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How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat…at the Same Time

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How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat…at the Same Time

Many people think it’s impossible to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. They’re wrong. Here’s how it works.

 

Gaining muscle while losing fat, or body recomposition as it’s sometimes called, is the holy grail of getting fit.

Some people say it’s a fool’s errand, while others claim it’s only possible with “advanced” diet and training protocols.

Well, they’re both wrong.

While it can be tricky, it’s very doable. And while it does require that you do a number of things correctly, it doesn’t require anything fancy or newfangled.

In this article I’m going to help you understand the process of gaining muscle and losing fat so you can determine if you can pull it off, and how.

Let’s start first with the problems of pulling off a body recomposition.

Why Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle is Tricky

There’s a good reason why many people believe wholeheartedly in the old bodybuilding adage that you can’t build muscle while cutting fat, and must deal with getting fat if you want to build any real muscle.

Building muscle while burning fat–achieving a “body recomp” as it’s called–doesn’t come with haphazard effort. It requires that you do a bunch of little things right, with both your diet and training.

Why is that, though? What is the physiological barrier that we’re running up against?

Well, I’ve answered this in other articles, but I’m going to give a summary here in case you missed them.

The problem we must overcome to build muscle while we burn fat has to do with something called protein synthesis. To quote my previous article on muscle recovery:

“Every day, our muscle cells go through a natural process whereby degraded cells are eliminated, and new cells are created to take their place. This process is known as ‘protein biosynthesis,’ or ‘protein synthesis.’

“Under normal health and dietary circumstances, muscle tissue is fairly stable, and the cycle of cellular degradation and regeneration remains balanced.  That is, the average person doesn’t lose or gain muscle at an accelerated rate–his or her lean mass more or less remains level. (Well, we actually slowly lose lean mass as we age, but you get the point.)

“When we engage in resistance training, we damage the cells in our muscle fibers, and this signals the body to accelerate the normal rate of protein synthesis to repair the large amount of damaged cells.

“Our body is smart about it, too.

“It doesn’t want to just repair the muscle fiber to its previous state–it wants to adapt it to better deal with the type of stimulus that caused the damage. That is, it wants to add cells to the muscle fibers, which makes them bigger and stronger.

“Thus, what we think of as just “muscle growth” is actually the result of protein synthesis rates exceeding protein breakdown rates. At the end of, let’s say, every 24-hour period, if your body synthesized more muscle proteins than it lost, you gained muscle. If it didn’t, you didn’t.”

Now, let’s apply that knowledge to the issue at hand.

In order to lose fat, you need to give your body less energy (food) than it burns every day. This is known is creating a “calorie deficit.”

No calorie deficit, no losing fat, period.

There are physiological changes other than fat loss that occur when you do this though. The two primary negative effects are:

That is, a calorie deficit reduces your body’s ability to properly repair the damage you cause to your muscles through exercise (to build its muscles bigger and stronger).

So, now that you have a better understanding of the problem, let’s talk about what it takes to overcome it.

Who Can Burn Fat and Build Muscle Effectively and Who Can’t

I’m going to start this section with some bad news:

Not everyone will be able to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.

There’s good news too, though: if you’re reading this article anxiously…you probably can.

Why?

Because those that probably can’t are advanced weightlifters that…

If you fit the above criteria, then you’re probably not surprised that a body recomp isn’t likely possible at this point, and that you’re better off following a traditional cut and maintain or cut and bulk routine.

If you’re new to weightlifting, however, or if you’re not but still have a lot of room for muscle growth, or if you once were much bigger or stronger than you currently are, then chances are you can build muscle while losing fat. And this remains true even if you aren’t particularly overweight.

This has not only been demonstrated in clinical research, but I’ve experienced both with my own body, and with scores and scores of both men and women that I’ve worked with.

It can be done, end of story.

So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to how to actually build muscle and burn fat.

How to Build Muscle and Burn Fat at the Same Time

Just because your body can lose fat while building muscle doesn’t mean it comes easily.

The first thing you should know is that even when you do it right, muscle growth during a body recomp is slower than muscle growth during a proper “bulk.” As covered earlier, you are fighting an uphill battle in terms of protein synthesis, no matter how you cut it.

So be patient when you strive to build muscle and burn fat. Wild claims on the Internet about losing double-digit amounts of body fat and gaining the same in muscle are either lies, or involved the use of various drugs.

Based on my experience, here are the key points for effectively gaining muscle and losing fat:

Follow a set meal plan that keeps you in a moderate calorie deficit.

The more you restrict your calories, the more protein synthesis is inhibited.

Thus, it’s very important that you don’t try to rush your diet by putting yourself in a large (greater than 20%) daily calorie deficit.

I give a very simple formula for weight loss in my books that results in about a 20% daily caloric deficit if you’re exercising 4-6 hours per week:

  • 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, per day
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight, per day
  • .2 grams of fat per pound of body weight, per day

This gives you a good starting point, and you can adjust up or down as needed (I discuss how and when to do this fully in my books, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger.)

Oh and in case you’re worried that eating that many carbs per day will prevent you from losing weight, rest easy–eating carbs does not inhibit weight loss. In fact, keeping your carbs moderate/high is an important part of building muscle while losing fat, mainly because it helps preserve your strength in the gym, and the insulin your body produces to process the carbs helps prevent protein breakdown.

So, once you have your daily numbers, the next step is to create a meal plan–an exact list of foods you can eat every day to hit those numbers.

The easiest way to do this is to open Excel and www.calorieking.com, and start piecing together meals using foods that you like.

Play with meal frequency and add and subtract foods as desired until you have a daily eating schedule that fits your schedule, lifestyle, and nutritional targets.

Then just follow that plan every day, throw in a cheat meal once per week where you eat more or less whatever you want, and you’re good to go.

With proper dieting, you’re looking to lose 1 – 2 lbs of fat per week, you should never feel starved, and you should stay strong in the gym.

Focus on heavy, compound weightlifting.

The oft-repeated advice to focus on high-rep workouts to really “shred up” is idiotic.

Getting that coveted “shredded” look is only a matter of getting your body fat low enough. One style of lifting will not make you look “more shredded” than another.

As you may have already realized, to build muscle while losing fat, you simply want to do what works best for inducing muscle growth:

Focus on heavy (4-6 or 5-8 rep range), compound movements like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press, and train with a moderate workout volume (9-12 heavy sets per workout).

Some people might scoff at this advice and talk about the important of the “hypertrophy” rep range of 10-12, and I address this in my definitive guide to muscle growth, and in my book Bigger Leaner Stronger.

The big “secret” behind the high-rep, high-volume workouts espoused by many fitness models and bodybuilders is…drugs. It’s really that simple.

Working in the 12 – 15 rep range for 2 – 3 hours per day is GREAT if you’re chemically enhanced because your body can actually repair all that damage. It just can’t if you’re natural though.

Do HIIT cardio.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is really all you should be doing if you want to maximize muscle growth while losing fat.

Why?

For two primary reasons:

  • HIIT burns more fat per minute than steady-state cardio. 

This has been proven again, again, and again–it’s finally just an indisputable fact.

study conducted by The University of Western Ontario gives us insight into how much more effective it really is, as well. Researchers had 10 men and 10 women train 3 times per week, with one group doing 4-6 30-second treadmill sprints (with 4-6 minutes of rest in between each), and the other group doing 30-60 minutes of steady-state cardio (running on the treadmill at the “magical fat loss zone” of 65% VO2 max).

The results: After 6 weeks of training, the subjects doing the intervals had lost more fat. Yes, 4-6 30-second sprints burns more fat than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking.

  • HIIT preserves more muscle than steady-state cardio.

Because of the hindered protein synthesis rates, preserving muscle is particularly important when you’re trying to build muscle while losing fat.

One of the ways HIIT does this relates to growth hormone production. Research has shown that HIIT spikes GH levels higher than steady-state cardio does, and growth hormone is a powerful muscle preserver.

Furthermore, research has shown that the longer your cardio sessions are, the more they impair strength and hypertrophy. That is, the shorter your cardio sessions are, the more muscle you preserve.

Thus, I recommend no more than 20-30 minutes of HIIT per session, and no more than 3-4 sessions per week. This cardio schedule will provide you with a large boost in fat loss while minimizing muscle loss.

Get enough sleep.

Not getting enough sleep hurts both aspects of your efforts to build muscle and lose fat.

Sleep needs vary from individual to individual, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night to avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

Supplements to consider taking.

I saved this for last because it’s the least important, but it is worth mentioning.

I’ll keep it short and simple. Here are the supplement you should consider taking:

 

Have you been able to build muscle and lose fat? Have anything else to add? Let me know in the comments below!

 

How to get lean and build serious muscle and strength, faster than you ever thought possible…

Depending on how you eat, train, and rest, building muscle and losing fat can be incredibly easy or incredibly hard. Unfortunately, most people make many different mistakes that leave them stuck in a rut.

And that’s why I wrote Bigger Leaner Stronger for men, and Thinner Leaner Stronger for women: they lay out EVERYTHING you need to know about diet and training to build muscle and lose fat effectively…

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I’m Mike Matthews and I’ve been training for nearly a decade now. I believe that every person can achieve the body of his or her dreams, and I work hard to give everyone that chance by providing workable, proven advice grounded in science, not a desire to sell phony magazines, workout products, or supplements. More about me.

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538 Comments
  • Kelcey Z

    Great article Mike. I admire all the research you do that helps support these valid arguments. I often read blogs/articles that just state “facts” with no adequate research or discussion. Many of your articles have helped me a lot recently, Thanks much!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kelcey! Really glad you like my work! :)

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Wow, great article. I absolutely love HIIT cardio. It’s effective, time efficent and enjoyable.
    But when should the HIIT be done for the best result? I have been doing it before weight training for a while(which I now know might have hindered my muscle growth).

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I’m all about HIIT as well.

      I recommend you do it after your lifting, or separately. And cycling has been shown to have the least negative effects in terms of impairing muscle strength or growth.

  • Mariana

    So, so true. It took me a while to figure out my diet. I lost fifteen pounds, and then just plateau-d. But once I got it down, it was great from there. I haven’t lost any weight in two months but my guns and quads are all bigger and much more defined but at the same time, I’ve gone down three pant sizes, a shirt size, and I’m stuck buying new bras (I love you, Mike, but all of that hurt me inside just a little, haha). Like you said in your article, STICK WITH IT. The mental and physical rewards are worth it.

    • nctjc

      Just because you weigh the same, does not mean you are not making progress. You probably just replaced some fat, with muscle, which is good, as the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.

      • Michael Matthews

        Yup.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah you’re kicking ass! Weight staying the same is actually a good sign when you’re doing a proper recomp. You’re losing fat and building muscle!

      Keep up the good work!

  • Brendan

    I absolutely love your books and tips. My question to you is since I’ve started weight lifting my body has responded better to more carbs rather than protein. Is it possible to follow the routine you propose in BLS, by using more carbs in lieu of protein?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Brendan!

      Yes, but don’t let your protein drop below 1 gram per pound of lean mass. You calculate lean mass by multiplying your body weight by your body fat percentage, and subtracting that number from your body weight.

      • Brendan

        Thank you! I’ve been asking myself that helps me out alot

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Glad it helps. :)

  • Jenny Leadem

    Ah I see, so this is what you meant by recomp. I had almost no definition beforehand so I guess I had tons of catching up to do Lol. Really great article :) learning more all the time.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks Jenny. :)

  • nctjc

    About a year ago, I went from 265 to about 160, in five months. I never expected to lose that much, but it happened. I went from a 44 inch waist back to a 33 inch waist. I have gained some muscle since then, but I still have a long way to go to get in the kind of shape I want to be. I am currently about 186, and still struggling to lose that last 5 pounds around the middle. For a guy that just turned 59, though, I do all right.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow great job! That rocks. I would definitely recommend focusing on building muscle as this will drive your metabolism faster, which will make the weight loss easier.

    • Helen Hines

      I’m sorry to sound doubtful but can you share your secret with me? How in the heck did you lose 105lbs in just 5 months? That is way too fast it doesn’t sound very healthy. Were you taking diet pills or something to make your weight loss expeditious?

      • Michael Matthews

        Very low calorie dieting. Not the best way of going about it to be honest:

        https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-quickest-way-to-lose-weight/

        • Helen Hines

          If that is the case I wonder how people can change so drastically from eating too much to not eating enough, without any extra help. But if it is possible through will power I think that is so awesome! I wish I had self control like that, to set your mind on something you want so badly that your almost obessed by it, which that isn’t a good thing either, but if it works thats all that would matter to me.

          • Michael Matthews

            Check out the article I linked. Sure, you CAN do it but it’s not the best way of going about it.

  • Lee U

    It really makes perfect sense, especially having experienced losing fat while building muscle. Looking forward now to bulking to build more muscle:) Thanks Mike for always for educating us with the real facts and research!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah you’re the poster girl for this article! :)

      • Lee U

        Wow thank so much Mike! Next year want to use me for your muscle bulking female specimen? lol

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha let’s do it! :)

  • Pedro

    Great article, but did not understand where is the difference between cutting and losign fat/building muscle in terms of calories and macros, if you say we have to eat at a 20% caloric deficit?

    I think that in terms for losing fat/building muscle is better to eat at maintenace and lift heavy. What do yo think? What macros do we have to use not only for cut but build muscle too.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Pedro!

      If you eat at a true maintenance level–if you give your body as much energy as it’s burning–you won’t experience any net fat loss.

      To cause your body to end a day or week with less fat than it started that day/week, you have to feed it less energy than it burns. That just can’t be changed.

  • Holly Adams

    I’m very new to this and have been doing excercise fasted including HIIT. I’m trying to recomp. I’ve incorporated 2 supplements that you recommend and they’ve been noticeably helpful. I’d like to add creatine. How would I do this? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Great Holly! Make sure you’re doing resistance training as well–weightlifting preferably.

      Cool on the creatine. Have 5 grams with your post-workout meal. Simple enough. :)

      • Holly Adams

        Thanks Mike! Your books and articles have been a HUGE help :)

        • Michael Matthews

          YW and thanks! I’m really glad!

  • Veronica

    Hi Mike, I know all of this works for a fact because I’ve done this thanks to your book. My question now is iven been lifting for about 9 months and my muscle growth has slow down is this the point where I need to bulk since I’m a regular weight lifter. I’m currently in a calorie deficit.

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Veronica! Really glad you’re doing well.

      Yes your newbie gains will be about done now and diet becomes very important. If you want to focus on building muscle, I would recommend increasing to maintenance at least. If you’re okay with gaining some fat, you can put yourself in a caloric surplus to maximize growth.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know how it goes!

  • Javier

    Great article Mike! Your books and articles are very information. Unlike BS information on fitness magazines. I’m doing HIIT about 3x a week. What are your thoughts on steady fasted cardio? I don’t want to stop doing HIIT but thought of mixing it up.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Javier! Really glad you like my work.

      Cool on the HIIT and fasted cardio is great. You can read about it here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

  • Scott Belott

    Great article. I have been using Gregg’s Kinobody muscle building program with great results. I am switching it up to get from 11%bf into the coveted single digit numbers. I am 184 currently. I am looking to just preserve the muscle in have and lose the fat to reach 7 or 8%bf. I am weight training 3 days and HIIT for 3 days in a 500 calorie deficit. First…. is 3 hours after eating a good time to do HIIT or does the time not matter? Also do you recommend taking bcaa? I am only taking creatine for a supplement. Second if I am only trying to preserve the muscle in have should I still lift heavy? Thanks for your time.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Scott! Great on your gains so far and your next goal. That’s very doable.

      If you want to train fasted, 3 hours would be a minimum. 4-5 would be best. Yes, 10 grams of BCAAs or 5 grams leucine before any fasted training.

      Creatine is good too. Have with your post-workout meal.

      Yes lift heavy and push yourself to increase your strength. Many people are able to.

      Hope this helps and let me know how it goes!

      • Scott

        Thanks I will keep you updated!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW and sounds good!

  • Motivated Guy

    Another great comprehensive write-up. We can’t thank you enough. I followed your 40/40/20 advice and as I put it into practice, I tweaked it a little bit and unknowingly I arrived at a nutrition plan thats described in this article. I have been noticing differences and my strength never suffered when lifting. Just two questions: 1. I use lean mass for all my nutrition calcs, is that a correct approach? 2. I commute to work by bike and put in about 60 – 70 mi per week. I work in atleast 3x HIIT type commute between sections of the route where I consider it safe for me and pedestrians. Are there any reliable calculators you can suggest to figure out caloric expenditure? Thanks again. Have a great weekend.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you liked it. :)

      Awesome on the diet. Simple but it works. :)

      Using lean mass to calc might result in too low of numbers depending on the multipliers you’re using. I always base formulas on body weight because it makes it simpler for people (they don’t have to try to figure out their body fat % and thus lean mass).

