Probably something that’s on the mind of anyone who has ever been interested in optimizing their body composition is “Can I lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?”
The sad thing is that a lot of people scoff at the very notion that you can both gain muscle and lose fat, they say it’s simply impossible. However, bodybuilding hall of famer Phil Heath has said that bodybuilders are unique in that they can do what 99.9% of the population can’t do–that is, gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Was he onto something? Throughout our lifetimes people always tell us that you can either focus on losing fat or gaining muscle, you can never do both. But studies have shown that you can definitely gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Some say that of course you can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, but only if you’re a novice and you’re just getting started on your bodybuilding journey. It’s true, there are a lot of studies showing that novice bodybuilders are able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. However, does that mean that for more trained bodybuilders it’s impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Of course not.
There are dozens of studies showing how even experienced bodybuilders can gain muscles and lose fat at the same time. We’re about to give you 3 different ways to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
1. Use Supersets to Get a Combination Effect
Supersets are one of the most consistent ways to achieve this difficult goal. The combination of two sets into a superset (circuit training) is probably one of the best things you can do to optimize fat loss and increase muscle gain.
What are supersets exactly? First, let’s describe straight sets. Suppose you plan on training your chest and back one day. You do chest → rest → chest → rest, and so on. Next, you work on your back and rest between each back exercise. That’s straight sets.
Supersets are when you take these same workouts but you increase the density of your workouts. So when you finish a chest set, you immediately go into a back set, then rest maybe 30 seconds before going to another chest set, then another back set.
This back-and-forth, where you’re working on opposite body parts at the same time, is called supersetting. Another example is when you do circuit-type training where you do a full body circuit by doing one exercise after the other with little to no rest.
Studies show that these same exercises, when supersetted, result in a combination effect. If you did those same exercises individually, you might not get that combination effect and you might not lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.
2. Increase Your Volume Threshold
The second tip we want to give you is to increase your volume threshold. Granted, you can probably gain muscle with lower volume training if you just want to see your pumps and enjoy the feeling of lifting weight.
However, if you need to maximize your body composition changes, studies show that you need a high-volume, high-frequency workout. You probably need to get anywhere from 10-12 or more sets per body part as far as a volume threshold to maximize your body composition changes. Do that 5 times a week and you’re golden.
3. Don’t Be Scared of Cardio
We know that a lot of people reading this don’t really like cardio. However, the combination of cardio and resistance training does wonders, and is almost a necessity for gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time.
Here are some tips you can follow if you don’t want to lose any gains by doing cardio. First of all, avoid really long duration cardio sessions–these might actually impair your ability to gain muscle. You really want to have a combination of resistance training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
If you insist on doing normal cardio, you can start off with HIIT, then do an interval followed by 20 minutes of traditional cardio and nothing more than that. This combination is great for fat loss and muscle gain.
Keep in mind that you need to keep things novel, especially with cardio. You’re never going to progress on either losing fat and gaining muscle if you’re used to doing the same motions every day. If all you ever do is put the treadmill on an incline and walk at the same speed, then you’re not going to be optimizing anything.
We hope this article helped you understand the best ways to increase your muscle gain and decrease your fat percentage. Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll talk about all the nutrition tips you can follow to do the same thing!