Training for muscle growth while losing body fat at the same time

By October 5, 2010 12 Comments

This is a highly controversial topic which seems to pop-up on the radar more often than man-boobs show up at the beach.

Is it possible for muscle growth while losing body fat at the same time?

Some would argue it isn’t, but au contraire mon frere, it IS possible. It just requires very precise training, rest and nutrient timing.

Not only is it possible (based on my own experience), but written authors such as Tom Venuto have been preaching this very concept for a while now with books such as Burn The Fat.

Freaky muscle

Don’t worry, you won’t end up looking like this guy

Are we talking freaky-big, mass-monster gains?

No. I’m not talking about humungous ball-shrinking, steroid taking kinda muscle gain. Just average joe with ‘Hollywood body inclination’ kinda muscle gain.

Here I’ll show you the type of training and diet I’m currently implementing which has given me an increase in muscle size and density whilst gradually etched away my winter mid-section.

The 5 key factors

Without a doubt, you need to concentrate on several areas in order to achieve this feat.

If you can’t grasp of all of these things concurrently, you’re probably better off attacking either fat loss or muscle gain independantly.


First of all, you need to shift the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to around the time that you train. Have a small protein-based meal with some added carbs and fats (such as coconut oil or flax) an hour out from training, then follow that up immediately after your workout with a high protein meal mixed with some insulin-spiking carbs (read: sugar, honey or anything else which ants are generally attracted to).

Limit your carb intake at other times if you can, and avoid eating 2 hours before bed time for maximum GH release whilst you sleep.

Note: Don’t limit your carbs too much. This isn’t a low-carb nutrition plan by any means. You need them for muscle growth, energy in the gym and to give your muscles a ‘fuller’ appearance.

Intermittent fasting

At the moment, I’m using Eat-Stop-Eat 1 day a week on the day I don’t train. This cuts into my weekly caloric intake significantly, and uses my body fat for fuel.

I’m cautious of muscle-sparing during this kind of regimen, so I’ve been actively trying to avoid fasting any more than this.

Note: Again, you don’t HAVE to implement this diet strategy, but it can be a very effective fat-loss weapon to have in your arsenal.


To add muscle size and reduce fat, you NEED to up the intensity when you train. This means, shorten your rest periods to a maximum of 60 seconds between sets (optimally keep them to 45 seconds).

Why you ask? This will keep your heart-rate up allowing you to burn fat whilst you hammer your muscles into oblivion.

I’m currently using Visual Impact as my training bible and am finding it a kick-ass weapon with these 2 goals in mind.

Note: For more on Visual Impact, I’ve written a review on it here. No you don’t HAVE to use it to achieve similar results—I’ve just found it one of the better ones out there.

How often should you train?

Make no mistake, this style of training is INTENSE and requires a medium to advanced level of experience. In terms of the number of days you should be training, I’d say no less than 3 days, and then use your own common sense from there. If you decide to train twice a day, 6 days a week, this is fine. It’s not fine if you’re body becomes overtrained and says to you:

“Hey douchebag, I’m jack of the twice a day training. You aren’t on the juice, and you’re not wearing jeans and flip-flops to the gym today. Prepare for an injury and a 6 month gym hiatus.”

Note: I’m currently doing 4 days a week and have been doing so for a year now. It’s my ‘sweet-spot’ for maximum results, with minimal time spent in the gym.


Keep the water levels high, but don’t go overboard. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, don’t drink to excess especially around meal times. Water intake at meal times, will interfere with your stomach acids hindering food break-down and nutrient absorption.

Ultimately this means, you’re throwing a spanner into the mass-building machine and throwing your muscle-building potential right out the window.

You need to be getting 7 hours of sleep a night to give yourself the best chance of gaining muscle whilst losing fat

You need to be getting 7 hours of sleep a night to give yourself the best chance of gaining muscle whilst losing fat


Sleep for at least 7 hours a night with an optimum time of 8. Not enough sleep is catabolic to your hard-earned muscle (especially during such an intense regimen).

Also remember, you don’t grow in the gym, so limit your stay to a maximum of 1 hour.

How am I personally attacking it?

I’m using what i’ve outlined above, but here’s a summary and some extra goodies in case you’ve skipped to the end ;)

I’m currently…

  • Using Eat-Stop-Eat once a week to fast intermittently
  • Limiting my carbs
  • Eating a teaspoon of coconut oil with my protein shakes each day (2 shakes a day, one before training and one after)
  • Taking 8 fish oil caps a day
  • Taking Vitamin C, Garlic and Zinc supplements once a day.
  • Not eating 2 hours before bed
  • Drinking a couple of litres of water a day
  • Sleeping 7+ hours a night
  • Training 4 days a week
  • Using Visual Impact as my program guide (almost at the end of Phase II).

What if you don’t want to use Visual Impact?

Hey, you can use whatever training program you like, it just happens to be the one that I’m currently using and am achieving significant results with. You can use many other programs out there, even your own. Just keep the intensity high, the rest periods short and be diligent with your diet.

Further reading about training for muscle growth while losing body fat

Rusty over at also wrote a great article on this very topic.

Check it out here

Editor’s Note: What’s your experience with training for muscle growth whilst losing body fat at the same time? Comment below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

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