How to Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?

March 5, 2010

Gaining Muscle While Losing Body Fat? I USED to be a skeptic.

In the past… I was brainwashed to believe that muscle gains required bulking up then leaning down. Over the past 2-3 years I have changed my thinking completely.

Here are two guys on the cutting edge in thinking when it comes to muscle gain, fat loss, etc.

* Martin Berkhan – of “Lean Gains”


Martin Berkhan is a freak show when it comes to staying lean

…but I mean that in a good way.

Like me and quite a few others, he likes to use intermittent fasting as a way of staying lean year round. Martin believes that there should be minimal fat gain when adding muscle.

The title of his blog, Lean Gains, says it all… “Maximizing Muscle Gain While Minimizing Fat Gain”.

Here are some quotes from his site:

…cycling between overfeeding (training days) and slight underfeeding (rest days) is another excellent strategy to remain lean regardless of your goal. The benefits are not only physiological, but also behavioral.

My comments: I have done this in the past with success. I could certainly see the benefit of adding in some slight overfeeding especially if someone was far from their genetic potential in adding muscle.

…I’ve never been a fan of the bulk and cut approach. An approach often taken to the extreme by some of my peers, with the net result being that they only look decent during the summer months.

My comments: People who use the “bulk and cut” approach more often than not underestimate how much fat they have to lose.

This usually means they don’t get lean until summer is almost over.

* Tom Venuto – of “Burn the Fat Blog”


Tom Venuto isn’t someone I quote often, but he writes well thought-out posts over on his blog. He also has one of the best selling fitness ebooks of all-time (I think it was one of the first ebooks I ever purchased).

Here’s his strategy.

…what if most days of the week you were in a deficit for the entire day, and on some days you were in a surplus? If so, then isn’t it possible that over the course of the week, you’d have a small net gain of muscle and loss of body fat a a result of the caloric fluctuation?

My comments: Tom also suggests timing your meals around your workouts in this quote…

…it’s entirely possible that you might pass through periods of “within-day” surplus where you were in a highly anabolic state (for example, you eat the biggest, highest carb meal of the day after your workout), and you were in a deficit the rest of the day.

Isn’t it possible that you could gain a small amount of muscle during those anabolic hours, while losing fat the rest of the day? Granted it might only be grams or ounces – but what if you kept that up for a week? A month? Three months?

My comments: This is a strategy that I have seen people use with success.

So No Need to Add Fat When Gaining Muscle

Increase calorie intake around your workouts… and stay in a strong deficit the rest of the time.

This is healthier and more effective than “bulking up” and looking chubby for a large part of the year.

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

K1ngebo March 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I am currently in the stage of trying to put muscle on and lose fat. I have not been to crazy and stay off the scales as I think those numbers can be misleading. I think muscle gain and weight loss is not linear. I do know though, after taking tape measures my waist has gone down and shoulder size and arm size has gone up some, to me that would be muscle gain with fat loss.

I am following visual impact right now and have some muscles on a growing plan, and others on a get more dense plan. I am not eating excessively at all, the days that I try to have my “slight surplus” is on my gym day and the other days I am at maintenance with intermitten fast (ESE) throughout the week. So far it seems to be working, I like the results I am seeing in the miror none the less. Great Post!!

Donkey Lips March 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Great article Rusty. I am currently trying to grow my shoulders, upper pecks, biceps and calves while losing the last 10 pounds of body fat (Going to Spain and the indulgences I had there two weeks ago added some fat)

That lean gains site is pretty impresive. I read some powerful stuff there on how to lead a balanced life while still looking good. Much like your site but with a different style…

Mike March 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm

wow this is kind of amazing as my last comment to you was just asking about this xD. Thanks for another great post Rusty and i am very interested to read all the links that you have in this post.

nik March 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Awesome article; I always enjoy your posts.