      Here’s a decent calculator for figuring out your caloric burn:

      http://www.bicycling.com/caloriemain

      Hope this helps!

  • Prithvi Sharma

    Really your article was very informative ,and also descriptive in nature, anyways my trainer recommended me taking creatine and serious mass weight gain ,could you help me out with dosage instructions .

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you liked it. Yeah check out this article:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /which-form-of-creatine-is-most-effective/

  • Jayden

    Hi Matthew
    I just started cutting and was wondering if I need to keep track of the calories lost while doing cardio. I’m a little confused about how to handle that. I cut down my calorie intake to about 2200 cals per day. On days I do cardio (only once or twice for now because I usually lose weight pretty quickly) should I increase the calorie intake or still focus on those 2200? Thanks for your help!

    • Michael Matthews

      If you’re using the formula from my book don’t add calories in for exercise–it assumes that you will be exercising 3-5x per week.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know!

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  • Teresa Bowser

    Hey Mike, I am so happy to find your website, I love the science behind fitness so intriguing! I am new to weightlifting going into my second week now (woot woot) I have calculated my macros needed and have been following them to a T and seeing progress, plan to change them after week 2, but some days I have gone over or under a few grams here and there b/w all 3… what is the safe zone to not go under or not over (im not trying to over indulge and think its ok bc im in my safe zone) but when is it safe to say YOU HIT YOUR MACROS? ps im purchasing your book thinner leaner stronger :) cant wait!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Teresa! I really appreciate the kind words. :)

      Great job on starting! Glad to hear it.

      Totally fine to go over or under a little. Generally speaking I try to stay within 100 calories of my target. 50 if I’m cutting.

      Hope this helps! And lemme know what you think of TLS!

  • thomas

    Great article but how many times a week should I lift and should I target different body groups for each session eg upper body and lower body. Just starting to get into this im about 90kg of fat wanna loose fat and replace it with muscle

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! This really depends on what type of program you’re following.

      My Bigger Leaner Stronger program has you lifting 3-5x per week, targeting 1-2x muscle groups per workout.

      Push-pull-legs splits often have you training your entire body 2-3x per week, but the workouts are lower in volume and intensity.

      Both approaches work. I’ve always preferred a traditional routine because I like focusing on one major muscle group per workout as opposed to preforming big lifts like squats and bench presses in the same workout.

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  • Erin

    Most of the time I am under my calorie deficit but I will go over in protein and carbs. How can I fix this?

  • Manish Arya

    While losing fat, one shud do full body workouts or training one body part per day is better?

  • Manish Arya

    While losing fat, one shud do full body workouts or single body part per day is better?

    • Michael Matthews

      Neither have fat loss advantages over the other.

  • Mike Thompson

    I recently went through this process of dropping fat and building muscle simultaneously – not impossible, but definitely have to get the nutrient timing down and the proper food ratios. Over 12 weeks I dropped 8% BF and added 8 lbs of lean muscle – using heavy lifting, compound moves, and HIIT. I used BCAAs for the first time ever as well and I really feel it made a difference while cutting. Every other time I’ve cut, I’ve dropped too much weight and lost my gains.
    Good articles Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, great job! That rocks!

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  • Nik

    Hi Michael, great post and great book (BLS). I’m 25 and just turned vegetarian (almost vegan) 3 months ago. I’m 180 pounds at about 24 – 25 % bodyfat (assuming from the pictures in your other article, I just purchased on amazon AccuMeasure and waiting for it!), but I’ve just lost more than 25 pounds since I turned veg!

    From your book I know I should be cutting, but I recently started bulking before reading the book because I couldn’t lose anymore weight, I was stuck for a couple of weeks.

    Judging from this article, I think I should do a body re-composition instead, or maybe go back directly to cutting, but I do want more muscles before cutting, even because my goal is about 15 % bodyfat, I don’t feel the need to be ripped like you man :)

    So, after all this, can you please help an undecided man trying to get back in shape ? Should I bulk and worry about it in March/April, should I try re-comp or should I go back to cutting ? Thank you so much.

    Ciao from Italy.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Nik!

      Great job on the weight loss! That rocks.

      You should definitely start cutting. 15% is good for the first milestone. Let’s do it!

      Let me know what you think!

      • Nik

        100 % cutting ? Don’t you think I would be able to do a body recomp and build some muscles while losing a little fat and go 100 % cutting in a couple of months? I do want to get a little more muscles, that’s why I ask. I don’t want to be 15% but with small muscles! So, should I do 1.5 gr of carbs per pound of BW or how much ? Sorry but I want to make sure I do the right thing!

        • Michael Matthews

          Definitely a cut first. Don’t fall into the recomp trap. Check out this article of mine:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

          This will help too:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /build-muscle-lose-fat/

          • Nik

            Ok, great! Thanks for the advice an the additional articles!

          • Michael Matthews

            YW!

  • Nick Murphy

    You are recommending a lot of protein. I’m 175 pounds and you are suggesting 210g of protein a day. The only way I could get up to that amount is to take supplements.

    • Michael Matthews

      Supplementation makes it easier, yes, but isn’t completely necessary. Remember you can eat a LOT of protein at once:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-protein-absorption-how-often-you-should-eat-protein-to-build-muscle/

  • Nick Murphy

    Michael, I weigh 175 pounds. According to your forumula I should eat 210g of protein a day. That doesn’t seem feasible.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, that’s a good intake level for cutting.

      Are you a vegetarian or vegan or?

  • Preston Ray

    Mike, I’ve got to admit that I was a skeptic when I first read that you say to do only 5-8 reps per set, since I was obviously caught up in the whole 10-12 rep range “super hypertrophy” idea. But about a month ago I decided to just say screw it, since I wasn’t happy with my gains in the 2 months leading up to that point. I also started your diet, which at the time seemed like a mythical, somewhat impossible idea. However, in the past month I’ve gained about 5 pounds, my arms have gone from 16.2″ to 17″, and my body fat is slowly going down, making that weight gain seem all the more impressive to my own goals. Thanks a ton Mike, you’re definitely revolutionizing the natural weightlifting community. Also, as soon as I can afford it (college =/= extra money) I’m going to invest in your supplement line because hell, your result speak for themselves. No reason for me to buy equally priced shit on Amazon that’s sold by people who don’t have any solid evidence that it works.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I totally understand. I was that guy for about 7 years, lol.

      Wow, awesome with your gains so far. That’s REALLY impressive. Great job man–keep it up.

      I appreciate your support as well. We’re ready when you are. Would love to get your feedback on the supps.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Jennifer

    Hi Mike! I just came across your site yesterday and find it so helpful .. thank you! Question – how does one know if they are able to do body recomp or just go right for a cutting plan? I am not new to training at all. Have been training regularly for a year or so .. last year was training for a bodybuilding comp (bikini division). I got pretty lean then but did gain back body fat. So now .. I just want to be in the best shape ever .. and lose this body fat.

    Jennifer

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jennifer!

      If you want to get leaner, just cut. A real recomp is only possible for newbies. If you’re an experienced lifter, you’ll want to just focus on getting lean, and then staying there while you build muscle slowly.

      Lemme know what you think!

      • Jennifer

        Thanks .. that’s what I was thinking. Ok .. I’d like to get your Thinner, Leaner, Stronger book. I need help. lol

        • Michael Matthews

          No worries. Yeah give it a read! I think you’ll really like it!

          • Jennifer

            I did purchase the book. Actually 4 of your books. They come on tues. can’t wait ! Thanks

          • Michael Matthews

            Oh wow, thanks! Let me know what you think!

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  • Marc

    Hi Michael! Great articel but is it ok to workout 3x times a week with HIIT after every workout or should i workout 5x times a week
    I´m going to try Max-ot program since it has the same concept as yours but with 3x times a week instead of 5x so it would look something like this:

    Monday – Chest and Shoulders/Traps

    Wednesday – Legs

    Friday – Back and Arms & Abs

    Whats your thoughts on it?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! 5x HIIT would be a bit much. I do 2-3 HIIT while maintaining/bulking and 3-4x when cutting.

      Max OT is good in its principles, but I don’t like a lot of their workouts. They’re too low volume and the exercise choices are really weird sometimes.

      • Marc

        Could you share a 3x times a week program while cutting?

        • Michael Matthews

          Lifting or?

          • Marc

            Yeah

          • Michael Matthews

            Cool I’d recommend either a standard push-pull-legs or my 3-day program I give in Bigger Leaner Stronger.

  • Eddie

    Mike,

    I’m 171 pounds and 5’8. Been lifting for one year and a half now. I made quite some gains (I weighted 145 back then) but that gains came with a body fat of course. I used a lot of MassGainers and been steadily in low-rep lifting routine.

    So now I’m in a crossroads. I know I can build more muscle but I don’t want my body fat anymore. Do I apply to this body recomp?

    If not, for how long should I cut and bulk? And should I do HIIT while bulking?

    • Marc

      Try lean bulking( caloric surplus of 100-150 calories) and hit cardio one a month

      • adsf

        once*

    • Michael Matthews

      You can simply go for a cut and whether you build muscle or not will depend on how you’re training and how strictly you stick to your meal plan.

      It sounds like you should cut. Check out this article of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      I like to do cardio when I bulk:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

  • John

    Great article, Mike. Just a few questions.

    1. At what BF % range would you say it’s possible to both lose fat and gain muscle?

    2. How much muscle could you expect to gain? Aren’t we only talking a pound or two afterall you’re not bulking up?

    3. I walk a lot about 4-5 miles a day. Would this hinder muscle growth or doesn’t it matter as it’s low intensity?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks John! Most people I’ve seen that can build muscle while losing fat start above 15% body fat.

      Common is ~1 pound of lean mass gained for every ~3 pounds of fat lost.

      Possibly. That’s a lot of walking… I talk about this more here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

      • John

        Thanks for that, Mike – especially yje point on lean mass gained to pounds of fat lost

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Let me know how it goes!

  • John

    Mike, in this article you say some people can cut fat and burn muscle at the same time. But in this article https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/ you say if you have more than 15% BF you should cut first and it’s not really possible to do both.

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry for the confusion. The bottom line is if you’re new to weightlifting, or to proper weightlifting, you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. If you’re not, however, you just can’t. It’s really that simple.

  • John

    Mike, my calories based on BMR (1680) and activity level (x1.35) comes to around 2270 – or 2000 on Sedentary days (x1.2). A 15% reduction would be approximately 1900 and 1700.

    I haven’t got a car so have to walk at least 2 miles a day (over 200 calories). On gym days (3 times a week) this is another 2 miles (another 200 calories). How should I factor this into my programme? Do I need HIIT cardio? If so, I guess I’d be limiting to just 20 minutes or so (300 calories).

    With my walking and HIIT would I be better off eating at maintenance and cutting not from diet but from my walking and HIIT?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. Are you lifting as well?

      • John

        Yes, I’m lifting as well. 3x a week

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool let’s start you on 2200 per day with no HIIT cardio, just your walking. Let’s do about 1900 on your rest days. Let’s give it 7-10 days and see how your body responds.

          • John

            I was begining to think that, Mike. I was doing ‘double cardio’ with my walking and HIIT – on top of calorie reduction. I’ll give it 7-10 days as you say – but perhaps after Christmas now :)

          • john

            Actually, Mike I was doing 1900 (gym days) 1700 (rest days) – these based on 15% reduction. I was doing them with my walking AND HIIT(on gym days). Too much!

            You say 2200 and 1900 with no HIIT – just my walking.

            What about 1900 and 1700 without HIIT? My BMR is 1680. Sorry, if this is confusing!

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. Yeah 1,900/1,700 is a fine place to start. Ultimately we’ll just have to see how your body responds and adjust accordingly….

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool, sounds good.

  • nazrin

    Hi Michael, i would like to ask, does continuously intermittent fasting followed by workout in the AM, and break the fast in dinner time (including first sip of water) would cause fat loss plateau? I have been trying this way to shed off excess weight but it seems like every morning the scale doesnt show favourable number.
    thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      I don’t recommend doing this. Read my article on IF and then read more on Berkhan’s LeanGains method.

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-definitive-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

  • owenjerome

    Great article. I am just starting my journey towards building muscle and adding mass. Goal, going from 150 to 175lbs on a 6’1 thin frame. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. Thanks again Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Keep me posted on your progress!

  • George Peklaris

    Great article. I came across this product from a good friend of mine with an Essentra and WellTrim iG combo. What is your opinion?

  • John

    Isn’t the “building muscle, losing fat at the same time” idea just really for people who are already quite lean? Lyle McDonald in his work suggests a calorific increase on training days together with calorific deficit on rest days. Over the week this pretty much balances out – so really only for people who are lean already.

    http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/ultimate-diet-20

    • Michael Matthews

      No, it’s mainly for people that are new to weightlifting or proper weightlifting (emphasizing heavy, compound lifting).

      Surplus/deficit dieting is for experienced weightlifters that want to slowly build muscle while staying lean (6-8%).

  • John

    Mike, some fitness experts such as Lyle mcDonald and Tom Ventuto say you can only lose muscle and gain fat at the same time if you increase your calories on workout days and cut back on rest days. This more or less balances out to maintenance level (slightly below actually if you cut back 4 days a week and train the other 3).
    You and others say you can increase muscle on a calorie deficit (for overweight newbies). I’m reading conflicting – and confusing messages.

    • Michael Matthews

      People new to weightlifting, or to proper weightlifting, with a fair amount of fat to lose can absolutely build muscle and lose fat in a calorie deficit. I get emails from guys doing it every day.

      That style of dieting works well for the maintenance of a well-developed physique, but I’ve yet to come across anyone with at least a few years of proper lifting under their bets that has used the surplus/deficit approach to lose fat and build muscle. Once your newbie gains are gone, you simply can’t do it anymore, regardless of how you eat and train.

  • moss

    hi mike! what’s your take on walking (on an incline treadmill) interspersed with brief bursts of running. any good as a muscle-preserving, fat-loss cardio?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure if you want to use incline walking as your low-intensity intervals you can do that. But just incline walking burns too little calories to be worthwhile IMO.

  • Jaga

    Have u heard about carb backloading ? What’s ur thought on that cause many have lose fat and gained muscle through that diet

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I know about it and it doesn’t offer anything special. You can eat that way if you want, but it doesn’t unlock magical gains like some people claim.

  • amanda hodges

    I have been following this for 8 weeks. Im a 34 year old mom of 2 kids ages 1 and 2. At 5’3″ I started at 141.1 pounds and after 8 weeks am 129.0. Actually LESS than when I first got pregnant. I have lots of energy and weight train 5-6 days per week along with 20 minutes HIIT cardio 2-5 days.
    I am judging my progress visually and I cant believe my new muscle definition! Even my husband commented that my arms were “muscley” when I picked up our baby last week. I seriously cant wait for swimsuit season this year!!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, great job Amanda! I love it! Shoot me an email–I’d love to feature you a success story on the website if you’re interested! Mike@muscleforlife.com.

      And keep up the good work! :)

  • Dan

    Mike, In your “Hardgainer’s Guide, you mentioned that during a proper bulk, you can gain .5-1.5 lbs of muscle per week. How many pounds of muscle can you gain per week during a body recomp, and How many pounds of fat can you lose per week during a body recomp as well?

    • Michael Matthews

      I can only go off anecdotal evdience here (the people I’ve personally worked with), but someone with a fair amount of weight to lose and new to weightlifting should have no trouble losing 15-20 pounds of fat while gaining about 5 pounds of muscle. The newbie gains seem to end around here.

      • Dan

        How many weeks/months does it take to reach the end of newbie gains and get the 15-20 lbs of fat loss & 5 lbs of muscle gains?

        • Johnny

          I’d like to know this too. I could do with losing 12-15 pounds of fat. I’m not new to weight-training – but new to doing it right. I’m sceptical about making muscle gains. Do you know of studies which prove you can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?

          • Johnny

            Mike, when I last was weighed – I was 173 pounds, 133 lean, 40 fat – BF %, 23%. If I lost 15 pounds of fat and gained 5 pounds of muscle my stats would be lean 138, fat 25, body fat 15%. Is that possible – and how long would it take?

          • Michael Matthews

            Honestly I can’t say for sure if it’s possible for you or not, but I’ve seen guys do it. If you can, it will take somewhere around 4-5 months.

          • Michael Matthews

            The only studies I’ve seen that showed this was possible were steroid studies, but I’m 100% positive it can be done without drugs because at this point I’ve emailed with scores of guys that have done it. Some even got DEXA scanned before starting the program and at the 6-8 month mark and the results were right there: reduction in fat mass, increase in lean mass.

