Build muscle, lose fat: Training Tips to help you get lean and strong!
Check out the last parts of this series:
Today, I am going to share my training tips to increase fat loss while trying to build muscle.
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Who these tips are for
People with a healthy weight or slightly over-/underweight
If you have a lot of weight to lose (more than 5kg/ 10lbs), I would recommend you to stick to my Guide to weight loss and focus on achieving a healthy bodyweight first.
The same goes for all people underweight (more than 10 lbs).
The reason for this is that the following process of building muscle while burning fat will take a long time. If you are malnourished and underweight, I want you to gain muscle and (a little) fat as quickly as possible, so your body can function properly.
On the other hand, if you are obese, chances are your hunger hormones are out of balance. Thus, you need to achieve a healthy body fat percentage first and then start this program.
I highly recommend you to apply my Insulin reset to kickstart your weight loss and balance your hunger hormones.
People who want to become stronger, build a shapely body, boost self-esteem and feel good
If you are at a healthy weight (BMI 19-25) but want to improve your physique, decrease back pain, prevent injuries, increase bone density, be able to eat more food without gaining weight – the following program is perfect for you!
This program will take a long time but trust me, it is much more fun than cutting or bulking.
While cutting you are miserable because of the caloric deficit and loss of strength.
While bulking, it is hard to commit to the caloric surplus because you tend to look “fluffy“, as you gain fat along with muscle.
This program is awesome because you will not be at a caloric deficit, gain strength and muscle and still look lean! The only trait you need is patience. And trust the process!
1. Increase stimulus over time
Let’s assume you just started strength training. Your program might consist of body weight squats, Push ups, Lunges, Glute Bridges etc. You might be doing 3 full body workouts per week for 8 weeks and see some great results in your physique. However, at the end of the 8 weeks, 20 bodyweight squats will start to feel very easy and you hardly sweat during your workouts.
Now that you have practiced the proper form of the exercises, you need to add weight and decrease repetitions.
To build muscle, I recommend not to go higher than 15 repetitions.
Every body is different but I favor 6-12 repetitions. Make sure to either increase repetitions or weight every time you work out. Even if you do 1 more repetition, it is progress and will lead to recruitment of more muscle fibers.
2. Cycle your workouts
Workout plans for pure mass or strength building consist of the same workouts that are repeated for an extended period of time. The benefit of this is that you can track your progress much easier and focus on specific exercises.
However, to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, you need to change up your workouts and shock your body. Each time, we are going to change either sets, repetitions, exercise order or weight used, depending on your fitness level.
I typically cycle my training like this:
Day 1: Heavy: Repetitions 6-8, for 5 sets each exercise; 6 exercises total
Day 2: Moderate: 10-12 repetitions, 4 sets of each exercise, different order and 8 exercises total
Day 3: Light: 12-15 repetitions, 3 sets of each exercises, 10 exercises total
This way, you will focus on strength training, “toning“, burn a lot of calories, increase metabolism and your workouts will be way more fun!
3. Limit cardio
Cardio is great for heart health and has many other benefits. But to burn fat and build muscle, we need to limit cardio. The reason for this is that too much cardio will lead to muscle catabolism/ loss. This means that your body will also burn fewer calories and you will have a hard time losing fat.
I recommend to stick to 1 hour of Cardio per week. You can complete 2 HIIT sessions of 15 min and 1 moderate- light intensity cardio workout of 30 min.
4. Focus on Rest
Recovery is very important to be building muscle. As your training intensity increases, muscle-breakdown during the workout will increase as well. However, you only build muscle if you give your body time to rest and heal.
Take 1 Day of complete rest and maybe 1 Day of core work/ pilates/ yoga, whatever you prefer. You can also do the 30 min light Cardio on the second “active rest” day.
5. Always do strength training first
Never do Cardio or HIIT before strength training if your goal is to build muscle.
As HIIT is very taxing and requires full focus, I recommend to schedule your HIIT sessions on Upper Body training days. If you do HIIT, which tends to be quite lower body intensive, after a strength training workout for the legs, you are setting yourself up for injury.
After training legs, you can do cardio but I typically don’t even do that. Training the lower body burns twice as much calories as the upper body, so you might not have left energy anyways!
I hope you liked today’s training tips to build muscle while losing fat. As I already mentioned, this topic needs a lot more research.
All of these tips will be included in the upcoming 4 weeks challenge. These tips are the base of the program and we will throw in little changes every week to shape our physique. I will post the changes every week on my blog but to get full access to the workouts, make sure to subscribe to my list (link at the beginning of the article). I put a lot of work into this and it is completely free and I like to know who I am working with. It is much easier for me to answer your questions to my newsletters than as a comment.
As a little side note – I am going to work for 4 months in one of Germany’s best sports medicine centres for athletes next year (As part of our last year before starting working as a doctor, we need to apply to different clinics for an internship for a year).
They research on exactly this topic (muscle hypertrophy, recovery, fat loss) as well, so I am excited to be able to share more knowledge once I am there!
If you liked today’s article, leave me a comment and share please! That motivates me to keep writing despite my exams (next week, eek!)