I’ve been a fan of the bulk and lean approach for quite some time, but then again I haven’t taken it to the extremes that some of my friends and peers have. (bulk for about 9 months; lean for 3). Instead, I’ve been sticking to maybe 2 weeks of bulk followed by a week or so of leaning out. I go high-weight, low reps for the 2 bulking weeks with steady-state cardio, and then I take it down maybe 10-20 pounds and do more reps during the leaning out periods mixed in with HIIT. While I don’t make quite as many gains as my peers, I keep a beach-body year round and still put on muscle, just not as fast as others. But at my gym, we have a saying: “Gain slow, lose slow.”

gus March 5, 2010 at 9:22 pm

hi Rusty.

always happy to read a new post

i guess fitness is actually really easy, butt somehow the biggest influence people receive on fitness is by companies and people who only want to earn money,i wonder how this happened.

logical thinking is that to gain muscle u would have to train/workout, if u want more muscle u train more ( increase weights,reps,volume, frequency etc). and to loose weight eat less and burn calories via exercises. it seems that this is the message from brad pilon and john barban.
of course you could explain this in greater detail but i guess this is an short overview.
this is at least how i have experienced it and it has worked out pretty good for me.

the fitness black book is pretty popular and i wonder if you are pretty well known in the “fitness community”? or if u work together with some these guys?.

right now i am really happy about my size and wont to become super lean, although the advice i get from would help me get there i decided to order a book from Lyle McDonald called the “stubborn fat solution”, i know u have read allot of his stuff and i also wondered what your thoughts was about this book? (if u have read it) 😀

Zlatan March 6, 2010 at 12:44 am

Great post I have actually been wondering about this for a while now…lately you’ve been reading my thoughts lol.
Anyways…I still have a layer of fat covering my lower abs, but the top are visible. I was trying to slim down, but everyone who knows me says that i have gotten too skinny (I feel like my skin is too big for my body and that is the reason why my abs arent showing so much). I am doing you visual impact phase 2 because i feel that i need to get more defined. Plus HIIT a couple of times a week to lose the lower ab fat. I dont eat a lot of junk food, basically i eat homecooked meals 95% of the time. I am seeing a lot of improvement, but i am not sure if i am doing everything right. I am 6 ft tall and weigh around 170-175 pounds. Do you think i need to gain muscle and weight?

Thanks a lot,

Rippersid March 6, 2010 at 2:04 am

@ Rusty,

Well, once again awesome timing with the posts 🙂 You seem to have psychic powers! Lately, I’ve been trying Lyle McDonalds UD 2.0 which is basically a cyclical keto diet that has weekdays with low carb/high protein and weekends with high carbs to refill muscle glycogen. Even though I am only finishing up the second week of the diet, I’ve seen increased definition without any loss of muscle mass (atleast I hope so). Lyle has done an awesome job with designing the protocols for the diet and it helps one maintain/gain muscle while on the diet. You should check out
for how haiz has maintained almost all muscle while losing bodyfat.

Once again, impressive stuff.

Well, truth be told, I’m in a similar position as you are. I’m 5″7 and 137.5. I’m having a tough time losing my lower ab fat and it’s really unsightly. It’s pissing me off to no extent. That said, I’ve talked to a few people/read a few logs and comments. for someone in our situation, most of them recommend first putting on some muscle on the appropriate places such as the chest/arms/shoulders for even 5-10 lbs in these places will make a huge visual difference. That said, I am confused for I don’t want to put on any more fat cause if the last place that loses fat is the lower abs/back, it is definitely going to be the first place where you will put it back again once you bulk.

So if either you are Rusty have any ideas getting rid of these stubborn areas I’d like to know.

Rusty, could you also do a future post on getting rid of stubborn fat and the usual trouble spots one encounters when losing the last bit of fat?

Once again, appreciate all you’ve done!

Andrew March 6, 2010 at 2:18 am

This is an interesting post that I’ve been wondering about since buying Visual Impact. The formula you have in there for caloric needs to gain muscle just seems to way overestimate exactly how many calories are needed. I was immediately skeptical of the number I ended up with, so I’m glad to see that my initial reaction to drastically lower this number appears to be the right call.

Mark March 6, 2010 at 2:22 am

wow Zlatan! Your comment above is almost word for word my current situation as well. I also seek rusty’s guidance on this matter 😛 I am going to continue on phase 2 as well, is this the best way to go?

I’ve been reading fbb for a long time, and although i have never made a comment, I’d like to give props for maintaining such a high quality blog. Using the tips/concepts buried in your blog, I’ve cut down from ~94kg to 78kg and am in (by far) the best shape of my life!!

