Muscle for life

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

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

If you want to know what it really takes to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, then you want to read this article.


Build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

It sounds so simple, right? Why shouldn’t we be able to do it?

Well, some people say it’s a fool’s errand. Others say you need to follow “special” forms of dieting and training. Others still say it takes steroids.

They’re all wrong.

Building muscle and losing fat simultaneously (or “body recomposition,” as it’s often called), isn’t beyond the power of us mere natties.

It’s doable, and it doesn’t require esoteric knowledge, fancy or newfangled methodologies, or drugs.

There’s a catch, though.

You may or may not be able to do it, depending on your body composition, training experience, and more.

So, in this article, I’m going to help you understand how body recomposition works and exactly what to do to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

Would you rather listen to this article? Click the play button below!

Want to listen to more stuff like this? Check out my podcast!

Why Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle is Tricky

The reason why many people think building muscle and losing fat at the same time is a pipe dream has to do with something called “protein biosynthesis” or “protein synthesis.”

Every day, your cells undergo “maintenance work” whereby damaged, faulty, and degraded cells are eliminated and new cells are created to take their place.

Protein synthesis refers to the creation of new cells and protein degradation refers to the elimination of unwanted ones.

Under normal health and dietary circumstances, muscle tissue is fairly stable and the cycle of cellular 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 on a day-to-day basis. (If we don’t take actions to stop it, we actually slowly lose lean mass as we age, but you get the point.)

Now, when we train our muscles we damage the cells in the muscle fibers, and this signals the body to increase protein synthesis rates to repair the damage.

Our bodies are smart, too, and want to adapt to better deal with the activity that caused the muscle damage. To do this, they add cells to the muscle fibers, and this is how muscles get bigger and stronger (and why progressive overload is so important for building muscle and strength).

Thus, what we think of as just “muscle growth” is actually the result of protein synthesis rates exceeding protein breakdown rates over time.

In other words, when your body synthesizes (creates) more muscle proteins than it loses, you have gained muscle. If it creates fewer than it loses, you have lost muscle. If it creates more or less the same number as it loses, you have neither gained nor lost muscle.

This is why bodybuilders do everything they can to elevate protein synthesis rates and suppress protein degradation rates, including…

In short, they are doing everything they can to bolster protein synthesis and suppress protein degradation rates with the aim of gaining as much muscle as possible.

[Read: The Best Way to Stimulate Muscle Hypertrophy (Build Muscle)]

Now that we understand the basic physiology of muscle growth, let’s look at how it’s affected by fat loss.

In order to lose fat, you need to give your body less energy (food) than it burns over time.

This is known as creating a calorie or energy deficit, and it’s the most important factor in weight loss. Regardless what you eat, if you’re eating more energy than you’re burning, you will not get leaner. Period.

While necessary for losing fat, a calorie deficit causes the body to adapt in various ways. Two adaptations are particularly relevant to the subject at hand: a reduction in both anabolic hormone levels and protein synthesis rates.

As you can imagine, these changes directly interfere with your body’s ability to create new muscle proteins.

And to make matters worse, many people trying to lose weight also make diet and training mistakes that further impair muscle building and accelerate muscle loss.

This is why it’s generally thought that you can’t build muscle while in a calorie deficit to lose fat. When in a calorie deficit, protein synthesis rates may not be able to outpace protein degradation rates and hence, no muscle growth.

Well, that’s true for some people, but not all…

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

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

build muscle lose fat diet plan

You now know what your muscles are up against when you’re in a calorie deficit and why building muscle while losing fat is an uphill–and sometimes unwinnable–battle.

The good news, however, is that if you’re anxiously reading this article, you probably can build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

I say that because you’re probably either new to weightlifting or new to proper weightlifting–weightlifting that emphasizes heavy, compound training with the primary goal of getting stronger over time (progressive overload).

And when that’s the case, I can almost guarantee that you can add muscle and lose fat at the same time.

The people who can’t, or who can only gain an amount of muscle so small that it’s negligible, are experienced weightlifters who have several years of proper training under their belts (people like me).

Unfortunately, if you’ve already achieved a large portion of your genetic potential in terms of muscle growth, you’re not going to be able to “recomp” effectively.

[Read: How Much Muscle Can You Build Naturally?]

Instead, you’re going to want to juggle “bulking” and “cutting” periods to add muscle and fat and lose fat and not muscle, respectively.

The reason for this dramatic difference between “newbies” and veteran lifters is people new to weightlifting or proper weightlifting can benefit greatly from “newbie gains.”

The long story short is when you first start weightlifting, or first start properly overloading your muscles, your body is hyper-responsive and can gain muscle at a very fast rate.

Most guys can gain up to 25 pounds of muscle in their first year of weightlifting (and most girls can gain up to half of that). Contrast that with the reality that someone with 3+ years of proper training under their belts is limited to 3 to 5 pounds of muscle gain per year, and you see the magnitude of these effects.

The newbie “jump start” is simply large enough to overpower the muscle-related disadvantages of a calorie deficit, which still slow down muscle growth but can’t halt it altogether.

When powered by newbie gains, you won’t gain as much muscle in a calorie deficit as you would in a calorie surplus, but you can gain enough to dramatically improve your physique.

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

How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time

build muscle lose fat look great

Just because your body can lose fat and build muscle simultaneously doesn’t mean it comes easily.

As I mentioned earlier, even when you do it right, muscle growth is slower while in a calorie deficit than a surplus.

It’s hard to say how much slower.

I haven’t come across any research worth citing, but I’ve worked with thousands of people and feel it’s safe to say that potential muscle gain in newbies is halved by a calorie deficit.

That is, if you could gain 10 pounds of muscle in your first 12 weeks of weightlifting if you were in a mild calorie surplus, you could expect to gain about 5 pounds if you’re in a deficit.

So be patient.

Wild claims on the Internet about losing double-digit amounts of body fat in a couple months and gaining the same in muscle are lies. What you’re usually looking at is a combination of muscle memory, drugs, and Photoshopping.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how to actually go about gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time.

Maintain a Moderate Calorie Deficit

build muscle diet

You may be able to build muscle in a calorie deficit but most definitely can’t lose fat unless you’re in a deficit, which is why a recomp requires being in a calorie deficit.

It’s important that you don’t put yourself in too large of a deficit, though, because it can lead to muscle loss, energy and mood crashes, and other problems.

How large of a deficit is too large, though? What’s optimal?

Well, we can thank researchers at the University of Jyväskylä for an answer.









They conducted a study with national- and international-level track and field jumpers and sprinters with low levels of body fat (at or under 10%), who were separated into two groups:

  •  A daily calorie deficit of 300 calories (about 12% below their total daily energy expenditure)
  • A daily calorie deficit of 750 (about 25% less than TDEE)

Both groups ate a high-protein diet and, after 4 weeks, the athletes on a 300-calorie deficit lost very little fat and muscle while the group on a 750-calorie deficit lost, on average, about 4 pounds of fat and very little muscle.

These findings completely jive with my experience both with my body and the thousands of people I’ve worked with.

You can be aggressive (but not reckless) with your calorie restriction and dramatically increase fat loss without sacrificing muscle.

This is why I generally recommend a calorie deficit of 20 to 25% for losing fat.

[Read: How Many Calories You Should Eat (with a Calculator)]


Focus on Heavy Compound Weightlifting

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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 having sufficient muscle and a low body fat percentage. One style of training will not inherently make you look “more shredded” than another.

Thus, if you want to look as good as possible when you’re lean, you want to add muscle to your frame as quickly as possible.

And when that’s the goal, I can’t overstate the importance of emphasizing heavy, compound weightlifting in your workouts.

What are compound exercises?

Compound exercises involve multiple major muscle groups and require the most whole-body strength and effort.

Examples of compound exercises are the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press.

Isolation exercises involve one muscle group and require significantly less whole-body strength and effort.

Examples of isolation exercises are the biceps curl, cable flys, and side lateral raise.

The subject of compound versus isolation exercises deserves (and will get) its own article, but here’s the long story short:

If you want to build maximum muscle and strength, you want to focus on compound exercises in your workouts.

This has been known in bodybuilding and strength training circles for decades now, and you can find scientific evidence of it as well.

There’s a good reason why the most popular weightlifting programs in the world revolve around building strength on a handful of key, compound lifts.











It works.

How heavy is “heavy”?

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One of the first questions I had when I started lifting was how heavy I should be training.

That is, which rep range is best, and why?

Is the 10 to 12 range espoused by most fitness magazine workouts the way to go? Higher? Lower?

Well, I quickly learned that getting a simple answer to this question is far from simple. The amount of dissent among experts leaves you scratching your head, wondering whom to believe.

That was years ago, though, and I’ve done a lot of studying since and have worked with a few thousand people, and I feel I have an answer worth sharing.

And here’s what it boils down to:

If you want to maximize muscle growth, you want to train with heavy loads and a moderate volume.

That is, you want to emphasize heavy weights (80%+ of 1RM, or 4 to 6/5 to 7 rep range) and you want to do a moderate number of reps (60 to 80) per major muscle group each week.

[Read: How to Create the Ultimate Muscle Building Workout]

As with the emphasis on compound movements, this is backed by decades of both anecdotal and scientific evidence.

For example, one well-designed study published earlier this year separated 33 physically active, resistance-trained men into two groups:

  1. A high-volume, moderate-intensity group that did 4 workouts per week consisting of 4 sets per exercise in the 10 to 12 rep range (70% of 1RM).
  2. A moderate-volume, high-intensity group that did 4 workouts per week consisting of 4 sets per exercise in the 3 to 5 rep range (90% of 1RM).

Both groups did the same exercises (which included the bench press, back squat, deadlift, and seated shoulder press), and both were instructed to maintain their normal eating habits (which was monitored with food diaries).

And the result?

After 8 weeks of training, scientists found that the high-intensity group gained significantly more muscle and strength than the high-volume group.