        • Michael Matthews

          Newbie gains seem to last around 6-8 months, and I’ve seen quite a few guys accomplish those numbers in that time.

          • The Swiss Miss

            I’m a newbie, been weight training with TLS for about 2 months now. I’m 6ft tall, 44 yrs old, started at 78 kgs with about (I think) 29% body fat, if I’ve used my calipers right. Anyway, I’m now 80 kgs, but body fat is down to 26% and jeans are much loser! Target is 20 %. God only knows how much I will weigh then! For a girl, it is the freakiest experience I can tell you! Spent all my life trying to keep the scale numbers at a healthy weight, this, this really messes with my mind! Lol I’ve now stopped with the scales and use calipers and measuring tape instead. Far less traumatic! Lol

          • Michael Matthews

            Great job on your gains! That rocks. You’re adding muscle and losing fat.

            Lol yeah many women are really surprised to see their weight go up but measurements go down. I talk about it here:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-ultimate-fitness-plan-for-women/

            Keep up the good work and keep me posted. Take pictures too! I’d love to feature you on the website once you reach your goal!

  • Farhan

    Mike, I’m about 6’0 170 pounds and around 13-14% BF, my FFMI is around 20 give or take.

    I dieted down from 185. I felt much better around 175, I wasn’t as fat as 180 but not as small as 170. I’ve lost pretty much all fat on this cut.

    My goal is to pack on muscle while looking relatively good, not fat. Should I cut to 10% before bulking and stay in 10-13% range until I’m happy with my size, or just bulk now?

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool on your stats and good job on the successful cut.

      If I were you, I would continue down to the 10% range so you have a good “buffer” for fat gain while bulking. You can ride that up to 16% or so before having the cut down again…

      What do you think?

      • Farhan

        I agree with you. A cut gets psychologically draining after a while. But I think riding it out to 10% would make me much more excited about approaching bulking. Thanks for the encouragement!

        Also, I’ve just found your site recently. Up until now, I had achieved my fat loss through carb cycling, almost no cardio, and a training routine where I do low reps (4-6) on one compound movement and then a bunch of exercises in the 8-12 range. I average 12-15 sets a body part, except for bis/tris, where I get closer to 9. I also only hit failure on the last set of each exercises. So if I’m doing 4-6, it’ll be 6,6,5 (failure). Even though this is working, should I just go ahead and switch up to your routine amidst my cut? Maybe I’ll even see some muscle gain? I was also thinking I can add in some HIIT to make up for the lower volume.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah I know, cutting does get old after 4-5 weeks. But you’re close to 10%, so let’s just get you there.

          Cool on what you’ve done so far, and I think you’ll like my routine more because higher rep work sucks when you’re cutting. It’s REALLY draining, as you’ve probably experienced.

          Adding some HIIT would be a good idea too. Ideally you will lift 5x per week and do HIIT 3x per week for 20-25 min per session.

          • Farhan

            So I got DEXA scanned today, and I’m actually 16.3% bodyfat at 171.1 pounds. I’m still going to cut down to 10%, is that a good idea? I hate being this skinny and just started creatine. I’m hoping the bloat can help my muscles look fuller.

            I am not sure how to track my fat loss since my accumeasure chart said I was 12.7%. Should I just add 3.5% to the measurement from now on?

          • Michael Matthews

            Cool I like it. Yes that’s a good idea. Hmm I think you’re just pinching wrong. It sounds like you’re not grabbing enough skin?

  • confused Joe

    Hey Mike,
    I’ll try to keep this simple. I’m 20 years old and 5′ 10″. 4 months ago I was 220lbs. After 3 months of being on the paleo diet, I dropped down to 190lbs, but hit a weight-loss plateau. I’ve been hitting the gym and lifting for a few weeks now. I’ve lost only one pound over 3 weeks but definitely see my body toning up. I still want to/have to lose about another 15-20lbs of fat. I’m eating at a calorie deficit (eating about 1700 calories a day) but making sure to get around 150g of protein a day. Even after reading your article, I still feel a little discouraged about losing fat and building muscle at the same time. I don’t want to focus only on weight loss only to end up awkwardly scrawny and I don’t want to build muscles at the cost of halting/reversing my fat loss.
    What do you recommend I do from here? Continue working out, getting protein, and being on calorie deficit? Or should I focus on losing the rest of my fat before I work on building muscle? Thanks man!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting Joe!

      Great job on the weight loss. That rocks.

      As you’re new to lifting, it’s possible that you can build muscle while continuing to lose fat. Minimally you can maintain your lean mass while losing fat.

      I recommend you get to the 10% body fat range and then switch to a clean bulk where you can focus on building muscle:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      You should also check out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program. You’re in a perfect place to really take advantage of it…

  • Johnny

    Is it better to lose fat by a combination of calorie reduction and some cardio – or is diet alone sufficient? I ask as I don’t like cardio at all!!

    Mike, you talk of HIIT and cite a study which centred on 4×30 second all-out sprints. This is what I understand by HIIT – half a minute or a minute full blast sprints. But you are recommending 20 minutes of HIIT. Isn’t this the ‘fat burning zone’ you reject? You can’t go all-out sprinting for 20 minutes. Ask Usain Bolt!

    Regarding gaining muscle on a calorie deficit – that may be possible for the groups you say – but isn’t it more likely muscle mass could be retained rather than improved upon? Are you building people’s hopes up?

    • Michael Matthews

      I find that calorie restriction alone can take you up to a certain point, but then you have to add cardio to keep losing fat.

      Haha yeah you do 30-45 second sprints and then 45-60 second low-intensity intervals and repeat this for 20-25 minutes. Not 20-25 minutes of sprinting. :)

      If someone is already fit and an experienced weightlifter, then yes maintaining mass is the goal. But if someone is overweight and new to weightlifting, or to proper weightlifting, it’s quite likely that they’ll build a little muscle while getting leaner. I think I make this point clear though…

  • Richard Rohloff

    Hi Mike im 39 years old 6 foot 5 321 lbs. Im very overweight obviously. Ive begun dieting and working out. Im not counting carbs but my starches are whole wheat toast or oatmeal in am, some carbs after workout and maybe half a sweet potato at night. Otherwise im eating veggies, fruit, chicken, fish, nuts, some cheese, beef, protein shakes. Am I taking in too few carbs? Im lifting 4 days a week and cardio 3-4 days a week. Im tryimg to maximize fat loss while build/maintain muscle. My end goal is an in shape 240 with muscle. Thank you for any feedback

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  • Jason Rothstein

    building muscle and dropping fat as we speak, slow process FOR SURE, alot of trial and errors..since building muscle is more of a goal then a drastic bodyfat drop at 177 my macros are 250 protein 225 carbs and 55 fat, i guess the intensity of my workouts/ hit puts me in a caloric deficit or maintenance cause my numbers are higher then yours

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Jason I’m glad to hear you’re rolling. Your macros are fairly high but if you’re losing you’re losing. Keep up the good work.

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  • Brielle Wanderlust

    This just opened my eyes like “woah!!!” I am already pretty skinny but I have fat around my belly. Not a lot. But enough. I started running for 30 minutes on the treadmill thinking that that would help me burn more fat so I could start building my abs. I felt like I had to burn the fat first so I could start to define my abdominal muscles. But you’re saying 4-6 30 second sprints combined with the ab/core exercises you list in another article are going to shape my abs/core faster?!

    • Michael Matthews

      I think this is a repost? I replied to the other…

  • Tricon7

    I have about 20 pounds to go before I get a flat stomach, but I also want to build muscle and get in better shape. I used to be more muscular than I am now (and fatter), and my muscles have atrophied somewhat. I’m in a calorie deficit now to eliminate my pot belly, and I’m also eating lots of protein to feed my muscles after my workouts. I’ve heard that as long as I’m in a deficit, I won’t build muscle. But I can look in the mirror and see better shape and larger muscles already, so I know something is working. How is this explained? Btw, I’m 49, 5’10″ and about 190 lbs.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on what you’re doing and you can definitely build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. I explain it in this article…

  • Brielle Wanderlust

    This just opened my eyes like “woah!!!” I am already pretty skinny but I have fat around my belly. Not a lot. But enough. I started running for 30 minutes on the treadmill thinking that that would help me burn more fat so I could start building my abs. I felt like I had to burn the fat first so I could start to define my abdominal muscles. But you’re saying 4-6 30 second sprints combined with the ab/core exercises you list in another article are going to shape my abs/core faster?!

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks Brielle! Yes, HIIT + a proper diet + weightlifting is the guaranteed way to build an awesome core.

  • Fitnesskoala

    I’m confused on the HIIT workout. 4-6 30 seconds sprints with 4-6 min of rest. Would I be walking or jogging during that 4-6 min in between?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry for the confusion. You want to sprint for about 30 seconds and then rest for about 30 seconds, and repeat this. You don’t have to do 4-6 min of rest like the study. That’s more than necessary.

  • Mohamad Fakih

    Hey Mike,

    Thank You for this article, however I have a question. About a month ago I started hitting the gym again after stopping for about 3 years( I’m 19 now) the thing is I thought I’d benefit from the noob gains again , and instead of building muscle, I put on about 2 pounds of fat along with 1-2 pounds of muscle if not less and I was really devastated since I was left with some sort of a beer belly now. So my question is : if I follow your guideline, would I benefit from some muscle gain rather than simply maintaining them and losing a bit of fat? I’m currently at 160 lbs with about 17-18% of body fat. Thank You!

    • Michael Matthews

      You’re welcome!

      Hmm it sounds like you need to cut first. Let’s get you to the 10% range and then worry about focusing on muscle growth. You will build muscle while getting to 10% if you train and eat properly.

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  • Lance

    Hi Mike, I just joined the MFL gang and I am excited (still) to get back to a physique I am proud of. The belly fat blues have worked on my confidence and drive but I am still trying to move forward. The things you say are making sense and I look forward I’m currently 200 lbs with 25% body fat and I have a goal to have a flat stomach by summer and weigh in at about 185. Is that even realistic?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lance! Cool on your stats and goal. That’s very doable.

      Let me know how it goes!

    • Lance

      Most defeated feeling ever. I just measured again after 4 weeks back in the gym. Chest got bigger by almost 2 inches. Waist stayed the same. Maybe the next 4 weeks will yield some better results.

      • Michael Matthews

        Hmm are you looking leaner? How is your diet?

        • Lance

          I look leaner in the chest and upper abs, but that spare tire area (which is where I take the measurement) has not changed an inch! My diet for the past 4 weeks has been made up of….
          Chicken breast cooked in low sodium chicken broth and Mrs. Dash in a crock pot
          Broccoli or asparagus (about 1/2 a cup)
          4.5 oz of brown rice
          Quest bars
          Gold Standard protein shakes
          1 cheat meal a week
          Plain quaker oatmeal
          Bananas
          I’m getting about 17-190 grams of protein per day and I’m looking for ways to cut my sodium, I thought this was pretty good, but obviously something is wrong. During this next 4 weeks however I am going to do HIIT 3 times per week

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay well leaner means you’re losing fat and the lower ab area is the last to lean out. I talk about why here:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-get-six-pack-abs/

            Your food choices are good but are you following a proper meal plan? Have you worked out the numbers?

          • Lance

            Therein lies the problem, I have no clue on working out the numbers I just averaged it out and I’m only taking in about 1900 calories per day. Which is why I am going to purchase the custom meal plan and a copy of bigger, leaner & stronger. I have no issues eating the same things daily, I have a burning desire to become and stay fit. I’m out of town on business this week but will place my order next week when I return and probably switch over to the legion line of supplements once I finish what I’m currently taking now. May as go all in right?

          • Michael Matthews

            Oh okay well cool we’ll definitely take care of you. You’ll have no issues and I’m always here to help and advise if necessary.

          • Lance

            I look forward to it, I’ll be posting here regularly especially as results start to show because if you can get me to my goals at age 40 as a working professional (50+ hours per week) anyone can be fit.

          • Michael Matthews

            Great, sounds good. If you can exercise 3 – 6 hours per week and stick to a sensible meal plan, you can do great.

          • Lance

            Sounds good, I’m looking forward to real progress and the ability to know and understand what I’m doing. I currently have between 6 and 10 hours per week avaiable to devote to training and with options available from the shredded chef I can switch my meals out weekly and follow the macros you instruct, I’m hoping your program proves to be successful.

          • Lance

            It’s official, meal plan paid for, about to grab bigger leaner stronger and a fat caliper. Let’s see what muscleforlife can produce

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks Lance! Let’s do it!

          • Lance

            Mike, when I attempted to download my copy of the shredded chef after purchasing my custom meal plan I got a 404 error and could not process the request. Just an FYI. Also, my scale, caliper and copy of bigger leaner stronger are in the mail! Looking forward to transformation

          • Michael Matthews

            Arg sorry about that want to shoot me an email? I’ll get it figured out.

          • Lance

            Is there a specific e mail address I should use? I’ve used the contact us tab already.

          • Michael Matthews

            Weird I never got it. Sure mike@muscleforlife.com.

          • Lance

            E-mail sent, do any of your articles explain the breakdown from calorie intake per day and how to break that down in to grams of protein etc? I used the formula one of your articles and found my TDEE and did the 20% defict and wound up at about 1,963 calories per day, but now I’m curious how to break that down in to grams of carbs, proteins and fats

          • Michael Matthews

            Great I replied. I forgot what it was in reference to so I’ll resend now.

            Yeah I talk about it here:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

          • Lance

            The mail officially takes too long…….

          • Michael Matthews

            I understand! That’s more than enough time. you’ll do great.

  • torere

    I completely agree that it is possible to lose fat and ‘regain’ muscle/strength at the same time. I fall into the category of having been both bigger and stronger in the past. I have successfully managed to lose fat and gain strength and muscle on two occasions. Both times I lost about 9-10kg and gained strength on all of my compound exercises. Diet-wise I just stopped eating junk food, fizzy drinks, and alcohol, reduced my calorie intake each day to about 20% below maintenance intake levels and made sure I had adequate protein. I also used creatine daily during the entire time. I started both times at about 95kg and after 12 weeks I was 87.5kg. Compound exercises are definitely the way to go.

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome, thanks for sharing! Keep up the good work!

  • Nick

    Hey i am a 15 year old (just turned 2 months ago) Male I am about 5’8 and i weigh 106kg. Since i am younger will this work better or worse for me. just wondering because im desperate to lose weight and have some muscle

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Nick! You’re in a great age to start lifting weights, but I wouldn’t recommend restriction calories as it can interfere with the development of your body.

      Instead, I would recommend you start lifting weights 3-5x per week and doing cardio 3-4x per week and just eat normally, including protein with each meal, and your body will respond really well.

  • Wes

    Any recommendations for HIIT for someone with bad knees? Sprinting causes a lot of pain and swelling for me. Is there anything else I could do?

    • Michael Matthews

      Recumbent biking!

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  • Ricardo Sousa

    Hi Mike, is it possible to substitute the HIIT cardio for a jiu jitsu fighting session?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure!

  • Lance

    Another question…..I am getting used to squatting again but my body doesn’t seem to like going past parallel with heavier weight. Would going to box squats with heavy weight work until I can get more comfortable with full squats? Or should I just do full squats with lower weight and increase weight slowly?

    • Michael Matthews

      You don’t have to do full squats but I would recommend getting a little below parallel. Just lower the weights. Box squats are really only using for breaking through plateaus. They’re not good for regular training.

      • Lance

        Thanks, I’ll dial down the weight and increase as my comfort levels grow

        • Michael Matthews

          Perfect let me know how it goes.

          • Lance

            Been a few days since my last post. The squatting is going well, I’m getting past parallel with more weight than I had anticipated and will look to add more as soon as I hit 6 working reps. I also received my copy of BLS, my scale and my caliper in the mail. I do have a question though, now that I have a far more accurate way to measure my body fat, do I need to purchase another meal plan for my cut? Or will the current plan apply until I get down in to that 10% – 15% range? Also, since you do so well at replying to everything (quite amazing actually) I have to believe there’s an issue with your “Contac us” tab which I have used twice with no response, but whenever I post here you reply within a day or 2……just an FYI

          • Michael Matthews

            Awesome that’s great! No body fat percentage doesn’t affect TDEE much so that’s okay. We can always adjust based on how your body responds too.

            My pleasure and which contact us tab are you referring to exactly?

          • Lance

            The one under the “My services” tab at the bottom.

          • Michael Matthews

            Oh wow I didn’t now there was one in there. I’ll see where those emails are going.