John March 6, 2010 at 2:56 am

I have always been the bulk and gain type. 7 years ago I had a car crash, and I had to revalidate. I,5 year ago I was totally out of form, and started with the get lean and build muscle idea. It works way better than the traditional way of thinking. I lost my fat in 6 months.
Get lean and build muscles is actually working best, and the speed of building the muscles takes just as long as with the bulk method.
Transform your body takes time.

rob March 6, 2010 at 10:56 am

This has been my goal for the past year or so since I lost a bunch of weight and started training again. I think I have been accomplishing it but it is a very slow process … think gain 12 ounces of muscle per month and lose 10 ounces of fat, and that is if you work out like a maniac and eat right. There just isn’t any way to add 5 pounds of muscle in a month and lose 5 pounds of fat, anybody who claims to have done that is fooling himself, imo.

Shaun Miles March 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hi Rusty,

Firstly, yet again another great post. Just wanted to ask you, what would a guy like myself do in terms of gaining weight and mainly muscle weight. I would consider myself a hardgainer as I find it very difficult ot pack on any sort of weight. I’m currently around 61kg and 5’10. I’m only 17, and slightly lean already but I would like to be around 70kg but mainly pack on muscle rather than fat weight. Please help me with this.

Farley March 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Cool post, as always, Rusty.

I have been eating Paleo (really because my body doesn’t function well on alot of carbs) and have been doing ESE for 2 months now. I have lost a total of 25 lbs in 3 months.

After reading your site, Mark Sisson’s, Lean Gains, John Barbers, and sites like Ross Training and Straigh to the Bar, I feel I have effectively combined both weight loss and muscle gain. Or at the very least, no muscle loss.

At first, I was doing primarily HIIT cardio a couple of days a week, steady state for 2-5 hrs on top of that (walking at lunch on fast days for 2 miles), and cutting calories through no carbs and just saller meals over all. My goal with lifting was really just to maintain muscle mass/gain some muscle, and increase strength.

Suffice it to say, it has worked really well. I have gotten stronger and leaner at a fast clip without losing muscle. I am now lifting 4-5 days a week and targeting certain muscle groups for that “hollywood” look. Incline chest, back, shoulders, pull ups, some deadlifts (to improve strength), biceps, and light legs (most from cardio as you suggest). And, it couldn’t be going better.

Thanks for everything you do, Rusty. Love your site, your vibe, and your style. Your music intrests are right up my alley (I’m 39 and from the 80’s generation). A band you might like: The Helio Sequence. Check out their album, Kepp Your Eyes Ahead. Cool 80’s vibe with 2010 sensibilities.


Bunty March 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Hey Rusty ,

Nice post , its quite interesting to see how different people aproach this topic. Right now im triying to gain some muscle mass while triying to drop some fat down. For me , the right way to go is doing bodyweight circuits. I really burn alot of fat and at the same time gain some amout of muscle mass. Is it ok to this type of training insted of doing cardio and then some weight lifting? Im doing the eat stop eat thing and its really working. thank you sir

Robert March 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I did the bulk up, lose fat for over 20 years. You know what I learned, it is a time waste. I have done every kind of work out known to man, and can tell you, after about a year of working out hard, you have put on 80%+ of muscle size you will have, and with in 2-3 years, you will have put on all the muscle size you will ever have. The only thing that happens after a few years of working out hard, your muscle will take on a thicker, more dense look, as long as you keep training hard. After I had shoulder surgery, I asked my Physical Therapist about gaining muscle, he, along with every other Physical Therapist in the Re-Hab. center, said, while every one is diffrent, some people get stronger, some put on more size, within a couple, to a few years, “it is, what it is”. I was told, I am far better off keeping in good shape year round, than to keep trying to pack it on, and taking off the fat. My point being, you are better off staying lean, with in 5 pounds of where you want to be, because if you “bulk up”, all it is going to be, is fat. I have been there, and done that. TIME WASTE!!!!!

swimfan March 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm

hey rusty!

my goal last summer was to get really ripped, although i have been always pretty lean all my life. also i was training for a half marathon race and i thought it would be good to get as lean as possible since eating right = less weight = better performance.

overall i think i was unsuccessful in gaining much muscle while getting lean since i didnt eat enough protein (my diet was basically fueled by carbs, although it was all healthy) and i was not resting enough…i developed one of those weird stick-like endurance-runner-type bodies and wasnt too pleased about it. i think i ended up going from 10% to 8% BF maybe and i usually hover around 10% all the time no matter what i do!

in conclusion, i dont think tons and tons of cardio is too beneficial for gaining muscle/losing fat.

gus March 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm

wow, just learned a ton by checking out Martin Berkhan`S site lean gains. that guy is ripped! love how intermittent fasting is such a big deal right now.
this is really the way to go!!!. getting lean has never been easier, i guess the problem is solved.LOL.