It’s no surprise that the high-intensity group gained more strength, but many people wouldn’t have expected them to gain more muscle as well.

Researchers cite two main reasons for why the heavier training beat out the lighter:

1. Higher amounts of mechanical stress imposed on the muscles.

The high-volume training, on the other hand, caused higher amounts of metabolic stress.

2. Greater activation of muscle fibers.

And this, in turn, results in a greater adaptation across a larger percentage of the muscle tissue.

So, what can we learn from this study (and from others like it)?

1. We should focus on lifting heavy weights for fewer reps.

This is more important than maximizing cellular fatigue through high-rep sets, drop sets, giant sets, and so forth.

2. We should focus on progressive overload.

In the study outlined above, subjects increased weight on the bar after hitting their prescribed reps for two workouts.

The key here was an emphasis on overloading the muscle, not on increasing the number of reps performed.

Now, that isn’t to say that higher-rep training and isolation exercises have no place in a weightlifting program.

They just shouldn’t be the focus. You can read more about this here.

Do HIIT Cardio

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You can lose fat without doing cardio, but if you want to lose it as quickly as possible, you want to include cardio in your routine.

And while you can accelerate fat loss with something as simple as walking, if you want to lose fat as rapidly as possible and don’t mind a challenge, then you want to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

In case you’re not familiar with it, HIIT is a style of exercising where you alternate between periods of (almost) all-out and low effort. Hence, the name.

The high-intensity intervals push your body toward its metabolic limits (basically as hard as you can go) and the low-intensity intervals allow it to recover (catching your breath).

This style of training is gaining more and more popularity these days because studies show it’s far better for burning fat and preserving muscle than the more traditional low-intensity steady-state cardio.

Let’s find out why.

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

how to lose body fat percentage and gain muscle

This fact has been proven again, again, and again. It’s just indisputable at this point:

HIIT burns more fat over time than low-intensity cardio, and a study conducted by scientists at The University of Western Ontario gives us insight into how much more effective it really is.

Researchers had 10 men and 10 women train 3 times per week, with one group doing 4 to 6 30-second treadmill sprints (with 4 to 6 minutes of rest in between each), and the other group doing 30 to 60 minutes of steady-state cardio (running on the treadmill at about 65% of VO2 max).

After 6 weeks of training, the subjects doing the intervals had lost significantly more fat.

Yes, 4 to 6 30-second sprints burns more fat than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking.

The exact mechanisms behind HIIT’s superiority aren’t fully understood yet, but scientists have isolated quite a few of the factors:

  • Increased resting metabolic rate for upward of 24 hours after exercise.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles.
  • Higher levels of fat oxidation in the muscles.
  • Significant spikes in growth hormone levels (which aid in fat loss) and catecholamine levels (which are chemicals your body produces to mobilize fat stores for burning).
  • Post-exercise appetite suppression.
  • And more…

The science is clear: if your goal is to burn as much fat in as little time as possible, then HIIT is the way to go.

HIIT preserves more muscle than steady-state cardio.

lose stomach fat gain muscle

Studies have also shown that the longer your cardio sessions are, the more they impair strength and muscle growth.

That doesn’t mean that cardio directly impairs muscle growth, though. Because it doesn’t.

Too much cardio does.

The right amount of cardio, however, can actually accelerate muscle growth.

What is the right amount, then? Well, there are two factors to consider:

  1. The intensity and duration of the individual cardio sessions.
  2. The total amount of cardio done each week.

And when the goal is optimizing body composition (which requires progress in the weight room), you need to keep your individual cardio sessions short but intense enough to burn a significant amount of calories, and your total weekly duration relatively low.

Only HIIT allows you to fulfill these criteria and burn significant amounts of fat.

How to use HIIT to lose fat (and not muscle) faster.

When I’m cutting, I do about 1.5 to 2 hours of HIIT cardio per week (and no more than 25 to 30 minutes per session), and my favorite type is the recumbent or upright bike.

And yes, per week.

If that surprises you–if you were expecting to see an hour or more per day–I understand. I also used to think it took many hours of cardio to get extremely lean.

Well, I was wrong, and I explain why here.

Get Enough Sleep

best workout to lose fat and gain muscle

Inadequate sleep hurts both sides of your efforts to build muscle and lose fat.

Research shows that sleep deprivation causes hormonal disruptions that can cause muscle loss, which helps explain why it has been linked to muscular atrophy.

For example, one study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that when 10 healthy men reduced sleep for a week from about 9 hours per night to 5, their testosterone levels dropped by up to 14%.

Insufficient sleep also decreases growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1) levels, which play important roles in maintaining and building muscle mass. Studies also show that sleep restriction raises free cortisol levels, which further impairs muscle gain.

And in terms of losing fat, sleeping too little can magnify your appetite, which makes you more likely to break your diet and overeat.

[Read: 7 Proven Ways to Sleep Better Than Ever Before]

Sleep needs vary from individual to individual, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to be well rested.

Supplement Properly

lean muscle mass workout

I saved this for last because, quite frankly, it’s far less important than proper diet and training.

You see, supplements don’t build great physiques–dedication to proper training and nutrition does.

Unfortunately, the workout supplement industry is plagued by pseudoscience, ridiculous hype, misleading advertising and endorsements, products full of junk ingredients, underdosing key ingredients, and many other shenanigans.

Most supplement companies produce cheap, junk products and try to dazzle you with ridiculous marketing claims, high-profile (and very expensive) endorsements, pseudo-scientific babble, fancy-sounding proprietary blends, and flashy packaging.

[Read: The Ultimate Guide to the Best (and Worst) Workout Supplements]

So, while workout supplements don’t play a vital role in building muscle and losing fat, and many are a complete waste of money…the right ones can help.

The truth of the matter is there are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits such as increased strength, muscle endurance and growth, fat loss, and more.

As a part of my work, it’s been my job to know what these substances are, and find products with them that I can use myself and recommend to others.

Finding high-quality, effective, and fairly priced products has always been a struggle, though.

That’s why I took matters into my own hands and decided to create my own supplements. And not just another line of “me too” supplements–the exact formulations I myself have always wanted and wished others would create.

I won’t go into a whole spiel here though. If you want to learn more about my supplement line, check this out.

For the purpose of this article, let’s just quickly review the supplements that are going to help you get the most out of your efforts to build muscle and lose fat.


Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in foods like red meat. It’s perhaps the most researched molecule in the world of sport supplements–the subject of hundreds of studies–and the consensus is very clear:

Supplementation with creatine helps…

You may have heard that creatine is bad for your kidneys, but these claims have been categorically and repeatedly disproven. In healthy subjects, creatine has been shown to have no harmful side effects, in both short- or long-term usage. People with kidney disease are not advised to supplement with creatine, however.

If you have healthy kidneys, I highly recommend that you supplement with creatine. It’s safe, cheap, and effective.

In terms of specific products, I use my own, of course, which is called RECHARGE.


RECHARGE is 100% naturally sweetened and flavored and each serving contains:

  • 5 grams of creatine monohydrate
  • 2100 milligrams of L-carnitine L-tartrate
  • 10.8 milligrams of corosolic acid

This gives you the proven strength, size, and recovery benefits of creatine monohydrate plus the muscle repair and insulin sensitivity benefits of L-carnitine L-tartrate and corosolic acid.

Protein Powder

You don’t need protein supplements to gain muscle, but, considering how much protein you need to eat every day to maximize muscle growth, getting all your protein from whole food can be impractical.

That’s the main reason I created (and use) a whey protein supplement. (There’s also evidence that whey protein is particularly good for your post-workout nutrition.)


WHEY+ is 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate that is made from milk sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland, which are known for their exceptionally high-quality dairy.

I can confidently say that this is the creamiest, tastiest, healthiest all-natural whey protein powder you can find.

PHOENIX Fat Burner

With the weight loss market valued at a staggering $60.5 billion and more than one-third of U.S. adults obese, it’s no surprise that there’s a glut of “fat burners” for sale these days.

And for the same reasons it’s also no surprise that fat burners are some of the most expensive supplements on the shelves and feature some of the loudest marketing claims, often making big promises of “scientifically proven” rapid fat loss.

The reality is most “fat burners” are junk but there are a handful of natural, safe substances that have been scientifically proven to accelerate fat loss. And that’s why I created PHOENIX.










PHOENIX’s caffeine-free formulation helps you burn fat faster in three different ways:

  • It dramatically increases metabolic speed.
  • It amplifies the power of fat-burning chemicals produced by your body.
  • It increases the feeling of fullness from food.

It accomplishes this through clinically effective dosages of several ingredients, including…

Through these mechanisms, naringin also works synergistically with synephrine and hesperidin to further accelerate basal metabolic rate.

Research has show that supplementation with forskolin accelerates fat loss and increases testosterone levels.

  • And more…

The bottom line is if you want to lose fat faster without pumping yourself full of stimulants or other potentially harmful chemicals…then you want to try PHOENIX.


Pre-Workout Drink

There’s no question that a pre-workout supplement can get you fired up to get to work in the gym. There are downsides and potential risks, however.

Many pre-workout drinks are stuffed full of ineffective ingredients and/or minuscule dosages of otherwise good ingredients, making them little more than a few cheap stimulants with some “pixie dust” sprinkled in to make for a pretty label and convincing ad copy.

Many others don’t even have stimulants going for them and are just complete duds.

Others still are downright dangerous, like USPLabs’ popular pre-workout “Jack3d,”which contained a powerful (and now banned) stimulant known as DMAA.

Even worse was the popular pre-workout supplement “Craze,” which contained a chemical similar to methamphetamine.

The reality is it’s very hard to find a pre-workout supplement that’s light on stimulants but heavy on natural, safe, performance-enhancing ingredients like beta-alanine, betaine, and citrulline.

And that’s why I made my own pre-workout supplement. It’s called PULSE and it contains 6 of the most effective performance-enhancing ingredients available:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally special:

  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors..
  • No artificial food dyes.
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.


