Three Tips to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

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Everyone hits the gym with different goals and priorities, but when you boil things down to the most basic, why-are-you-here level the truth is thatmost dudes are in the gym because they want to build muscle and lose fat. Sure, you may have certain number goals, health ideals, or even use the iron as your stress relief, but the bottom line is that probably you want to be lean and jacked as a result of all of that hard work.

Given that I have the luxury of the bird’s eye view on a large sample population’s attempts at achieving the aforementioned “Lean and Jacked” state, I have a few insights into some common screw-ups in the quest for Jacked-hood.

In no particular order, here’s three basic things that you can do to be bigger and leaner, faster.

1. Eat up in the post-workout window. So let me get this straight… You just trained your ass off, moved some heavy weight, caused all kinds of muscular damage, drained your glycogen stores, and now you’re going to start your recovery process with… a scoop of whey protein and a granola bar?

That’s why you’re still skinny-fat, my noodle-armed friend.

Look, can you eat like a bird (or nothing at all!) around your workout while maintaining muscle size and getting lean? Yeah, if you do everything else right. However, post-workout is one of the peak times for repair and positive nutrient partitioning that you’re going to have over the course of your day. So you might as well take advantage of it. To waste it is sort of like turning down free money: You’re probably not any worse off, but it still makes you dumb.

Don’t worry about a supplement company’s claim of a “magical window” that only exists for XX minutes (which, coincidentally, is the exact time they claim that their shake metabolizes). That’s splitting hairs for the sake of misinformation and sales. Instead simply focus on eating the bulk of your day’s calories around your workout.

What works best for most of my clients is to have a liquid protein and carb meal such as a shake or milk if they can handle it right after training. The liquid works best here as many are a little queasy right after a good workout and probably can’t choke down much food. About an hour later, after their stomach has settled down, I have them hit a BIG post-workout meal of real, solid food including quality protein and carbohydrate (and vegetables!).

2. Whether you’re trying to get bigger or leaner, focus on getting stronger. No matter what your goal in the gym, it will be easier if you’re stronger. Lifting progressively heavier weight will stimulate your muscle mass to grow if you’re feeding it (see above), and if you’re dieting to lose fat then the heavy lifting will at least maintain the muscle you do have. This will help your metabolism stay high and keep you from just shrinking into a smaller version of your already fat self. Smaller and still fat is not the way to go.

Oh, and for those of you who insist that you can’t get stronger while leaning out? You’re full of shit. I do it with clients, including intermediate and advanced clients, all the time and I know lots of others who do as well.

3. Shut the damn computer off and get to bed! Everyone knows how important sleep and rest are to keeping stress low, improving recovery, aiding fat loss, and all of those other goodies are, right? Then why does everyone from people like me to really smart doctors to the *shudder* mass media have to keep harping on it? Because you’re not doing it.

Our modern lives, with our constant smart phone connections and 24-hour Super Walmarts, become busier and busier. Because we can do something every hour of the day, we seem to feel the need to do something every hour of the day.

Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of our sleep. Back in yester-year we used to sleep when the sun went down, or thereabouts. This ensured a pretty solid sleep and recovery schedule. Now most people operate on 5-6 hours of sleep (myself included, frequently) as opposed to 8-10 which is generally better if you’re training hard.

Wanna bet she handles her business?

So ask yourself this: Is your life really that much better because you stayed up an extra hour to watch The Jersey Shore at the cost of building muscle and losing fat?

I doubt it. So get your schedule straight and get some rest.

Wanna get big, strong, and lean?  Eat more at the right time, get strong as hell, and take a nap! Most of it is that simple. Once you’ve got those down you can start looking for the more complex stuff.


What are your favorite tips for building muscle and losing fat? Post’em below!

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February 24, 2012

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