T Nation

Help Deciding Next Phase of My Transformation


Hi All,

OK, so I started a physical transformation in January and I'm happy to announce that I've lost 60 pounds so far. (You can read about my progress here: gloriousstruggle.blogspot.com). However, I'm not as lean as I thought I would be and can still stand to lose another 30 or 40 pounds. My original plans focused on fat loss for the first half of the year, and strength training for the second half. I'm really bummed now, as it seems like I will need to continue emphasizing fat loss for at least another 3 months.

My question is: Is it really possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? Or, would it be more beneficial to continue focusing on fat loss until my target weight is reached and then follow that up with a strength/mass phase?

If it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, what would be some recommended training routines and diets to follow?

At first, I followed a bodyweight conditioning and cardio plan which also made use of a lot of sandbag training. But I've since begun to focus solely on a low-carb, calorie-restricted, 2-a-day cardio plan as I try to "make weight" for a celebration of my fat loss efforts on July 4th in Key West. With only 2 weeks to go, I'm on an all-out sprint to the finish line.

Any advice would be really appreciated. Thanks.


If you've only got 2 weeks, forget about the building muscle part. That's more of a long(er) term goal. If gaining muscle beyond your vacation is a goal, then I would suggest moving on from your bodyweight exercises and get under (and over) some iron.

As far as building muscle while loosing weight, that topic has been discussed at length here and you will never get a consensus. I would imagine that if you are still 30-40 lbs overweight, you are in a different situation than the typical asker of that question. So, in your case, probably to a degree.

Any reason you have avoided the strength training in conjunction with your fat loss? No reason you can't be getting stronger while losing fat. Especially if you haven't been strength training prior.

Sorry, not sure what else to say. Being a member since 2006, these seem like very newb-ish questions. Have you not been following the forums at all? Most of your questions might have been answered in some fashion a few times.


First off, thanks for your reply cueball. I really appreciate it.

Actually, yes. I've had to cut back due to the economy and so "luxuries" like a gym have had to go. I've chosen to train at home, doing mostly calisthenics, plyometrics, and hill sprints and sandbag training at a local park. Additionally, I suffered a back injury in March while deadlifting at a friend's gym and so I've cut heavy weight training in order to heal.

I'm now on a mad dash to hit 230 pounds by July 4th. (You can read about my goal on my blog: gloriousstruggle.blogspot.com) I'm currently 242 and 6' 1" tall and weighed 302 pounds when I began in January.

To be honest, I rarely post on the forums. I visit mostly for the articles.

I guess the real issue I was trying to get at was if there really was a consensus on the fat loss + muscle gain dilemma. I've read of people wasting down to nothing before engaging in a mass phase. It seems like a much "easier" way of doing things as one can clearly track the effectivness of one's training and diet versus constantly guessing if changes in weight are due to fat or muscle. The only drawback is the extreme loss of muscle and strength that goes with such extreme dieting. I can attest to that as I can barely lift a pencil off the ground now in my calorie-deprived state.

I've already decided on a plan of action. I'm bored of 2-a-day cardio and extreme dieting. I long to get under a heavy bar again. I plan on following some of Chad Waterbury's advice from his article, "Routines for Building Muscle, Burning Fat" combined with Dan John's complexes and weekly squats and dls. However, I'm not sure how good this form of "metabolic" training is for building strength/mass.

Any experiences from people who've trained this way? How effective are they at building muscle? How effective are they at burning fat?


Ok, well...

I can understand the necessity to cut back extras. But do realize, that if you want to follow some of the plans you've listed or build much muscle at all, you are probably gonna need to get to a gym. Or buy enough equipment to do them at home. (and on a budget, it's always easier to go month by month than to shell out 1-2 grand all at once)

As far as the consensus for gaining muscle while loosing fat, like I said earlier, you might have a good chance at it since you are carrying a good amount of fat. BUT, not if you are keeping yourself in a caloric deficit large enough to make you fee like you can't lift a pencil. You will need to actually EAT, but eat more of a maintenance level at least. That way your body can actually have something to work with. You won't build shit with what you've got going on now.

There are probably others here who have gone on a similar journey as you are on who may be able to help you more, or at least give some insight as to how they accomplished their goals. Maybe they'll chime in.

good luck


Resistance training should be a part of any good fat loss routine. It sounds to me that you are still at "untrained" status when it comes to the weights.

Add some lifting and even in caloric deficit you will put on a decent base of strength and muscle size.


agreed. You've been a member here for how long and you're not including weight training?


X3. It is certainly possible to gain STRENGTH while losing fat, in almost every case, and if you work on this, you WILL have more muscle at the end than if you didn't, whether you add muscle or simply prevent muscle loss. Not to mention how much it will help with the actual fat loss.


Thanks everybody, for your replies. I have "bit the bullet" and joined the gym. It's the only way I will actually achieve my strength goals...bodyweight training is all fine and good, but it will only take you so far I suppose. I've managed to come up with a basic training plan (any critiques or suggestions will be much appreciated):

4x/week training:

Day 1 Squat day
Day 2 Bench day
Day 3 DL day
Day 4 Shoulders & Upper Back

Off days: energy systems work comprised mostly of barbell complexes for the metabolic effect.

1 hour's worth of steady state cardio (fast walking on a treadmill) at 65% MAX HR daily.

Rest on the Sabbath. :slightly_smiling:


I am very happy with how this thread went.

Good luck, OP.


Glad to see your first thought was to focus around the 3 big compound lifts, this is a good mentality to have.

However, you probably ahouldn't try to create your own weightlifting routine just yet, you're still new to lifting and there are many programs made by coaches and strength athletes with much more experience. Mark Rippetoe's starting strength is a good beginner program, if that isn't quite what you are looking for I'm sure you will be able to find another good program on this site which suits you.

No other big input from me, eventually you might want to replace the steady state cardio with interval training or sprints. But since you were a fairly big guy to begin with, the steady state cardio (and being active everyday in general) is probably more important for you at this point.

Great work on the progress you've made so far, that's a long way to come in a just a few months.

Best of luck,