Zlatan March 7, 2010 at 1:00 am

@ Rusty
I forgot to mention that i have lost probably an inch or more of belly fat since the middle of january. I also try to fast 1-2 times a week.

@ Rippersid
I have gotten really good belly fat loss using HIIT with steady state cardio for 20-30 min a couple of times a week, and i fast 1-2 times a week.

Great job on cutting that weight. Since finding this site (a couple of years ago) I have also gotten into really defined shape, but managed to listen to the wrong personal trainers and take a step back, but I’m definetly getting back in shape with Rusty’s posts.


dr.jones.rn March 7, 2010 at 2:28 am

Hi Rusty, I really like your blog, I read it often for inspiration, thank you. I just wanted to comment on the “8 pounds in 1 workout” portion of this article. It seems impossible for your body to synthesize 8 pounds of muscle in 1 hour. I believe his weight changed but it was due to the gallon of water that he drank while exercising, not lean musle mass as the article/video suggest. 1 gallon of water = 8.35 pounds.

joe March 7, 2010 at 9:00 am

Hi Rusty…
I believe that gaining lean mass and losing fat tis something that doesn’t happen day to day but more like week to week.
I do resistance training 3-4 days a week, and tha last few months I have been eating and training to put on some lean mass. it has worked. I have put on approx. 3lbs of lean mass. I have also gained some fat, but only around 4lbs. Which I think is minimal. This is weight I know I can lose in around 3 weeks.
I just think that some people worry too much about a few pounds here and a few pounds there. Whats the rush??
Just do what works for you…I have tried other ways but at the end we are all different just like our fingerprints so one must experiment and find a winning combination for themselves.
Next week I will be starting my leaning down diet but still continue resistance training. In around 6 weeks I will be down to around 6-7 % body fat..I feel pretty proud to be at these kind of numbers since I am 43 and I see most of the people at this age group pretty much in bad shape with big guts.That is not the way I want to go..

ted March 7, 2010 at 9:50 am

Hey Rusty great post…….but whats the best exercise to square up the bottom of my pecs( they have the rounded look at the bottom) thanks

keith March 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Hi rusty,
Awesome post, just out of curiosity, what is your AI index?

Ryan March 7, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I’ve been inching up to a weight I don’t like for awhile, and I don’t like the strength level I’m at, so I’ve been doing a lot of training and working out (well, a lot as compared to the sedentary video game player I was) and a lo carb diet has really worked to help me cut out non-essential sugars from my diet – no more fast food, candy, chips, etc. and I think the higher protein intake has helped me bulk up where I like it – no more flabby arms or chest – while helping me lose weight off my stomach and thighs. One caveat: make sure you’re getting some sugar in the form of fruit and some wheat bread or something

LALA March 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm


Sue March 8, 2010 at 12:43 am

Rusty, I have a question about EPOC.
This programme in Australia recommends that you wait one hour after your intervals to do cardio.
I have read elsewhere that sitting still for about 5 mins after intervals will suffice and then you can do your steady state cardio to burn the free fatty acids.
Is a break after intervals and prior to cardio really necessary?

Patrick March 8, 2010 at 1:29 am

Hi there Rusty,
A friend directed me to your blog a few days ago, and I’ve got to say that it’s really opened my eyes about quite a few things. I’m just starting out with improving my fitness level, and I’m overwhelmed. The philosophy you share here, though, seems perfectly in line with my goals.

I’ve pretty much always been a skinny guy (like a few of the folks above me in the comments), but a few years ago I took a desk job which, combined with my less than stellar diet, turned me from a very-lean 145lbs to a rather paunchy 172 or so. Note that I’m 6’1″, so I was *really* skinny. Everyone told me I looked better with the extra weight, but I knew that none of it was muscle, and therefore, was unhealthy. A few months ago I got fed up with it, picked up a set of adjustable dumbbells (with which I’ve been doing some very basic curls, dumbbell presses, and the like), and started watching my intake. I’m now down to 155, and ready to hit the gym to start with the process of adding some muscle to my frame.

