Many professionals in the health and fitness industry hold different opinions in regards to whether or not it’s possible to build muscle and burn fat simultaneously. Some trainers believe muscle growth and fat loss can coincide, while others argue that it’s simply not realistic. I fall into the third group, the fence sitters if you will. I support the theory that the ability to lose fat and gain muscle may be possible for some people in certain situations with specific circumstances. My apologies for the ambiguity, but I will offer an explanation.
First of all, I should make it clear that I am not referring to competitive bodybuilders as the example in this post. The lifestyle, training and diet of competitive bodybuilders is far too extreme and the recommendation for muscle growth and fat loss are too involved to get into within this particular post. I will be referring to those of us that simply want to look our best, be healthy and have a lean, muscular appearance.
How to Build Muscle – The Process of Hypertrophy
Muscle growth requires a lot of hard work, stellar nutrition, a detailed training program followed to the highest standard and of course patience. Throw youth and some sweet genetics in the mix and you’re golden!
The process of hypertrophy is extensive and relies on a number of factors. For the sake of simplicity, muscle growth occurs when the muscles are subject to enough stress (weight, sets, reps) to illicit an adaptive response (growth).
Assuming you work hard enough, often enough and with the required amount of intensity, the muscles will adapt and increase in size as they repair themselves.
In addition to regular, well planned workouts, nutrition plays a starring role in muscle building. The body requires sufficient calories in the form of specific macronutrients in order to facilitate hypertrophy. This would seem to be counterproductive when it comes to fat loss, but not necessarily. It’s important however to consume a clean, nutritious, properly proportioned ratio of carbs, protein and fat. This is where so many people go wrong.
In the case of someone that is possibly obese or just sedentary, they may in fact be quite successful in their quest to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. As an athlete becomes leaner however, it becomes harder to do both harmoniously. This is due to the fact that as we improve our conditioning and become leaner, the body becomes somewhat resistant to fat loss. They may find themselves requiring more calories in order to encourage muscle growth and this may also make it more difficult to shed fat. At this point an increase in workout intensity, a cleaner diet and more patience are required. Success really comes down to how much a person is willing to sacrifice in order to see the results they desire.