 The Bottom Line on Building Muscle and Losing Fat at the Same Time

lose fat and gain muscle

Building muscle and losing fat doesn’t require that you follow complex diets or training programs.

Smart, consistent application of the fundamentals of muscle growth and fat loss is all it takes.

So, to recap, here’s what it boils down to:

  • Maintain a moderately aggressive calorie deficit (with proper macros)
  • Emphasize heavy, compound lifting in your weightlifting workouts
  • Do no more than 2 hours of HIIT cardio per week
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Use the right supplements to speed up the process

And your body will take care of the rest.


What do you think about building muscle and losing fat? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like what I have to say, sign up for my free newsletter and every week I'll send you awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious "diet-friendly" recipes, motivational musings, and more.


If you want a "paint-by-numbers," step-by-step blueprint for building a muscular, lean, strong body...faster than you ever thought possible...then you want to check out my bestselling books.

Here's a little sneak peek of what you'll learn inside...

  • The 7 biggest muscle building myths & mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • How to build meal plans that allow you to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy with ease…eating foods you love (yes, including those deemed “unclean” by certain “gurus”)…and never feeling starved, deprived, or like you’re “on a diet.”
  • The 5 biggest fat loss myths & mistakes that keep women overweight, disappointed, and confused. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • An all-in-one training system that delivers MAXIMUM results for your efforts…spending no more than 3 to 6 hours in the gym every week…doing workouts that energize you, not wipe you out.
  • A no-BS guide to supplements that will save you hundreds if not THOUSANDS of dollars each year that you would’ve wasted on products that are nothing more than bunk science and marketing hype.
  • And a whole lot more!

The bottom line is you CAN achieve that “Hollywood body" without having your life revolve around it. No long hours in the gym, no starving yourself, and no grueling cardio that turns your stomach.

My book will show you how. Get it today and let’s build a body you can be proud of.

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Leave a Comment!
  • 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


    • 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:


        • 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:


      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


  • 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.


    • 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


          • Michael Matthews

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

  • Eddie


    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


    • 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.


    • 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! [email protected].

      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:


            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
          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:


            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 [email protected].

          • 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:


          • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


    • 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

    • 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,

        • 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:


      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:


        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?


    • 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


  • 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

    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


    • 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!

    • TommyJ

      How to build muscle as fast as humanly possible…That’s what we all want to know.Most of us don’t have the genetics of an NFL running back or pro bodybuilder.So it’s not all your fault.I was mixed-up until I got this plan,see my review of it:>bestfitnessandmusclebuilding(dot)com/ms2<

    • Fastestguy

      Thanks for sharing.I know you want to look your best, want to be lean, muscular and sexy, especially during the Summer months.I’ve already managed to pack on 22lbs of pure muscle since starting this program,see my review of it:>bestfitnessandmusclebuilding(dot)c.o.m/14fl< Best wishes.

  • Francesca

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

    • Michael Matthews


  • 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


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

  • Macbeth28

    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


      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:


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  • 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.

    • 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,


    • 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:


      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.

  • 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 😛

    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.

  • 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,

    • Michael Matthews

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


      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.


        • Al

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


          • Michael Matthews

            As fast as you can go.

        • Michael Matthews


          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:


          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:


      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:


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


      • 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.



    • 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!

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  • 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.

  • 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! 😀 (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!!! 😀 I do a happy dance every time I receive an email/new article from you haha! You are awesome!

    • 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:


      Military Press

      Bench Press


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

      • 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! 😀 😀

        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!!! 😀


        • 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:


          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:


      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:


      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:


      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:


      • 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

    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:


            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:


      (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:


  • 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:


      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

    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!

    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


    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


    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?


  • 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.

    • 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.

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay. And what’s “not heavy,” exactly?

          • Akshay Ahlawat

            I’ve been told to not lift beyond 40-50kgs (90-110lbs). Sorry for that, didn’t realise I was being vague.

          • Michael Matthews

            No worries. Hmm okay. Well it is what it is, then. We’ll just have to work around it…

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • Alejandro

      Hi trent. I am starting on the build muscle, lose body fat regime as described by Michael in his e-mail below. May I ask how many grams of carbs, proteins and fat did you have every day? Also if you could let me know how many lifting and cardio days per weeks you used it would be great. I personally also like to stay Lean all year long and wouldn’t loke to get into the Bulking and cutting regime.


      • Hey thanks for the reply!

        I would not recommend using the same macros as me, everyone is different!

        But I consumed about 2400 calories per day:
        180g Protein
        56g Fat
        294g Carbs

        I strength trained 3 times per week, Mon Wed Fri.
        I actually did not have any set cardio days, but rather did up to 40 minutes of walking on my rest days. My nutrition was pretty dialed in.

        Hope this helps! 🙂

        • Alejandro

          Thanks, it helped a lot. What rep range did you work during the 3 days? If you wouldn’t mind giving a brief description of your training days, reps range and sets it would be very helpful
          All the best

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  • Amanda

    Hey Mike! I’m on week 6 of TLS (love the quick, tough weight lifting sessions!) and I typically hop on the treadmill right after and do 20 – 30 minutes walking at speed 3 incline 15, then do HIIT in the evening. Is this ok, or am I better off skipping the incline walking and doing HIIT right after my workout? I like adding in the LISS but if it’s more of a hindrance than help I can skip it. 🙂 Thanks for providing such straightforward and science-backed advice! I reference your articles all the time!

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome! I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.

      Yes that’s fine so long as you don’t run into overtraining issues. You could do your HIIT after lifting if you prefer it.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Amanda

        Thanks Mike! I’ll mix it up a bit and see what I like. 🙂 Thanks for the solid advice. It seriously blows me away how you reply to every single post on here (and are continually adding new content)! I love reading the questions and your replies, it really adds to the community you’ve created. Great work and THANK YOU! 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          Great! Thanks for the kind words! Lots more to come! 🙂

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    He showed me a simple solution that I had never heard about on TV or read in any magazine. I followed this treatment for 3 weeks and lost 17 pounds in weight. I recommend this method to all my friends who have accumulated fat in the belly ..

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  • Cap

    Would you recommend doing HIIT and lifting in the same session?

    • Michael Matthews

      Best would be separating your lifting and cardio but if you can’t, do the HIIT after, not before.

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  • Georges Yacoub

    Hi, question: if i put myself in a deficit greater than 20% of my daily calorie goal will that affect my body in a negative way? example will I be gaining fat or keeping the same amount of fat percentage that i already have?!

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  • kathleen molnar

    Hi Michael, I had gotten into a self doubt slump over the year so finally in August 2014 I decided that I needed that extra push to workout regularly. I joined a crossfit gym and have been going 5 days a week since I started. I am 5’4 and at the time when I joined I was a flubby 162 lbs. It is now the end of December and instead of losing weight I am at 171 lbs. Though I am tight on legs, arms and my stomach looks way better I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself and not reaching my weight loss goals. I must admit that I started working on my diet in November but have not lost a pound. I do feel stronger and better but I am just needing that extra help of understanding where I am going wrong. Please… any advice at this point would be wonderful.

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  • Crystal

    Hi Mike!

    I just bought TLS and have started the program but am confused with whether I should be dieting to lose weight or build muscle. In sum, I lost about 25 lbs. over the course of a year through calorie deficit and strength training. I have found that I can pretty much eat what I want with no visible fat gain. I am now on a your heavy lifting program presented in TLS.

    I am satisfied with my size and don’t want to reduce overall mass but have a few problem areas with obvious fat. Over the summer, I started distance running (12+ miles) and found that I got too scrawny looking. Current stats: Female, 5’8, 145 lbs., 22-23% body fat (measured with handheld device). To lose fat in those areas, should I eat to lose weight or at TDEE and continue with the lifting and clean eating?

    Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post!

  • Wishing….