  • Roach

    Great article. I am undergoing the body recomposition right now, 5 weeks ago started with 78 kgs now down to 73, I see more definition and also my strength has gone up in the gym. Initially went on a drastic calorie cut but saw your video about metabolism crashing, so went right back to 500 deficit zone. Doing cardio post lifting and results are good so far. Hopefully I shall drop to 10% before I can trigger a slow clean bulk.

    My only question to you is about HIIT v. Moderate cardio – The debate confuses me, personally I love HIIT but people like Kris gethin and even Greg Plitt argue that HIIT on a deficit might lead to muscle loss.
    Also right now my HIIT is like Sprinting at 11 mph for 30 seconds, 2 mins low intensity (superset low intensity cycling) and repeat for 5 times.

    Bodybuilding is so much about education.

    Thanks

  • Aaron

    Hello! I just stumbled upon this article last night and ended up buying your book, bigger stronger leaner as well. I’m 5’7″, and at the end of October I weighed around 180 something pounds with probably 23 or 24% body fat. From then to January, I lost over 30 lbs, but my results seem to have stagnated there. I’m currently 148 and at 14% body fat. (I was doing P90x). I’ve resigned myself to the fact that fat loss is still my primary goal as I’m trying to get to 10% while building as much muscle as I can. Once I get that low, I’ll bulk to add some more muscle. Do you recommend your cutting diet plan (protein 1.2 x body weight, carbs 1 x body weight, and fat .2 x body weight) for me to get to that mark while lifting 3-4 times a week and doing cardio 4-5 times a week? Thanks!

    • Aaron

      Or do you think I’d be better served to start trying to add more muscle first before trying to lose that last 5-7 lbs of body fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Aaron! Let me know how you like the book.

      Cool on your progress so far! That’s great. You’re in a great place to start my program.

      Yeah I think you should get to the 10% range first and you’ll probably build some muscle at the same time, so you can’t lose.

      What do you think?

  • Katrina O. Simon

    Hi..im confused about Hiit training..its like intense interval training right? Im nrw to weight loss..started doing high intensity interval training in the trradmill by December..I know it works..because I lose some inches..although few pounds..I want to lose weight..im a lady 23yrs old..started working out october..I never workout in my entire life even any sports..I joined the gym..my starting weight was 137pounds with 31~32% body fat..currently im 125pounds..my scale shows I have 27 % body fat. But its not always accurate..anyway I do 15mins power walk..3.0incline but interval..just to wake my body up in the morning..then I added 30~35mins speed running interval in a 1.0incline..I divide it in 6sections..5mins each..1minute walk fast..2mins running 6.2 speed..then 1min jogging 5.0speed so I can catch up my breath a little bit but at the same time my heart beat is elevated..and 1minute 3.0slow walk to recover..is that a hiit training.?????? I sweat so much.I can breath heavily..I do weightlifting in the night time..I do basic lunges, squats, chest press, shoulder press, row, 60sec plank, side plank.. sit ups and bicycles and oh before I can do girly push ups bow I can do full push ups 15~20xthose
    are my basic. I can tell I build muscle quickly in my biceps..calves and rear legs due to running and squat,lunges..and my calves is tight too

  • McLain J.

    Quick question…when you advise the protein, carb, fat breakdown above do you mean, for example, 1.2 grams per pound of body weight of a protein source (like tuna or chicken as a whole) or do you mean only adding up the actual grams of protein within one serving of tuna or chicken? For instance, this can of tuna I’m about to eat, when drained, contains 4oz of fish which weighs 112 grams. Yet, of that 112 grams of tuna, only 20 grams are actually listed as protein on the label. So, I’d have to eat 10 cans of tuna today to get to my 200 grams of protein if we are doing the latter. Thanks!!

    • Michael Matthews

      All protein added up together. You can get it from all kinds of sources of course.

  • Lance

    Update…..so it’s been about 3 or 4 weeks now since I changed my method of working out from the staple 3 sets of 10-12 over to the progressive overload way of training and I have to say I am very pleased! 3 weeks ago I posted about not having lost any inches from my waist, but in that 3 weeks I received BLS, my fat caliper and food scale and I measured again and in the last 3 weeks (not even following the full plan yet mind you) I’m down an inch and 1/2 in my waist and my body fat has dropped from 25% to 23.2% (Is losing 2% body fat in 3 weeks good?). I am now even more motivated to finish BLS and go full bore with my meal plan. So thanks again Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Lance, that’s great! I hope you’re taking pics! Keep me posted on how it goes!

      • Lance

        I’m actually going to take some this weekend prior to going all in on the diet. The results are coming quicker than I anticipated. I was working with 60lb DBs on the flat 2 weeks ago (3 sets of 10-12) and last night I did 80s for 5 and then 4 on my last set. The strength gains are coming faster than the loss of body fat but I am guessing that they will start becoming more noticeable as well

        • Michael Matthews

          Perfect! Love the gains. That rocks.

          • Lance

            Quick question Mike, on my meal plan my dinner lists 3 meats I choose from but they are not associated to any of the TSC recipes. I was wondering if it mattered how I prepared it or not (not deep fried obviously)? Could I still prep in a slow cooker with chicken broth and some veggies? Thanks

          • Michael Matthews

            Yup so long as you’re not using additional oil you’re fine. You can use a cooking spray for instance.

  • Jason Weakley

    I am new to all this, and for the month of March I am committing to starting to change my lifestyle – I will be 31 and want to get into better shape and stay there. What I would like to know is how to build a 30-40 minute workout. I’d like to know more about exactly what each exercise “move” means, how to do them, etc. I would love to see more videos on YouTube if possible with lots of “How To” information. Thanks for everything so far!

  • John

    Thanks for the article, Mike. I reduced my weight a great deal – now my trousers are loose – but the problem is, now I look like a matchstick, too thin. This is because I haven’t gained muscle while losing fat. If I eat more/lift heavy to gain muscle, wouldn’t I again risk adding fat? My whole purpose of dieting was to reduce the fat in my midsection – if I eat more now to gain muscle, wouldn’t the whole purpose be wasted? I am frustrated as to what to do………

    • Michael Matthews

      Glad you liked it! Great job on the weight loss.

      Check out this article. It will help you.

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

    • Franz

      This is where I’m at right now. The problem was my caloric deficit was too much. I needed at least 2.3kcal per day but based on my estimations I only ate 1.6-1.7kcal per day. Not good. Trying this and increased my calories by 300-400. Hope I see muscle growth :)

      • Michael Matthews

        Cool man well let me know how it goes!

  • Ahmad Khan

    which foods should you eat for this to work if you’re overweight? Also, which foods should be avoided?

  • Brianne

    Is the grams of carbs, fat and protein slightly less or the same for women?

    • Michael Matthews

      Same for women.

  • Lisa Riley

    Great article, I’ve been doing steady state cardio forever so I’m going to switch to HIIT and will now check my carb, protein and fat intake each day. When I receive your book in the next couple of days I’ll have lots more info to help me. I’ve also ordered some callipers to check my percentage body fat, as altho I’m 120 pounds I can pinch an inch on my belly and I want it gone!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lisa! Let me know how it goes! And we can get rid of the belly fat! :)

  • Lance

    A quick update and a few questions. Down to 192lbs and I am grinding out more reps at current weights with the exception of my deads which I have increased by 40lbs in 2 weeks. My body fat is holding at 23% but I look bigger in the chest, shoulders and arms so I’m thinking that will start to drop soon as well seeing as this is my 1st true week on my meal plan. My question(s)…you reference water in BLS and how bottled isn’t the best option, but filtered, are you saying that I’m better off filtering tap water than buying aquafina? With no training partner I am not upping my weight until I can handle 6 reps, is that too passive? Lastly (for now) is rowing an effective HIIT method? As always, thanks Mike
    Lance

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on your gains! Definitely keep me posted.

      Really depends on what kind of filter you use. IMO pick up a decent reverse osmosis filter and you’ll be golden.

      Once you can hit 6 reps on one set with good form you’re ready to move up.

      Yes rowing is good for HIIT.

      • Lance

        Another update….down to 189 (1 lb per week) and 21% body fat, but the exciting thing is that the spare tire is finally starting to shrink! not a 6 pack (4 flexed), not quite flat…..but progress is evident. Broke throught the 200lb plateau on my flat bench as well. Also got some great advice on dinner variations from Nico (thanks again). Almost achieved my short goal of reaching the teens in bodyfat so I’m truly starting to think that 13%-15% by summer is more than doable. Only thing I am waiting on is the quad pack so I can start on the legion line. As strange as this may sound I’m looking forward to going in to the calorie surplus in the fall to see what I look like next summer already…….results are addictive.
        Thanks Mike,
        Lance

        • Michael Matthews

          Awesome! Congrats!

          Keep up the good work. Legion will be fully back soon!

          Yup bulking is fun after cutting and maintaining for a bit and cutting is fun after bulking for a bit. Works nicely. :)

  • Enriq

    Hello Michael. When you calculate your calories and use 1.2 ,1.3 ,1.5 factors to multiply BMR, what do that factors include? Lifestyle+gym+cardio, lifestyle+gym or only lifestyle(work, car driving, eating)? Is the 1.5 factor the maximum recomended for no pro people who workout 45min-1h and 30min cardio 6 days week? Also, what is included in that -20% caloric def? I ask you this because I’m afraid in losing muscle mass even if I’m doing all as you say, but i’ve lost about 3.3lbs this week having a 1.5factor 1900kcal deficit diet. However, other weeks I don’t arrive lose even 1lb. Is really as that easy to lose muscle if all is perfect done (10gBCAA’s before fasting, correct amount of cals, protein, carbs, fats) or is it OK since probably the most part is coming from fat even exceeding those 2lb/week? Have you one time exceeded those 2lb/week?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good questions! Check out this on the multipliers:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Standard multipliers are too high. Mine are a bit lower.

      Not sure what’s going on with your weight. Sounds like water fluctuations though. You do lose faster in the beginning as total body water and glycogen levels go down.

      • John

        Over the past 3 months, I’ve lost 12 pounds of weight – which is good. A steady pound a week. Unfortunately 4 pound of that is ‘lean’. Is that muscle? Water? My waist has shrunk 2 inches in that time. It looks like my arms are more muscley but that could be less fat making them appear bigger.
        I train 3 times a week – 3 hours. Using Katch-Mcadle my BMR is 1640 but you say add 1.2 whch gives total of 1948. Knocking off 20% gives 1574 calories. Actually I’m doing about 1700 – just above BMR. If you are an a calorie deficit do you need HIIT as well?
        Finally, there’s no concrete studies showing you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time…I’m thinking am I wasting my time if I’m losing muscle?

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s great. As you lose water it registers a loss of lean mass. Ignore that.

          The big indicator is STRENGTH. If your strength is steady, you’re not losing muscle.

          You could do about a 1.35 multiplier which would put your deficit cals around 1700, so that’s good.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • John

            So should I ignore these body fat % measurements? Just focus on toatl weight, waist circumferance and basically if it looks like I’ve gained muscle? I’m lifting heavier weights. By the way, what weight should I be lifting? Basically I’m doing about 50 kilos for bench, deadlifts and squats. This is 20 kilos for the bar and 30 kilos of weight. Is that too light?

          • Michael Matthews

            Well body fat % is good but lean mass readings are going to be “incorrect” in that losing WATER isn’t losing MUSCLE FIBERS.

            Work in the 4-6 rep range. Whatever weight that lets you push…

          • john

            I’ve been doing 10-12 reps. From what you say here, it should be 4-6 reps. Obviously if I do fewer reps I can increase the weight.

          • Michael Matthews

            Yes, focus on the heavy compound lifting and you will see better results.

      • Enriq

        Thank you Michael! Your article is perfectly explained. However, I continue losing more than 2lb week but I don’t feel hungry. I’m very afraid in losing so much muscle. This week I lost 3.7lbs,1.85 from fat and 1.9 from lean. Are those 1.9lb really from muscle? Should I worry about this big wieght loses according to muscle loss even if I’m having 10gBCAA’s before fasting and the perfect amount of protein/day? Do you had weeks where you have experimented bigger losses than 2lb? I should pass a hard time when losing this big amounts of weight when arriving to be lean, but I’m feeling OK. Should I continue like this or I’m sacrifying lot of muscle?

        • Michael Matthews

          How much do you weigh? And yes some weeks you just lose a lot.

          • Enriq

            I weigh 66kg 14%bf and I am 1,74m tall.

          • Michael Matthews

            You’re totally fine at 1900 cals. That’s a lot for your weight actually. Good metab.

          • Enriq

            Thank you for your answers! You told me that standard multipliers for calculating TDEE are too high. Why or how do you knew that? I ask you because I searched in internet and all sources uses the same multipliers, everybody. I haven’t found anything saying the same as you and there are a lot of articles according to TDEE calculation using the standard multipliers. Could you help me in this please? Thank you!!

          • Michael Matthews

            My pleasure! It’s just a known thing in the bodybuilding world. The KM standard multipliers are too high unless you have a VERY fast metabolism.

          • Enriq

            Thank you for your answer! Great! So you say I should stay in 1900, but if I’m losing 3,5lbs week (more than the 2lbs recommended), shouldn’t I increase cals or decrease my workouts? or is it sometimes OK to lose as much as 3,5lbs because maybe there is water retention and is not all muscle? I don’t know if I’m doing well. I could continue losing weight, but very afraid since I don’t know when muscle loss is minimal and when is very high.

          • Michael Matthews

            YW. If that sustained for several weeks yes but it probably won’t…

          • Enriq

            Thank you Michael! So knowing I do 1h gym 4-5xweek and 30min HIIT 3-4xweek and 3 days 25-30min LISS but only to take a bit of fresh air, do you think 1.5 is OK? I’m afraid of burning either too much or not sufficent. And last thing. When fasted cardio, how much estimated % of kcals are coming from fat as fuel? Is it the 100%-90% since there is very low levels of glycogen in muscles are protected with BCAA? I ask this since the graphs I’ve seen according fuel used depending in VO2%max. Carbs are very used in high intensity, but if there are no carbs since a long time, is that energy going to be replaced by fat? Thank you very much!!!

          • Michael Matthews

            I would cut that cardio back to be honest. I would get rid of the LISS. Lifting 5 x per week and 3 – 4 x HIIT is plenty.

            Hard to say, but it’s more. :)

  • Keith

    Hi Mike , i’m a 25 year old 6 ft tall guy of large frame , i used to be 90 kgs along with lifting weights and bit of cardio , lately due to work stress and lack of time i’ve put on weight , now i weigh about 110 Kgs , and i’m struggling for cardio as my legs ache alot , whereas lifting wieghts is not a problem .. So i’m really in a phase where i want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time , your article was helpful :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! I’m glad you liked the article! Hmm what about biking? No impact?

  • ffarz

    Hey Michael, awesome article! It was really helpful especially for a beginner lifter like myself. What’s your take on metabolic resistance training?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I don’t know what that is…

      • Gentleman Gym

        Come on Mike – for someone who prides himself on good research (and that’s the thing I love most about your stuff, by the way), you can do better than that! Here’s the top Google result on metabolic resistance training:

        http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/metabolic-resistance-training-build-muscle-torch-fat.html

        Essentially, it looks like a strategy of using weights for cardio-style training….

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha if you saw my inbox every day you’d understand why I have to move through everything quickly. ;)

          Anyway, this type of training is silly. You’re better off lifting heavy and doing cardio separately.

          • Gentleman Gym

            True – and apologies for sounding critical; the fact that you take the time to answer all this correspondence is awesome – good on you. I’m really enjoying reading your writing, and learning from it – thanks for all the hard work you put into it.

          • Michael Matthews

            No worries brother. I appreciate the support. :)

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  • Julien

    Hi Mike,

    As I currently have a shoulder injury I am only interested in gaining muscle on my legs. Do legs respond well when eating in a calorie deficit, more so than any other muscle group? I’ve read that the leg muscle group is the easiest to make gains in.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. That’s possible as it’s the largest muscle group, but generally speaking all protein synthesis is impaired.

  • Janerrific

    Will using BCAAs help me recomp. Just started lifting three weeks ago and eating 20% deficit.

    • Michael Matthews

      No, not really. But they will help you if you’re training fasted.

  • Demitri castillo

    I’m 22 weigh 190 with 30% body fat and 43% muscle. I need help with my meal plans. My daily macros are 190 grams of protein, 70 grams of fat, and 203 grams of carbs. For a total of 2202 calories. I’m trying to lose at least 15 % body fat and put on as much lean muscle as possible.HELP PLEASE thanks

  • dr71

    Hi Mike, great article and great site. Quick question…based on my current body weight (190lbs)…

    1.2g protein x 190 = 228g of protein
    1g carbs x 190 = 190g of carbs
    .2g fat x 190 = 38g of fat

    from there…
    228g of protein x 4cal = 912 calories
    190g of protein x 4cal = 760 calories
    38g of fat x 9cal = 342 calories

    for a total of about 2014 calories per day

    I’ve used just about every tracker and calculator in the book to track my daily burn which obviously varies day to day but averages out to about 3200 calories per day. That would put me at about a 1200 calorie deficit which is about a 37% deficit. I’m thinking that I need to bump up my caloric intake to about 2500 per day to be around the 20% caloric deficit you recommend. What would you recommend that I change my grams per pound of body weight factors to?

