Can You Build Muscle And Burn Fat At The Same Time?

Ah, the age old question…

Can you build muscle and burn fat at the same time?

Must you choose one over the other?

Today I’ll be answering this for you, because there’s too much misinformation in the world of fitness – especially surrounding this subject!

Let’s start with the basics:

  • To lose weight, we must be in a calorie deficit.
  • To gain weight, we must be in a calorie surplus.

These facts often leave most people confused and marooned in indecision, unsure what they need to do.

Because in my many years working as a personal trainer, I’ve very rarely met someone who’s goal was simply to lose fat, or to build muscle.

In 99% of cases, they want both.

can you build muscle and lose fat at the same time

Can You Build Muscle And Burn Fat At The Same Time?

Your nutrition is the key to success.

Most of us want to lose weight, and want to build muscle, so we end up muddling our training and nutrition in a way that gets us zero results.

If you train in the gym with a focus on fat loss, but you eat like a monster, you’ll get nowhere.

Vice versa, if you say your goal is to get bigger but you don’t eat enough calories per day (for fear of gaining fat), you’re just spinning your wheels and will never gain size.

And both are frustrating roads to go down…

So the first thing to do is establish your main priority in the gym.

Use my simple rule:

Unless you are under 13% body fat, you have absolutely no business “bulking”.

You have fat to lose.

Do that.

Don’t worry. The fact that you’re working to lower your body fat percentage will mean you’ll look bigger and more ripped anyway.

is it possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time
Most guys would give their right nut to look as muscular as Greg Plitt. Yet Greg weighed just 185lbs.

And you needn’t worry about losing muscle, providing you continue to eat enough protein per day…

… but that brings me to another thing:

Barely anyone eats enough protein.


Most guys own a whey protein shake nowadays, but for a lot of them, that’s the only source of protein they get in a day. It’s not good enough if they want to build lean muscle.

Take a look at the post I’ve linked to here. It’ll show you exactly how much protein you need per day to build maximum muscle.

how to lose fat and build muscle at the same time

Eventually, You’ll Reach A Crossroad…

Focusing on stripping away body fat will get you into great shape.

Eventually, though, you’ll reach a crossroad.

This is where we need to either go “all in” with our fat loss approach (i.e. make changes to your calorie targets to continue in a deficit), or we try to add size by going into a calorie surplus.

The difference now, however, is that you’re already in great shape and in a good place to begin adding size without worrying about gaining body fat.

Remember, you should never be trying to “bulk” if you are already bulkier than you’d like to be.

Where most people go wrong is coming in from the cold and trying to go full bodybuilder from Ground Zero, without laying the foundation of building a solid physique and creating healthy habits they can sustain.

This leads them down a frustrating road of starting and stopping, never shifting the belly, and constantly being mentally stuck in a place between wanting to be leaner, but wanting to be bigger.

can you build muscle and burn fat at the same time
Despite looking huge on screen, Sylvester Stallone was just 173lbs in Rambo II. Sly’s living proof that one of the best things you can do to look bigger is lower your body fat percentage.

Strip the fat first.

You’ll still build muscle, and you’ll look pretty awesome with those new cuts.

Hopefully you found this breakdown helpful!

Honestly, the last time I classic “bulked” was 10 years ago. Hated it, too.

Now I simply adjust my calorie targets depending on my goal at the time – and I’ll never, ever allow myself to go up in calories if my body fat percentage is already too high.

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For a workout plan and nutrition plan that do what I’m talking about in this post, search in my app for Beach Bum and combine it with my Male or Female Fat Loss Nutrition Template.

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