    Hi Michael Matthews, I read the stuff above you posted with interest. In July of 2014, my body fat percentage was about 28% and I weighed 247 pounds. I went on Weight Watchers (where the principle, one that works for me and is important to me, is that you don’t have to deprive yourself of any one food or macronutrient), and by January of this year, I lost 30 pounds. I started exercising at the gym (about 60 minutes a day on a LifeFitness elliptical machine, Level 9 or higher; according to the LifeFitness display screen, this burned between 600-700 calories). I also would, on any one day, do 3-4 chest press reps, 3-4 ab crunch reps, 3-4 shoulder press reps, 3-4 bicep curls and 3-4 tricep curls. This occurred as the weight was coming off. In the last two weeks, losing weight has been difficult. I may have hit a plateau. At any rate, I decided to change the workout. I now do, on any one day, 30 minutes on the stairmaster, and do 4-8 reps on the chest press, and 4-8 reps on the ab crunch machine. My weight in the last two weeks has gone up 4 pounds. I asked someone at the gym why this was happening. “Because muscle weighs more than fat, and you’re gaining muscle.” Put the answer aside. I read your article above. I want to lose body fat and build muscle at the same time, so that I can continue to lose weight (or at least not gain it). BTW, my body fat %age is now at 20, and I weight 220 pounds (as opposed to 215, which I did two weeks ago). I really don’t have any friends (I have NO one to go, say, a gym with, or to really notice weight loss, or fat loss), and it’s difficult for me to see if I “look” bigger or more “built” (or more lean, for that matter) now than I did two two hours or two months ago. About a year ago, I bought Jake Hunter’s “4-minute Abs” books and CDs. These focus on HIIT. I followed the recommended HIIT routine for about four weeks and it literally made me sick to my stomach. I felt more than once that I was going to pass out after completing a 3-4 min. cycle of rest/go really fast/rest/go really fast eight times. I vomited more than once, too. This was before the weight loss. I went to my doctor and had my vitals measured, and there’s nothing wrong with my resting metabolic rate or any other physical reason that a thorough physical reason should/would have turned up. I don’t want to keep gaining weight, though. From your article, exercise-wise, to lose fat and gain muscle, exercise-wise, it’s either heavy compound weight lifting or HIIT and that’s it. I’m willing to try the weight lifting but it would be tough because even at a gym no one can or would want to spot me. Is my reaction to the HIIT abnormal? Was I maybe doing something wrong? I want to lower % body fat because it’s a good thing to do (my BMI says that the high end of “normal,” for me, a 36 year-old, 219-pound male, is 195; I’m not concerned about going down to 195 but it would be nice to be able to get to 205 to 210, lose body fat, and look more toned. I have no idea how to do this and I am afraid that if HIIT is the answer then I might need to reconsider or at the least reconsider how I’ve been doing it (I tried following the suggestions about what to eat, when to do the HIIT and so forth and following the suggestions didn’t make the experience any less, well, traumatic, for lack of a better word). Is it possible, given the goal that I’ve stated (maybe that goal is NOT possible in the first place, is that is the case could you tell me?), to just focus on the weight lifting? Also, as far as calories go, with respect, I cannot tell, whether to achieve my goals, I should have a deficit, and if so, what amount this deficit should be. Right now, I operate from a surplus. My macronutrient intake daily is roughly 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. Not one fitness/weight loss person has told me anything other than this ratio is something I should be smited for (so to speak), but these folks (from the Atkins types to the ones that think protein should constitute 50% of the day’s calories) can’t all be equally right, can they? Who is? Also, even if it’s the only way of achieving my goals, I don’t have the money to eat a “paleo” diet or a modified form of it. Generally, organic foods as well as any meats cost money, which is in short supply. Eating advice never seems to take into account the fact that some people are really in bad economic shape, can’t afford prepared meals, have oft-broken stoves (I wish I were kidding, and I cannot afford a new one right now. I also never learned how to cook and while I want to learn, the family environment I live in makes things difficult-I live with my parents and they habitate in the kitchen and it’s difficult to learn when you have no privacy, not to mention someone who is looking at your food intently while you are trying to eat it. I guess what I’m saying here is, it’d be great if I had some control over how I cook by, say, living in an apartment, but I can’t afford one. I have a microwave and the oven works some times but usually its operations sets off the fire alarm. I can eat a bland, inexpensive, boring diet of foods that can be easily prepared, if that’s what is needed, but some variety sure would be nice. Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say, if anything, about whether it’s possible for me to meet the goal I stated above (or even part of it) given my circumstances.

    • Michael Matthews

      Holy wall of text.

      Can you do me a favor and bullet point your questions?

  • Wishing….

    Hi, I have bullet-pointed my questions, below:

    * In July of 2014, my body fat percentage was about 28% and I weighed 247 pounds

    *By Jan. of this year, I lost about 30 pounds and from Oct.-Dec. went to the gym (about 60 minutes a day on a LifeFitness elliptical machine, Level 9 or higher; according to the LifeFitness display screen, this burned between 600-700 calories). I also would, on any one day, do 3-4 chest press reps, 3-4 ab crunch reps, 3-4 shoulder press reps, 3-4 bicep curls and 3-4 tricep curls. January 2015 workout: 30 minutes on the stairmaster, and do 4-8 reps on the chest press, and 4-8 reps on the ab crunch machine. My weight in the last two weeks has gone up 4 pounds. Might this weight gain be muscle gain? (I haven’t eaten more in Jan. than before).

    * I want to lose body fat and build muscle at the same time, so that I can continue to lose weight (or at least not gain more than a little). My % body fat, measured today, is 18.5%. It was 21.6% three moths ago. I am a 36 year-old male and weight 220 pounds.

    * Regarding HIIT: I followed the recommended HIIT routine for about four weeks in December of 2013 and doing the exercises made me sick to my stomach. I felt more than once that I was going to pass out after completing a 3-4 min. cycle of rest/go really fast/rest/go really fast eight times. I vomited more than once, too. From your article, exercise-wise, to lose fat and gain muscle, exercise-wise, it’s either heavy compound weight lifting or HIIT and that’s it? Can I achieve my goal of “lower body fat/more toned look without gaining weight (a little weight is OK if that’s needed)” WITHOUT HIIT (i.e.do the weight lifting alone?) Is there something I might have been doing wrong when I was doing the HIIT?

    *Regarding my diet, what % of the macronutrients should be protein, what % carbs, what % fat?

    Thank you! I bought some of your books and they seem helpful.

  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

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  • Vanessa Ayala

    Hello, I have been working out for about a year. I don’t really keep track of anything except how many grams of protein I have. When I started my body fat % was at 26.3% with 30lbs of body fat. The last time in I checked in October I was at 23.5% with 27.4 lbs of body fat. My muscle mass started at 79.4lbs and in October i was at 84.6lbs. I was told to not do cardio, so I only lift, 4-6x a week. I want to lose body fat, but continue building muscle. My question is, what do I do with my diet/macros once I have reached something I am comfortable with? Thank you!

  • Armando Quintal

    Hi Michael, I have read your bigger, leaner stronger book, and I agree with almost everything that you say except for two things, one is I believe that too reach hypertrophy rep range doesnt matter that much, VOLUME is what matters, but if you have enough volume with low reps, that will lead to size and strenght and if you have enough volume but with slightly higher reps say 6 to 8 or 8 to 10 it will lead to the same hypertrophy but with less strenght and less time in the gym, but what I think that is a problem with your routine is the overall volume is too low, is it because intensity is a way to add volume, because I mean 4-6 is intense? The problem I see is that I have seen people who say that they worked in the lower rep ranges and they say they didnt get the size results they wanted. Like in MAX OT training, some people didnt see the results they wanted.

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  • Eshwar

    Is there any diet for fat loss and muscle gain simultaneously..?Is it safe for health,if i go with HIIT workout 4tyms per week.Am doing workouts from 5yrs.
    Am little fatty..

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  • Stephen Reyes

    Does my body type matter? Or should I stick to the recommended amount of carbs?

    I’m primarily an endomorph.

  • Alejandro

    Hi Michael. Great article. Do you know if 2 to 3 sessions of Sauna per week may affect muscle gains?
    All the best

    • Thanks! Sauna is great. Very healthy. It won’t impair muscle growth (and won’t boost it either). Enjoy.

  • Stephen Reyes

    Another question. Should a female that weighs about 200lb at 5’4 and 38.9% body fat intake protein based on lean body mass or weight?

    • Good question. Lean body mass. 1 gram per pound of lean mass will be fine.

  • asdfg

    I can not lose fat..im going to the gym about 5 days a week but i keep gain weight

  • Amedio

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your great articles.
    I’ve just discovered your website yesterday and I’ve been in for many hours reading.

    My Age:35
    Weight: 128 KG
    Skeletal Muscle Mass: 51.4 KG
    Body Fat: 38.8 KG

    Now I need to lose about 22 KG of fats while maintaining and growing the muscles.
    I can only do my workout (cardio or weightlifting) early morning 6.00 am.
    On (MON,WED and Friday) I do my weightlifting and Cardio
    The rest of the week I can do Cardio only.
    As am a little bit confused due to several readings, My Questions are:
    Note: I have 5 lb of whey protein for now and don’t need to buy any other supplement for the next 2 months unless it is very important.

    For weightlifting+cardio days at 6.00 am on (MON,WED and FRI)
    1-I have to do HIIT before or after weightlifting?
    2-Should I do that on empty stomach?
    3-If No, What to eat before?
    4- Should I take simple carbs immediately after the workout with protein shake?

    For Cardio only days 6.00 am (the rest of the week)

    5-I have to do HIIT or only steady cardio?
    6-Should I do that on empty stomach?
    7-If No, What to eat before?
    8-Should I take simple carbs or whey protein after cardio ONLY sessions?

    Your response willl be highly appreciated and sorry for many questions.

    Best Regards,

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  • Ash

    I’m a bit confused. I’m female, 5’0″ & 115lbs w approx 25%bf. I’m trying to get as close to the 18-20%bf range as possible. If I do 1.2g/lb protein, 1g/lb carb & 0.2g/lb fat, it comes out to 1219 calories. That’s well below a 20% deficit, it’s actually more than a 25%+ calorie deficit. I workout 5 days/week for a total of 60-70min, lifting 30-35 min, 30 min HIIT. Am I off on calculations? I keep reading I should be able to lose 1lb of fat/week but it hasn’t been happening for me. I had been eating 1g/lb protein, 1g/lb carb, .45g/lb fat. HELP!

    • Cool on your stats and goal. Check this out:


      I think we can get you eating a bit more but not 0.45g fat/lb.

      • Ash

        Based on the recommended article I’d be eating 1162 cals/day (26f/116c/116p), that’s the suggested 20%-40%-40% split. 1162 cals…I’D DIE (not actually but pretty damn close). I might be destined to be a size 4 forever bc I don’t see how I could attack my training on that. Thoughts??

  • I want to know what you think of those digital scales that measure fat percentage and calculates BMI. I have one of those (OMRON). I measured fat % back in Sept. and it showed 48% (190 lbs), so I started running and walking and working out. So, I got on the scale this morning and my fat % is 31%, but I still weigh the same. Can you explain?

  • Joe Garrity

    I just had a question about cutting. You do the same workout as you would and i must say your workout has my gains shooting up! But when your cutting everything is the same just add in cardio like HIIT?

  • Anthony Calderon

    Hi im 16 and ive been weight training for about two years and ive gotten some mass but i want to cut all the fat but woth school and everything its hard ive been doing a plan of 2 servings of egg whites every morning and one scoop of protein post workouts which i have 5 to 6 days a week i have days where its more powerlifting movements and half the week i focus on bodybuilding. i get most if not all carbs from dinner and About 2 thirds of my daily calorie trying to keep a deficit. any tips or suggestions would help thank you.