Here’s my thinking/goals:
I know that *do not* want to go down the “bodybuilding” route. I want an athletic body that I can actually do things with, have cardiovascular endurance, and stay flexible and quick. High strength-to-weight ratio. I especially want to avoid massive-leg syndrome.

I want to keep leaning up. Like I said, I’m 155 right now (with a 27.5″ waist) but I’ve still got a 2″ thick rolls of fat I can grab onto over my abs and quads. That’s gotta go.

I’m more interested in strength over bulk (i.e., myofibrillar hypertrophy over sarcoplasmic hypertrophy), but I do want to fill out in size along with gaining strength.

I want to look good. Those two guys in your Vacation Body Blueprint report (which I’ve read) are *perfect*, IMHO.

Given those things, and the fact that I’m a raw beginner, I’m unsure exactly how to structure my weight routine. I think that someone my height will probably look really good at a lean 180lbs or so. Thing is, every routine I can find is either geared towards “the pump”, with the ultimate goal of getting “big” or towards refining existing muscle mass. I have a small frame with a naturally slim figure; I want to emphasize that, but I don’t really have anything to refine right now. I’ve got the diet thing down (I’ve lost almost 20lbs of fat in around 12 weeks with no real psychological effort), I just need to figure out a solid weight training plan that will set me on the right path.

I understand that low reps and high weight is good for myofibrillar hypertrophy, but I want *some* size, given how little mass I have right now. I know you suggest 2-3 exercises per body part, but I’ve got no clue which ones, out of the massive array of possible exercises, add up to a well rounded routine.

What would you recommend, routine wise, given these goals?’

Many, many thanks, and keep up the solid writing!

Luke M-Davies March 8, 2010 at 4:22 am

This is always a hugely debated topic in the fitness world. Thanks for revisiting and providing some strong evidence here Rusty.
I do believe that muscle gain and fat loss can be achieved, more or less simultaneously but individual factors of course play a part in this.

Personally, in my college bodybuilding days, I went for the bulk and cut (as all the glossy mags and websites would tell you to). I found that much of the gain was hard to sustain when cutting, probably because most of it was caused by creatine drawing water into my muscle cells!

I am currently in the middle of an 18 hour fast, and I prefer to cycle through high calorie/low calorie days, tailored to my training needs. As I am currently in marathon training, the extra endurance activities do require me to up my calories on days when I cover more distance. I am leaning out due to all the running but in an effort to retain muscle, I am squeezing in a weekly/bi-weekly resistance session at the gym. It is an interesting experiment, and really puts Brad’s teachings to the test. I know some ‘size’ will be lost but I think I’m succeeding in retaining some of that hard earned muscle although fasting and running a lot, just by using it.

Mark March 8, 2010 at 6:08 am

@ Zlatan

Thanks! it appears we have used similiar methods as well; fasting 1-2 times a week with the hiit/steady state combo. I usually do this during the morning before in a fasted state.

Good move ditching the personal trainers. I often have to hold back my laughter from some of the advice i hear being given in the gym!

biggahboy March 8, 2010 at 9:34 am

I always thought you had to lose fat first, then build muscle second. I started on phase 2 of Visual Impact for 4weeks, so far I’ve gone from 177-175lbs, I’m concentrating on gaining muscle on my back triceps & biceps. I don’t know how much muscle I’ve gained but my back has a V-shape forming nicely & my biceps are poppin out pretty nice.

I’ve been lifting pretty heavy lately so I’m becoming more dense & I’m probably gonna add another workout to pack my chest with some muscle. But so far eating less for fat loss and lifting heavy for muscle gain is working fine for me

IPBrian March 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I am currently doing a bulk and have gained about 20lbs in the past 6 months. Unfortunately, half has been fat and I have gone from 6% body fat to around 12%. While this is better than most, it isn’t lean for me and I am starting to dig all the articles I read around the interwebs about staying lean year round.