    If I go to 1.5g/lb for protein, 1.1g/lb of carbs, and .4g/lb of fat that should get me to right around 2500 calories per day which would be about a 20% caloric deficit. Does these numbers seen reasonable to you? Can you offer any insights as to why the g/lb of fat is so low and the g/lb of carbs are so high (relatively speaking) in your recommendations?

    Thanks!
    Devin

    • Michael Matthews

      Most calculators are just too high. The standard Katch multipliers almost always have to be reduced except for those that have VERY fast metabolisms.

      I’d recommend starting around 2100 per day and seeing how your body responds.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • NateCruz

    When you say to do (9-12) heavy sets per work out what do you mean by that?

    • Michael Matthews

      I mean you warm up the major muscle group being trained and then do 9 – 12 sets in the 4 – 6 rep range.

      • NateCruz

        Thank you

        • Michael Matthews

          YW

  • NateCruz

    Pls reply thanks

  • NateCruz

    Is it for example, do 6 reps 9 times?

    • Michael Matthews

      Can you elaborate?

  • Dennis Fallo

    Interesting article, but HIIT is not for everyone….their physical abilities may not permit the “norm” that others do…..but there are other ways to lose fat and gain muscle. Maybe an article on that approach would be interesting!

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  • Jeremy

    Hi Mike,
    For the cardio interval training, does it still work if you go at a jogging pace (4.5 speed on mainstream treadmills) then rest and do it again? Or do those intervals have to be as quick as 30 second to a minute intervals?

    • Michael Matthews

      No, you need to spike your heart rate during the high-intensity intervals. Ideally it reaches the 80-90% of max range.

  • Adam

    One thing that annoys me of late is junk science and the tendency to use that to support a invalid argument… Tested on small groups that don’t represent a good mix of the general population and done on a short term basis. Or using citations which gives no conclusive evidence to support the efficacy of the group the argument is being presented to. ie studies done on the elderly population being used to give credit to the argument where the target audience is the 18-30yo population. So leaving one to actually have to go and evaluate the credit of the citations to determine if the author is yet another ‘guru’ and if the evidence presented is actually valid to them.

    • Michael Matthews

      Very true!

  • Tee

    Thanks Michael, love how u broke down all the steps to make it manageable n easy for us joes, will give it a shot n see how it goes :)

    • Michael Matthews

      YW! Let me know!

  • Syamantak

    Excellent article. I followed your suggestion of performing HIIT and restricting reps to around 8 and it worked like magic. i was able to reduce my body fat by 2% and increase my lean mass by 1% over a month. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Great job! That’s exciting.

  • FVB

    Great article, quite insightful. I am starting tomorrow.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Let me know how it goes!

  • Mike

    Mike,
    I am coming off rotator cuff surgery last summer and I was let back in the gym in January, the problem Im having is building up strength again along with losing weight. I am 6′ 195 right now I should weight around 180ish. I dont know if you are familar with coming off injury and training but do you have any tips especially since this type of injury essentially affects all my upper body exercises.

    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly rehab isn’t my specialty. Have you already rehabbed though or?

      • Mike

        My insurance cut off the rehab last October but thats a different agenda entirely. The therapist just said keep working at it at home then you can go back in the gym at the turn of the new year so that is what I have done, I didnt know if you were familar with routines coming off injury and how to quicker go about gaining strength and muscle back. Thanks for the response, I will keep reading your stuff because I think you have a lot of great info on here which will really be able to help me as I progress.

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay. Honestly it’s not an area where I have enough experience to advise comfortably… I would hate to advise something that caused a problem.

  • marsa

    Hi Mike,

    1. Have u ever written any articles about forbidden exercises, in body building, for people suffering lumbar disc herniation or knee pain? or could u introduce some web site about it?

    2. are there any ways for women to stop their breasts from getting smaller,as they are exercising them? THANKS A LOT

    • Michael Matthews

      1. No, I haven’t. I would have to do more research to do this as rehab isn’t my specialty.

      2. Losing fat means smaller boobs for most girls. :( But building muscle perks them up some. :)

  • Leslie

    I would like to loose fat ( I’m currently at around 23% body fat) but not loose weight I only weigh125 and I’m 5 foot 5. Will this work for me and how do I figure out calories based on the 1.2 grams of protein per pound etc… also I do currently lift(about 5 times a week) but need to add in an extra day of cardio I’m trying to shoot for atleast twice a week

    • Michael Matthews

      You’ll lose weight if you lose fat but you can probably build a little muscle along the way by weightlifting as well…

  • marsa

    Hi Mike,
    I want u to help one of my friends , please.she is 28 year old girl.she is 161 c.m and weighs 86.she’s been doing different exercises (aerobic,badminton, zumba, but body building)for 5 years. she does exercises 3 times a day. her muscles are firm and loosing fat is hard for her.what does she do?(sorry for errors in my sentences, I’ll try to improve my speaking), thanks for every thing.

  • cowgirl princess

    I lost fat and gained muscle doing hiit, and eating normal with no fast food or restaurants. I included photo results. I only lost 5 pounds but, I dropped 49 1/2 inches from all over in 30 days. without using ANY supplements at all or starving myself. I personally don’t have the self control to starve myself. as you can see though I’m still working on my body transformation.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! That rocks!

    • Laura

      CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    • frametheory

      Thats Awesome!

    • Helen Hines

      I think you look great and doing a fantastic job doing it the right way. You may have lost only 5 lbs but you did that in a month not 3 months so that tells me your on the right track losing at a healthy rate of 1-1.5 lbs a week. Keep going but no matter what you do just dont ever stop until you reach your goal!!!

    • Binat Ch

      Want to know what u did mean which Hiit program and any other detail that u share

    • Cowboy Prince

      Still fat!

  • Francesca

    Awesome article, very helpful when I am trying to set my macros!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

  • http://www.dmcworks.com/ Devin Columbus

    Mike, here’s something I’ve never asked…

    I now weigh 195 lbs. If I calculate my caloric intake based on 195, I get my macros for that weight.

    As I start to lose weight, should I be recalculating my caloric intake? Or just stick to the numbers that I calculated when I was 195 lbs?

    At what point so I recalculate my calories and macros… If at all?

    • Michael Matthews

      You’ll have to drop cals along the way. It seems to be about every 15 pounds lost requires a 100 – 150 daily reduction. General rule of thumb, but you can just see how your body responds.

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  • Anna

    Hi I’m Anna.
    I am 25 years old. 45 kg and 5’4 height. I would like to know if it is possible to get my body muscle lean and not losing and gaining weight?
    What exercise machine should i use to get my body lean?

  • JF

    Hi Mike, thanks for a great article. I’ve experienced that a slight calorie deficit alongside lifting heavy is the way to lose body fat. To become leaner with more focus on losing fat and gaining muscle as a bonus, whats the weight, rep and set range you suggest? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yup, that’s the way to go.

      Focus on heavy lifting–4-6 rep range and save any high-rep stuff for the end of the workouts.

  • Dan

    Mike, bro whatsup?
    Listen, I have this question which is very important to me and had been on my mind for quite a while: When doing the HIIT sessions, what would you eat before AND after a work out? (in terms of carbs, proteins and veggi’s)

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      Just some protein before is fine. After is up to you. No particular NEED.

  • Macbeth28

    Hey
    Mike, thank you for all of your most excellent work! I need you to confirm, clarify or otherwise
    debunk some of my thinking on this stuff.
    1) You say that to effectively gain muscle and lose fat that you should
    follow a plan that puts you in a moderate calorie deficit, but I think I’ve
    read in your other articles that you can’t gain muscle while at a deficit. With that in mind, couldn’t one accomplish this
    task by changing their macro ratios (i.e. upping the protein and reducing the
    fat) but using a moderate calorie surplus? At certain times of the day or by certain
    methods, can’t you encourage the body to preferentially target your fat instead
    of muscle tissue? 2) When my wife and I
    use the fat calipers, we both get the same reading, but my chart calculates
    that out at 15% BF, while hers charts out at 23%. We both have roughly the same appearance in
    terms of lean-ness- so does she really have 8% more body fat than me? Why is that?
    3) You mention that mostly only newbies can do the fat loss/muscle gain thing
    simultaneously. At what point should a
    person stop considering themselves a newbie?
    4) I’m only a handful of months into a muscle-building routine and
    things are coming along nicely (gaining muscle with small amount of fat), but I
    have an event coming up in a month or so that I’d like to look really good for. Is it worth taking the next few weeks to
    focus on cutting so that I lean up by a point or two, or is that timeframe to
    small to make any kind of noticeable difference?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      1. Yes, normally you can’t but newbie gains are fun. :)

      No, you can’t hack the laws of energy balance. It is what it is.

      2. Yes, women have quite a bit more fat. Boobs, butt, hips, etc.

      3. 6-8 months of proper training.

      4. Nice. Yeah sure. Go low-carb for a few weeks to shed as much water and fat as possible:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-weight-fast/

  • Pingback: Muscle for Life Podcast Episode 3: Age and exercise, how to not be skinny fat, getting back after time off, and more… | Muscle For Life

  • ClubWolf

    Hi Mike,

    My approach to fitness is to eradicate aspects of your physique that are unattractive. At the moment I have some belly fat covering my abs I would say roughly i’m about 14% body fat. But I also have skinny legs. Do you think the best approach is get down to 10% bf first and then build legs? Thanks. Doing both at the same time seems pretty tricky.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m the same way. :) If your legs are neglected they’ll probably grow while you’re cutting. Hit them hard.

  • Greg S.

    Mike – with respect to HIIT Cardio: I read in a separate article that you recommend the bike for HIIT Training. I am not a huge fan of the bike, and my gym only has one standard upright bike, the rest are of the lounge chair variety. I do, however, love the Concept 2 (C2) row machine, and have been using that as a mini HIIT training/warm-up before all of my lifting sessions. I do a 2 min constant row followed by 8 minutes of 30 sec at full blast with 90 sec rest intervals. what are your thoughts on the C2 row machine as a tool for HIIT, and do you think that the 10 min prior to my lifting sessions is adding value? I do not do any other major cardio work throughout the week.
    thanks,
    GS

    • Michael Matthews

      Row machines are great for HIIT cardio. Keep it up.

      I wouldn’t do it before lifting. Save that energy for the weights. Do it after.

  • Travis

    Great article Mike, it gave me a lot of insight on the body recomp process. I was curious as to why creatine as a supplement and not whey protein and if I should solely use creatine during a recoup program. Thank you again for the great information.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man!

  • Shane

    Hi Mike, I’ve been following BLS for about 5 weeks and inhaling all your books lol so loving it :) I’ve been doing BLS about 6 weeks and seeing loss in fat and gain in muscle. I know I will keep doing this until the 8 month mark when I’ll stop making the ‘newbie gains’. I’m not new to training but did a lot of boxing in the past and lifted weights once a week before (funnily enough I did 6 reps, 3 sets although spent way too long training)!

    My question is, what do I do in 6 months time? Cutting? Bulking? Is there something between cutting and bulking or will bulking only make me put on muscle but at a greater rate? Should I expect to build more muscle when bulking compared to cutting? Sorry if this is covered in BLS – just about to read through a second time! Also ordered the 1 year challenge book so looking forward to changing up my routine? Thanks man

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks man! Glad to hear you’re doing well.

      It’s hard to say. We’ll have to see where your body is at and where you want to go. Most guys need to focus on building muscle for their first 1 to 1.5 years before they’re actually happy with their size.

      Yes you will build more muscle when bulking.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

      Oh and I’d love to feature you in a before and after success story if you’re interested! It’s a simple matter of taking/digging up before pictures, reaching your goal, and then taking after pictures and sending them over to me. What do you think?

  • Alex

    Hi Mike,
    In some of your articles you say to use the bmr calculator to determine the 20% calorie deficit, and here you say to use the 1.2g protein per pond of body weight etc. I get very different numbers when using the two different ways to calculate it. Which do you think is more accurate? Thanks,

    Alex

    • Michael Matthews

      The formula here will be within 100 calories of the more involved methods…

  • Amit kumar Chatterjee

    hello sir, i’m a 22yrs old, 5’11″, 90kg. with body fat of 29%. i have started weight training for last 2 mnths in gym. i train for 2 hrs 6days a week. started seeing little change already abt muscle gain but not with body fat %. i follow calorie deficit. but i really hate cardio. i don’t do them. is there any other way to loose fat with weight training like say some kind of modification in it????? plz help. thnx a lot in advance…

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow that’s a lot of training. You don’t need to be exercising that much.

      This will help you on the diet:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      For your training, I’d highly recommend you check out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program. You’ll spend half the time in the gym and get much better results…

  • Daniel

    Hi Mike,
    i bulked for more than a year and i gained nice muscle i’d say.But now i’m 17 bf trying to cut down, i dropped 3kgs for now from 75 to 72, but my bf stays the same.daily protein are around 150~180 fats 50 and carbs 100-120.my trainer gave me a program of 1 set 100 reps, but it doesn’t seem to work.I’m motivated but i am really frustrated aswell i feel skinny and also fat but i know i gained good muscle since i started workingout.What do you suggest me to do?i did a test and i found out i got 56kgs of muscle out of 72kgs of bodyweight not sure if it’s good or not.
    I would really appreciate your advice.
    thanks,
    Daniel

  • RC

    hi mike, i have tried a couple of programs like this and this looks like a great program! i want to try this one and see how my body responds to it. how many times should i work a body part? and is it post-workout HiiT or off-day Hiit? thanks a lot!

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! Good questions. I’d recommend you read my book Bigger Leaner Stronger (if you’re a guy) or Thinner Leaner Stronger (if you’re a girl) as it lays everything out.

  • Mikel

    Hi Mike

    My name is Mikel Akl and im trying to lose fat im working on it i just lost 2pounds and thats make me angry i mean 25days for just 2 pounds thats suck :P

    Can you teach me how i can lose more pounds faster THANKS!

  • steven

    Can i do all of this while on a budget? i struggle on money man and its hard to be bulking while having the money for the right food lol

  • Lynette

    Am I supposed to eat back the calories I burn during exercise?

  • Jeff in NC

    Mike, I’m living in frustration! In the past year I have lost about 35lbs from 355 down to 320. I’ve mixed some HIIT training classes twice a week with some normal lifting and cardio. My issue is I’ve been stuck at the same weight for nearly 6 months. I float up and down 5lbs or so. Been trying to eat well also. My question is how do you get in that much protein without putting back on weight at my size. I’m also scared to death to get on creatine to put on mass? I’m stuck in the mud and can’t break free!

  • Adham Fareed

    Hello mike on (US navy calculator i am 26% body fat, & on YMCA am 20% and according to your pictures an am not an expert i think i am 35% to 40% i am confused, i lost 44 pounds on a very moderate and healthy diet so i know it pure body fat simply cause on that diet i eat on average about 70 grams of fat a day, 200 of carbs, and a 100 of protein

  • Adham Fareed

    Hello mike on (US navy calculator i am 26% body fat, & on YMCA am 20% and according to your pictures and am not an expert i think i am 35% to 40% i am confused !!?, i lost 44 pounds in 100 days on a very moderate and healthy diet so i am hoping it was pure body fat, on that diet i eat on average about 70 grams of fat a day, 200 of carbs, and a 100 of protein, can u tell from my pic what’s my body fat percentage am 34 years of age, height 75 inches, waist 42.5 inches, neck 17 inches, just a week ago i started to do about 1.5 hours to 2.5 of bicycling a week.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your progress so far but your picture didn’t go through.

      • Adham Fareed

        thank you for your reply, something must have went wrong, although i can see the picture there, but anyways what do u think of my situation cause i measure myself the right way, according to my measures what do u think my body fat percentage is ?

