re setting personal records in the gym, you’re on the right track. You can increase it up to 20 sets per major movement pattern but make sure you don’t overdo it. Start small, and increase slowly as the weeks go by.
  • Recovery Is Key. The first two principles are important, but recovery is far more important! If you don’t recover, your tendons, ligaments, and muscles are just waiting for an injury to occur. Take your time, don’t push too hard too quickly, and get some sleep!
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What Works Better?

Now that we know it’s possible to build muscle and lose body fat simultaneously, this brings up the question, is it better to focus on one goal at a time? Or should you be trying to build your muscle while losing fat?

Like all good answers, it depends!

If you’re 10% body fat, you really have no reason to try building muscle while cutting. Unless you’re competing in bodybuilding. This is the prime time to be focusing on building muscle with a standard mass gaining diet.

If you’re 30% body fat, you have a ton of body fat available to use as fuel for muscle growth. I would never recommend attempting to bulk while at such a high body fat percentage, however. Focusing on training hard to lose the fat and building muscle would work fine in this case.

So depending on your goals you can use a regular surplus to build muscle or focus on body recomposition.

Conclusion

The myth has finally been laid to rest!

Not only can you build muscle while losing body fat, but you can also do it without partaking in an extreme training program!

A simple progression where you increase sets and reps over time to push your body is all you need. Recovering from these workouts will obviously be paramount to make it happen though.

If you’re incredibly lean already <10% body fat, you really should transition into a standard bulking diet. However, if you’re over 15% you can definitely benefit from a body recomp.

Train hard, don’t eat like an asshole, and you’ll make progress no matter what your goal is.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time,

-Dante Redgrave

danteredgrave

danteredgrave

I'm a Strength Coach and Content Creator with freedom on my mind! Without strength training, I hate to think of where I would be without it. What kind of person I would be, what kind of shape I would be in. It scares me, and that's why every day is a new chance to better myself. Anybody that's interested I am taking online clients now! Just shoot me an email and know you won't find a better deal online or offline. Guaranteed:)

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