Ian Kelley March 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Nice article. You can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I didn’t used to think so. I like the intermittent fasting approach and the warrior diet. After doing 10 natural bodybuilding competitions and trying “bulk and lean”, carb loading and every natural supplement you can think of, I have recently changed my beliefs drastically on this subject. The key is careful calorie restriction, while still eating normal, healthy foods. Contrary to the widely believed myth, it is surplus calories that makes you “big and bulky” not Hypertrophy Strength Training. If you want to gain muscle and lose fat you just have to strength train and remember the Law of Thermodynamics. To lose body fat your calorie expenditure must be (slightly) greater than your calorie intake. If you can do this very precisely and your fitness regimen is vigorous and includes adequate strength training you will succeed. As a personal trainer, I have found that most people who fail to succeed, just don’t want to accept the Law of Thermodynamics. Sadly, I can think of many members at my health club who train hard 4 or 5 days a week and I have watched them gain more and more body fat over the years. In the end calorie restriction is the only thing that works. The problem is that refined carbohydrates and processed foods are very addictive so many people fail with calorie restriction diets like Weight Watchers which go against our natural instinct to overeat. This is why I like healthy, natural food diets like The Paleo Diet and Warrior Diet that suggest reducing and avoiding man made foods. It’s much harder to overeat when you avoid processed, refined foods that are concentrated in calories.

Rafael March 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

hello rusty and all

what is the difference between the diets listed and paleo / warrior / primal

biggahboy March 9, 2010 at 1:30 am

@ IPBrian, I’ve never really understood this bulking phase. Are u bulking up on fat or muscle. Cause I’m thinking if you are packing muscle, the best way is to dome some heavy lifting & 6% body fat is pretty lean dude!

Niklas March 9, 2010 at 3:12 am

Hi Rusty
I’ve read all your post and I pretty absorbed all the basics: no direct legs workout, low-intensity cardio after high-intensity to burn the fat that has been metabolized, at least 4 hours of exercise every week, go for muscle tone rather than momentary pump, walking is a great exercise.

Now I wonder if you could help me to figure out how to put your information to a good use. I can only train at home, I can’t fix a pullups bar in the door, I have 30 pounds of dumbbells and can’t afford more plates at the moment, I have an elastic band.

I’m 14-15% bf with just some muscle. Since I don’t want to become big I’d like to gain just few pounds of muscles and lose at least to 10% bf to see my abs.

What workout, exercises would you suggest in my situation? What muscles should I hit hard and what should I avoid? (i.e. I know shrugs are bad) Where weights are absolutely necessary to reach my goal and where bodyweight would work as well?


Mark March 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

Hi Rusty,

here is an article which shows how cardio helps the brain…

I have a question for you or anyone else in this forum.

When I am doing ESE which I am doing Mon/Wed/Fri… should I do HIIT plus steady state cardio on these days or should I only do HIIT or only do the HIIT plus steady state cardio on the non-fasting days?

I am wanting to lose fast but keep muscle that I have. I have been known at times to lose muscle and be somewhat “skinny-fat’ but am trying to lose the most fat and keep the muscle.

Devecque March 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hello again, Rusty! It’s amazing, your site has to be the most useful on the net.

Quick question: I started doing supersets (chest x back and shoulder x biceps x triceps). Example: I do a set of 5 reps of barbell incline chest and immediatly after I hit 5 reps of chin-ups. I do 3 sets fo this, and head on to other exercises of chest and back ( dips x lats, incline flies x seated rows). Always 3 sets of 5 reps.

I can really feel the muscle tension and I’m sweating a lot. You think this is good for muscle tone and fat burning?

Thanks in advance. Keep up the goord work =)

Rez March 9, 2010 at 10:31 am

Just started the leangains 16/8 protocol. I will see how it works because the Warrior Diet only helped me drop fat to a certain point. With ESE, I have a problem making 24 hours with nothing but water.

Lazarus March 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I have NEVER tried the bulk and cut approach. It never made sense to me. Especially since, up till a few years ago, I was somewhat overweight.

The diets I’ve tried have been more of a lifestyle change type of diets, which is why I found the eat-stop-eat approach really fascinating (and it was first brought to my attention via this blog, so thanks!).

Baz March 9, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I’m not so much worried about gaining muscle and losing fat at the sam time because trying to do 2 things at once is just very taxing on the mind and progress is very slow resulting in you to give up. I’m more into get lean first then as you get
bigger prevent fat gain rather than try to lose fat.

mike March 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Great article! I found my motivator…it’s my wedding! I have one year to get into the best shape of my life! I’m gonna do it for the one I love! I like to use P28 Bread as a post-workout snack. It’s a high protein bread that builds lean muscle while burning fat. I can’t wait to use some of these suggestions in my workout routine!

Niklas March 12, 2010 at 8:14 am

Guys can you help?
I’m still not sure how many calories I should have to gain muscles while losing fat or at least not gaining fat. And I get very different numbers from calories calculator. I’m afraid of eating too many calories and not losing any and getting too fat but I’m also afraid of getting too little calories and starving my metabolism and losing muscles. Can you help me to figure this out?