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  • Randy

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been following the BLS program for a few weeks and I have a question regarding cardio. I work second shift 3-11 and have been lifting then doing hiit on the bike before work. I usually take BCAA’s before the cardio portion. The question is should I keep doing this or should I do the cardio after work around 11pm? I usually only stay up for an hour or two after I get out of work. I should also mention that I am doing fasted training, so I don’t eat before the gym I usually take a serving of Phoenix with BCAA’s and some Pulse PWO.



  • Randy Hoffman

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been following the BLS program for a few weeks and I have a question regarding cardio. I work second shift 3-11 and have been lifting then doing hiit on the bike before work. I usually take BCAA’s before the cardio portion. The question is should I keep doing this or should I do the cardio after work around 11pm? I usually only stay up for an hour or two after I get out of work. I should also mention that I am doing fasted training, so I don’t eat before the gym I usually take a serving of Phoenix with BCAA’s and some Pulse PWO.



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

      Personally I would separate the workouts but if you don’t want to that’s not a problem per se. You can continue doing what you’re doing.

  • Stephen Reyes

    Hey mike,

    Is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle on maintenance calories?

    Thanks in advance,

    • No, you’d need to be in a deficit to lose fat. What sometimes happens is people THINK they’re at maintenance but aren’t.

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  • emmasq

    Hi Mike, quick question. I weigh 177 pounds, at around 29% body fat according to the last DEXA scan I had. I would like to get lighter, but have decided to try and reduce my body fat/increase lean muscle mass as much as possible having spent years in that extreme calorie deficit/crazy amounts of cardio trap. I am lifting heavy weights and have cut cardio back to a couple of HIIT sessions per week. I’m just wondering how much I should be eating, particularly on days when I have to do weights in the morning and the cardio that night. Will 1500 calories (say, 120 carbs, 140 protein and 50 fat) be enough for me to preserve the muscle I am building or should I eat a touch more? Thank you for your help 🙂

  • Sally

    Do the same calculations work for women? I’m 5’9″ and 41 years old and 175 pounds. I’ve been building muscle for about a year. A trainer gave me 1770 cals for cut but on your plan I would be 210P, 175C and 35F…right? About 1850 cals. I workout everyday and do HIIT about 3/week but I have a sedentary desk job. Thanks!

  • Michael Ovalle

    I’m actually wondering if it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle on a lower carb diet? Currently I am 150 5’7″ I ingest roughly 180-230g of protein and id guess around 50-75g of fat and. Less than 50g of carbs I do a lot of avocado and olive oil fats and lower GI carbs. I weight train about an hour a day with 30min of medium cardio and do this about 6x a week. How would you change my diet to maximize results?

  • NB1986

    Hi Mike,

    I have recently taken a lot from your articles. I used your tips for fat loss over last summer and it worked great though I did find myself losing a bit too much weight even though I was eating plenty of protein and lifting heavy… Now since December I have been trying to bulk up clean by eating at a very mild calorie surplus. What I am finding it that after putting on no more than 7 pounds, I am no longer putting weight on, but my waist is getting flabbier. I just came across another article of yours talking about insulin resistance and wondered whether I should do another cut as I think I’m around 17-18% body fat. Any ideas?



    • Thanks Nick!

      Yeah generally speaking you want to move between 10 and 15-17% to maximize muscle growth.

      • NB1986

        Thanks Matt, but what explains the slight increase in body fat without an increase in weight? I’ve been sticking to my slight calorie surplus but not moving up in the scales… It’s weird!

        • How are you determining your body fat has increased?

          • NB1986

            Just by measurement but you ‘just know’ when you’re fatter than before! Here’s a pic; the navy body fat calculator got me at 16%. Lower abdomen and love handles definitely bigger to me. My waist measurement just below my belly button is 34, it was 33 about 2 months back.

          • Well you can’t be gaining fat and losing muscle if you’re training hard and eating right (it’s actually impossible) so something else is going on here…

          • NB1986

            Too much fat not enough carbs? Even though I usually hit my calories it’s usually more protein and fat. I can usually manage about 250g carbs where I need over 300g, fat and protein usually go over…

          • Wait you’re eating 300+ grams of fat per day?

          • NB1986

            Ha no!! My macros say I should get around 70g fat but I can easily hit 100, carbs are usually 350g but I struggle to hit 280g. Hence the calories from the fat are taking up the calories from carbs. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong?

  • Onur

    Hi Mike,

    Firstly, I should say this is the
    best fitness blog I’ve ever seen. Congrats!

    My question is below:

    I can’t limit the fat to the 0,2 grams per pound. Is it ok, if I don’t reduce the fat but eat
    less carb than you indicated?

    As a result, I will keep the calori deficit. But I wonder the effect of reducing carbs on
    my muscle development.
    Is it all about the calori taken per day ( decluding the protein issue


  • Onur

    Hi Mike,
    Firstly, I should say this is the best fitness blog I’ve ever seen.

    My question is below:

    I can’t limit the fat 0,2 grams per pound. Is it ok, if I eat less carbs
    than 1 gram per pound instead of eating less fat, while keeping the calori

    Will it effect my muscle development badly or is it all about the calori
    taken per day (dicluding the protein issue surely)?


    • Onur

      sorry for repeating 🙂

    • Thanks so much! Yup you can play with carbs and fat. For every 2 grams of carb you remove, you can add 1 gram of fat.

  • John

    I have a question regarding reps when you say do 4-6 reps and 9-12 sets does that mean for each exercise or the workout total. For example if i do squats should i do 4-6 reps for 9-12 sets or if im doing multiple exercises say squats and deadlifts they should equal 9-12 sets overall.

    • The workout total. Not 9-12 sets per exercise. That would be insane!

  • Ben

    Hey so my biggest questions first of all when you say “training regularly” what exactly so you mean. Also when you suggest 4-8 rep for 9-12, would it be wrong to do more sets (20) with maybe slightly higher reps (10), or would that cause too much tissue damage? With all this being said I am a 6’6″ 19yo and weigh about 250 approximately 23 percent body fat working out 5 times a week, with fairly decent genetics id like to think. I weight lifted for a year and a half then took a year off. Now Ive been back in the gym for about three months, I’m just curious if you think his program would work for me.

  • Nhameless

    How will I keep the fat 0,2 gr per pound? When I try to eat 1,2 gr protein per pound, the fat increases automatically 🙂

    • Lean protein. 🙂 You can drop carbs if you want to raise fat though. For every 2 g of carb you cut, you can add 1 g of fat.

  • Uzma Rizwan

    I gained 20 kg taking medicine neo k n epival n loprin n lipigatte n motillium n rizek plz guide me

  • Christopher

    Thanks for the great article! I’m excited to put this into practice. When it comes to the calorie intake(1.2 g P; 1.0 g C; 0.2 g F per pound of body weight), do you base that on your current weight or on your goal weight? And I’m assuming that if it’s based on your current weight, as you drop pounds you are supposed to reduce the corresponding caloric intake.

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  • Roberto Brunori

    Hi There, greetings from Brasil!
    I´m lifting first thing in the morning from mon to fri (5 sessions), folowing more or less your book instructions. But I just don´t have the time to go on other sessions for cardio work. I can do it just after the lifting or not doing at all!
    So, whats better? Continue with an ABCDE lifting trainning and no cardio or try something like an ABC or ABCD with 1 or 2 cardio (spinning) just after the lifting and 1 or 2 days for cardio only?
    Congratulations and thks for your attention.

  • Roberto Brunori

    Hi There, greetings from Brasil!
    I´m lifting first thing in the morning from mon to fri (5 sessions), folowing more or less your book instructions. But I just don´t have the time to go on other sessions for cardio work. I can do it just after the lifting or not doing at all!
    So, whats better? Continue with an ABCDE lifting trainning and no cardio or try something like an ABC or ABCD with 1 or 2 cardio (spinning) just after the lifting and 1 or 2 days for cardio only?
    Congratulations and thks for your attention.

    • Hey hey!

      Yeah you can lift after. It’s not a huge problem. We want you lifting 5 days per week, ideally.

  • Chris

    Not sure if this is posted below somewhere, but, what is really the difference here vs. just hitting a cut as hard as possible?

  • Mia

    Hi Mike, my name is Mia and I am 22 years old female. I have been going to the gym for one year now, and have been lifting weights. I weight 108 pounds, but haven’t been able to go over 115 pounds for a good amount of time. I eat healthy for the most part (fish, chicken, beef, salads, almonds, veggies, etc), but have a cheat day on Sundays (just going to a restaurant I like for a burger or something because I don’t really eat sweets). I’m also half Korean, so I eat Korean food (soups, kimchi, tofu, etc).. and I always cook at home besides on Sundays when I feel like eating out. I’ve been working out my arms, legs, glutes, shoulders, and back and have been looking up videos on Instagram. I don’t drink protein (Not sure if I should or not because I heard they don’t work.. But what do you think?).. And I don’t take much supplements besides fish oil and vitamin C. I don’t do cardio.. Maybe like 5 minutes before I lift weights. I do more cardio by lifting weights and not having much of a break in between for more than 45 seconds. My question is: How can I gain more muscle, and get rid of my extra fat? I am skinny-fit and my waist looks good, it’s just I have no butt; My muscles in my biceps don’t show/aren’t cut but I know they are there; I have some flab/cushion on my tummy; etc.. What would you suggest I do? Eat more protein and less fat and less carbs? I’m stuck. Please help. I also work 5 days a week 9-5.. So, I only go to the gym in the mornings at 7 and lift weights for an hour. How can I work this into my schedule?

  • Mia

    Also, here is a picture if it helps.

    • Cool. You look great! What do you think of this as a milestone to work toward:


      Similar body type and she’s been working away on my programs for a year or so.

      • Couture_Fit

        Hi Mike, thank you for the quick reply I really appreciate it! Yes, she has a similar body type, and I believe this is a great milestone to work toward. I do like my body type, it’s just I want more of a cut like she has. How can I go about this? Will you be able to help me? I really appreciate your advice and feedback!

        • Great! She’s just practicing what I preach. In fact she’s just about to launch a coaching service. Would you like me to put you in touch with her?

