This article will show you how you can build muscles (“Bulk”) and lose fat (“Cut”) at the same time.
Most people are a little confused about whether it is possible to build muscles and lose fat at the same time. They often have the following questions: How much should you eat when trying to put on muscle mass? How do you build muscles without gaining too much fat? How do you shed fat without losing muscle mass? This article will show you how you can build muscles and lose fat in an efficient and healthy way.
Alternate between Bulking Phase and Cutting Phase
In order to build muscles and lose fat “at the same time”, you need to alternate between the bulking phase and the cutting phase.
In the bulking phase, your primary goal is to build muscles. At the same time, you need to ensure you do not gain too much fat.
In the cutting phase, your primary goal is to lose fat. However, you do not want to lose muscle mass. Your weight loss should mainly come from losing the body’s excess fat.
You would then alternate between these two phases until you achieve your desired physique.
Which Phase First?
Now, you need to determine whether to start with the bulking or cutting phase. If you are somewhat lean, start with the bulking phase. If you are somewhat fat, you need to start with the cutting phase.
For men, you are lean if you have about 13-15% body fat or less. For women, it would be about 17-20% body fat or less.
How do you tell if you are somewhat lean? The easiest way is to simply look at yourself in the mirror and gauge. If you feel that you lean towards the skinny side, start with the bulking phase. If you feel that you should probably be shedding some fat, start with the cutting phase.
Below are other ways to measure your body fat percentage. However, some of these methods are not very accurate (e.g. body fat scales) while others may be extremely expensive (e.g. DEXA Scanning). Nevertheless, I have listed them down for your reference and you may find out more if you are interested.
- Body Fat Calipers
- Body fat scales and monitors
- Measurements (e.g. US Navy measurement or YMCA measurement)
- Water displacement
- DEXA Scanning
- The Bod Pod
The Bulking Phase
For the bulking phase, you need to first have a proper workout plan. If you are a beginner, work out three times per week using a full-body split. If you are an advanced lifter, aim to hit the gym four times a week using an upper/lower body split. It is also EXTREMELY important to incorporate progression into your workout. Therefore, you should aim to lift heavier weights progressively over the weeks of your workout plan. Low/medium-intensity cardio should be performed about twice per week.
Secondly, you need to create a caloric surplus in your diet. This means that you will have to consume more calories than you burn per day. Your body will then use this surplus energy to build muscles. However, make sure that you calculate your caloric surplus correctly and do not over-eat. The common recommendation is to consume an extra 250 to 500 calories per day. If you put on weight easily, stay on the lower end of the range, and if you are a hardgainer, aim for the higher end.
For the cutting phase, you would need to have a proper workout plan too. However, progression is not so important here because you are not aiming to build muscles in this phase. Instead, you should aim to maintain the amount of intensity (load, reps, etc) at each workout session. Medium/high-intensity cardio should be performed about three times per week.
Secondly, create a calorie deficit in your diet. This means that you consume less calories than you burn per day. As a result, your body will be forced to burn body fat for the energy needed to sustain your body functions because it is experiencing a deficit in calories from external food sources. The common recommendation is to cut 500 to 1000 calories daily from your diet.
In summary, it is possible to build muscles and lose fat at the same time but you would need to alternate between the bulking phase and the cutting phase. During the bulking phase, make sure you have a proper workout plan along with a calculated caloric surplus in your diet. During the cutting phase, you would also need a proper workout plan along with a calculated caloric deficit. Continue to switch between the phases until you get the body you’ve always wanted!