Building Muscle And Burning Fat At The Same Time

Have you ever wondered if it was possible building muscle and burning fat at the same time? Well it is a general thought pattern that most of us starting our muscle gain journey with too much body fat indulge in.

And it is a valid curiosity. With all that body weight and adipose tissue making you look like the Michelin man. It is normal to want to start your weight loss journey with building muscles as part of the process.

Many people shun physical exercises and instead focus on either drinking black tea for weight loss or busy themselves grating ginger to burn fat because it is easier than weight lifting or jogging. And even though those weight loss drinks are effective, that effect is greatly reduced when we remove exercises from the equation. Exercises should be the core of your weight loss goals. Not only can exercises add muscles to your frame while burning fat, it can also help contain weight gain caused by stress.

I have always known how to loose weight fast with different patterns especially with intermittent fasting but adding muscles to my frame has never been the agenda. I love the trim state that not being obese brings but recently I have started walking on the path of building muscles. This is the reason behind this post.

I have started lifting weight three times a week. From bench press, shoulder press and squatting divided among my workout days and I must confess, it is a worthy process.

But being the man that I am. Whatever I decide to do when it comes to my health and body, I always put the process through the rigors of personal observations, peer suggestions and finally and ultimately, RESEARCH STUDIES.

But on this post I will not be dropping any personal observations on my on journey so fat because it is too early but I promise to lend my expertise on the matter as I get more knowledge on the subject through practice and reading.

How Do Professional Body Builders Build Muscles?

Basically, there are three main phases in bodybuilding which are bulking, cutting, and maintenance.


Everything has its own process! And muscle building is no different. The professionals in this category have methods through which they are able to pack on muscles and that is where our discussion is going to start from.

Bulking is all about a progressive increase in the number of calories consumed that is way beyond what the body needs tied to an intense weight training program.

Bulking is the muscle-gaining phase. And during this phase a body builder must intentionally consume more calories than is needed for a prescribed period ranging from weeks to months and even up to a year. These extra calories is what is used in providing the body with the necessary fuel to increase muscle size and strength while lifting weight.

But while bulking, the excess calories that is consumed for muscle gain also leads to the accumulation of body fat during that phase. And this is one of the reason why many people are interested in finding ways for building muscle and burning fat at the same time. [1]


The bulking phase builds muscles with the excess calories added to the body builder’s plate but it also adds more body fat to his frame. And that is why after bulking the next phase is the Cutting Phase.

During the cutting phase, the bodybuilder changes his eating pattern. He focuses on fewer calories than his body requires, which automatically places his muscle building phase on pause. The whole idea of this phase is generally to maintain and not gain more muscle mass. In other words cutting is intended to shed excess body fat while maintaining muscle mass.

According to Minnesota-based exercise physiologist Mike T. Nelson, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.

“Let’s say, over a course of a year spent bulking, you gain 24 pounds total, 12 from muscle and 12 from fat,” Nelson explains. “With an intelligent plan, you can probably lose those 12 pounds of fat in a couple of months without losing much muscle. So 14 or so months to increase muscle mass by 10 or 12 pounds without any overall increase in fat mass? That’s a lot faster than it would take if you tried to gain 10 to 12 pounds of muscle, but without letting yourself gain some fat along the way.”

“When bulking, guys have to be ok with being fatter than they are used to being for a while, and if they aren’t, that’s OK,” Nelson says. “If they want to stay leaner while gaining muscle, they can do it, it will just take longer.”[2]

This body building stages of bulking and cutting is the standard for many muscle builders out there. But not everyone is comfortable with packing on too much fat just to build some extra pounds of muscles. In the same vein not everyone is comfortable with cutting in order to loose weight so that they can build visible muscles.

And that is the advice you will get when you are overweight and want to start making muscles. You are told to loose weight to the body percentage of below 15% and then start bulking from that point to make muscles and then cut to expose the muscles you have made while bulking.

This is because to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. To gain muscle, you need to be in a calorie surplus. 

