T Nation

Lose Fat First or Build Muscle?

I started lifting because of a traumatic event that left me feeling depressed. I was in the worst rut of my life. The lower T-levels I had sent me on a downward spiral. It was hard to feel motivated to do anything. I was sedentary for a long period, and I developed a gut and some bitch tits. The rest of my body is lean and if you were to see me clothed you wouldn’t notice me being over weight.

The question I have is should I first work on losing weight, or should I focus on gaining muscle mass. I notice that when T-Nation does their physic clinic they will often times have the clients lose fat first, and then focus on increasing muscle mass.

I have learned from this site that a lot of belly fat can be from increased cortisol, and increased breast fat can be from low testosterone levels. Would I be better off trying to lift heavy to spike my T-levels, or would I be better off doing circuit training to get lean first?

There is no reason why you can’t do both at the same time. The workouts that build muscle will certainly burn calories.

Well aside from increased T levels, lifting heavy should promote fat loss also. Challenging your body with weight training after being sedentary for a long time should cause a decrease in body fat in your case as long as you keep your diet in check.

Increased Heavy Lifting= More Muscle Mass= More calories burned just because the muscle is far more metabolically active

This site is full of useful information as long as you read and utilize what some of the brilliant authors have concocted.

Get some muscle first. That’ll make it easier for you to lose weight if you feel the need to do so later on.

muscle

Waterbury’s 10/10 program allows you to both.

[quote]49ersFan81 wrote:
Waterbury’s 10/10 program allows you to both. [/quote]

LOL.

[quote]Brooklyyyn wrote:
Well aside from increased T levels, lifting heavy should promote fat loss also. Challenging your body with weight training after being sedentary for a long time should cause a decrease in body fat in your case as long as you keep your diet in check.

Increased Heavy Lifting= More Muscle Mass= More calories burned just because the muscle is far more metabolically active

This site is full of useful information as long as you read and utilize what some of the brilliant authors have concocted.[/quote]

totally agree but if your diet is not in check, your screwed. also cardio, go long, go slow…

You’ll be spinning your wheels if your diet ain’t tight.

yo man, im glad your hitting the iron hard taking life’s agressions out on them and not something bad. Just to compliment what the boys above me say, tight diet with a serious hardcore lift regimen. Go for muscle, high volume. That will help hypertrophy and strength AND size. Good luck man keep us all posted
-taint (rugby name)

Honestly I would say if you are simply unfit, your goal should be to just get fit first.

If you try to “cut”, you will look emaciated.
If you try to “bulk” you will probably gain a good deal of fat that you’ll be unhappy with because you don’t have very extensive knowledge of nutrition or training.

So my advice would be to just start picking up on the basics.

Start strength training with the basic bodybuilding exercises, start eating 6 protein meals a day, drinking plenty of water, and doing some light cardio if you want.

Get familiar with the basics and then set your goal when youre more prepared to achieve it.

Just my opinion though… obviously none of us knows what you look like or what kind of knowledge/willpower you have.

[quote]Bartl wrote:
totally agree but if your diet is not in check, your screwed. also cardio, go long, go slow…[/quote]

I don’t understand why your advice for cardio is to “go long, go slow.” I’ve always heard that that is one of the least effective ways to go in terms of losing fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. I think JB is a big advocate of this, unless i’m mistaken (he prefers interval training, i think).

I know that you’ve obviously had some exposure to CT that the rest of us haven’t, so maybe i’ve missed something. However, i do remember that in one of his books CT advocates running 400M sprints as a means of fat loss, which seems like the opposite of the “go long, go slow” approach.

I’ve never really tried to slim down (you have, i know. and nice work by the way!) so i’m by no means an expert. Maybe you (or someone) could expand on this?

When I pretended to cut i did balls to the wall cardio. At the then end of the leaning out phase I was amazed at the sight of my exposed abs but I fucking ate most of my gains. Slow and long now baby! I don’t give a shit if im there for an hour.

