For many weightlifters, bulking and cutting are done separately – a few months of putting on the pounds and a few months stripping off the fat. The thought of doing these two things simultaneously is thought to be an impossible challenge since building muscle and losing fat seem to attract contradictory result.
Well, this does not have to be the case if you’re on the right program; one that combines sessions of extreme cardio with those of heavy weightlifting.
When it comes to fitness and bodybuilding, one of the things almost everyone wants to do is build muscle and lose fat, at the same time. This is the ‘holy grail’ of the fitness world, and it is no mystery why. In order to get the body you want, virtually everyone needs to shed some unwanted fat, and build up their muscle, and it is natural to want to do this as quickly as possible.
So, the big question is whether it is possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, and if so, how do you do it?
The simple answer to the first question is YES. It actually is technically possible, but only for some people in some situations. Before we get to the specifics of who can do it, and how, it is necessary to understand why it is so difficult in the first place.
As just about everyone knows, when attempting to lose fat it is necessary to run your body on a caloric deficit. Simply stated, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns. When you do this, your body will use the calories stored as fat (and sometimes muscle) to make up the difference. Of course, there are other factors that go into losing weight, but the bottom line is you need fewer calories going in than the number of calories your body burns each day.
On the other hand, in order to build muscle your body needs to run on a caloric surplus. Your body will always use the nutrition you put in to first maintain all your primary functions, and then any extra will be stored as fat, discarded as waste, or used to build muscle. When you combine surplus calories with a good weight training fitness program, you will build muscle.
So, the problem is quite obvious.
When attempting to lose fat, you need a caloric deficit, but when attempting to build muscle you need a caloric surplus. At first glance, it seems that it would be impossible to do both at the same time, but that is not always the case.
Who Can Do Both at the Same Time
The fact is, there are four groups of people who can typically lose fat and build muscle at the same time, and at good ratios. If you fall into one of these four categories, consider yourself lucky and take advantage of it while it lasts! If not, don’t lose hope, there are still ways you can optimize your results, which I’ll touch on shortly. So, without further ado, the four ‘golden’ categories:
- Overweight Beginners – If you are currently significantly overweight (at least 15 – 20 pounds) and have never really followed a good fitness program, your body is in a unique position to respond to a good diet and exercise program perfectly. For the first several months, if done properly, you can indeed lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
- Regaining Lost Muscle – If you were once in great shape, but for whatever reason lost your muscle mass and gained unwanted fat, you can also lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Due to what is commonly called ‘muscle memory’ your body can rebuild the lost muscle quickly, while still losing fat. Of course, you’ll need to follow a healthy diet and exercise program to achieve optimal results. Sadly, your body will only be in this state for a few months at the most, so take advantage of it while you can!
- Drug/Steroid Users – Steroids and other drugs really change all the rules when it comes to fitness. While these things obviously have unwanted side effects, there is no doubt that they change the way the body works. If you go down this road, you’ll be able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
- Genetic Abnormalities – Some people are just born with what seem to be perfect genes, where their body just works differently than the rest of us. If you fall into this category, congratulations! Whether a gift from God, or blind luck, you’ll be able to enjoy incredible results that others only dream of. Please, don’t waste this gift!
It is important to note that even for those that are in one of the above mentioned categories, it is still necessary to work hard and follow a healthy diet in order to get the results you desire. Despite all the claims on the covers of fitness magazines, losing fat and gaining muscle is never easy. It takes hard work, dedication and consistency for all of us.
What about the Rest of Us?
If after reading through the four ‘golden’ categories above you find yourself discouraged that you didn’t land in any of them, don’t fret. It is still possible to get the body of your dreams, it just won’t be quite as easy as you might like. For most people, the best way to get great results is to alternate between a fat loss program and a muscle building program, each of which are designed with the other in mind.
Without getting into specifics, your fat loss program should be designed to help you lose fat rapidly, while allowing you to maintain your muscle mass. Once you’ve lose a desired amount of fat, you switch to a muscle building program that is designed to help you bulk up, while avoiding or minimizing any gain in fat.
Alternating these two programs until you have reached your goals is a healthy and effective way to sculpt the body of your dreams.