Can You Build Muscle And Burn Fat Simultaneously?

Photo Credit: Polina Zimmerman

One of the most popular goals I see on my client intake forms is gaining muscle while losing fat. In many circles these goals are mutually exclusive, meaning working on one negates the other. You need to bulk (build muscle) then cut (drop body fat). But never at the same time. Confusing huh?

Not in my camp. I contend that it can absolutely be done. It’s just not what you may think. While it’s true to actually build muscle you need to be in a caloric surplus, and to burn fat you need to be in a caloric deficit, it’s important to dig deeper here.

What most women are actually asking for is to firm up and expose their muscles; not necessarily grow them. This is also affectionately known as toning. Some fitness professionals make fun of this term, but I find it highly accurate where females are concerned.

This nuanced vernacular concerning women’s fitness really uncovers just how simple reaching your goals can be. Use resistance training to strengthen and firm, while implementing a diet supportive of your workouts and calorically appropriate for your goals. If you lift weights consistently for 6 months or more, you should see some modest muscle growth. But it won’t likely be huge, and as we clarified, this may not really be your top priority anyway.

Photo Credit: Katerina homes

The cool thing about all us humans is that our muscles are already there. That’s because we need them in order to move around and actually do stuff – open doors, haul groceries, dab with abandon in public places to incite proper teenage offspring disgust…

So if we just lean out enough, they will be exposed. And if we actively work our muscles, they’ll look and feel less mushy and present as more al dente. Forgive the pasta reference, but that’s all most of us are really after. We don’t necessarily want bigger noodles; just denser.

So. Your prescription to get toned is as follows: Weight train at least 3 days a week. Progress on your lifts and eat just enough to keep your muscle while releasing body fat. It’s nice to know these goals can flow beautifully with one another because the equation isn’t as complicated as the industry may want you to believe. You can do both at the same time, it’s just called something different.

Need some help with getting started? Drop me a line and let’s chat all about your goals and build a customized plan to crush them!