  • Lee Newman

    Hi Mike, are the calculations for working out your macros done on ‘lean’ bodyweight or ‘actual’ bodyweight? It would make a big difference to someone like me who is around 1-1/2 stone overweight. I would assume ‘lean’ as it would seem wrong to feed bodyfat with extra protein, carbs and calories etc.
    Thanks,

  • Helen Hines

    Hey Mike, I have some questions I’d like to ask you, if you can help me out by giving me your best pointer, I’d would really appreciate it! 1.) Why do I hear this all the time from the experts, they say that if you don’t eat enough, your body will go into starvation mode and will store fat instead of burning it? I don’t believe that because the less I eat the more I lose. My body doesn’t store fat, I don’t think, because I’m getting smaller in size. 2.) Can you over consume water? I drink only water all day, anywhere from 12-14 glasses every single day and I don’t drink any other beverages, just water. 3.) I wish I had my nutrition down like I do with my water intake but unfortunately I don’t. I can’t seem to control 100% in staying away from junk food. Almost every single day I will eat some kind of junk food, for instance, a lunch size bag of chips or couple cookies but not over indulge on it but I do eat a few daily. Even though I do this, can I still lose weight, if rest of my meals are healthy and I hit the gym doing mostly hard cardio 4 days a week anywhere from 45-60 minutes and weight train with a trainer 1 day weekly? 4.) How many reps and sets should I be doing when working on weights on my own at the gym, what is the ideal amount? Thank you in advance for all your helpful advice! ;))

  • acirpr

    mike, I just ordered one of your books after reading the No-BS to supplements. My question: how do you feel about chitosin and carb blockers incorporated into days where I personally have just cheated way too much in a day? Looking forward to following all your articles.

  • Al

    Hi Michael,

    Was wondering if you could possibly advise me if I should proceed with a “calorie deficit” diet.

    Brief History: At 2009 I was 57kg @ 183 cm, so naturally my aim was to put on weight. And thus commenced weight training and eating healthy (most importantly more than usual).

    At present I am 87kg by religiously following a daily calorie aim of 3050 (5 meals composed of brown rice, chicken breast, steamed vegetables), whilst weight training at gym 5 days a week (no cardio). This calorie/ meal plan commenced November 2013 when I was 77kg. I felt this calorie aim assisted in my gain but fear any less and I shall lose what I have gained.

    Happy with the gain, but I do admit I notice a tummy forming, and can deduce that my body fat is around 20%. Naturally I would have reduced the calorie, but I am due to commence cardio training for a 15km run held in early August. The training would follow soon after my weight training, where 3 days will be 5km runs and 2 will be a “push comes to shove / run till 15km” runs. This is going to go till the early August run. I figure this would be an ideal opportunity to do your HIIT along with it as well.

    I guess I am requesting options to maintain at 87kg and reduce body fat %. Would you still recommend me to reduce my calorie intake as I am about to commence cardio training? I have done this run previously and remember losing muscle along with fat with it so presuming I should raise my calorie this time or at least maintain it? Or Calorie deficit is the viable option?

    Will greatly appreciate your opinion,
    Thanks
    Al

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your gains so far! Yup it’s time to cut. Here’s why:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      The cardio won’t be an issue.

      • Al

        Thanks Michael!

        After reading that article I can perhaps conclude that I am an “experienced natural weighlifter who made considerable gains” and thus will not be able to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, if that sounds about right? My obvious aim is to maintain (gain if possible) muscle and lose fat.

        So I thought about 2 areas which I hope you can advise me on:
        1) Calorie Aim
        2) Type of Gym workout

        1) Using your TDEE calculation: At 87kg @ 20% BF, exercising 5 hrs / wk + 10% for bulking gave me 2880. However with my cardio training hrs added (taking it to 6hrs+/wk), I got 3080.
        This is exactly what I am consuming at present and for the last 6 months, based on the 3050 I got from iifym for agressive bulking – what contributed my gains this year so far.

        So I guess my question is should I still continue what I am eating right now (3050 per day), as opposed to cutting down and going the “calorie deficit” track as I dont want to lose muscle and about to commence a 4 week cardio training?

        2) My gym workout during this calorie count was muscle strength and growth, where I do a normal 3 set 10 rep of mid-heavy weight per exercise. When I commence my 4 week cardio training where I am going to add running to follow my gym session, I was going to replace the 3 set 10 rep with 1 set 50 rep of low weight (half of the original weight) – I could be wrong but I thought this would assist in “shredding”. I note that you advised “train to maximise strength & muscle growth, not muscle endurance”. Taking this into account I am assuming the 1 set 50 rep would be a very bad approach and will actually cause me to lose muscle whilst I am also doing cardio running?

        So my conclusions for my 4 week training (adding 0.5-1hr of cardio running after weight training):
        1) Continue my current calorie count of 3050 (which is close to your 3080 set at 10% for bulking)
        2) Continue 3 set 10 rep of heavy weights rather than 1 set 50 rep of low weights (which would be a case of muscle endurance?)
        Would like to hear your thoughts.

        Thanks!

        • Al

          Also what speed would you recommend for sprinting on the treadmill?

          Cheers

          • Michael Matthews

            As fast as you can go.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          If you want to lose fat you’ll need to reduce intake. You can start around 2500 cals per day, 40/40/20.

          I’d recommend heavy lifting when you cut. Even heavier than what you were doing before:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-muscle-hypertrophy-muscle-growth/

          Try to make gains.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Karoline

    Hi Mike!
    I’m a 15 year old girl and after I’ve been dieting for the last 6 months I now weigh 106 pounds. I am about 163 cm. The things is I don’t want to loose more weight, I want to gain weight in muscles and end up with a body fat percentage on at least 16 %. Now I understand that I have to cut 500 calories a day. This means that I have to eat about 1,320 calories a day, 127,2 g protein, 106 g carbs and 21,2 g fat a day. I just want to hear if you think these numbers sound right and if you think I should keep dieting this way?
    (Great book btw)

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! That rocks. I wouldn’t recommend restricting your calories at your age. It’s very important that you eat enough for overall development and growth.

      Instead, eat around your total daily expenditure and use the exercise to build muscle and your metabolism. It’s much healthier this way.

      Check this out on calculating your intake:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Alex

    Hi Mike,

    I’m a 21 year old guy; I am 5’9″ and weigh about 138. I have been dieting and exercising to lose fat for about a year now, and this is where I’m at. I have been lifting weights too. I have more fat that I want to lose, especially in the lower back and lower abs areas. But I want to build a lot more muscle, too. I know you say to focus on fat loss until you’re at about 10% body fat, and I’m not exactly sure what my bf% is. I can see abs in the mirror, but not completely cut. I can see the “6 pack” in the mirror, but they are not very defined because I still have body fat to lose. What percentage body fat would you guess I am around? And should I be eating and exercising to lose fat right now (because I want to get rid of the love handles and lower abs fat), or should I be eating and exercising to build muscle right now? If you could give me your input that would be great, thank you! And thanks so much for this awesome website.

    • Michael Matthews

      It sounds like the 10% range? Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-measure-body-fat-percentage/

      If so, then you’re in a good place to start a proper bulk:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      • Alex

        Just wanted to post a pic to get your opinion on whether or not I should start eating for bulking…I ordered the calipers you recommended for measuring body fat percentage, but they won’t be here for a little while. What would you estimate mine to be at? I think I almost have a fear of gaining fat since I have spent the last year losing a lot of weight and fat. I will trust your opinion though. Thanks so much again for these great articles.

      • Alex

        Just wanted to post a pic to get your opinion on whether or not I should start eating for bulking…I ordered the calipers you recommended for measuring body fat percentage, but they won’t be here for a little while. What would you estimate mine to be at? I think I almost have a fear of gaining fat since I have spent the last year losing a lot of weight and fat. I will trust your opinion though. Thanks so much again for these great articles.

  • Nick

    Im about 71 kg and have body fat percentage of around 15% based on the fact you cant see my abs, Ive been working out for a few months now and have seen some small results but really want to know if you think I should cut first down to around 10% and then start to clean bulk my way back up , or should I keep bulking to build the muscle and then cut it down to a lower percentage ?

  • BlueRunnerSS

    Hey Mike,

    I have a question about creatine. My boyfriend tells me not to take it cause I probably won’t enjoy the water bloating that comes with it. Is this true? Is the bloating really that obvious? I want to do all I can to make my gains but I feel like I would get discouraged if I went around feeling like a balloon.

    Thanks!

    -Sarah.

    • Michael Matthews

      Most people don’t have water retention issues with creatine anymore. Forms of processing are better now.

      I think you should definitely try it. It will make a big difference in your training.

  • Annie

    This is my first time stumbling upon your site and I’m glad I found it! You’re amazing for putting the effort and research into building this website to educate and help others work towards their fitness goals. Thanks for everything and keep it up! As for my fitness goals, I’m 21, 4’10″, at 95 lbs and am considered “skinny-fat.” I’ve been consistently lifting heavy and eating well for about 2 months, but still haven’t seen any fat loss. I was wondering, how many calories should I be eating a day? Based on your formula, i should eat 114 g of P, 95 g of C, and 19 g of F, for a total of 1007 calories/day. This seems like way too little though, even for someone small like me…what do you think? Thanks in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Annie! I really appreciate it.

      For weight loss yes that would be it. You’re a small girl and your body doesn’t burn much energy. You could drop 10 carbs and add 5 g fat but that’s about it.

      Do you know your body fat %?

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  • Megan

    Ok, I have a question! I’m a woman, about 5’2″, 130lbs & about 26% body fat. I’ve been training at a facility for about 2 1/2 months, and have lost inches & dropped my body fat percentage, but am not losing weight. I am a wellness coach myself for diet (gluten free, high raw, paleo type stuff) and really am trying to eat extra well- high protein, low(er) high quality fats. But I’m not dropping WEIGHT. My question is….will I? Or would someone my weight simply exchange fat for muscle, as far as the scale is concerned? I’m used to using that as a progress marker, but i’ve never done weight training before, or even played sports for that matter. I have never known what I weigh with good muscle!

  • jack pulos

    hi mike got some problem here
    I’m on my 2nd week of cutting 20% deficeit. I still make gains on all my exercises but compared to last week my DL was lighter by 40 lbs. Am I losing too much strength here? should I increase my calories by adding carbs?
    or maybe this is normal, that I should work to increase my DL again?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm it sounds like that was just a bad series of sets? It’s unlikely that you would make gains on everything else you know?

      • jack

        thanks mike I haven’t thought of that. Will try again next week harder. one follow up mike. I read somwhere that when cutting a little amount of muscle is actually lost even when done right. it also says that during your 1st week the LBM lost is actually water weight. your thoughts and is there research about this?

        On my case mike for how many weeks will I lose “water weight” ? How will I know that its actually muscle not water weight?

        thanks again

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay let me know. Yeah that’s correct as LBM readings include water and glycogen. When I talk true “muscle loss” I mean actual loss of muscle fiber.

          Hard to know really but you see it in the mirror.

  • Bearcat

    I just turned 50. 5’9′ about 215 Yikes. I also have low T for about a yr now. I read/saw something you wrote about it. Can I go about my work out using Bigger, leaner, faster? How do I start slowly?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes you can definitely get on the program and start with lighter weightlifting. 8 to 10 or even 10 to 12 reps to get a good feel for everything.

      Have you ever lifted before?

  • Chris

    So I’ve got a bit if a man boob issue, have my entire life, and I’m determined to do away with it. I’m not particularly overweight otherwise, tough I could definitely stand to lose a few on my bellyI’d say losing them is more of a priority, for now anyway, than building muscle, but at the same time I don’t want to lose muscle either. Is this the kind of program I should focus on, or go for something more specifically designed for weight loss exclusively?

  • Eva

    I have finally kicked myself and bought your book. It’s my 6th week on this strict diet. One of the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is starting to pay off :)) still a long way to go, but hey lost 5kgs and 2 friends ( due to my mood swings ) :))) kidding. I am a qualified PT myself but your book is great and it has made a huge difference. So a big thank you!! and a sneaky pic of how I am getting on :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow great job you’re looking awesome! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Pingback: How to Lose Body Fat and Not Muscle (Without Following a Ridiculous Diet or Grueling Exercise Routine) | Muscle For Life

  • Galen

    Hey Mike, reading your weight lifting recommendations I assume your not a fan of focussing on time under tension for muscle gains. When some people say, “muscles don’t know what weight your lifting, they only understand tension”, what do they mean? Are they asserting that lifting more weight does not necessarily increase tension within the muscle as you have written?

    • Michael Matthews

      TUT is really overrated. I’ll write an article about it.

  • http://instagram.com/ajchanter Alma-Jade

    Hello Mike! :) I’ve been following your work for a while now and have the Thinner Leaner Stronger book (it is like my training bible haha, and the book I always come back to again and again! :D).

    I was just wondering if you could shed some light on the recommendation for men to stick in the 6-8rep range and women in the 8-10? Is there a specific reason for the women’s rep range to be slightly higher? In the Shredded Summer ebook (which is fantastic btw! I have one suggestion: to make the links to vids, external pages ect, open up into a separate tabs as I kept loosing where I am in the ebook every time I wanted to open a link :D) you recommend 6-8reps but I think maybe it was aimed more at guys?

    Basically, all that to say that I am a female who loves to lift heavy, and am wondering if I should focus on a 6-8rep range or 8-10rep range! :D (to get progressively stronger and leaner (I am following the rest of the TLS program… HIIT, ect :))

    Thank you again for ALLLL your amazing work and down-to-earth, sane approach to health and fitness, I sure do appreciate it!!! :D I do a happy dance every time I receive an email/new article from you haha! You are awesome!
    AJ

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the support! :)

      The reason why I recommend 8-10 reps for women is simply because the majority I’ve worked with were already quite intimidated by the weight necessary to work in the 8-10 rep range. The 4-6 rep range was REALLY uncomfortable for them (generally speaking).

      The reality is 4-6 reps does work fine for women, but they can do great with the 8-10 rep range as well. There’s also the issue of overtraining to consider–women’s bodies can’t repair nearly as much muscular damage as guys’.

      So, if you’d like to work in some 4-6 training, I recommend doing no more than 3 sets in the 4-6 rep range, and using it on the following exercises:

      Squats

      Military Press

      Bench Press

      Deadlift

      Hope this helps! Talk soon! And thanks for the kind words! :)

      • http://instagram.com/ajchanter Alma-Jade

        Hello again!

        Thanks so much for your response, super helpful!

        Okay, that makes a lot of sense, and whats good is the exercises you proposed are the ones I love going heavy with less reps on anyway haha! I’ll keep in mind the issue of overtraining when doing 4-6 or 6-8 rep ranges, thanks!

        So I’ve OFFICIALLY started the Thinner Leaner Stronger program as outlined in the book last week, as before I was more integrating some ideas into a more typical bodybuilding program (training 6 days a week split: sprint&abs; back/arms; chest/shoulders/abs; legs heavy; back/bis/abs; shoulders/tris/calves with 1 rest day) but I hit a plateau with strength and fat loss and just feeling super fatigued and unmotivated. I think training each muscle group 2x per week got a bit too much, and I also re-calculated my calorie needs using your method in the book, and realised it should be 1’550 instead of 1’800 that I got online (I’m 56kg female, 1m70 and around 18-19% bf). Aha! (although also an “oh nooo” lol less calories;))

        And since last week, I have already upped all of my weights and feeling much stronger and less fatigued!! It just feels weird to train only 1 muscle group a day haha will have to adjust!

        So I’m looking forward to update you when I make serious progress and sending you a testimonial! :D :D

        I just have a few questions if that’s alright!:

        1) Along side studying, I work 3-5 days doing bike delivery. I mention this (not randomly ;P haha) because I was wondering – should I raise my calories a bit on days I do bike delivery? We use ELECTRIC bikes, so I’m not sure how much of a workout it is haha, but it does keep me active all day (and lifting heavy bags, ect – which I am conscious to do with proper form thanks to weight lifting! ;P) and I’m always quite tired by the end of the day. So it’s not strenuous activity, just more exhausting. And if so, by how much should I raise my cals?

        2) In the TLS book, the workout plan laid out states to do abs just on the Chest day – so do I only train them 1x a week? I tend like to do things between sets, so would it be alright to do ab exercises (like hanging leg raises ect) (or jumping around or something!) as active rest between some sets on other days too? I just don’t like sitting still for 1-2 mins between sets! ;P

        3) What do you think about a short term more strict calorie restriction for an event or something? I have my birthday coming up in 3 weeks, and I would like to look my best hehe ;P So I was planning for the next 3 weeks to cut to 1’200 cals a day 6 days a week, with 1 day at 1’800 (for metabolism and compliance haha) (averaging 1’286 cals/day). I realise 2 weeks is hardly no time at all and I’m not expecting a radical transformation or anything, but could this potentially make a beneficial difference (keeping training the same – TLS style :)? (then I would “reverse diet” back to 1’500)

        4) I am looking to compete (in figure or bikini category), and I’m giving myself 9 months as prep (want to do it healthy and slowly!) and aim to get to 8-12% bf (whatever I look best at). I know (well, I think!) you haven’t competed, but as you are in competition shape, it’s kind of the same thing ;P To get to that low bodyfat/conditioning, do you recommend following the TLS exactly and just keep progressing or should I add more HIIT (5 days a week for ex) or something//any tips/adjustments to getting to competition shape? :))))

        5) Ah man, sorry just thought of another question! I remember you saying somewhere that when dieting that you don’t tend to get hungry and it is more like the volume of food that you “miss” or whatever, and I have exactly the same thing! I don’t get hungry – EVER! – but I just have a tendency to want to eat a larger volume of food haha – but if I pick a higher density food I can easily overeat on my cals, and also I just don’t like feeling stuffed when I try and fill the void with lots of veggies. Do you have any tips to keep this at bay/in check/be satiated with less volume?

