Yes, it’s true. You can build muscle while losing fat at the same time. Doing both at the same time is called the body recomposition method (or recomp for short), and it’s for those who want to add-on lean body mass while burning fat at the same time. But the goal is to keep at your current weight the whole time.
This process simultaneously ties together the benefits of bulking and cutting cycles.
But there’s no yo-yo effect here: which is often what fad dieters experience. Since this is a continuous effort, you aren’t likely to slide back to your starting body fat percentage. Hell, after working hard to blast the fat off your body the last thing you’d want is to gain it back. Worst yet, you don’t want to lose muscle mass either.
The key to making the workout approach successful is: It’s about balance.
So, what can you expect from a recomp? Don’t expect overnight success. Since you’re trying to cut fat while increasing your lean muscle and strength, it’s a slow process. Really slow, actually.
How to Build Muscle And Cut Fat At The Same Time
Since body recomposition combines the elements of a traditional bulk/cut cycle at the same time, you might expect to be logging your progress for up to a year. This length of time is a significant increase over the typical bulk, where you might plan to be on it for a few months or until you hit a plateau, or hit your goals before you expected. Remember those goals of yours should be realistic.
When cutting, you’ll want to have the same philosophy. So there’s no clear answer because it depends on two things: your genetics and your goals. But taking the time to plan out what your after a head of time is a smart move.
How much weight can you lose in a week? On average you could, with your diet and exercise routine tightly planned out, expect to trim off 1-5 pounds in one week. The first is a conservative estimation, while the latter is an aggressive approximation.
Starting On A Body Recomposition Phase
There’s going to be a yin yang approach to your training. You’re going to want to match the same style of lifts you’d do on a bulk, and but get as much intense cardio as you’d work with on a cut.
How much do you need to eat? Knowing your maintenance calories is highly important because you should eat as much as you normally would on your lifting days, which is around 300-500 calories.
On the flip side of things, you’re going to take in lesser calories on your rest days, which would be around 300-500, respectfully.
The best approach I’ve seen to make sure you’re not gaining unwanted fat is to limit your amount of carbs. While you’re cardiovascular sessions will help take care of the extra calories your putting into your body, to make sure you’re not gaining in the wrong sense, a low carb approach will help you spike your insulin at the right times.
The three main elements of a meal are Protein, Carbs and Fats. These are the macros you’ve probably read about. I’ve seen some bulking cycles recommend the 30/50/20 (Protein/Carbs/Fats) method.
That’s a lot of carbs!
When you’re looking to transform your physique with the body recomposition approach, I suggest getting more protein and fats (healthy fats are a great form of energy) before your workouts and then adding in your carbs right after your workout session. You’re going to need to replenish the glycogen you use up from the lifting.
A post-workout drink should offer you enough protein and carbs to help feed those muscles properly. It’s important to get those carbs into the system right after your workout. The window I aim for is up until an hour after completion.
Of course, sticking to the no carb approach all depends on how well your body tolerates carbohydrates. If you can handle them well, and have a high metabolism, you can opt for the low-carb method. I don’t, so I stick with no carbs.
All of this isn’t too complicated. But the regimen can seem quite intense for most beginners. It takes a lot of planning, and a huge amount of dedication. So, if you have a hard time keeping with you new years resolutions, I suggest other body transformation methods like what I laid out in my notes on how to get cut fast, which offers both muscle building and fat loss tricks that have worked well for me over the years.
Examples of a Typical Routine
Since one of the aims is to create lean muscle, you’re going to want a program that offers the right kind of muscle stimulation. So I’d opt for a 4-day split, with offers the right amount of muscle work as well as rest and recovery.
Here’s a 4-day splits that involves working the upper body on one day, and then hitting the lower body on another:
Monday - Upper Body
Tuesday - Lower Body
Wednesday - Rest Day
Thursday - Upper Body
Friday - Lower Body
Saturday - Rest Day
Sunday - Rest Day
Another way to look at this is to work muscle groups in a non-competing fashion:
Monday - Chest and Biceps
Tuesday - Legs and Abs
Wednesday - Rest Day
Thursday - Back, Shoulders, Traps and Triceps
Friday - Calves and Abs
Saturday - Rest Day
Sunday - Rest Day
To shed some serious fat your need to act like your cutting. This means you’re going to want to get in a cardio session anywhere between 3-6 times a week. I prefer High-Intensity Interval Training when I’m on a cut, but Steady-State sessions like running or jogging work well when paired together when training for body recomposition.
Do You Need to Take Supplements?
Yes. This is one of the major reasons why I’m not a fan of a recomp. Using this technique requires a lot, and I mean a lot, of supplementation. I prefer to eat my way to muscle and eat clean to blast the fat away.
The reason for needing to add in a stack of weight gainers and burners is because the body, for most people anyway, isn’t naturally designed to build muscle and burn fat at the same time. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but to do it effectively means you need to encourage the process.
So to make a recomp work for you make sure you’re lifting with as much intensity like you’re bulking, and mixing in enough cardio sessions like you are on a cut. Also, your diet has to be in check with all of this: getting the right amount of protein and fats, with low-to-nil amounts of carbs until after a workout.
This sounds like a simplified approach to body recomposition training, but these are the cornerstone elements that you’ll need to focus on if you want to build muscle while simultaneously trimming off the fat.