T Nation

Days For Fat Loss vs Muscle Building

Okay, I run in cycles on how I think about this, convincing myself it’s better to work more on fat loss for a few weeks to get rid of what I have faster and then turning around and convincing myself muscle building is a better route–though the slower route–for a few weeks, so I wanted to get some opinions so I could gain some focus.

First, I’ll give my stats. I’m 28, almost 6’4", and I’ve been hovering around 270 for a couple years now with too much of it being lard. I can honestly say I’ve got a decent amount of muscle under it all as I’ve managed to stay fairly consistent about training for the last several years, and I had a good base to work from due to years of highschool athletics and plenty of farm/hard labor, but of course, I’ve had my periods of inactivity in there and I’m at a desk job now.

Anyway, I’m working on consistency and have been getting better. On diet, I’m nailing that down as well. My main goal at the moment is to lose the lard. I know that diet is a key element, but outside of that, what I’d like to get some opinions on is if it’d be better for me to focus on doing fat loss routines more than muscle building routines, or the reverse.

Lately, I’ve been doing a routine consisting of weight training mon-wed-fri, going heavy as possible with sets of 10x3 on deads, bench, squat, pull-ups, rows, and OH presses, with a few assistance exercises mixed in, and then doing either a HOC style cardio workout or running sprints on Tues-Thurs. I just started the running and have been trying to ease into it, but I’ve used HOC for a while as my cardio and I think it works wonders, but I also wonder if it might be too much sometimes. For my high octane cardio (HOC)routine, I’ll do 1 min jump rope, 20 2-hand DB swings w/60-80 pounds, rope again, 10 (each side) 20-pound medicine ball woodchoppers, rope again, 10 DB thrusters w/ 50 pounds, rope again, 10 vertical jumps (knees high) w/ 20 pound med-ball at chest, rope again, one-hand barbell snatch @ 65 pounds, then repeat all for another round with a 2-3 min jump rope ender, and it usually takes about 35 mins and leaves me wiped. But it’s a good way to start the day.

Now, I’ve been wondering if maybe I should be trading off HOC and sprintwork mon-wed-fri and training a full coverage heavy weight routine on tues-thurs because I really want to burn the fat off. My goal is to be lean and athletic more like a track athlete or light heavyweight fighter. Right now I’m looking more like an off-season football player. So, would that be the better route to follow for the next few months or until I reach my goal, or should I stay with the routine I’ve been following that I mentioned above. Or should I trade them out week to week, focusing on the cardio one week, the weights the next? Is there even any difference?

I question this because I’ll look at fighters and track athletes and though they strength train, they spend more time (and alot of it) on their sport specific practice which would seem to fall under the cardio or energy systems work category, be it wrestling, boxing and kickingboxing, or running and jumping.

I’ve also thought of trying to get into the workouts from Crossfit, but I’m not sure how well I’d be able to do all the pullups and running because of my extra weight. My pull-ups are crap right now and I have to assist myself. I can only manage 2-3 solid ones. And I don’t have a way to do dips aside from off the seats of two kitchen chairs with my feet out in front of me. (I exercise at home.)

Anyway, hopefully that made sense, I know that diet is a big part of this and I’m definitely working on that and have been, but it’s the other side of the equation that I’m interested in opinions on right now. Thanks!


Since your main goal is fat loss and given the options you listed, I would do 3 days cardio/energy system work and 2 days of weights. I would try to keep 2 days between weights; i.e. weights mon and thurs. I would do 2 high intensity cardio (intervals or HOC) sessions with one low intensity cardio session between them.

Sample week:
high intensity cardio on sunday
wieghts on mon
low intensity cardio on tues or wed.
rest day tues or wed (depends on placement of low intensity cardio)
weights on thurs
high intensity cardio on fri
rest day on saturday

Hope that helps