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Should I be trying to lose fat before building muscle?!

Every now and then I like to tackle some of the most common questions, we, as trainers receive weekly. Today, I’ll be answering a question I hear often at the gym, but also from those looking to sign up. Maybe a reassurance to their procrastination habits, or maybe just some rationalization of their own in an attempt to delay the gym for a little while longer, that question, as you already know from the title is..

Should I be trying to lose fat before building muscle?!

No! Weight training is good! Training with heavy enough weight to create a stimulus will not only build muscle but improve your metabolism! The higher your metabolism, the more your body has to work to maintain that muscle and the harder your body works, the more calories it burns at rest thus leading to greater fat loss.

The majority of times, a question like this will be gender biased, being asked mostly by women (although men have asked as well), and the reason for this is because, although they want to build muscle, they fear the dreaded “B” word. They don’t want to look “BIG”! And, while, yes that makes sense and that adding muscle without paying attention to your diet can make you appear bigger – I use that as motivation for them to start eating better and warn them of the consequences of training with heavier weights and not eating well.

Be careful what you read out there!

If you’ve scoured the web with this question, you may have come across a few people who disagree with this statement and they are basing their argument on the fact that to gain muscle, one must take in a caloric surplus, while those trying to lose weight, must be in a caloric deficit to see any form of weight loss.

While being in a caloric surplus will definitely add weight, there’s no guaranteeing that the additional weight will be from muscle or just fat. Conversely, putting yourself in a caloric deficit by just cutting calories and not cutting the proper calories, can make you lose that hard earned muscle and not the stubborn fat you were hoping for.

In next weeks blog, I’ll go in depth as to why not all calories are equal. Despite having equal numeric values, calories from fat do not have the same effect as those from carbs or protein. This will clear up a little of the confusion as to why certain people are able to eat more and still lose weight, while others who follow many of todays marketed diets that use caloric guidelines tend to lose weight but still lack quality muscle.