While many people think they are one and the same, losing weight and building muscle are two different goals! And if you are wondering how weightlifting is effective for fat loss then read on!
In order to lose fat you MUST be in a caloric deficit, meaning you are eating fewer calories than your body burns. While you can build muscle being in a caloric deficit, it is much easier for a “newbie” (new to weight lifting for about a year), than someone who has been lifting for a long time, in which eventually a caloric surplus will be necessary to build new muscle. The longer you have been weight training, the harder it is to build muscle.
Most people want to lose fat and “tone up” (which essentially is to build muscle), and in order to achieve those goals you need to be lean enough to see the muscle (have no fat covering the muscle) and to actually HAVE muscle in order for it to show up!
When I first went chasing after my abs at 40, 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 eat less in essence to become leaner to see my abs, truth was I had no muscle mass. So no matter how much weight I was losing, I didn’t see my abs until I started building muscle all over my body.
So, you want to build muscle in order to lose fat? Good for you! I love building muscle and many of you know it’s my workout of choice! After all, it’s what led 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!
The picture on the left is from before I started my new fitness journey, in my 30’s. While I was thin, I wanted more. On the right is years (yes building muscle takes time!) later, training hard, eating to satisfaction, and LOVING it!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to build muscle:
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! A good starting place is .6-1.2 grams per pound of body weight, or 1 gram per pound of your desired body weight.
You need to properly fuel your body.
Please stop starving yourself. Food is fuel and will give you energy needed to lift as heavy as you possibly can. This includes carbs, as they give you energy and fill your muscle bellies up with water!
As you become a seasoned lifter, you will need to increase calories to progress. I know, why would you want to eat more when you want to lose fat? Well, sometimes we need to take one step back to take 2 steps forward. And that’s exactly what building muscle entails. 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 become leaner all around. And the greatest part? You get to eat food and not feel hungry!
If you are going to eat in a surplus, you want to 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.
Another factor to consider when building muscle and losing fat is to track your food. Otherwise, how do you know if how much you are actually eating? If you aren’t tracking your food then it’s impossible to know if you are eating too much or too little, which most of us over or under estimate.
And last but certainly not least, if you want to build muscle and lose fat your training program must be in a progressive overload fashion. That means sets, reps and volume must be increased. which is exactly how my SloaneSquad daily video guided training program is set up to yield you the most effective and efficient results!
Set Your Goals and Get After Them
If you’re willing to put in the work to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, then you’ve already accomplished the first mission, which is to commit yourself. As you’ve seen above, this is a process that takes time and discipline, but trust me, it’s more than worth it when you achieve this state of fitness. Your metabolism will chug along regardless of how active you are at the time, and your body will look like a lean, mean, fitness machine.
Yes, it’s not only possible to build muscle and lose weight, but it’s also a way to instill a full-on lifestyle change. You’ll learn to eat differently to help your training, you’ll begin to prioritize different types of exercises as you continue to get stronger and you’ll start to enjoy going to the gym again as opposed to dreading those boring sessions on the treadmill or the elliptical machine.
The way to build muscle and lose weight takes a bit more than just that initial commitment, however, as you’ll also need to set some other goals that keep you focused on what you’re really trying to do. Those goals don’t have to be insanely difficult to reach, either, as you can put out a goal to train at least three times a week for the next two months, for example. When you accomplish that goal, set another one.
Before you know it, you’ll find that your body can build muscle and lose fat and that you are now fully integrated into a healthy, active and fun lifestyle.
It’s important to note that both fat loss and building muscle do not occur immediately and that both take 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 plan or fitness coach to check in with for accountability, close monitoring, weekly adjustments, and most of all, someone’s unbiased best interest for you.
Try my strength training app, Sloanesquad, or participate in one of our 30 Day Power Pancake Challenge. A full customized nutrition plan with meals included, 30 days of video guided workouts, along with a supportive private Facebook group to get you started off on the right foot in the New Year.
Your success is my success!
Looking for a more personalized workout program? Try the One-on-One Life Coaching Plan to get started, where I take on the role as your Life Coach.