Rez March 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

What is your height/weight? How much exercise do you put in per week? Sometimes you have to trust the calculator you are using, and make adjustments based upon results.

To keep muscle, train with weights, and make sure to hit all the major muscles each week. Keep the protein high. Aim to eat less starchy carbs if you also want fat loss.

Dani March 12, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Love all your advice! I’m really trying to go for a slim toned look, and i have pretty good shape, but my thighs are kinda bulky.. what can I do to eliminate bulk? should I cut out all my resistance training?

JC March 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

@Dani: No, you shouldn’t cut out resistance training. perhaps just train your thighs less frequently

Jeremy March 13, 2010 at 11:40 pm

If you want gain muscle and lose fate the most fast and efficient way is CrossFit. These guys have me doing things I thought I would ever be able to do and it’s all quantifiable. The results are instant, you feel and see results within 3 weeks. Not to mention the comrodery and community that comes with it.

I just tagged along to the Washington state sectionals (crossFit games) here is a glimpse…

Niklas March 14, 2010 at 3:15 am

I’m 5.7 and 147 (14% body fat)
I’d like to exercise 4 hours a week as Rusty suggested but right now I’m doing P90X and hence exercising almost 6 hours a week.

raj March 15, 2010 at 7:08 am

i have already put weight and its not going…..wht to do…..give some eating and excercising tips…….ur right getting weight and losing it a really hard work…i used to hve such a good lean figure but right know i am bulky…i wanna get rid of it…help me out

tombrokaw March 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I think i’ve actually succeeded in doing just this the past two months.

Viriatus March 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Hi Rusty,
What a great site. I have learnt more here than all other sites combined. I have noticed many members here have been quoting their bf %. Im wondering how they were able to know this, as i would be interested in knowing mine.

Viriatus March 20, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Hi Rusty,
I am 75kg and 5’11”. I just got back into weight training after 8 mths off with a shoulder injury from rockclimbing.
My shoulders have shrunk in size as expected and in width during the recouperation. I have always been somewhat narrow across the shoulders. After reading the great article on “how to develop a square and even chest” in which i learnt so many tips that i had never read in other sites, like avoiding flat bench till the upper chest developed, i was wondering if you could post a similar article with tips and secrets on how to best workout to develop broad shoulders.
At present i do supersets of side lateral raises with bent over lateral raises and supersets of dumbell presses with upright rows. I stopped doing shrugs as it would make my shoulders look even narrower.
Would love others input!

Phoenix March 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I started off trying to gain muscle while staying lean. I grew stronger, but I plateaued quickly. I felt exhausted after every single workout, and psychologically, I felt like gaining mass was nearly impossible.

After trying that for a few years, I totally removed all diet restrictions while lifting except for my protein requirement, and now I’m seeing strength gains with very little effort. I blew past my old plateau without even breaking a sweat.

Even though I’ve gained a little fat, I still look better due to all the muscle underneath. I figure I can drop it all in a month.

So maybe gaining strength without overeating works for some; I still think it’s not worth the effort. It’s much easier to overeat then trim the extra fat later on – psychologically and physically.

Jackson March 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Thank you! I love this article, I agree it…it does not make since to put on fat to gain muscle.

Bobby April 6, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hi Rusty

Great e books. This week ive started to wake up, have a cup of tea in the morning and hit the gym followed with HIIT everytime. I want to put on mass and get toned, could you recommend a diet for the rest of the day, e.g. how many protein shakes or meals??

Also I got the eat stop Eat book, just wondering if you think i should fast once a week, even if i want to put on the size aswell?

Jan Michael April 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Hi Rusty

Martin Berkhan is a freak show ! Man he’s like so ripped with the right amount of dense muscle. Saw his picture and i was like WOW I wanna have a body dense and strong like that someday ! How does he workout ? 5x5s just like what Pavel taught ?

Thanks ! More power Rusty !

Jesse Jackson April 23, 2010 at 11:13 pm

The reason why I purchased the Dr Max Power Anabolic Stack was because I was too lazy to motivate myself to go back to the gym. I thought to myself, if I spend $60, I can’t waste it by not going.

