A lean and muscular body is the ideal physical shape for any man or woman to be healthy, fit, strong and attractive-looking. Basically, building muscle and maintaining a low body fat percentage is what create the spectacular male and female bodies that you see in the modeling, sports, bodybuilding and entertainment industries.
There are many variables involved in the process to get your body in optimal body composition, but improving the shape of your physique is mainly based on nutrition and training to get the right fat to muscle ratio for your body. If you want to have your physique optimized for fitness, health and good looks you need less fat and more lean muscle on your body. Therefore, you have to build muscle and lose fat to improve your body composition.
What Does It Take To Build Muscle And Lose Fat?
The big question is: if you have a need to build muscle mass but at the same time possess some body fat that need to be eliminated, how do you build muscle and lose fat to get in good lean muscular shape?
Unfortunately, building muscle and losing fat have certain incompatibilities. The requirements for the two goals conflict in a very crucial area – “calories“.
Building muscle requires a calorie surplus and it is an anabolic process while losing fat requires a calorie deficit and it is a catabolic process. The conflicting requirements for accomplishing the two goals make it necessary to have different nutrition and training plans to get optimum results. This means dedicating a specific period of time for focusing on fat loss and another period of time for muscle building.
However, it’s possible to design a program to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
When the right strategies are incorporated in a nutrition and training program, you can get both results at the same time. But in order to get efficient and optimum results you’ll need to have a primary goal (losing fat or building muscle) while getting some net results for the secondary goal.
Typically, it would take a couple of weeks to months for a fat loss and muscle building program to produce significant results. But the amount of time and effort that is required for each phase can be tremendously reduced if each program is properly optimized for the right outcome that would help the second goal.
To further explain, if you are using a program to lose fat that is designed to “maintain all your muscles” in the process, this will greatly shorten the amount of time and effort you would need to put in for building muscle. And if your muscle building program is designed to “gain muscle without gaining fat” in the process, it means you’ll spend less time and put in less effort into losing body fat.
You should also know that it’s possible to make some muscle gains during the execution of a fat loss program. And it’s possible also to lose fat during the execution of a muscle building program. These outcomes depend on a few factors and conditions, so the concurrent results will vary among different people. However, if you utilize the right methods and strategies that make it possible to get simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain results from the same program, you’ll be optimizing your approach for success.
Here are 8 tips that you can use to help with your fat loss and muscle building goals.
1. Lose Fat First If You Need To
If you are overweight or possess a high level of excess fat it will be a good idea to lose a good amount of the fat first to reach a relatively low level of body fat before you start building muscle. This is the right approach to see your body taking shape early in your efforts since you must lose fat for the muscle beneath to show on your body. Also, losing fat first doesn’t mean that you will not be lifting weights.
You will need to include weight training in your fat loss program to maintain your existing muscles and possibly make some additional muscle gains as well.
You do not have to get skinny before you start primarily focusing on gaining muscle. Cutting down to about 15 % body fat (for male) and 25% body fat (for female) before you start a lean bulking phase will pay off in many ways.
2. Control Your Calorie Surplus
It’s known that building muscle requires a calorie surplus, but that doesn’t mean that it would be beneficial to mindlessly consume crazy amounts of calories to build muscle. Whenever you supply your body with too many calories above what is required, it’s going to attempt to store the excess as fat even if you are gaining muscle.
The more excess calories that you feed your body beyond the amount you need to build muscle, the more fat you’ll gain, which would make it “harder to get lean”. Therefore, always be in control of your calorie surplus in order to minimize fat gain.
3. Cycle Your Calorie Intake
Calorie cycling is a nutrition technique that involves consuming higher and lower calories instead of just consuming the same amount of calories every day. This strategy can be incorporated into both a fat loss and a muscle building program to provide a few different benefits to you. One of its top benefits is it allows for more control over calories and its effects on the body. This is because you’ll be providing your body with the right amount of calories at the right time when it needs it.
In a fat loss phase, cycling calories will provide the benefit of helping maintain/gain muscle which will prevent plateaus and provide dieting reliefs. In a muscle building phase, calorie cycling will provide the benefit of minimizing fat gain as well facilitate fat loss during the course of the program.
4. Eat The Right Type Of Foods
Some foods that are used to build muscle can help with controlling calories and losing fat. So it’s good to pay attention to the type of foods that you are eating for building muscle. You need a variety of protein, carbohydrate and fat to build muscle. But to minimize fat gain you can focus on selecting the right food sources to optimize how lean your body stays when building muscle.
5. Use High Intensity Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a cardio workout method that works very welll to burn fat without losing muscle. This exercise method is very effective at burning fat, thus is much more time-efficient than lower intensity cardio. It involves alternating between a high intensity exercise and a low intensity exercise which you repeat a number of times to complete a workout.
One of the best HIIT workouts is sprinting intervals alternate with a lesser intense exercise like walking. HIIT is done in short duration so it doesn’t waste away your muscles, yet it burns a lot of fat calories during the workout.
6. Keep Your Weight Training Intense & Consistent
Keep your weight lifting sessions intense and never miss a workout so that you’ll consistently use up the extra calories in your body for building muscle. Also, the harder you are working out means the more energy your body will expend which will help burn more calories during your weight training workout.
If you are keeping your workouts intense and working out consistently, then your calorie surplus would not result in a high level of fat gain. On the other hand, if you are eating high calories but your workout lacks intensity and progressive overload, you’ll gain more fat.
If your primary goal is to lose fat, you’ll also need to be lifting heavy weights to preserve muscle. And you can also structure your weight training to maximize the calorie burning effects to burn more fat.
7. Keep A Record Of What You Eat And Adjust Calories Accordingly
Whatever amount of calories you start off eating to gain muscle can , in the event you are gaining too much fat or not building enough muscle, always change to get better results. If you start off with 300 extra calories to build muscle, keep track of your results for a few weeks. If you are gaining weight with no fat, then you are on the right track. If you are not gaining enough weight, you may need to slightly increase your extra calories to around 400 or 500.
8. Alternate Bulk And Cut Phases
The common way of building muscle is to have one phase for building muscle (bulking) and another phase for losing fat (cutting). But you can use a different approach to control body fat and always keep your body at lean levels. Instead of just having one long bulk phase followed by a long cut phase you can alternate building muscle with losing fat in shorter cycles. By using a certain body fat percentage as a guideline you can know when it’s time for switching to the other phase.
Even if you are just 1 or 2 months into a muscle building phase and you see that you are losing leanness and muscle definition you can just switch to losing fat. Then when you are back to a low body fat level you can switch back to building muscle. Some people may worry about losing muscle if they cut too often while building muscle, but it’s easy to lose fat without losing muscle by following the right guidelines.
These are 8 top strategies that you can incorporate in your plan to build muscle and lose fat to reach your ideal body shape goal in due course. You may realize that these are general information to simply give you insights into the different things that you can do to build muscle and lose body fat to get a lean muscular body.