But is that the only way out? Is it so impossible that no matter the circumstance, one just simply can’t succeed in building muscles and burning fat at the same time?

Now let us look at what a research carried out for the purpose of uncovering the answer to the question of simultaneously building muscles and burning fats was able to discover.

A study involving a group of overweight beginners lost over 16 pounds of fat and gained almost 10 pounds of muscle during a 14-week training program.

Another study of 14 obese women that were given 803.059 worth of liquid calories on a daily basis for 90 days experienced an average weight loss over of 16 kg with approximately 24% of the weight loss from free fat mass and 76% from fat. [3, 4 ]

In another study involving Overweight police officers with 26% body fat engaging in a weight training program for 12 weeks lost 9.3 pounds of fat and gained 8.8 pounds of lean body mass. [5]

In all of the above studies it is clear that the subjects or participants were overweight or obese and here is the first and most obvious point that you need to jot down.

It is easier building muscle and burning fat at the same time if you are new to weight lifting or haven’t even touched a barbell before for a muscle workout. And this is due to what is referred to as newbie gains.

The studies also supports the fact that the more fat and less muscle you have, the greater your ability to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

The story however changes as you get leaner and more muscular with more weight lifting years adding to your workout profile. But it doesn’t make it impossible, it only means it would be a very slow muscle growth compared to newbie just starting out.

Building Muscle And Burning Fat At The Same Time

“I think it’s inaccurate to say that it’s impossible to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time, which is, in my opinion, a true transformation,” says Stephen Adele, fitness coach, best-selling author, and owner of Colorado-based iSatori, a maker of nutritional products. “I’ve coached hundreds and thousands of people over the years and I’ve seen it firsthand—individuals who can gain muscle mass and lose body fat at the same time.

“It presents unique challenges, but it mainly comes down to your approach. I’ve come to realize there are five rules that I have lived and coached people by on how to transform—encompassing eating, supplementation, training, and mindset—that allow individuals to undergo a transformation in which they can accomplish both goals.” [6]

So How Do You Go About Building Muscle And Burning Fat At The Same Time?

1. You Must Create A Caloric Deficit

So you are about to start that weight loss and muscle building journey but not very sure on how to start?

Well you will have to consume less calories than your body needs to maintain your present size on a daily basis. A caloric deficit.

It is the caloric restriction that would force a huge fat burning furnace that would help you shed the excess weight that you hate so much.

You can achieve caloric deficit by dieting or following a eating program like intermittent fasting.

2. Strength Training

By weight lifting and engaging in different kind of compound exercises, you trigger muscle repair and growth.

But it goes even further than that. Weight lifting or strength training can help in reducing body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more.

Lean muscle can efficiently burn calories when the body is at rest, which is also important while you’re trying to lose weight while building muscle.

3. Get Enough Proteins

Dietary protein is required to promote growth, repair damaged cells and tissue, synthesize hormones, and other variety of metabolic activities when it comes to muscle building.

Individuals who are engaged in intense training require more dietary protein than those living a sedentary lifestyle.

Evidence indicates that ingesting protein and/or amino acids prior to, during, and/or following exercise can enhance recovery, immune function, and growth and maintenance of lean body mass. [7]

4. Involve HIIT In Your Routine

Another way to shed excess body fat is through cardio but extended cardio can lead to muscle loss which is not something you need.

The best alternative is HIIT which is known for burning more fat than just ordinary cardio while boosting testosterone levels.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) or sprint interval training (SIT), is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue. [8]

Conclusively, you can build muscle while burning fat and the best way to achieve that is to follow a dieting program or intermittent fasting routine along with HIIT to burn fat faster than would have been possible. This method will help you loose enough body fat to see your abs. Which is better and safer than opting for ab implants.

And to engage in a gradual and consistent heavy weight lifting program that is spread across the week. Three or four times should be enough to stimulate muscle growth with enough rest time in between.

Photo Credit: Instagram/ Aaron Miller

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