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Can You Lose Fat & Increase Strength At The Same Time?


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One of the most frequent — and basic — questions at BuiltLean is whether it’s possible to both lose fat and increase muscle simultaneously. This week you can read about the answer to this pressing question, as well as discovering some new info on whole grains, posture issues, and whether or not you should train first and then diet, or work the other way around.

Here’s the short list of questions based on topic:

  • Lose Fat and Increase Strength At The Same Time?
  • Whole Wheat vs. Whole Grain vs. Multi-Grain?
  • How To Fix Posture?
  • Program For Women?
  • Should You Build Then Cut?
  • Question #1 | Lose Fat and Increase Strength At The Same Time?

    Question: Can you lose fat and increase strength at the same time? – John

    Answer: This is a question that I get a lot and my answer is always that it depends. For the average person that is overweight and looking to increase strength, you most certainly can lose fat and increase strength at the same time with proper nutrition and a solid training program. I recommend using strength exercises in the 4-10 rep range and focusing on increasing the weight every week or so.

    For someone who is already quite lean and/or strong this will get a little trickier. In this case I recommend that you determine what your main goal is. If your goal is to decrease body fat, keep this as your main focus to achieve optimal results. The same goes for strength.

    This doesn’t mean you can’t switch gears down the road and get stronger once you get lean. Stay focused for the best results!

    – Stephen ( Stephen Bergeron, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #2 | Whole Wheat vs. Whole Grain vs. Multi-Grain?

    Question: I was hoping you could discuss whole wheat vs. whole grain vs multigrain. Thanks – Tim
    Answer: Hey Tim, with so many different terms used to describe food, it can be confusing to figure out what the best choices are.
    Here’s a little breakdown:

    “Whole wheat” is processed wheat flour made by grinding wheat kernels and removing the bran and the germ (which contain most of the nutrients). This is a refined form of a grain. “Whole grain” refers to a whole, unprocessed grain kernel. Examples include brown rice, oats, barley, and corn. “Multigrain” means that there are a mix of grains. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all whole grain.

    The best choice is the one that’s the least processed. Opt for whole foods like brown rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, sweet potato etc. Some people have trouble digesting some grains, especially those that contain gluten, so it’s something to consider. Generally, the less refined a food and the fewer the ingredients, the better. You get the most nutrients and benefits from whole, natural, unprocessed food. If you want to get lean, eating clean 80-90% of the time will help you immensely.

    –Kristin ( Kristin Rooke, CSCS, CPT )

    Question #3 | How To Fix Posture?

    Question: I definitely have forward-tilted hips and hunchback posture problems and you’ve given me exercises to help improve them, so thanks! However, I have a very forward-tilted head, and unfortunately all you suggested for that was massages and practicing proper head posture. I was wondering if there are any exercises I can do to improve this problem as well? Or is “practicing proper head posture” your best advice? – Tim
    Answer: Hey Tim, X-Rays, along with a correct assessment of the curvature of your spine, either by a Physical Therapist or good Chiropractor may help you best when it comes to correcting your three problem areas of forward hips, hunchback and forward tilting head. There are a lot of things we can recommend, but without a proper assessment, it is impossible to give you personalized advice. With that said, for your forward tilted head, it can be a compensation from your hunchback posture and Marc’s article on Correcting Rounded Shoulders has some good suggestions, such as foam rolling and stretching your chest while trying to open up your T-spine. In addition to that, you may also want to foam roll your Lat and Biceps in addition to your chest as they can both pull your shoulders forward and create tightness in your neck muscles. Also, you can do some chin-tuck exercises to loosen up the area. There are other exercises you can do, but should be considered only under professional guidance

    - John ( John Leyva, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #4 | Program For Women?

    Question: Do you have a program customized for petite athletic females who want to lean out but keep muscle? – Annette

    Answer: Whether it’s a 300lb man or a 110lb women who wants to lose fat without losing muscle, I would argue the protocol is basically the same – strength training, eat less calories than you burn, relatively higher protein, etc. Any customization of a program for someone like yourself would arguably not need to be based on your body shape, but more with your flexibility and fitness level. The BuiltLean Program is designed to help a man, or woman lose fat without losing muscle. If that’s your goal and you follow the program, I’m confident it will work for you.

    - Marc ( Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #5 | Should You Build Then Cut?

    Question: Really appreciated the info on the afterburn effect, it’s very helpful and I’ve managed to get my body fat percent to 10-11 % through high intensity interval training. I’m 5.8″” and generally quite lean, and I weigh at 10 stone 4lb (so 144 pounds :P ).

    What I’m aiming for is to build muscle so they look more prominent. Can I have some advice on whether i should get down to 7% body fat as for ‘lean’ at age 17 is 6.2% (See: Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart) and then work on building?

    I want to build muscle and get my general mass up without putting on too much fat.
    Should I eat lots of calories to bulk up and increase my weight to about 160lb and then cut?
    Any advice is appreciated! – Alex

    Answer: Congrats on the success so far. As far as getting your “”general”" weight up, “”general”" doesn’t differentiate between lean body mass or fat mass, so that could mean either. If your goal is to reach 7% body fat, you can achieve that by either continuing to lose fat through dieting and exercise, or by building more muscle so that your percentage of body fat is reduced due to the increased muscle mass. Since building more muscle and increasing your mass is what you want, I would suggest that you focus on building. For more information on nutrition you can check out the Free Get Lean Guide. That should get you started on your fitness goals. If you have any other questions feel free to ask!

    - Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)

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    Can You Lose Fat & Increase Strength At The Same Time?, 4.9 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

    3 Responses to “Can You Lose Fat & Increase Strength At The Same Time?”

    1. clint
      November 17, 2012 at 7:03 am #

      Hey, i have a leg injury and i can’t do anythig that has an impact on my leg. Is their a way i can still burn fat ??? Thanks.

    2. November 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

      I think the answer to Q1 is right on the money. Back when I was still obese (65 or so pounds overweight), I lost all the fat within 7 or so months and almost doubled my squat and deadlift (I was a newbie lifter back then).

      Right now, being closer to 9-10% BF, if I’m on a cut, then everything is cut – not just the fat, but strength as well. I make it therefore a habit to only go on a very small deficit, maybe 300 calories / day at most.

      While my strength definitely doesn’t go up while cutting anymore, I would never do a cut without lifting thoroughly. Actually, I’m probably more focused on lifting when I’m on a cut, as I find I’m more worried about losing muscle, rather than gaining it :)

      Thanks for the post.

    3. Seb
      November 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

      Any fitness expert I have a quick question

      On a rowing machine, how do I get the average split to be 1:50 on a 2k? ( which is 2000 meters)

      Liker 150 the whole time or slower like 20 for ten pulls then 150 again or something, because, in one of q/a articles I thought Marc wrote about something on his rowing machine? l

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