When most people first sign up to the gym with visions to build muscle fast, they often go with the hopes of achieving big muscles and rippling abs like those seen in the health/bodybuilding magazines. They want to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
Unfortunately, the majority of the public is unaware that these physiques were achieved over a period of time using training phases geared exclusively towards building muscle and then an alternate training phase for losing fat. Then repeated as many times as necessary.
The jury is out on whether you can build muscle and burn fat at the same time but one thing is for sure;
You won’t get great results in either if you’re training for both muscle gain and fat loss.
The simplest way I find I can explain it to a beginner is that to build muscle fast you need to consume more than your daily caloric expenditure. For fat loss you’re looking to do the opposite and burn more calories than you’re consuming daily.
Obviously this is a really simplified analogy and there are other things going on too which determine muscle gain or fat loss. Some people have reported being able to make small gains in mass and drop a slight amount of bodyfat but it’s not the norm. To do this you either need to be genetically gifted, on certain steroids or your diet is so perfect that you’re able to make slight progression in both departments.
So, although it may be possible to build muscle and burn fat in one training phase, it’s certainly not recommended for optimal results.
To build muscle fast you’d be much better served going through what is commonly known as a ‘bulking’ phase. In this phase, the trainee is looking to consume a certain amount of calories per day that is above what is required to maintain muscle. The amount to be consumed depends on things such as body type, recovery needs etc
Now to make the fat loss phase of your training easier it would be wise not to interpret your ‘bulking’ phase as an ‘I can eat whatever I want!’, phase. The temptation will be there but believe me, you will want to make the fat cutting stage as easy as possible. The less fat you have accumulated during your bulking phase, the less time and effort will be needed on getting rid of the fat so keep your diet fairly clean during your bulk up.
The reason you don’t want to gain too much fat is because of the following dreaded ‘cutting’ phase. In this phase there’s a lot of diet advice that you can follow but all will generally involve restricting your calories and keeping your diet squeaky clean. Not to mention increasing your cardio, an exercise despised by many bodybuilders or pretty much anybody who is looking to build muscle fast!
So for those of you that enjoy restricting your calories and doing tons of cardio – don’t worry about how much fat you accumulate during your bulking phase. But if you’re like me, you enjoy your food and can probably think of better things to do than increase the amount of treadmill sessions you do per week then you’ll want to keep your cutting phase as short as possible!
This is again achieved by making sure you don’t accumulate too much fat during your bulk.
In closing I’d really suggest going for one goal or the other rather than trying to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
If you are lean before you start lifting weights then that’s a bonus because you may not need to enter a cutting phase for a very long time if at all. If, however, you have ‘skinny fat’ genetics (skinny frame with a bit of belly!) like mine then inevitably we’ll need to switch between these two phases for best results. Don’t chase your own tail trying to build muscle and burn fat together.