Stripping fat whilst growing muscle at the same time can feel like mastering the dark arts.
It has been called the holy grail of weight training: how does one simultaneously gain muscle mass whilst also shredding body fat, and promoting toned muscle definition?
It’s a wonderful goal, but it most certainly isn’t easy.
Building muscle demands an excess of calories, and stripping body fat usually means entering into the deficit zone.
It’s kind of like the irrestistable force paradox – when the immovable object meets the unstoppable force…
Build & Tone Muscle at the Same Time
When seeking inspiration, we can look at Olympic sprinters and power athletes to see that it is possible to find a balance between building muscle mass and keeping body fat levels low.
Perhaps you even know someone at your local gym who seems to be able to maintain a ripped physique all year round. You probably hate and admire them in equal measures and at the same time 😉
So what are the secrets of Olympic athletes, strength pros and those lucky few prowling the weights-room floor?
Unless you are supremely genetically gifted, prepare for a holistic regime of smart exercise, strict discipline, healthy eating (with added sports supplements) and sensible rest.
Get Your Nutrition Right
It’s important to eat enough when your goal is gaining lean muscle, but not so much that your body stores excess calories as fat.
Strength training demands a lot of your body, not only during your gym sessions but for hours afterwards. So make sure you prioritise protein, the building blocks of lean muscle, to help your body repair, adapt and grow bigger and stronger.
Carbohydrates are also very important. Too many could hinder fat loss, but the right amount and the right kind (like those used in the best muscle gain shakes) are crucial for providing energy and ensuring that muscles are full and hard.
Don’t skimp on the right type of fat, and ensure you get your EFAs (essential fatty acids) which will actually help your body release unwanted body fat. Pride Nutrition’s EFA Complex is one of the most sophisticated and intelligently formulated EFA supplements available.
These contain the ideal blend of cold water fish oils, EPA, DHA, flaxseed oil and borage and don’t have that horrid fish burpy aftertaste that you can get with some tablets.
Train with a Strategy
If you want to see serious changes in your physique, you need to lift heavy.
Concentrate on the classic compound lifts, which engage various muscle groups and hit all the large muscles in the body.
Try the squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder/military press and clean and press for starters.
Done properly, and with sufficient weight on the bar, these lifts will challenge your muscles to adapt in double-quick time. As a result, they’ll grow and fill out, leaving you with a strong and lean physique.
Cut back on long, moderately paced cardio sessions, save your energy for weights and for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – a far more intelligent form of cardio if lean gains are your goal.
HIIT should only be undertaken for approximately 15 minutes, and only after warming up.
If you can do it for longer, you’re not doing it hard enough!
And if you struggle with the curse of the hardgainer, we have some tailored advice for you.
Use Effective Supplements
Choose a good protein product like MuscleTech’s Nitro-Tech which is a gradual release formula and continues to feed muscle with amino acids for up to eight hours.
Look to eat 5-6 small meals per day. This is a discipline that can be hard to keep to and so, if this is the case for you, look for a complete and scientifically designed meal replacement shake.
Consider Lean-XT’s non-stimulant Fat Burner in your quest to lose unwanted body fat as you build new, lean muscle tissue. It will help suppress your appetite and boost your metabolism without caffeine or other stimulants. It is also suitable for both men and women.
Rest & Recover
The final part of the equation is rest, sleep and relaxation.
Muscle grows when you’re at rest, so make sure you get plenty. Good quality sleep lowers levels of cortisol, which is responsible for encouraging our bodies to hang on to belly fat.
Be aware of the dangers of over-training, listen to your body and enjoy your well-earned downtime.
Ensure you chill out, get your 8 hours at night and sneek a nanna nap whenever you can. It’s my guilty pleasure too 😉
Ever wondered how action hero movie stars manage their transitions from everyman to brooding, muscled hunk of lean mass? Take a look at this insight into Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine preparation.