Can You Gain Muscle And Lose Fat At The Same Time?
The age-old question, can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?
However, there are some exceptions to the rule, and typically the only time achieving substantial muscle gain while simultaneously burning fat would be a possibility is in one of the following scenarios.
1. You Are A Complete Newbie To Lifting In General
The more your physique progresses, the harder and harder it becomes to gain muscle.
Essentially, the closer you get to your genetic limit (or past it) your body fights back via various mechanisms and pathways (such as Myostatin) to prevent you from gaining too much muscle tissue.
When you are a complete newbie to lifting though, your body will likely experience a phenomenon known as “newbie gains.”
Newbie gains occur due to a brand new stimulus being introduced to your muscles, and your body responding very strongly to it due to it essentially shocking your body.
I’m sure all of you who have lifted for several years noticed how quickly you made gains during you first year of lifting (consistently), and how over the years those gains have tapered off and maybe even completely plateaued.
This is what happens once your body has adapted to a stimulus (resistance training), and is also the exact same reason why when you first shock your central nervous system and muscles with resistance training your body responds so favourably and so quickly to it.
During this phase of transitioning from zero resistance training, to consistently hitting the gym each week, your body can undergo a very substantial recomposition phase where you gain a significant amount of muscle tissue and strength so quickly that your body fat percentage actually decreases as the amount of muscle you have gained relative to the amount of fat sitting on your frame is now considerably greater than it was prior to your newbie gains.
Through this process, one can successfully gain muscle and lose fat at the same time for the duration of their newbie gains, after which achieving both of these goals simultaneously will prove to be much more difficult, if not completely impossible.
2. You’ve Never Ate A Proper Muscle Building Diet
This is like another form of newbie gains, except it comes from a different pathway of growth.
Resistance training is what breaks down the muscle, and forces your body to adapt by recuperating your muscles into bigger and stronger ones to adapt to this stimulus.
However, the food/nutrients you eat are what is actually responsible for putting your body in an anabolic environment where you can effectively recover from your training.
If your diet is subpar, then you will not make optimal gains, period.
This is where most individuals fail.
You probably see tons of guys at your gym year in and year out, and wonder to yourself why does this guy look the exact same even though he’s there 5 days a week, and seems to lift pretty hard.
The reason usually boils down to a poor diet limiting his recovery ability, consequently keeping him stuck at his current level of musculature.
Once you start eating enough protein to properly recover (1.5-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is ideal in my opinion), eliminating simple sugars except when necessary (post-workout), eating the amount of calories you need to grow and nothing more, etc. it isn’t uncommon to notice a stark increase in your recovery rate, muscle growth, strength progression, and overall improvement in body composition.
Nailing your diet is another way you can maximize your chances of being able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
3. It’s Your First Steroid/SARM Cycle
You’ve probably realized by now that the trend of putting your body in a conducive environment to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time is dependent upon a stimulus being brand new to your body, and the same applies when it comes to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s).
When you first introduce a surpaphyisological amount of muscle building hormones to your body, it is expected that you are going to put on more muscle than you likely will in any future cycle (assuming your diet and training are in check during the first one).
Your body reacts to these hormones the most favourably when they are brand new in your system and your body hasn’t adapted to them whatsoever, and this is yet another scenario where you can successfully gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
4. You Have Taken Time Off From The Gym, Or Time Off From Muscle Building Drugs
This scenario is similar to the previous ones, and is a scenario many individuals find themselves in at one point or another.
If you have already built a substantial amount of muscle tissue, especially if that amount is past your genetic limit, you will find that you shrink back down relatively quickly once you start taking large amounts of time off from the gym, the drugs, the diet, or all of the above.
However, there is a thing called “muscle memory” which I do strongly believe in, where once you put your body back in a muscle building environment conducive to growth, that you can catch back up and recover those past gains with relative ease.
In this scenario, it isn’t uncommon to see guys grow significantly, and lose fat at the same time.
One individual who was most famous for this was Kevin Levrone, who was well known for growing into his shows.
He would spend the majority of his year off of PED’s, and not training hard, but when he jumped back on cycle and stepped on the gas with his training and diet, he would transform in a matter of months and gain back all of his muscle tissue, as well as lose a significant amount of fat at the same time.
This ability to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time was possible not only because of his insane genetics, but because of the cyclical structure his bodybuilding career would have where he would let himself shrink down for a large portion of the year, and then gain it all back in an accelerated period of time.
5. You’re A Genetic Anomaly
Even if none of the other scenarios are applicable, there are rare cases where some individuals are just so genetically gifted that they can just look at a pair of dumbbells and start growing (obviously not literally, but it seems that way).
Guys like Phil Heath, Kevin Levrone, and other Mr. Olympia competitors are among the genetically elite when it comes to this, and just have an unexplainable propensity to pack on inhuman amounts of muscle tissue with minimal fat gain (and particular situations even lose it).
This is the least likely scenario for someone to fall into though.
How can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?
In short, this process is unfortunately unachievable for the vast majority of us.
Most individuals will likely end up spinning their wheels trying to accomplish both tasks simultaneously, and it is wise to really ask yourself if attempting a recomposition phase is something that would benefit you the most for your long-term goals.
This is one of the most important things you must do.
Building muscle, and then stripping fat off, and then building muscle, and then stripping fat off, over and over is a very long-term commitment, and results will seem slow to those who are impatient.
Even on cycle everyone wants to gain 15-20+ pounds of muscle, but it just doesn’t work like that for most people.
Building a great physique is a slow process that takes at least a few years (unless you are a genetic freak), and patience must be taken during this building process.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your ideal physique.