        Sorry this got quite long and hope I was clear enough with my questions!, and thanks in advance for responding when you have time, it is super appreciated! Week 2 of full TLS program starts today wopeeeeee!!! :D

        AJ

        • Michael Matthews

          Great on starting! Let me know how the heavy lifting goes for you.

          1. Yeah let’s see what we need to do with your numbers as you’re very active. This will help:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

          2. You can train abs more frequently if you want. I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 x per week though.

          3. Yes you can do this. Go low-carb the final week to strip water (carbs no higher than 0.5 g per pound).

          4. I’ve actually worked with quite a few women that compete and we do exactly what I preach in my books and on the site:

          Heavy lifting. HIIT cardio. Sensible dieting. No going nuts and frying everything.

          5. That’s great you don’t deal with hunger either. Makes it easy. You could eat fewer meals per day and make them larger? You might like that.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Andrea

    This article is extremely helpful! However, I have a question about the calories I should be eating in order to lose fat and still build muscle. I am only 4’10″ and currently weigh 118 lbs. I want to lose weight and fat while gaining muscle. According to the formulas that you listed above, I should only be eating about 1260 calories. This just seems kinda low to me. Also, in your book you mention that for every 15 lbs lost, that you should cut your intake by 200 calories. However, I heard that going below 1200 calories greatly slows down your metabolism. Would it be ok for me to go below 1200 calories because I am so short? I am wondering because I want to get down to around 100-105 lbs, which is what I used to weigh in high school when I was playing competitive soccer, running, and lifting weights twice a week. I’d appreciate any help! :)

    • latehippy

      Good question! Looking forward to the answer.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yup that’s right. You’re a small girl. Your body doesn’t burn very much energy.

      You don’t want to drop below your BMR, not a set number like 1200. Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-speed-up-metabolism/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • latehippy

    Thanks for all this encouraging information. I think I have been following exactly what you describe as the right exercise routing. However, on the intake side, I follow a very different diet. I tried calculating my numbers based on your nutritional guideline- 1.2 g prot/ 1 g carb/ .2 g fat for my current weight of 164, but the math is not adding up for me. Based on that in tandem with 1 g protein, 1 g carb, and 1 g fat being 4,4, and 9 cals, respectively, the total cal intake is 1738. However, my BMR is about 1450(based on a number of different calculators); even adding in a high 400 cal expended in exercise, my net then is 1850, 20% of which is about 1480, not 1738. Which of my factors is wrong?

  • Laura

    Hey Mike, thanks for this informative article! I have been trying to create a diet plan to build muscle and lose fat. I’m a female that is currently 116 lbs. I’m trying to tweak your basic diet guidelines to reach a caloric intake of ~2100 (calculated with BMR) to maintain but that means my carb and fat intake will be significantly increased because it is not recommended to consume more than 1.2 g/lb of protein. What do you think I should do?

  • Adel-Alexander

    Hey Mike, I wanted to ask you, I downloaded your BLS book, and I get that lifting in the 4-6 rep range is ideal, but I wanted to know, do I decease the size of the weights on my next few sets or do I just train with the same weight throughout the 3 sets?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Keep the weight if you can!

      • Adel-Alexander

        Cool! Also, I wanted to ask. Should I get the Beyond BLS or is it fine if I just stick with the current book?

        • Michael Matthews

          Totally fine to stick with BLS for now as the program in BBLS is for advanced lifters.

  • Jordan

    I am 13 I’m 5’8 and I weigh 150 and I have 20% body fat and I’m trying to get it down to like 10-12% what should I do

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! We don’t want to be restricting calories much at your age because it can mess with your development.

      What we want to do instead is have you follow a healthy meal plan and use regular exercise to trim off any fat.

      What do you think?

  • john leberid

    Hi mike i need ur help. Im a 13 year old boy and i weigh 114 pounds and am 62 inches tall.I would have a good body if not for my fat belly.I am not allowed to use supplements or weights but i do a lot of body weight exercises and crunches and i also play soccer for 2 hours every day. Could u please help me figure out how i can lose 2 inches off the diameter of my stomach.Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey man!

      Great on what you’re doing and honestly brother let’s not worry too much about having a little fat at your age. Your body is developing and you don’t want to mess with restricting calories or you can screw up hormones and other developmental factors.

      Let’s do this:

      Keep exercising like you’re doing and stick to a high-protein diet comprised mainly of nutritious foods. Keep the fast food to a minimum, don’t drink calories, and don’t eat a ton of sugar.

      What do you think?

      • john leberid

        Thanks for the tips mike!:) I’ll try my best to stay away from fast food and sugary stuff.

        • Michael Matthews

          Sure thing! Great let me know how it goes.

  • Danna

    I would like to know the best way to get rid of stubborn leg fat, specifically hip, inner thigh, and butt fat. Hiit cardio, fasted or not, cycling, distance running? My upper body has so definition but lower body doesn’t not want to let go of the fat. Very frustrated – looking seriously into liposuction.

  • AJ

    So I am keeping to what you wrote in this article but was wondering if working out in a fasted state helps or hurts me when coin this?

    • Michael Matthews

      It should help.

  • pokeretardev

    My lifting stats are like just reached intermediate level, and use lower/upper splits.

    Lower = Squat, Deadlift, Calf raise, Abs
    Upper = Bench, Rows, OHP, Chin up

    So for gaining muscle even though i still want to lose fat, I still have to do,

    - Fasted workout
    - 1.2g/lbs protein, 1g/lbs carb, 0.2g/lbs fat

    even if I want to continue gaining muscle for many months and hit 8% body fat already, i still use 1.2g/lbs protein, 1g/lbs carb, 0.2g/lbs fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on what you’re doing. I like it.

      Check this out for your macros:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      It will let you factor in your exercise as you’re following a different program.

      Yes I eat within about 30-45 minutes of working out. I don’t follow IF.

  • Queboii

    Hey Michael, I’ve read your book Bigger Leaner Stronger and I think it’s great, especially as I just started out in weight lifting when I got it. I’m trying to get a cutting diet but my daily calorie intake is 1217 cals. (118.5g protein, 152.5 carbs, 28.5 fat). I’m 16 and wondering if this diet does not have enough calories in it for me. Plus: I put on body fat easily.

    • Queboii

      Also the 4-6 rep rate worked well for me as my strength has nearly doubled in a month!

      • Michael Matthews

        That’s awesome!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I really appreciate it.

      It sounds like you don’t weigh much so that will be about right. You can learn more here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Let me know!

  • stdez

    Hi Mike , I’m a 55 year old male , I’ve been working out for ovet 20 years, since I read your books i`ve changed my work out to 4 timed a week with the weights, mostly compound lifting first thing in the morning in a fasted state, i take 5 grams of leucine before my workout. I`m on a 2000 cal diet, wich is 20% less than what i burn cant seem to get the bf% down below 19%. If I start hiit do you think i`ll loose lean mass i lost 15lbs in 8 weeks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! I’m really glad to hear you’re rocking and rolling.

      2,000 cal per day sounds about right. Are you losing body fat or are you completely stalled?

  • J. Porter

    Hey Mike, my wife and I are both on board with your books and plan. She is just getting started. She weighs 282lbs is 5’5 and according to the calculations she is at 507 calories a day. Please tell me we are doing something wrong. She has finally had enough and I want her to succeed. She has a personal trainer but I’m sure it’s mostly diet issues. Her trainer is on board with your method but we need to figure her calories and what’s a proper deficit with the workout load. Please advice, we really need the guidance.

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  • mawood10480

    Greetings Mike,

    I am 5’8 and half weight 150 pounds with 8% body fat (mabey even lower). I am also an ectomorph with very fast metabolism, although I do not consider myself a hard gainer at all. My focus is burning fat while building muscle. I feel that a caloric intake of 2200 cals a day (above the recommend calculation)
    still might be too low for me, as I am still very hungry after I have eaten everythingby 5 pm. I eat about 190 grams of protein, 100 grams of carbs, and 40grams of fat a day in nutritous whole foods.
    I lift weights hard four times a week, do HIIT cardio 2 times a week, and walk45 mins on my off days. I also stand most of the day and sit for only 3-4 hours a day. Given these circumstances, do you think I could stillburn 1-2 pounds of fat a week eating 2500 or 3000 calories a day (hopefully 3,000)? Thanks for your
    knowledge and help.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice stats! You’re not eating enough. Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • mwood10480@aol.com

        Thanks Mike, but I am a little confused. You said I’m not eating enough, but I performed all of the calculations from the link you supplied, and my 20% calorie deficiency came out to be just 2,066 calories a day. I want to get to 6% (2% left to go) body fat while building some muscle before I start bulking on the slight calorie surplus that you recommend. Do you think given my situation (very active ectomorph with fast metabolism), I could still achieve that with 2,500 calories a day? What about ,3000 a day? I am not new to weight lifting, but I have plenty of room to regain muscle that I lost in the past.

        • Michael Matthews

          Ohh sorry I didn’t realize you’re cutting. Oops!

          Hmm we could try 2500 but we’ll have to see how your body responds.

          If you can eat 3k per day and get to 6% I’m going to hate you, hahahah.

          • mwood10480

            (laughing) Ah so it looks like 2,500 may be pushing it then after all. I better stick with 2200 to be safe.Thanks again Mike. By the way, I can’t wait to try Phoenix.

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha okay man let me know how it goes. Thanks brother. It will be shipping out very soon!

  • Wildjack82

    Mike,
    I’ve been doing BLS for a few months and love it. I’m cutting ( gone from 186 to 171) and have increased my strength in the gym. Im now struggling to lose last those few last few pounds of stubborn belly fat so I’ve been browsing your articles looking for additional advise. I ran into your article written last year ‘how to safely and healthily lose weight: part one” and the calculations come out significantly different than the calculations in BLS (ie, a LOT more fat, and a LOT less carbs). Is there any particular reason these are so different? Would dropping my carbs speed things up?
    I think I’d die cutting my carbs that much so im going to stick to the BLS calcs and keep grinding it out.
    Just wanted to know the reasoning behind the different calcs.

  • Jake Tyler

    hi mike I just want to ask how long should I stick to this plan ? or how long will this work for me? Thanks in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      Which plan exactly?

      • Jake Tyler

        this “Body Recomp” plan. Iam currently 20 yrs old, doing some heavylifts 3x / wk, @67 kg. :) thanks again

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay do you mean a meal plan you got from me or?

          • Jake Tyler

            the total body recomp,
            1.How long should I stay in the caloric deficit? (doing 20% less now btw. )
            2. When can this losing fat and building muscle at the same time end?
            Thanks again. Sorry for not being clear, I still have problems putting all my questions together.

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. You want to stop reducing cals once you reach your BMR. Here’s why:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-speed-up-metabolism/

            LMK what you think.

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  • Sarah Goran

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been doing really well following the iifym diet, it’s the best one I’ve tried that keeps me from having my binge moments and having extream cravings. I’ve lost 6 pounds this past month following your diet and exercise plan!

    I still have around 5% more body fat I’d like to lose! and I was making great gains but unfortunately a couple days ago I got into a bad car accident and fractured my hip. My doctor said I need to be on crutches for 6 weeks which is really shattering for me since I was doing so well…

    What should I do for my diet plan to keep losing a bit of fat or at least not gaining any, and to loose as little muscle as possible while I’m unable to work out? Any supplements I should still be taking while out of commission?

    Thanks Mike, I’m feeling really down from this but I hope I can come out strong and get the gains back once I’m back on my feet, literally.

    Sarah, 21, 130lbs, 23% bf 5′ 4″

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg I’m sorry to hear about the accident.

      Let’s keep you on a high-protein diet and just eating around maintenance. You can calculate this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      (I would go with BMR x 1.1 personally).

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Katrina

    Hey. Im a 14 year old girl and want to build muscle and lose a little fat. I really like the look of lean,muscular woman. I pretty much want to build muscle everywhere and the only place I really would want to lose fat is in my stomach. It is probably important to mention i’m on the lower end of a healthy weight. I do a bunch of different bodyweight exercises (alternating between upper and lower body each day) and lift a small weight. I also play a ton of different sports and am really active. I eat really healthy except for a little junk on weekends. I know i am a little young for this, but I want to be and look healthy. I am thin everywhere except my stomach. Also does it matter that I probably do too much cardio. I just love sports and don’t really want to limit them if possible. Just to be specific I mostly swim (mostly the butterfly and breathstroke), play volleyball and frisbee. Sorry for the really long comment.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! At your age I wouldn’t get into restricting calories and such as you don’t want to get in the way of your body’s development.

      What I would do is aim for eating no less than 90% of TDEE and just be active: do resistance training, play sports, etc. and your body should change slowly without any negative health effects.

      You can learn more about this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

  • Melissa Klotz

    Are you sure about your calculations for macros? At 112lbs, 5’7″, and an estimated 18% body fat, give or take, that would put me at under 1200 calories/day. I’m burning between 250-400 calories on average during my 45-min workouts, 4x/week. Currently I’m consuming 1450 calories, about 120c 40f 140p.

    • Michael Matthews

      Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      But yes it will be no higher than 1300/1350. You’re a small/lean girl and thus don’t get to eat a lot if you want to lose more fat.

      • Cara

        I am also a small / lean gal and have recently started weight training – very excited about it! But my problem is the opposite – I want to gain body fat. SO I am staying away from cardio type exercise and focusing on free weights and working on pushing myself to higher weights – like less variety of exercises (mostly squats, deadlift, hip thrust, chest press, row) 5 sets 6 – 8 or 8-10 reps. I am also trying to keep my healthy calorie intake as high as I can stand it. And I have gained 5 lbs in two months! Love! For me this is a huge increase as I don’t gain weight at all usually. But – I am losing what body fat I had and becoming waaay too lean! This is making me unhappy.
        I love getting stronger but not getting leaner – I understand this is not the usual issue but I can;t seem to get around it. Most suggestions are to eat junk food and drink gallons of milk.

  • Loke

    Mike, thank you SO MUCH! I like how you are a NO BS guide to natural bodybuilding. You genuinely wanna help folks out there to get in shape. I purchased your book and it was invaluable – the 4-6 rep golden rule has helped me pack on more than I would’ve imagined in a few months and I’m just a beginner! I pre-ordered your PHOENIX fat burner- I was very impressed by your research on the website – all backed by science and clinical studies. One question – will PHOENIX used on a caloric surplus (moderate) hypertrophy focused based diet help me LOSE FAT and gain muscle (with caloric surplus+heavy lifting) at the same time? So basically, I keep lifting heavy (4-6 reps for 12 sets max) on a high protein, moderate carb intake (positive nitrogen balance) but torch the fat away with the fat burner PHOENIX? Can this happen?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate it.

      Definitely let me know how you like Phoenix!

      While it will increase BMR and thus would decrease the amount of fat you gain while bulking, I wouldn’t use it while bulking. Your body will build a tolerance over time. I would save for cutting…

  • Ryan

    I currently work out 4 days a week, weigh 161 consume 2200 to 2400 calories a day 40% Carbs, 30% Fat, and 30% Protein. I am building lean muscle and losing fat. It takes months though. Starving myself before eating between 1500 and 1700 calories with about the same caloric ratios I did not gain any muscle and my body stored fat around my belly because it thought I was starving. Eat right and keep your ratios in balance with consistent exercise is the best routine.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Clarence

    I’ve dropped 85 pounds in 6 months, lost 15 inches on my waist, lost 11 inches on my love handles, lost 9 inches on my chest, and gained 2 inches on my shoulders, also gained a half inch on my arms, from fat arms to muscular and defined arms.

    I weigh 195, I’m 11.5 to 12.5 body fat, depending on the scale. The one I used throughout says 11.5 but I got a more sophisticated one and it says 12.5. Either way, my goal is for 8 percent, I’ve got between 6 to 10 pounds of fat to lose, and my goal weight is 197 at 8% body fat, so, I have about 12 pounds of muscle I need to put on.

