T Nation

Question about fat and muscle


Hello everyone first time posting in this section, alot of good info flowing here.

My question is should one try to gain some muscle first then try to cut or should one cut then gain muscle. This is my current situation as I like to lose weight.

The only problem is that since I'm not putting up good numbers should I try to gain some muscle first or stick with a fat loss program (I've been lofting for about 6 months if this helps)? Thank You


I am sure everyone will be glad to lend a hand in this but we need some more info. first. Such as weight, height, BF%.

To give you an loose idea. The higher amount of fat you have when you start a gaining cycle the more of the weight that you add will be from fat. Vise versa with the leaner u are, more of the weight will come in the form of muscle.


Hello -

Im no expert. But in my own preference I would try to gain some more mass and then cut. That way when you lean out you will not look as small.

You been lifting for 6 months. I would continue training for another 6 months plus. I would go with a serious mass gainer diet. But I would make sure to gain as much as LBM as possible. If done correctly you can get some good mass and stregth with not to much fat. I lesson I learned the hardway.

Once you feel you had gained enough mass then I would cut.


From my experience it's best to get lean first. Even if that means looking skinny temporarily. I used to experiment with my body all the time. The biggest mistakes I made was massing when above 10% body fat. I'd gain more fat than muscle. As long as i'm 10% or lower, I usually put on mostly muscle with barely any fat.


I agree with most of the above. As stated before, Fatter people get fatter faster. If you're storing fat now then cut down and work on putting on muscle later.


Thanks guys for the info, I've been doing 5x5 system for past 6 months (beginner and sometimes not on a regulary basis).

My weight is 230, height 6'2 or 6'3. My bf% I would suspect is probably in the high teens, but I can check since I have bf clippers (sp) from ironmind, just have to find where there at :).

Since I'm weak on the big lifts do you think it is better to lower then get stronger? Thanks everyone


I had overlooked the fact that you are a newbie and can expect to get great gains. I would suggest that you use the next 6 months or so dialing in your nutrition while eating maintence or just below. You are at a point that u wont be again. U should have the ability to not only slowly cut but at the same time get some impressive newbie gains.

The main thing though I would repeat is for you to bvegin to concentrate on your nutrition/training. Keep a log and begin to learn as much as u can about how your body reacts to different training and nutrition combos.

Keep it up, and enjoy.


Check out the don't diet diet article by JMB at http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/167app.html (sorry bout my lame link - I'll learn soon enough). It basically gives you a thourough answer about your question.


As Phill alluded to already, it really all depends on what your BF% is currently. At 6-2, and 230 lbs, with little training background, I think it is safe to assume that you are in the upper teens or low 20's. But that is all speculative. If I were you, I would concentrate on trimming down first and get your BF around 12% or so and then focus on gaining mass. However, seems how you are a "newbie", you will see much faster gains then a person who has been training for any significant amount of time. I think the important lesson to learn is that you MUST be consistent. You mentioned that you have been doing 5x5 for the past 6 months, but not regularily. Why not? How can you make any progress if you don't stick to a plan? And training is just half of the formula. No training is going to compensate for a less than ideal diet. Many people tend to neglect this very important aspect. So, read up on everything that JB has written here at t-mag as well as Dr. Lowery. We will all be more than happy to help, but we just need a little more info and you need to make a conscious decision to put a little more effort in?? As Ray Lewis would say, "you feelin me?" Take care...Tony


Use the search engine to look up Berardi's old column where he had info about the correlation of percentage body fat to the percentage of weight gain that would be fat and percentage that would be muscle.

Basically, the thrust of it is that the leaner you are when you start to bulk, the greater the percentage of the weight that you put on that will be muscle. People have floated the idea that you shouldn't bulk if you are above 10% BF, but I haven't checked any such calculations for myself.


Hi, Roc. I'm going to go with Krystian on this one. John Berardi wrote an article about a study in which a person with a higher body fat percentage and a lean person bulked. The person with the higher body fat percentage put on a higher percentage of fat, and the lean person put on a higher percentage of muscle.

Moral of the story? Get your body fat down as low as possible before bulking if you want the majority of weight you put on while bulking to be muscle.


This question comes up quite often. I think you need to set clear goals first and then the answer will become apparent after you do. For instance I used to switch back and forth between being strong and being & looking lean. Where I ended up was being heavy (28%bf) and not all that strong. Conflicting goals there.

So first define the goal! Then create a two headed plan. Diet and exercise to get you there. Right it down, Print it up, talk about it all the time. Makes it Real. Switch up your training often, learn about periodization (http://www.testosterone.net/html/body_129per.html) Let nothing deter you from it. Not your wife, not work, not you own lack of knowledge. Set your eye's on the goal and don't look left or right but always forward.

Track everything, food log, training log, measurements both visual and recorded (tape measure). You need this because you can NOT figure out where the heck your going with out knowing where the hell you have been. Oh and please do not make excuses, no whining about being a hard gainer or having a slow metabolism. When you get to a challenge, learn how to attack it with out letting it defeat you. Everyone faces challenges! You can push through, you just have got to want it bad enough.

Sorry if this came out like a rah-rah speech or the diarrhea of the mouth. I have set my sights on 10%bf and been hard at it for over a year. I figure I got another six or seven months to get there, so a lot of this was poking a finger in my own chest to keep me going!


Thanks everyone, I'm thinking about going on t-dawg 2.0. I know there are alot of workouts on t-mag that I can do. Does anyone have any experience with body-comp workouts such as (no order)meltdown, fat to fire, etc. Thank You




The problem with the Berardi article is that the subjects, if I recall correctly, weren't weight training and didn't have mag-10 or anything else. They also weren't following the massive eating protocol. I'm was in the same category. 18 percent, skinny-fat, trained for six months at maintainance, then six with don't diet. I think this may be the slow route, since an extra 20 lbs or so of newbie mass would make the cutting easier. On the other hand, I may have been keeping the calories a bit too high following don't diet, or the GPP and HIIT volume too low.
I guess the moral of this story is if it doesn't work, it won't magically start working in two weeks, so adjust it instead of waiting for months like I did.
Any feedback about the problems with berardi's article I mentioned in the first paragraph? I think somewhere CT mentioned that he bulked first because he didn't think he could get lean.