Happy New Year! As you begin to work towards accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions, it’s important to have a solid plan. Whether you want to lose body fat, increase muscle, get in better shape, or achieve flat abs, the most efficient way to make your resolutions a reality is to have a plan. This week’s Q&As will hopefully shed some light on some topics to help you make the most of 2013.
- How do I gain muscle mass and lose weight at the same time?
- What to eat before a morning workout?
- Are pistol squats a good exercise?
- How to gain mass in arms and calves?
- How to lose belly fat and get flat abs?
Question #1 | How do I gain muscle mass and lose weight at the same time?
Question: “I was reading about how it’s not a good idea to try to gain mass and lose body fat at the same time. I’m an athlete trying to achieve both for the season, but if I’m trying to lose weight then I’m not gaining muscle and if I’m gaining mass then I’m not getting in the shape I want for the season. What would you recommend that I do?”
If your main goal is to achieve both for the season, depending on when the season starts, I would recommend losing the fat first and then building the muscle. In fact, the leaner you are, the better your performance will be. You will be able to run faster, jump higher, etc. We have an article that is a worthwhile read here => How Body Fat Affects Athletic Performance
. However, if you’re running against the clock, you can focus on losing fat while maximizing your window of opportunity to gain some muscle at the same time. Keep in mind, it will take more time for you to accomplish this because you have to consume fewer calories in order to lose body fat but you have to consume a surplus of calories in order to build muscle. It’s challenging, but it is possible. You have to have a really solid workout and nutrition program to make it happen. Here’s an article which discusses this idea in more depth – Can You Lose Fat and Build Muscle At the Same Time?
– Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)
Question #2 | What to eat before a morning workout?
Question: “Hey, I know early morning workouts are best on an empty stomach, however when I do that, I feel really sick during my sessions. What the best thing to eat before an early morning workout?” – Rashida
Question #3 | Are pistol squats a good exercise?
Question: “Marc, I saw a video where you were doing squats with 2 legs with dumbbells, and was wondering if you’ve ever tried a pistol squat. Not only does it provide a great strength training workout for the legs without any weight, but any additional weight makes a much bigger difference than it does when using 2 legs. Also, have you ever tried the clutch flag exercise? It is not nearly as difficult as the better-known human flag, but it is still rather challenging and is much more accessible while still doing a great job of hitting the lateral chain.” – Robby
Hey Robby – In terms of leg exercises, the key one’s I do are barbell back squats, forward and reverse lunges with a barbell on my back, lateral lunges, step ups, and DB stiff legged deadlifts. I have done pistol squats but I find them a bit awkward and I’ve heard on multiple occasions people blowing out their knees doing it (tearing ACL etc.). If I do it, I usually will hold on to something like a TRX, which helps me control the angle of the squat a bit better which I think is safer. I’ve never seen the clutch flag exercise, so thanks for letting me know about it! I did the human flag at a conference a few months ago as a challenge without warming up (not the best idea in the world to say the least) and felt the repercussions on it in my left rotator cuff for a good while afterwards.
– Marc ( Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)
Question #4 | How to gain mass in arms and calves?
Question: “Hi, I need some advice. I have exercised off and on for the past 15 years but never got the body I wanted. This past summer, I took drastic measures and ate a 1800 calorie diet while working out six days per week doing weight training, intensive cardio, calisthenics, and yoga. I started at 170 lbs and 15% bodyfat and ended at 146 lbs and around 8.5% bodyfat. Now I eat clean but consume more calories and work out 5 days per week. I would like to gain about 2 inches on my arms and 2 inches on my calves. How much lean mass do I need to gain to accomplish this goal?” – Eric
2 inches on your arms and 2 inches on your calves is quite an achievement. It has been theorized that to add an inch to your arm, you need to gain about 10-15 pounds of muscle throughout your body. As for calves, the calves specifically can be hard to grow as they tend to be highly genetically determined and will require more advanced techniques. Calves also tend to be more slow-twitch in nature, which means they can withstand more frequent workouts with more volume than other body parts, which you’ll have to do in order for them to grow. In other words, you would have to gain about 20 pounds to grow 2 inches on your arms, although you can specialize in working them for a while to help them grow a bit more, and you will have to train your calves at a more frequent rate, with a varying degree of rep ranges and weights in order for them to grow. Hope that helps.
– John ( John Leyva, CSCS, CPT)
Question #5 | How to lose belly fat and get flat abs?
“How to rid of waist and belly fat and get flat abs? I’d really appreciate some advice.
Thanks in advance” – Salim
If you have belly fat and want to get flat abs, you absolutely have to change your diet. No matter how much you exercise, you can’t out-train bad eating habits. The BuiltLean website offers a lot of great articles on nutrition for fat loss. A great place to start is “How Many Calories Should You Eat to Lose Weight
”. If you want to get lean, you have to eat clean. Fill your meals and snacks with lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Reduce or eliminate processed and refined foods from your diet.
Once you’ve cleaned up your nutrition, you’re 80% of the way there. For a starting point with your workouts, check out the free Get Lean Guide or the 8 week BuiltLean Program. Each of them will give you ideas on how to build a workout program that get you the results you want. Good luck!
– Kristin ( Kristin Rooke, CPT)
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