We get asked everyday if it’s possible to add muscle and lose bodyfat simultaneously. It can be done, especially if you are genetically gifted or intensely regimented with your training and diet. For the average gym trainer however, a more effective method would be to train in blocks of mass building, muscle maintenance or reducing body fat. Having a very targeted goal of what you want to achieve over a 4 to 8 week period.
A key factor in gaining quality weight is successful dietary management. This can be managed in periodic blocks of 4-6 weeks a time. To gain weight, you will need to overload your calories compared to your previous intake. The basic dietary principles apply for adding body mass, increase your calorie intake, including protein, carbohydrates and to a lesser extent fats. It is imperative to ensure you are getting adequate calories in your diet to grow, as without it, you will not only prevent this, but any extra exercise will further burn off any mass you have developed which will take you backwards. For losing fat later on, or ‘cutting up,’ reduce your food intake especially in carbohydrates and fats. Focus on bulking in a fairly ‘clean’ manner, with a view to bulk now, and cutting up later. In saying this, when you overload your calories, try to do so such that your fat gains you’ll have to burn off later are not excessive. Some degree of muscle loss can occur when trying to lose fat, and supplements such as CLA can assist in minimising this muscle loss. Everyone is different and there are many different ways to increase muscle mass. You need to understand what works best for you, which may take time, not only in the gym, but out of it, with you learning about your body type in the process.
For your training and if looking to grow, employ mainly compound (multi-joint) exercises. This includes exercises such as squats, bench presses, dead lifts and squats. Remember also, that if you aren’t eating properly, your unlikely to gain muscle. Single joint training movements at this stage of your development should be mostly minimised. Monitor the process as you go along. If you’re not adding size, increase your caloric intake. Don’t use the scales as an indication as this can be misleading. Go by girth measurements as a better indication of muscle gain. For example the waistband of a pair of woven trousers (such as jeans) can give a good indication of fat gain, rather than muscle gain. Body measurements of key areas can also be a valuable tool to gauge your progress.
Ensure that you are supplementing pre, intra & post training. This will ensure that you are not catabolising essential amino acids from your muscles and so that you are replenishing nutrients to repair and grow muscle. A Multi Vitamin is a must as are key amino acids such as BCAA's & L-Glutamine. A protein powder throughout the day will help you not only maintain a positive nitrogen balance to grow muscle, but assist you to get the extra quality calories in your diet. At night time, use a night time protein formula (with miscellar casein) to ensure you have a sustained supply of amino acids whilst you sleep.
Gaining weight requires an integrated approach to training, nutrition, and supplementation. The human body responds best to structure. You’ll successfully gain weight (or lose fat) only when you structure your training and nutritional intake in such a way that these are consistent. To gain size, remember to emphasise compound movements and keep cardio to a minimum at this stage. When you have developed sufficient size, you can focus on refining your body. Cardio, (e.g. interval training) as well as dietary modification including the reduction in extra calories (such as fats and carbohydrates) can be effective.
1 Training and Nutrition for Muscle Size By Dr. John M Berardi, Ph.D.