Anyways, I was on the stack for a full 15 days. I was able to do much more in the gym such as 5 set exercises instead of the normal 3 set exercises. I was able to lift much more too. There was also a shift in weight going from 155 to 162 over the 15 day period.

im on my third cycle fof the stack now over the last 6 months. recommended.

Paul Nicolson April 26, 2010 at 3:11 am

I have trained for over 20 years and find the myths quite a laugh.

Ditch the cardio stuff and get straight into the weights.

Use weights as your warm up, small weight with lots of reps.
Then go into some bigger weights with fewer reps.

Building muscle will shed the fat and burn up more calories than cardio alone.

Check out for some good guides to getting fit the cheap way.

Anthony May 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Hey what about the “G-Flux” concept that Dr. John Berardi is teaching over at and T-Nation?

Basically he says someone who is sedentary and taking in 2000 calories daily (and burning 2000 calories daily) will have less muscle and more body fat than someone who is exercising 5-7 hours per week and has an energy intake of 3000 calories daily (and also burning 3000 calories daily).

Both have a neutral energy intake/outflow, but one has more muscle and less bodyfat!

Jose Lopez August 8, 2010 at 8:59 am

I think gaining lean mass while loosing fat is a total BS, to loose fat you need to eat less calories than you burn, to gain lean mass you need to eat more calories than your maintenance level. please correct me if I wrong, Iam also interested in your new program. one more question what do yuo think about the Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle program?

Thank you.

Paul Nicolson August 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I agree using weights, is a great way to burn fat. The cost of kitting your self out with some good commercial fitness and gym equipment can be achieved with very little outlay.

I have used for several purchases and they offer olympic weights and dumbells at knock down prices.

Get off the rowing machines and cross trainers and get straight into pumping iron, shed the pounds and loose the weight.

Steven August 24, 2010 at 10:36 pm

There’s a very simple concept I normally consider when trying to get rid of fat: I must burn much more calories then I consume in order to lose fat. That is why I am sure that there is no good diet without physical exercises.

Tony - Rochester Exercise Equipment November 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Great post. I appreciate you clearing the air about this common misconception. It’s always bothered me that people think they need to eat more in order to gain muscle. It seems ironic since this usually just leads to more fat, which is obviously the opposite result! I would urge anyone interested in bulking up to visit the gym and consult a personal trainer – they will help you come up with an excercise routine that is right for you.

Gary - Simple Exercises November 18, 2010 at 7:49 am

Going on a starvation type diet and trying to improve muscle mass will surely fail; the muscle will be metabolised as the body seeks more energy. Losing a small amount of fat and adding muscle at the same time should be no problem.

Ajit-keep fit at home November 23, 2010 at 6:56 am

nice article! this article probably help all those who are not able to get results! I am sure that this strategy is going to clear misconceptions. perfect combination of weight loss and muscle-building routines.

Twilight Zone Episode Guide December 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Build muscle and lose fat simultaneously – breaks no biological laws!

Suresh January 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Interesting article. I think losing a small amount of fat while adding a bit of muscle is possible especially when someone is quite far from his/her genetic potential. It get tougher the closer we get to our genetic potential.

Cecil Kelly August 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm

It makes sense not to combine both goals because your body will either lose weight, gain muscle, or will retain its current condition. Setting your goal means you’ll do muscle building for a week and when that period is over, you switch over to cardio workout also for a week. Focusing on one goal at a time ensure you are getting its full benefit by doing workouts accordingly.

Denise December 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

I have a question! I’m on a diet that is basically high protein, low carb, and relatively low fat. I want to lose a lot of weight–in the neighborhood of about 75 pounds (I need to lose about 50 to not be overweight). I have a bodyfat scale that shows that I have about 51 pounds of muscle. I noticed that I lost about 6 pounds of muscle from last week, despite doing everything suggested to prevent such loss. I know those scales aren’t the most accurate, but assuming they’re somewhere in the ballpark, I’m wondering if I simply have much more muscle than I need and therefore losing some is going to be inevitable.

How many pounds of muscle do fit women generally have? Thanks!

Power Pump XL June 8, 2013 at 7:36 am

And that’s the only reason we’re in the gym, right. Just make sure that
whatever routine you decide on that you do it on a regular basis so you can achieve
the best results. Having a six-pack or eight-pack abdomen
is a dream for thousands of people, which is further fortified by the screen
shots of their favorite actors who have the perfect physique
with muscular arms and chest.

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