Building muscle and losing weight are two completely different goals. You need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight, and unless you are a “newbie” (very new to the game of weight lifting), then you need to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle. The longer you have been weight training, the harder it is to build muscle.
Most people want to lose weight and “tone up” (which essentially is to build muscle), but the truth is that you need to be lean enough to see the muscle. And furthermore, you need to HAVE muscle in order for it to show up!
When I first went chasing after my abs, not only was I not eating properly to fuel my body, but I also wasn’t progressing in lifting weights. I was spinning my wheels in group fitness classes with the same 5 or 10 pound dumbbells for 10 years! So while I thought I needed to simply get leaner to see my abs, truth was I had no muscle mass. So in essence, no matter how lean I was getting (and I was skinny) I didn’t see my abs until I started building muscle all over my body.
The left picture is when I started my new fitness journey at age 41. While I was thin, I wanted more. On the right is about 4 years later, training hard in the gym in order to build muscle and LOVING it!
So, you want to build muscle? Good for you! I love building muscle and many of you know its my workout of choice! After all, it’s what got me to finally see the results I was looking for. Building muscle burns calories while resting, and who doesn’t love to burn calories while they are watching TV? I know I do!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to build muscle:
As mentioned before, you need to be eating in a caloric surplus. I know, why would you want to eat more when you want to lose weight? Well, sometimes we need to take one step back to take 2 steps forward. And thats exactly what building muscle takes. Yes, you may put on a little “fluff”, but the time spent building the muscle will surely outweigh you eventually sagging and having no muscle mass. Over time as you build the muscle you will be able to actually change your physique rather than just becoming a smaller version of yourself and be leaner all around. And the greatest part? You get to eat a lot of food! Who doesn’t love to eat?
Just make sure your calories are aligned with your goals. Allow for 2 pounds a month at most. Then, when you have reached your goal in building enough muscle, the weight will be much easier to come off, since you’re starting with a super healthy metabolism and your body will most likely burn calories like a furnace from your lean muscle mass that you recently built.
When building muscle, you also need to make sure you are eating enough protein. Protein is the building block for muscle synthesis and is responsible for tissue growth and repair. When lifting weights, we tear the muscle tissues, hoping they grow back bigger and stronger. If you aren’t consuming enough protein then that isn’t going to happen! So make sure you are eating enough protein for YOUR body!
Another factor to consider when building muscle is to track your food. Otherwise, how do you know if you are in a caloric surplus or not? Most people either underestimate how much they eat or over estimate. With the recommended slow rate of weight each month that is required to build, if you aren’t tracking your food then it’s impossible to know if you are eating too much or too little.
And last but certainly not least, if you want to build muscle your training program must be must be increased over time. That means sets, reps and volume must be increased.
It’s important to note that none of this happens immediately and that building muscle takes a lot of time and consistency. I have personally gone through both phases of losing weight and building muscle, and I feel that it’s actually harder to build muscle then it is to lose weight.
Regardless of your goals, train hard, fuel your body properly, track your food, be patient and most of all consistent, and results will certainly follow.
While it’s easy to allow yourself to follow these guidelines, some people fare better with a coach to check in with for accountability, close monitoring, weekly adjustments, and most of all, someone’s unbiased best interest for you.
Your success is my success. So if you need help with building muscle or losing weight, click here for a Nutrition Plan. I’d love to be the one to help you.