T Nation

Lose Fat and Build Muscle Simultaneously?


If you're like 15%-20%, while cutting (in my case), if the calories aren't way too low (circa 500 kcal deficit), is it possible to do so? I've never in my life built serious muscle mass, I would call myself skinny fat.

I workout twice a week doing fullbody workouts and 3 times a week I do cardio lasting 1-2 hours (that's around 600-1200 calories burnt) but eventually at the end of the day (literally) I'll be in around 500 kcal deficit (by means of my diet - high carb high protein low fat)


A a newb its possible but highly unlikely on a cut, ie forget about cutting calories and just make super clean food choices…


If, as sounds like the case, all that cardio isn’t doing anything for your further fat loss or body composition, then more of the same will give more of the same.

I’d cut it drastically and add in high intensity interval training.

Whether you can gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously will, as RB said, depend on where you are now.

You could aim for maintenance calories and it could well be that putting in HIIT and cutting the aerobics way down will result in some simultaneous improvement.


Its happened to me, but I do precisely no cardio and lift mostly in the 1-5 rep range on the main lifts, going as high as 8 on some assistance work (I do walk for about two and half hours a day at work though, so that adds up considering I do that seven days a fortnight) and intermittent fast one to two days a week (12 hour fasts).

Dunno if I’m a newb though - been training at least three days (mostly four to five) a week since mid 2009, powerlifting since mid 2014.


I think it’s possible. When I was weaker and had a lot more room for improvement, I believe the strength gain was associated to muscle gain while losing weight because I was able to handle the same workload that I normally do even while gaining (maybe I wasn’t doing enough). It was no problem for my recovery. I did a bit of cardio to expend more calories to allow me to eat more while still being at around a 300-500 calorie deficit.

Now that I’m a bit stronger I feel like the strength gain is mainly because of increased lifting efficiency since I tend to lift with higher intensity and reduce caloric expenditure through cardio/conditioning as much as possible while losing weight. I have less room for recovery which makes me think my body is less likely to build muscle during that time.

With that said, I believe the amount of muscle gained while losing weight and not being very strong was minimal. IMO, having two separate training cycles focusing on fat loss while retaining strength for one and then focusing on muscle gain while increasing strength for the other has been a better approach. A comparison would be like me increasing strength by doing a lot of work, which can help increase my cardiovascular fitness as an added benefit. But is it really that important for me to measure and increase my cardiovascular fitness through indirect training? If it’s not the primary goal, then it’s fine to make progress in it but don’t let the less important goals detract you from the primary one.