Is it impossible to both lose weight AND build muscle at the same time? Well, kind of. If your goal is to trim down and build up, you’ll need to focus on one thing at a time, either losing weight first or building muscle. So which one should you do first? Your first step should be towards losing weight through a diet overhaul and strength training four to five days a week. Once you’re down to a slimmer you, focusing on building lean muscle by eating more and lifting heavier will be your next chapter. Depending on your current fitness level and the amount of weight you’d like to lose, this process will take time and complete dedication. It usually takes around 12 weeks to see some serious results and will require dedication, patience and consistency.
To first lose weight, you’ll need to lower your caloric intake from what you normally consume in a given day. It is important that you understand your bodies caloric intake needs as this number can fluctuate as you lose weight and increase your exercise activity level. Next, to sculpt and build your body into what you want it to look like, you will need to increase your daily caloric intake as you increase your daily exercising load through strength training. For the first three to six months you’ll need to really watch your portions, create some new healthy habits and get your mind right. Try not to think of this as a “diet,” but rather a lifestyle change. I’ve seen too many people do GREAT on a diet, but a diet is only temporary. Those people who do great sometimes fall back into old habits and lose all that hard work. This is why you must think of it as a lifestyle change. Toss all your junk food and soda in the garbage and stock up your fridge with more whole foods, whole grains, lean meats, vegetables, fruits and healthy snacks. This means no more Poptarts! You’ll want to stay away from anything ‘white’ such as white flour, bread, rice, pasta, most condiments (look for ones without high fructose corn syrup), creamy sauces, most cereals (look for natural, whole rain options with little sugar), bakery items, ice cream and creamy dressings. For anyone who has hips, we know where all that sugar from these processed foods is going to end up, right? To determine this, find out what your basal metabolic rate is after every 10 lbs of weight loss, or any time after you increase or decrease activity level. Do not starve yourself in hopes to lose weight faster, you will only cannibalize lean muscle tissue. The more muscle you have, the more your body burns calories at rest – and speeds up your metabolism too.
Perform strength resistance training four to six times a week, allowing 48 hours of rest in between each body part. Here’s a basic example:
- Monday – legs and shoulders
- Tuesday – back and chest
- Wednesday – triceps and biceps
- Thursday – legs and shoulders
- Friday – back and chest
- Saturday – triceps and biceps
- Sunday – rest or cardio.
Cardio should be performed after weight training to ensure you’re getting the most out of each session. Both resistance training and cardio are equally important in both losing weight and building muscle. When you’re first starting out, keep your reps around 12 – 15, doing three sets of each exercise and resting for one to two minutes in between sets. When you’re able to easily lift more than 15 times, begin increasing your weight. It’s important to make sure you’re exercising with good form, resting for the appropriate amount of time and focusing on proper breathing, especially when lifting heavy. Once you get in to the muscle building phase you’re going to want to start lifting more on the heavy side, keeping your reps between 8 – 10, doing four sets of each exercise and resting for two – three minutes. When you are able to lift more than 10 times without much effort, you’ll want to begin increasing your weight again.
If you’re like most women, you’re probably concerned about getting too muscular looking – I know I was. It is nearly impossible for us to get too big without supplementation because we don’t have nearly as much testosterone as men do. Normal testosterone levels in men are 200 – 1,200 ng/dl, while 15 – 70 ng/dl are normal levels for women. Even if you took a man on the lower side (200 ng/dl) and a woman on the higher side (70 ng/dl), men have more than double our testosterone levels. So you see ladies, nothing to be concerned about. The only thing you’re going to have to be concerned about is what you’re going to do with all your old jeans and where you’re going to find the money to get new ones. 🙂
I’d like to hear if you’ve ever tried any 12-week (or similar) program for losing weight and building muscle? If yes, how did you like it? Were you successful? If you haven’t tried one, would you be willing to find that dedication and try it? Comment Below, I’d love to hear from you.