[quote]wek wrote:

I know that you’ve obviously had some exposure to CT that the rest of us haven’t, so maybe i’ve missed something. However, i do remember that in one of his books CT advocates running 400M sprints as a means of fat loss, which seems like the opposite of the “go long, go slow” approach.[/quote]

I certainly agree with you on the merits of running sprints, but one thing to keep in mind is that depending on how overweight someone is, sprints may not be a viable option. If you’re not in some semblance of shape, sprinting may be something you have to work up to. If one is lugging around a large belly, it’s not so easy to run, jump or even climb stairs. Your heart and joints will quickly let you know.

To the OP, it’s difficult for anyone to give you good advice without some more info: Knowing your age, height, weight, activity level, etc. would go a long way toward getting solid guidance.

Oh, and absolutely, your diet is No. 1.

[quote]mr popular wrote:
Honestly I would say if you are simply unfit, your goal should be to just get fit first.

If you try to “cut”, you will look emaciated.
If you try to “bulk” you will probably gain a good deal of fat that you’ll be unhappy with because you don’t have very extensive knowledge of nutrition or training.

So my advice would be to just start picking up on the basics.

Start strength training with the basic bodybuilding exercises, start eating 6 protein meals a day, drinking plenty of water, and doing some light cardio if you want.

Get familiar with the basics and then set your goal when youre more prepared to achieve it.

Just my opinion though… obviously none of us knows what you look like or what kind of knowledge/willpower you have.[/quote]

I agree with this.

Start a basic training program, fix your diet in order and get a feel for how your body responds. Adjust accordingly - it’s not like you’ll get fat or skinny over night. No need to overanalyze at this stage.

I think its hard to give any simple direct answer without a picture. Alot of people over estimate muscle mass (not to say you are) its just a common thing that happens. If you diet really hard with no muscle on you you are going to look flat and like a skinny guy. If you try to “bulk” as its so commonly put right away you are probably going to see alot of fat gain, as no one knows how tight your diet will be. Nutrition is literally like 91% of the puzzle.

Like someone said above me, start out by getting on a basic program with compound movements and keep improving your nutrition as you learn. Do this and you will no doubt see improvement in body composition.

The only secret to understanding all the different programs and training styles is that it all works. What you have to do is constantly be changing what you do every few months when your body adapts to your training program.

Different things work better or more efficiently for certain things, while one type of cardio might work better with this style of training for this goal, etc. Don’t concern yourself with super advanced programs and a set end all be all training style.

If you don’t learn the principles that build the foundation, the rest is useless.

Also, is it really in you to do this? Are you REALLY willing to change the way you live your life forever to be in fit shape?

You found T-Nation so you are on the right track.

RIGHT NOW search for JB’s seven habits article. Start there. Then practice those rules every single day.

Then go lift heavy shit.

I have had some decent success with Waterbury’s ABBH 1, putting on a pound a week without any fat gain (actually lost a bit). It utilizes basic compound movements without a lot of volume, so you could add in some cardio or HIIT for fatloss.

However, what the others have said already is very true: without knowing your training background, stats and discipline, it’s difficult to dispense advice.

However, the one absolute is that you HAVE to have your diet in check. Lots of protein and logging everything you eat every day. Good luck.

Hello, everyone! And thanks for all of your responses. I am sorry I did not respond earlier, but work sent me far away to a place that did not have internet access readily available. I was actually surprised that there was plumbing. Anyway, after reading the posts here I think I will have to revise my question.

Right now, I am not obese. But I have belly and breast fat. Should my diet be high in calories to build as much muscle as possible when I lift? And then worry about getting rid of my fat areas at a later time when I have more muscle?

Or, should I restrict my calories to lose the fat first? And then increase my calories to build more muscle?

I am especially glad that Bartl responded to my thread as I have seen the progress he has made. Also, I think Christian Thibodeaux had him restrict calories first when you started training, right?

What is your training background?

If you don’t have experience training, Mark Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength” is great. It’ll get you focused on lifting heavy and constantly progressing on the big, basic compound lifts. I think it’s a better choice than a Waterbury program. Rippetoe is tried and true with new lifters.

Get the diet in check, buy a copy of “Starting Strength”, do your cardio.