      • xhulio1994

        Hi , i have lost 35 kg , but now i left the run and i make only strength exercise but my skin is very soft , i eant to lose skin but i dont now what to do . can you give me an program to tight skin . sorry for my bad english hope you understand it .

      • Couture_Fit


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  • ilariuccia

    Hi Mike! I read the first edition of “Thinner Leaner Stronger”, and I admire all the research you have been doing. However, I have a pretty big problem: I just hate going to the gym and lift weights. I prefer to attend some classes, which I find less boring. I understand that it is probably less effective than weightlifting, but I was wondering what you think about this kind of workout.
    I also have another question. Last year I went to a nutritionist who helped me lose 3 kg. I wasn’t fat, but I had that little annoying belly, and I wanted to just remove it. So at the end of the two months diet plus cardio and toning almost every day, I had lost my belly, but also half of my boobs. Then I moved to US, and I re-gained both my boobs and my belly, damn fast foods… Now I really want to get rid of my 3 kg again, but I DON’T want to lose my boobs. This is a pretty big deal for me. I noticed that you have never covered this topic before, probably because there is nothing much to do about it. I know that there is fat in the breast, and I’ll have to deal with losing some of it. However, I was wondering if you have some advice on how to avoid losing too much from it. For instance, I know that jumping is not good for the breast, and that push-ups help keep it lifted, at least. Do you have some useful hint? I know you don’t have boobs, but hey, maybe you did some research on this also 😛
    Thank you very much 🙂

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

      Classes are good exercise. This is okay.

      Unfortunately boobs do shrink as you lose fat. There’s no way around this…

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  • Martin

    So to gain muscle and lose weight you have to deal with getting fat so what about someone that’s already fat and wants to gain muscle and lose fat?

  • Martin

    So to lose fat and gain muscle you have to get fat, now what if someone wanted to build muscle and burn fat but they’re already fat that’s my situation I’m 6’2 240lbs

  • Bogdan

    I’m 19 years old, 6’1 and i have 171 lbs. Should i build more muscle or cut for summer?

  • Marian Boricean

    I also lost fat and built the muscle in the picture below without any bulking period. Actually my entire period (almost 2 years) I was eating to loose fat and I wasn’t too much focused on building muscle. I was just training hard every time, knowing the benefits 🙂

    Most of the time I was in calorie deficit with brief periods of re-feed.

  • Farouk El-Khatib

    i’m a beginner (5months) and i’ve gained 35lbs, and I know ive gained a good amount of fats but i also gained around 10-15lbs of muscle. i want to lose fat and gain muscle since i’m still a beginner (in the 6-8 months range) and i can benefit from losing 15 lbs of fat and gain 5 lbs of muscle. i want to ask is it better if i do it over a longer time (3months) so that i work with a low calorie deficit and lose fat fat slowly and then i can move into an intermediate workout (4x a week)?if i do 1.2g P,1g C and 0.2g F that total to 2100 calorie, I’m aiming to take 2700 calorie, how should i change my macros?

  • Anamika Zafar

    I just bought the book and I’m not understanding something. According to the book and this article, I should be eating about 170 grams of protein which when converted to imperial is 6oz of protein a day. This seems meager to me. What am I doing wrong in the conversion?

    • 170 grams of protein isn’t 170 grams of meat. Check calorieking.com for the protein content in various amounts of meat.

  • Adel-Alexander Aldilemi

    I was wondering, does poor digestion play a role for gaining gaining muscle? My digestive system isn’t 100 % optimal and I was wondering if it had any impacts on my gains

    • Theoretically the better your body can absorb nutrients the better it can use them, you know?

  • Wafi

    Hello there I really hope you find the time to read this and point me in the right direction. when I was about 17 I worked out for about a year…I was naturally very skinny. I gained about 6 kg of lean mass in one year. And back then I was very well defined and it was hard for me to gain mass or fat as I was in my late adolescence and my habits of smoking weed and partying. then I quit lifting for a while…I quit smocking and everything and gained 8 kgs of fat…from 48 to 57..I’m 22 now and I started working out again about a month ago. I can see some awesome progress maybe due to muscle memory or whatever…my chest is getting bigger my arms look better etc. however the big problem is my body fat and I’m starting to get a bart simpson like belly. I ate a lot in the past month increased my calory intake and proteins…I eat about 4 meals a day…I combined chickpeas sprout with rice…rice with bean that’s the base of my diet…add chicken drums to that plus milk and and other food I don’t always keep count of…Right now I’m just doing bodyweight excercise like pull up chin ups shoulder push ups and barbell squats…I do a full body workout with low reps and big compound movements three times a week. Now I don’t do much cardio…

    my question was would just implementing like 3 days of 45 min cardio per week be sufficient to loose bodyfat and get to a better place? I don’t aim for the super fitness model body with body fat percentage below 0. but I’d like a nice looking body with flat belly and well defined chest and arms etc…

  • cooper

    Training and diet go hand and hand no point crushing it at the gym while your eating junk. Its a full package deal. So if you looking to drop that fat and tone that body commit. Here is an example of a great prove program

    >>> http://www.goodshealthnfitnessreviews.com/adonisgoldenratio <<<

    This program is designed to give you that perfect shoulder to waist ratio. Shredding fat getting ripped. Just be dedicated and you will be pumped.

    There are so many other training diet programs to choose from.Just need to educate yourself which will work best for you. What are you looking for burning fat or getting ripped building muscle or maybe getting all toned giving you that fit active look. Here's a site worth looking at for the right program to keep you motivated … http://www.goodshealthnfitnessreviews.com/

  • Giana

    Hi Mike,

    I’m what you would call “skinny fat”. Probably because I have only been doing yoga sculpt (low weight, high rep) and steady paced runs. I eat about 1200 calories per day. I’m trying to get in shape for cheerleading and am wondering how many calories you think I should be at if I am switching my training to incorporate lifting and HIIT? I am 5’9″ and 125 pounds.

    Thank you for your website!

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  • Diana

    Hi there, I have been following your Thinner, Leaner Stronger book (awesome book btw) and I’m wondering if losing fat and gaining muscle causes the numbers on the scale to remain the same for a while? I know those numbers shouldn’t matter much BUT I’m really heavy for the way I look. I think I either gain muscle really fast or I’m not losing fat. I have one of those fat percentage calculators, but I don’t think it’s reliable. Which fat calculator is best to see my progress? It’s tough to go hit the workouts hard and see minimal progress. I started off at 165 lbs and I’m down to 146 with my goal being 125 and 18% bf. Thank you! 🙂

    • Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it. Anything you could do to spread the word would rock too! 🙂

      It can yes but eventually you do want to see weight going down. I’ve seen weight stall for as much as the first 4 weeks though despite inches coming off.

      Check this out:


      Check this out too:


      • Diana

        Thanks for the quick reply!! That’s so awesome of you to do 🙂 I have shared The name of your book with a few friends that wanted to know what I was doing for weight loss. I’ll check the links you posted and will repost if I have any other questions. Thanks again!!!

  • Julian Trigo

    check out this program to gain muscle mass and lose weight faster than ever!!!

  • Tim

    Finally! I have been searching and searching to find the truth..I made a decision, started to lift and eat right but was told multiple times that it is IMPOSSIBLE to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time. I believed it and I gained a lot of muscle but of course my mid-section increased by almost 2 inches… I knew it was too hard to believe. This is my first time on the site and I am looking forward to reading your book. Thanks Mike!

  • Mclick

    How to build muscle as fast as humanly possible…That’s what we all want to know.Most of us don’t have the genetics of an NFL running back or pro bodybuilder.So it’s not all your fault.I was mixed-up until I got this plan,see my review of it:>bestfitnessandmusclebuilding(dot)c.o.m/ms2<

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  • Livo

    I have a question: Is it really necessary to take keratin? Can I just take a fat loss supplement like Green tea extract? Thanks. I have been training for 2 weeks, I am already in calorie deficit, Its a slow process, but Already in 2 weeks I feel that my training and diet are working.

  • wabbi5

    http://85cdesk4h46p7z41qxld04jmid.hop.clickbank.net/ great cookbook for building muscle

  • prasanna

    height-5’6 weight-217lbs body fat-37%.will it work for me?

  • Roberto Eduardo Rojas

    Hi Mike,
    One question. I have been putting together a daily meal plan based on the macro ratios. And although I hit my caloric intake numbers with ease (within +/-50 cals), I am struggling with hitting my protein numbers. I am missing by 20gr to 30gr per day. Is this Ok, or should I adjust?
    thank you for the advise.

  • Coffeeforever

    Hi Mike,
    I just got your book TLS. I was hoping for some more in depth info on metabolic damage and how to reverse it. Also was wondering if you have any knowledge on marijuana and it’s affect on the body in regards to fat loss and muscle gains.
    Thank you!

  • Kevin mccutcheon

    Hi, as far as 4-6 reps- is that 3 sets?
    Like a set of 3 squats/DL/Press etc… at 6 reps each? Or 3 sets of 4 reps- and once you can do 3 sets of 6 reps increase weight?

  • Kevin

    Hi, as far as the 4-6 rep range- is that 3 sets of squats/DL/Press etc. for 4 reps and once you can do 3 sets of 6 reps increase weight? Or is it just ONE set of 4-6 reps for each exercise?

    • I like increasing my weight once I hit 6 reps. So set 1, 6, add weight, get 4 or so next 2 sets, work with that weight next week until 6, go up, etc. If, however, you only get 2 to 3 reps after increasing, drop back and work with that lower weight until you can do TWO sets of 6, and then try to move up again. If that still fails, then work up to 3 sets of 6 and you’ll be fine.

