Build muscle and burn fat. On paper this sounds like quite an easy proposition, just exercise right? Well yes and no. If you are a brand new gym member who has never entered a gym before it is quite easy to achieve both fat loss and muscle gain. Which is awesome! So get in the gym now and do that. But read this article first obviously.
But if you have been in the gym for a few years then this can actually be quite a difficult target. You see, it requires a calorie deficit to burn fat and it requires a calorie surplus (more calories coming in than out) to increase size. This makes sense if you think about it, to increase the size of your muscles requires fuel and you get that fuel from food.
What you need to do immediately is decide what it is that you want to achieve. Are you overweight? In which case you need to be getting rid of that excess fat, and muscle gain should take a back seat. Are you very skinny? Then you should concentrate on building muscle. Kind of in the middle? Concentrate on getting stronger and the rest will follow.
Make a choice right now and stick to it, this way you will eventually achieve both. Picking one, and then three weeks later changing your mind will not help. This article will first look at how to lose fat, then how to gain muscle, and finally it will look at what to do if you’re in the middle.
If you are overweight then this is your number one concern, please don’t walk around saying “I want to get bigger and then I’ll start cutting”. You’re doing it wrong. Lose the weight, you will get stronger while doing it. First things first, you need to establish where you’re going wrong. Is it diet? Or lack of activity? Or both? If you are fatter than you want to be it has to be one of these options. Start tracking and measuring everything:
- Steps per day
- Calories In
- Exercises completed
- Body measurements (using a tape measure)
Check your calories every day, and your step count. Check your weight and measurements once per week. This way you will be able to track progress effectively. Once you have discovered what your current calories are (be honest with yourself), and you have worked out how many calories you need to be on to lose weight you can begin to lower them.
Lower calories slowly, decreasing the amount every week until you reach your goal. If you still aren’t where you want to be just keep lowering calories until you are there. Keep protein levels high, and lower carbs and fat.
Exercise can be a slightly higher rep (between 8 and 12) and you can add cardio. Make sure you are performing deadlifts, squats, and other compound movements.
If you are a skinny guy and want to get bigger then you’ll need to increase your calories, the trick is to do this without gaining too much fat. Increase protein (you’ll need extra protein to deal with the increased exercise you’ll be doing). Also, increase carbs and fat, but protein is the most important.
As with fat-burning, you will need to measure everything. Particularly weight and body measurements. Add calories slowly and if you are gaining too much weight each week then, pause the calories until you are ready to gain weight again.
Exercise should involve a lot of heavy lifting, the increased protein and calories should be used to build bigger muscles. Performing exercises like bench presses and deadlifts is a good idea and when you do make sure that you go big. Four sets of six reps rather than three sets of twelve reps.
Build Muscle and Burn Fat
You’re not fat, and you’re not skinny, but you still feel that you could look better with your shirt off. If this is you, you’re probably irritated by how complicated you have it compared to skinny/fat guys. Well, suck it up! You’re in a great position. You don’t need to do anything drastic, just keep progressing with the weights, getting stronger as you go along. If you decide that you want a six pack, then you can drop calories. If you decide that you want to get bigger then you can increase calories.
Or you can leave the calories alone and just keep working hard, getting stronger will probably create enough of a change in your body composition anyway.
Things We Can All Agree On
No matter what your goal is, you need to train regularly, and by that, we mean proper training. You don’t have to be hard-core into bodybuilding but try and maintain consistency. Not doing a step class once per week, but proper free-weight based workouts. You need to lift heavy weights and work for major muscle groups. Legs are just as important (if not more) than the upper body.
You need to stay hydrated, so drink lots of water. You will see benefits from supplementing with whey protein and creatine. Caffeine is a great pre-workout, but don’t abuse it. Other than that, save your money, don’t waste it on “Fat-burners” or other products that don’t have unbiased scientific research backing them up.
Whatever you want to achieve, tracking calories will help. Not only will it prevent you from giving in to temptation too often, it will also help educate you as to what foods are going to bring you closer to your goals and which foods are going to take you further away from your goals.
Walking 10,000 steps per day is a good idea whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle or stay the same. If you can’t manage the steps then taking up a sport is a good compromise, too many people associate losing weight or getting stronger with the gym and nothing else. But playing Basketball twice a week will make you stronger, fitter, and will help with weight loss.
So there you have it, a thorough look at how to build muscle, how to lose weight, how to maintain weight, and how to stay healthy. Work out what it is that you wish to achieve, and follow that goal to its conclusion. Good luck!