    Should I cut the last 10 pounds of fat and then bulk and cut, or can I bulk and then just cut all the extra fat, with the help of extra muscle?

  • Brittany

    Hi,
    I been searching the internet all day trying to figure this MACRO and meal plan out! I am a newbie……….very NEW! I just started this journey. Im having trouble gettting my macro numbers based on your advice. I weight 192, 5’8, female with 33% body fat. How do I calculate this off your suggestion? Please help!!!
    thanks in advance :-)!!!

  • amber

    Hello! I’m 34 years old and had my second baby last year and was having a really hard time losing any weight. For 8 months I was eating 1300 calories per day, working out (HITT and weights) with a trainer 4-5 times per week. No weight loss. I’ve dieted and worked out most of life, so none of this is new to me….except I’d never not been able to get results. I FINALLY went to a nutritionist and my initial weight was 160 lbs, 40% body fat and my lean mass was only around 95 lbs. He put me on a very specific diet and has tweaked it along the way. It’s more or less zone based in terms of macronutrients percentages. In 20 weeks I’ve lost 20 lbs of fat, gained 10 pounds of muscle and I’ve lost 11% body fat. I’m currently at 148 lbs. My diet is pretty low calories as I obviously needed to create a deficit to finally start losing weight- and I’m on track most of the time, but not perfect though. My question is….are these good results? My nutritionist makes comments that things are moving at a snails pace for me, however everything I’ve read says these are pretty good results. I’ve lost an insane amount of inches all over too. I feel a little discouraged and just wanted to know if these results are typical or if I should be doing more?? Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Congrats on the baby! Wow, great job! That’s amazing! Yes those are very good results.

      What are your macros and calories like?

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  • JackJ

    I tried a program I found on the internet to gain muscle and it worked amazingly well!
    http://realreviewssite.info/musclegain

    Good luck!!

  • dKe noo

    Is the formula for fat lose and muscle gain mean 1.2grams of protein per pound of total body weight or of lean muscle? btw great job Cowgirl princess.

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  • Sirine

    Great article!! I admire you and your work ethic. I admire how you take the time to reply to everyone who posts and take your time to help them. I am currently doing a personal training course and start my masters in nutrition in a few weeks. I hope that one day I can be as helpful as you are and as inspiring as you are to people.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • queenierz

    Hey, great article! I’m lifting 3 times a week, with one rest day in between now to recover my muscles. I used to do heavy cardio before, but now I lessened it. However, I would like to keep my fitness level high as well, so like you said to do HIIT 3-4 sessions a week, when should I do it? Should I do it on the day that I lifted, or on the day that I rested? I’ve been stressing over this decision for quite some time already…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! It sounds like you’re doing well. Personally I lift 5 x per week when cutting and do 3 – 4 x 25-30 minute HIIT sessions and my body does very well with this.

  • Sid

    Hey,

    I lost quite a lot of weight down from 220 pounds to 165 pounds over a period of 4 months. I was on a really low calorie deficit diet. Though I was keeping a good protein intake so I do have some lean muscles. But there is still fat on my belly mostly whereas my upper body has less fat. Now I am confused should I go for this lose fat while build muscle or I should bulk first because I do not want to lose remaining of my muscles in process to lose fat around my belly. So what do you suggest I should try and also I would love to buy your book if you recommend its for me. And also I am a non-meat eater but I eat eggs so they have been my main source of protein other than whey protein.

  • Jessica Ann Self

    Reading your book thinner leaner stronger, been weight training for about 6 months before buying your book. I have changed my routine to what you recommend chest,back,shoulder,arms,legs and 2-3 hiit sessions. I have so much more energy, you are so right, I honestly go nuts when my workouts are over. I use to workout an hour sometimes an hour an a half 3 times a week and be miserable. Now working out is more enjoyable and not a chore. Right now I’m struggling with trying to get rid of stubborn fat. I was sad to find out somehow I have 26% body fat, which is so weird to me cuz you can see muscle definition in my body. That and I am a ridiculously healthy eater and I use to circuit train with weights and run. I don’t even have a car I walk everywhere by choice (we have legs for a reason and cars are expensive and bad for the environment). I also have a very high determination with everything I do, so im so frustrated with knowing this body fat %. I seem to hold most of my fat in my lower arms. My measurements with calipers are back 15mm, triceps 15mm, belly 11mm and bicep 5mm. I have been making a deficit in my diet and have been doing your program for a week and a half now. I lost a 1lb already, but nervous because my metabolism has finally become faster over the years. I was wanting to know how long can you diet before your metabolism slows down on a calorie deficit? And is there anything else I can do that I’m not to help my fatloss? I keep feeling its impossible for me to be the way I want to because I came from a very unhealthy family and I was once 200lbs. I have worked my butt off to get to 143 and I feel I have done more than I needed to to get there. I feel that the stubborn fat I have will never all permanently go away, but I am hoping so. I have seen my body become firmer doing your program for just a week. Just trying to stay positive, I will always push myself and never give up, but just would like to know your opinion because it means a lot to me. You are a fact seeker, a researcher and don’t settle with anything unless your for sure you know the truth. I am the same way with nutrition, so I know you are a good person to go to for fitness. I appreciate your work and would like to say good job for all your hard work and helping yourself and helping others with the information you have learned over time. I know how valuable time and learning and figuring things out is. It means a lot that you put your information out there and most for free or a very low price. You are a good man and thank you! Wish there was more people the same way, the world would’nt be so messed up. Sorry for writing such a long message, I cant write short messages, I like writing xp. And just excited to learn.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      You’re working hard and that’s awesome. Keep it up and keep me posted!

  • jordan

    hi there mike my name is jordan and i just want to say how much i appreciate all the help and guidance that your articles have given me, i no longer feel like a meathead in the gym pushing weight from point a to point b. i have really enjoyed learning all the science behind all these things and i am now applying them in my training especially the tips you have on form, and i have to say my time in the gym now is better than i could have ever hoped. with that being said i do have a question for you, how much of a calorie deficit should i be on to maximize the results of both fatloss and muscle gain?? i am 19 years old so i am fairly new to weightlifting, i have 1 and a half years experience and i know my way around the gym and am working currently on perfecting my form with the help of your other articles. i am 84kgs, 19% bf, i do 4-5 weightlifting sessions a week and 3-4 fasted cardio sessions (i do them in the morning when i wake up), i am currently on around a 600 calorie deficit, my tdee is around 2800 and im getting in 2200 with the 40,40,20 ratio and i was just wondering what the “optimum” per se calorie deficit would be as i work at night and i am getting rather tired at work to the point where i need to have more food to stay functional, is there a reason for that? do i need to structure my meals differently? or do i need to eat more? sorry for the incredibly long post but i have alot of questions and i figured it would be better to ask them all in one place. thanks mike

  • Jessica Ann Self

    I was wanting to know how long can you diet before your metabolism starts to slow down on a calorie deficit?

  • vrk1975

    Yes, I have lost fat and build muscle at the same time.

    Here are my stats DXA Scans

    1. July – Weight = 158.8 lbs BF = 23.9% Lean Mass = 114.8 lbs Fat lbs = 38
    2. September Weight = 147.9 lbs BF = 15.4% Lean Mass = 119.2 lbs Fat lbs = 22.8

    So I lost around 15.2 lbs of fat and built 4.4 lbs of muscle it is all during cutting. Unfortunately, I still have ways to go to reach 10% bf to start bulking. The target is to get to 10% Body Fat.

    Of course all this is possible by lifting heavy 5 times a week and having a meal plan.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great news! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

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  • Newbie13

    Reading, the article above – I feel curious – when you say ” no more than 20-30 minutes of HIIT per session, and no more than 3-4 sessions per week.” – do you mean total minutes that would include 4-6(30 second) sprints AND 4-6 minute rest in between? Would the 20-30 minutes include the rest time as well as the sprint times? thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup! Total workout times.

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  • Robert

    Very nice. I found good guide how to les weight and gow to gain muscle mass fast.I tested it and I must tell you this is very good guide.If you are interested http://healthybodybuilder.com/
    I recommend

    Good Luck

  • Nick

    Mike, I have been lifting for about 4 months now, and I am at around 13% bf. I have been bulking since I started, do you think it would be possible for me to start cutting, and still gain some muscle while losing fat?

  • josh

    hey mike, is your bigger leaner stronger book ok to follow for beginners im just starting out

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah definitely.

  • Wasim Anwar

    Hi

    Have been following your guidance in doing compound heavy weights in the 4-6 rep range. Unfortunately, I have put on about 2.5kg and can’t see how I can loose fat. I used to do HIIT with Kettlebells, but find it hard with kids and domestic life to find time. My gym workouts happen late at night around 10pm when everyone is in bed around 4 times a week.

    I lost over 20kg way back from 100kg to 75kg on a low carb diet and have always hovered around 76kg. I’m now at 80kg, 175cm and cannot seem to ever loose my love handles and tummy. I’m 42 years of age and follow a pretty clean diet, no sugar, low carb and high protein when possible. I do have a cheat day once a week too.

    Any ideas? Perhaps I need to buy your book?

    Thanks

  • marquette29

    Hi I’ve been weight training and exercising for about 6 months now and the fat fell off me went from 240 down to my current 175 but I feel like I should be building more muscle then I am so I started to up my calories and now I’m afraid of more fat being stored then I want. Any suggestions?

  • fay

    HIIT is the ultimate and best way to get ripped and toned even without lifting an inch, I did it for 97 days and lost exactly 30kg with great diet Ofcourse, but ate everything in moderation without sugar, monosodium glutamate and all processed foods and you won’t believe what my HIIT was, lol.. I walk for about a mile and just run, not sprint just for few minutes just to last a song track and walk again just twice or thrice depending on my mood. Now I’m slimmer and weigh 78kg trying to lose the last few waist lines cuz my abbs are out already but I’ve started a new HIIT routine cuz my body has adopted the previous one, now I still walk and just raise high knees several times repeatedly and this works even more wonders as I’m lifting weights and building muscles and I’m transforming so fast. I guess it’s how you also adapt your body to a certain workout really matters cuz I feel like I’ve cheated my way to fat loss.lol..it feels great though.

  • Kevin Roth

    Hi Mike, first of all thanks a lot for the detailed information provided in this article. I just wanted to let you know that for a long time i was a believer of the High Rep = more definition and Low Rep = more strength, but i see that it has more to do with body fat %.

    I am currently 125lbs, my abs show, but only when i flex so im guessing i am not in the low numbers yet. My goal is to put on a couple pounds of just Muscle Mass and not fat, but yet have a shredded look. Should i be doing HIIT as recommended? Should i be eating over my daily caloric intake? also should my workouts consist of 9-12 sets of 4-8 reps per body part?

    Thanks in advance, i just really want to know how i can accomplish my goals. God bless.

  • LisaB

    I had never been to a gym before, never worked out regularly until I started going last month. I am 5’7″, weighed 130lbs with 22% body fat. I just got the numbers today and I’m 132lbs with 20% body fat! I see my trainer 2x/wk in the gym and have not changed my diet (it’s always been fairly healthy with the bulk of my protein coming from elk meat which is 33%).

    I didn’t know how incredibly fantastic my achievement was until I read this! Thanks!!

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great you’ve started and are already making gains!
      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Kevin Roth

    Hey mike thanks for the article.

    Although you discussed to focus on compound exercises and the 4-6 rep range, i was wondering if there was a specific number of reps i should do per bodypart a week.

    According to Aworkoutroutine (http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/optimal-workout-volume/) the ideal rep range is 60-120 for big body parts and 30-60 for smaller body parts. Is this correct?

    I currently workout 4 times a week, but depending on how many reps i need per body part i will accommodate my routine. Hope you can help clarify. Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Heavy reps are definitely more taxing than lighter reps, and anything over 70-80 heavy reps per major muscle group per week is likely to cause overtraining issues.

      Personally I do 60-80 heavy reps per major muscle group per week.

      • Kevin Roth

        Thanks for the reply and info.

        Does that mean that the ideal number for smaller body parts is less? Around 25-40 reps? Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          It changes from body to body but I find 30-40 is a good range.

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  • LC

    Hi there- I am a 5’7 female weighing 144 pounds and am looking to lose weight while gaining lean muscle. I just started with a personal trainer, and am currently lifting 2 times a week and doing cardio 2-3 days. The trainer is having me eat 1,800 calories consisting of 113g protein, 60g fat, and 203g carbs. That doesn’t seem to match up with what you are suggesting, so I am wondering if these amounts are hurting my chances of success. I would love any thoughts you have on this.

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  • thizzcat56

    In your book you state working each muscle group only once a week. This just seems like too much rest as hypertrophy stops after 48 hours after lifting, even sooner for more experienced lifters. I currently am on a split of working chest/back and shoulders twice a week with one heavy day (4-6 reps) and one light day (10-12 reps). In your opinion is this something you could see adding a good amount of size/strength? Thanks.

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  • Robert Scramman

    I’m going to be 59 in three weeks. I lost 52 pounds in 5 and a half months. 3-4 days a week workout. Low weights, 12-15 reps. i suffer from peripheral neuraphathy. I refuse to let it stop me from getting a 6 pack by Nov 2015. I did not use drugs of any kind except for an occasional ibuprofen for pain recovery. I did change my eating regiment. I when on a ketogentic diet. It has worked well. However, I have the phreakin loose belly skin. I will take your advice and make some changes to my exercise. I will keep you posted. Oh, I’ve lost 8.6 inches from my waist. Big man out.

  • Alyson

    Im glad I came across this article. Ive been trying to lose anout 5 pounds for the military and I do a lot of cardio which helped me lose a lot of weight at first but now my body’s platued. I’d feared that gaining muscle through lifting would hurt my loss. I used to lift in college for sports so Im not new to lifting but I feared gaining muscle would make the scale go up.
    I started to think about doing lifting again because aside from trying many diets and working out like crazy(cardio) Lifting is the ONE thing I hadnt tried. I just also wanted to be sure i could continue fat loss along with the muscles that come with lifting. Thanks for sharing though. This was awesome!

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  • Harry

    Hi Mike. I am 3/4 of way to completing your BLS book. I found the nutrition section extremely informative. In particular the section on postworkout nutrition. I never considered the importance of carbs immediately after training. I just used to have whey protein then have my evening meal 1-2 hours later. My food options are slightly limited and I wanted to know if a bowel of cornflakes/branflakes would give me the necessary carbs until my evening meal? (With whey protein and milk). Otherwise I was considering on buying a meal replacement supplement.
    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Harry! I really appreciate it.

      Sure, that’s totally fine.

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  • letsgojags

    Right now im at 155 and a little over 10% body fat. Maxing bench at 230 and squatting 295. I have never dead lifted regularly so I am including that in my regimen. I have a noticeable core and abs but have always struggled getting to that “elite” physique. Do you suggest i start lifting in a fasted state to get my bf % down and HIIT cardio 3 days a week, or will I start losing muscle gains?

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  • Akshay Ahlawat

    Hey Mike! The first time I read the stuff you posted on your website made me realise what things I was doing wrong and I’ve tried rectifying them and have seen good results. But now I’m stuck in a really bad place.
    I recently found out that I have a mild case of varicose veins. The problem is that I’ve been advised to avoid heavy weights that impact my legs, else it has chances of spreading. That kinda eliminates deadlifts and weighted squats. But you have always emphasised how great heavy compound lifting is. Is there any way around this?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! No worries. If we have to do without them, we have to do without them.

      What can you do for legs?

      • Akshay Ahlawat

        No exercise has been eliminated, I’ve just been advised to not go heavy on the exercises which directly impact the legs. Squats and deadlifts, for example.

  • Guest

    Great Article! It is very possible to lose body fat and build muscle at the same time. I actually prefer to be lean all year round. Like you mentioned above, the secret is to get really strong to build that hard, dense muscle. You just have to keep the volume fairly low, because you are in a small calorie deficit. I like to keep that 200-300 calories below maintenance. I implement intermittent fasting each day so I can enjoy huge meals in the evening and still be able to maintain the calorie deficit. Also, I found the 3 day split of Monday Wednesday Friday to really help me gain strength. Keep up the great work!

  • http://gtmfitness.com/ Trent – GTM Fitness

    Great Article! It is very possible to lose body fat and build muscle at the same time. I actually prefer to be lean all year round. Like you mentioned above, the secret is to get really strong to build that hard, dense muscle. You just have to keep the volume fairly low, because you are in a small calorie deficit. I like to keep that 200-300 calories below maintenance. I implement intermittent fasting each day so I can enjoy huge meals in the evening and still be able to maintain the calorie deficit. Also, I found the 3 day split of Monday Wednesday Friday to really help me gain strength. Keep up the great work!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment and great job man! You look fantastic.

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