  • Emanuel Dushaj

    Just bought your book as you know; I leave for europe july 27th. Do you recommend I follow this or no?? currently at 14 percent body fat. What do I do to hit 10 percent almost done with insanity

  • Matt Collard

    Hi All – sorry if this has already been answered (lots of comments!!), but when we talk about needing a calorie deficit, are we talking about a ‘net’ calorie deficit? I.e. Calories in less calories burned = net calorie consumption.
    If my daily calorie consumption to maintain the same weight is 2500 cals, and, per guidance, I need to drop say 20% with a view to burning fat, that would make my new daily calorie consumption 2000 cals. Say I consume 2250 cals in food/drink and do a short cardio session that burns 250 cals, does that mean I have hit my new 2000 cals target? Seems obvious that it should, but it’s not made clear….

  • Marcus

    Hey quick question. Do recommend carbs like sweet potato & oats before HIIT cardio or not to keep to insulin low?

  • Steve Zimmerman


    Thank you for such a comprehensive look at building a better body, from your books to all of your articles (read most of them by now). I wanted to ask you what your opinion on what my goals should be and how I should proceed with my fitness plan. Below are a few current pictures (unflexed). For a while I thought I was around the 10% range of BF but i’m starting to realize i’m closer to 15-20%. I’m a bit torn between choosing a fat loss approach (80%) with strict dietary/training guidelines to support muscle growth, or a slight calorie surplus (110%). I have been weight training seriously off and on for about 5-6 years now, but college, poor form and dieting left me with lackluster results. I guess my fear lies in stripping off the fat and becoming too lean/thin vs. the fear of putting on more fat. Thanks!

    Side note: Just started your 5 day split (M-F) with HIIT training Sun, Tues, and Friday.

    • Hey hey!

      I would guess 14%. You’re definitely not 20%. That said, check this out:


      I think this is the way to go for you… THoughts?

      • Steve Zimmerman

        Would you recommend 2 out of 3 fasted HIIT intervals a week along with some fasted training with my caloric surplus to minimize fat gain? (only 2/3 because my third HIIT is right after legs)

      • Steve Zimmerman

        I can’t see my reply so I’m assuming it didn’t go through. I asked if while on my bulk, would you recommend continuing fasted HIIT intervals along with some fasted training? Also, would it be a waste to take supps such as Phoenix/Yohimbine while on a bulk (Usually before fasted exercises)?

  • Steve

    Hi Mike, hope you’re well bro.

    You’ve did before that you’ve know skinny guys with upwards of 20lbs less lean mass than you that have to eat 1000-2000cals more that you to gain same amount of lean mass.

    I was just wondering does this apply to the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ll give you an example.

    A 5ft7″ 150lb guy needs to eat 4000 cal a day to put on muscle(this is his sweet spot, he is adding fat and muscle at a 1:1 ratio). Is his maintenance intake likely to be like 20% less than the 4000? Or could it be all the way down at 2000cals.
    Leading into the actual question. If a guy like this has to eat LOADS to gain will he also have to eat more than the average Joe to be in a deficit for a cut? Or does it work the opposite, will he need to be in a larger % deficit than most people to attain the same results.

    I’m thinking the answer to this one swings on that persons maintenance level.

  • Casey Leonard

    Hi Mike,

    I’m 37 years old, weigh 130 lbs, 19%
    bf, 5’8. I was the skinny fat a few months ago, then read your book,
    Thinner, Leaner, Stronger, and I am getting there! I never thought I would love lifting so much. I am so glad to not killing myself with cardio with no results.

    I lift 3-4 days a week, and do HIITs 3 x week. I am confused on when to go off my calorie deficit, however. According to Katch Mcardle my daily calories are 1400, and I multiplied it by .8 (according to one of your articles). So I’ve
    been around 1500 calories a day to lose weight. I’ve gained a good start of muscle, I just want to lose a bit of fat left on my mummy tummy, but the rest of
    me just needs more muscle. My macros are set at 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fat. Should I just keep going or change anything? Do I need to lose more lbs, or just gain muscle and lose more fat?

    • Glad you’ve been following the program and getting results! You rock.

      If you’re still trying to lose body fat, I recommend that you continue cutting. Once you’ve lost the fat, you can switch to a maintenance or mild surplus and focus on making gains. 🙂

      To make sure your cals are correct for cutting, check this out:


      What do you think?

      • Casey Leonard

        I can’t believe you answer each of these yourself. Amazing, and dedicated, that keeps a great and loyal following. 🙂 Love it.

        That exactly the article I used to come up with my calories per day. I’ll just keep going! Where do you think the best bf % for women (non-competing) would be to start maintenance and focusing on building more muscle?

        • Happy to do it! 🙂 Thanks for your support!

          Cool on the article! When you hit 20% BF, you can start your maintenance or mild surplus.

  • Minjun

    Can anybody recommend a specific HIIT routine or something to help? :/

  • Thomas Grierson

    Hi there

    Just want to say that I am new to all of this and pretty out of shape (25 y.o 6ft 224lbs).

    I have read a lot of your articles over the past month or so and watch your videos nearly everyday and just want to say thank you for providing correct and honest information! There is so much BS online saying ‘do this, do that’ its hard to know where to start. I got recommended a ketogenic diet to lose weight , I’ve been doing it for a month now and lost 20lbs but I feel awful !

    Gonna take your information and see how things go!

    All the best.

    • YW brother! I’m glad to be able to offer you good information and help you out. 🙂

      I’m not surprised on how you felt when you went keto haha. Good you got some results though!

      To continue towards your goal, I recommend setting up a cutting meal plan. Check this out:


      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • toshiro t

    according to your regimen my plan looks like this:
    180g protein/a day (1.2g/lb)
    150g carbohydrate (1g/lb)
    30g fat (0.2g/lb)
    so my focus is to hit those numbers and not count calories at all? i weight 150lbs and am 5’7″. do you have a suggestion of how many calories i should have a day? i’m trying to do everything correctly and am a little confused still. thank you!

  • Ruba Shaman


    I am trying to follow your formula for building muscle and losing fat at the same time, but also calculating the calories per day to be in 20% calorie deficit, but it doesn’t equal to the amount of calories when i calculated the amount of carbs, fat and protein per day to build muscle and lose fat. What is the correct calories, amount of protein, fat, and carbs to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. My numbers are:

    Weight in kg=57


    24 years old

    Height 5’4 = 64 inches

    Body fat % probably around 18%

    Want to work out around 3-4 days per weeks

    by following this in your article

    1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, per day

    1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight, per day

    0.2 grams of fat per pound of body weight, per day

    I came up with this = 68g of protein, 57 g of carb, and 11 g of fat per day , with multiplying it by calories it came out to be only 599 calories per day, is that correct? because when i calculated the total calories per day with the 20% calorie deficit it should be around 1334 calories per day. 599 seems very low with trying to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Please help! 🙂

    • No those numbers aren’t correct.

      To set up a proper meal plan, check your numbers against this:


      Make sure you’re multiplying by pounds–not kilos. 🙂

      LMK what you get!

      • Ruba Shaman

        I did using the match McArdle I got my BMR as 1,390.32 and then i multiplied that by lets say working out 3 hours week and i got
        Calories- 1668(TDEE) x .8 calorie deficit = 1334 calories, but i wanted to know based on that, how do i calculate amount of protein, carbs, and fat per day if want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time?

        • Ahhh okay.

          For the macro split, you’d follow the same split you would for cutting, the 40/40/20.

          If you’re new to this kind of training, you’ll build muscle while cutting!

          • Ruba Shaman

            Okay how do i calculate this in terms of grams and calories?

          • Ruba Shaman

            Okay heres the thing, i read both your articles http://www.muscleforlife.com/build-muscle-lose-fat/?c=5578ca6b69f6c and http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

            Based on Build muscle and lose fat, 1st article using the
            4-6 hours a week calculation you mentioned:

            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

            0.2 grams of fat per pound of body weight, per day

            based on the second article doing
            this formula and using the 4-6 hours exercise calculation on both, the numbers don’t add up in terms of calories, for working out 4-6 hours a week based on calculating BMR and everything I should be eating 1501 calories with the 20% calorie deficit and with calculating from the first article the protein, carbs, and fat calories add up to what I should be eating if I worked out 3 hours a week, which is 1341 calories not 1501 (working out 4 hours a week)

            From the second article you mentioned:

            1. Use the Katch McArdle formula to
            determine how much energy your body burns every day excluding physical activity.
            This is known as your basal metabolic rate or BMR.

            2. Multiply that
            number as follows:

            • By 1.2 if you exercise 1-3 hours per

            • By 1.35 if you exercise 4-6 hours per

            • By 1.5 if you exercise 6+ hours per

            Heres what I got: calculating by pound per weight.

            exercising 4 times a week:

            BMR- 1390.32 calories x 1.35 = 1877 TDEE x .8 calorie deficit = 1501 calories eating 80% of TDEE

            this is based on 4 hours working out a week
            My weight is 127 lbs i got these numbers based on the 1st article.

            152 g of protein x4 =608 calories

            127g of carb x4= 508 calories

            25 g of fatx 9=225 calories

            =1341 calories total

            So that’s where Im confused. Should I increase the amount of
            carbs to 1.2 instead of 1 gram carb per lb of body weight?

          • If you go by the TDEE method, you should be fine. Again part of the process is learning your body and tweaking this as you go on.

          • Ruba Shaman

            Okay should i be going by the 1501 i calculated while working out 4 days a week with the 80% calorie defecit or the TDEE total which was 1877 calories?

          • Steve

            Lol in an effort to save mike a minute here.

            If your TDEE is 1877. 1877x.8= your 20% calorie deficit. 1501calories.

            Try 1501, for a week. Weigh yourself on Sunday at the same time, I recommend before breakfast. At the end of the week and you haven’t lost anything then reassess. You can take 50-100cals of your daily calories.

            It’s all about analysing how your body reacts.

          • Thanks brother!

          • What Steve said! 🙂

  • Jason

    Mike, I’m 6’1″, 195, and am trying to both gain muscle (10-15 lbs would be awesome) and lose fat (I’d guess 5-10 lbs max). I don’t gain weight easily, so my question is, would it be better to follow a normal bulk/cut process vs. try to lose the stubborn 5 lbs around my gut while building muscle? Like everyone, I want results “now,” but if I’m going to be achieving the same goal either way, is it less complicated to just do it the normal way?

  • John

    Hey, Mike,
    I love your articles and podcasts; thanks! I have read in a few places on your site about how much muscle you can expect to (or limited to) gain in the lifecycle of a new lifter – 20 lbs in year 1, etc. It sounds to me that this applies to people who are lean to start and need to bulk. What do you think about people who start out around 25% BF? What would you expect from this body type in the first year of lifting/cutting/reverse dieting?

    • Thanks John! Good question. If you could end year one with +15 pounds of muscle around 10% body fat, that would be great.

  • Giulia Cap

    Can I lift heavy on HIIT training?

    • Steve

      Giula, I’m not sure you really understand what HIIT is.

      An example of HIIT would be:
      – 5min warmup jog
      – 30-1min sprint(as fast as you can run for the whole time)
      – 2 min jog
      – 30-1min sprint
      – 2 min jog
      – 30-1min sprint
      – 2 min jog
      – 30-1min sprint
      – 2 min jog
      – 30-1min sprint
      – 2 min jog
      – 30-1min sprint
      – 5 min jog and cool down(walk until stop)

      I personally recommend easing yourself into this training, as it is quite common for people to get shin splints. Like I did. Got up one morning without running for a while, ran really hard and fast like this. Have has sore shins for 4 days. Only just healed today.

      So my intention is to ease into it to allow my body/fitness to adapt.

      Hope this is helpful

      • Steve

        Please note it is ’30second-1minute sprints’

        Also I said I will be easing myself into it. I think and Mike can correct me on this, but I think this could be part of the reason why he does some cardio all year long. Because it can be really gruelling every time you have to restart and recondition your body.

        Plus there’s loads of health benefits to cardio.


        • Thanks for your helps Steve!

          I keep up the cardio because I enjoy it, it’s healthy and keeps me burning more cals. 🙂

          It is definitely tough to start doing cardio when you haven’t been though!

      • Giulia Cap

        Thank you for your quick response. Well I go a high intensity interval class where we do around 10 station, each station has 4 exercises and we do 2 rounds in 40 seconds. We do some cardio exercises such as jump squats, ropes etc but we also lift weights. I’ve been there for almost a year and I guess I could say I eat pretty good but I haven’t seen the results I want. In starting to read thinner leaner stronger and this week I pushed myself a little more with the weights doing chess press, chest flys etc with 25s (before I did 15) I have to say I feel better but I’m just not sure if I should lift heavy in these classes or just go to a regular gym. I’m 5’7 and I weight around 135

        • Steve

          Read the book, it will have EVERYTHING you need to know in it served on a platter for the taking!

          Prepare to have many myths and lies debunked. I personally felt like the shutters had been taken of my eyes after I read BLS. Lol I look back on the ‘bro science’ I used to teach people thinking it was true.

          Good luck on your journey!

        • Steve

          Also if you want to see some of the results I’ve been getting from Mikes advice, scroll up a couple of comments. I’ve attached pics.

        • I recommend completely splitting up the HIIT and weight lifting.

          You should lift heavy 8-10 reps when lifting and have no weights involved when doing HIIT.

          Check this out:


          LMK what you think.

    • Absolutely. You should be lifting heavy regardless. 🙂

  • Sufian

    I am 167cm, 36 years old. I do not know what is my body fat. based on the image, how much body fat is mine really? I am guessing 27-28%, correct?

  • andy

    This seems to be the perfect explanation for what I’m dealing with. I was once a bit bigger than I am now but slacked off for a year… or 2. I’m back on it for 5 weeks now with 3 – 4 sessions per week. No cardio, just weights. Easy for first week but now I’m working to fail, 4-5 sets of 8, 6, fail. Eating 5-6 times per day snacking on nuts. Have lost 3kg. Visible muscle growth and visible fat loss. Thing is, I’m trying to gain weight so what am I doing wrong? There’s no room for more food! When not training I’m steady around 73kg. Now 70.

  • Steve

    Hi Mike can you estimate my BF % please?

    • I would guess about 10%.

      • Steve

        You sure, Even though my bottom 2 abs aren’t showing?

        lol either way, good news. Last week of cutting now I can FINALLY start my clean lean bulk!

        Do you have any articles you could link me to with advice on transitioning from a cutting diet to a bulking diet?


  • Beau Taillefer

    Hey Mike my name is Beau, I really appreciate the unbiased scientific based information. I’ve been following the BLS outline for almost 2months with great results, I look forward to sending you some before and after pictures when I’m done my cut.

    Currently I’m cutting to get to 10%, but I seem to be getting some newbie gains in the process which is a nice bonus.

    I have to be honest that after reading your articles and book I don’t completely understand the science/philosophy behind doing a cut phase and then a bulk phase. Wouldn’t it be mathematically similar to Cut to about 10%, and then bulk for 2-3 days a week and cut for 3-4 days a week for the entire year VS going through cycles that are months long(for example,) Say in the end I ended up cutting for 20 days and bulking for 20 days in both scenarios, wouldn’t the results then be similar? Obviously there are a lot of variables to consider.

    I recall reading in BLS that hormonally it is better to just get the cutting over with and return to maintenance, but wouldn’t it be similar results in the long run, just having the advantage to remain a similar body fat percentage while you make gains.

    I only ask cause I’ve noticed that with 1 good cheat meal a week that puts me at maintenance for the day, and perhaps a little over, I end up feeling a lot better and performing better at the gym. WIth absolutely no negative impact on my phsique. So it just leads me to think, why not be at a 10% surplus 2x a week if the fat gain is minimal/negligent?

    Who knows maybe I’m over complicating it and just need some more calories in general, but I thought I’d ask anyways.

    Again thanks for the advice and your personal input is appreciated, sorry for the novel it wasn’t planned.

    I look forward to trying legion supplements in the future.


    • Thanks Beau! Glad to hear you’re doing well!

      Theoretically “mini-bulks” and “mini-cuts” should work well but they just don’t. It takes time to gain “momentum” on a bulk and once you’re in that “groove,” you want to keep it going for as long as possible. Going into a deficit just throws a wrench into that.

      It’s smart to take one day per week and eat around maintenance (when cutting). Many people like to make it a refeed:


  • Matt

    Hi all…..
    I am currently in a fat loss plateau (3 weeks minor weight change, no fat loss). I understand the advice around breaking plateaus (increase cardio/HIIT, lift heavier, etc.), but at the same time I wanted to re-assess the fundamental principle of achieving a calorie deficit each day, as I realise getting this wrong can cause big problems.

    The principle of calorie deficit I understand, but I wanted to make sure I was selecting the correct ‘activity level’ when taking my BMR and multiplying it up (i.e. BMR x 1.35 for Sedentary, BMR x 1.6 for moderate activity, etc.). I have always used the ‘sedentary’ multiplier but I am concerned this may now be too low and possibly sending my body into minor ‘starvation’ mode where it is reluctant to give up its fat stores.

    Here is my general situation: Male, 37 years old, 5’ 11”, 198lbs, just below 20% body fat, office job but exercise 8 times per week. The exercise consists of 4 resistance sessions with weights, 4 cardio sessions, some steady state,
    some HIIT. One day complete rest. If I am performing this level of exercise (and have now been doing for around 8 or 9 weeks), is sedentary still the correct activity level when working out daily calorie intake? Depending which calculation you use, I calculate my daily calorie requirement as about 2600 calories to maintain the same body weight (1900 calorie BMR x 1.4). In order to burn fat, I therefore have set a target net daily intake of 2100 calories. I will make adjustments to my exercise programme in order to break the plateau, but obviously need to get this fundamental piece right. Any advice welcomed!

  • Brian Giffin

    Mike lack of sleep is a big issue for me.
    I work 24-7, get up at 4:30 am cuz it’s the only time I can get it and the rest is spent on my wife and two kids. This basically equates to about 6-to 6 1/2 hrs a night. I started taking rhodiola cuz
    I heard it reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels. Can you confirm? Do you know of other supliments that help with this?


  • Brian Giffin

    I mean I get up at 4:30 to work out, thanks

  • Gary

    Hi Mike, if it is hard to build muscle with calorie deficit, how is it possible to progressive overload with weight training? Does all the progression come from nerve improvement?

    • Yeah, it’s only really workable if you’re new to the heavy compounds style of lifting.

      When you’re new to lifting, you can go for several months making gains on a deficit. Your nerves do develop to fire harder, but you also build muscle.

      Beyond the beginning stages of lifting, to build muscle you need to be at maintenance cals or higher.

      • Gary

        If not building muscle, how is it possible to progressively increase weight?

        • You can develop your nervous system to fire harder which would result in increased strength but not muscle.

          To do this, you’d work in very low rep ranges (1-3 reps).

  • Belein

    Hey Mike. First of all, thanks a lot for your great article.

    I do have a question though. What do you think about doing cardio for 10-15 mins right after you wake up in the morning? Can you fasten the process of losing fat and maintaining muscle? I just can’t find a proper answer to this question.

  • Katy

    Love this article, Mike! I am going to try to use your protein/carb/fat formula, as I am having a hard time loosing the fat in my stomach area. I am 52 yrs of age, 5’2″, 119 lbs., (I have not lost any weight from when I started 21 weeks ago) and for the most part, been steadily active the majority of my adult life. 21 weeks ago, I read an article, with pics, about a woman in her late forties who looked fantastic and decided to challenge myself to 20 weeks of 4-6 days of: boxing, strength training, HIIT, weightlifting, cardio, core work and try to carve out some abs. Not working!
    I have made a remarkable difference since then and now I want more! Although I have lost a lot of fat, (even in my stomach area), and gained muscle everywhere, my abs consist of……well…..uhmm…… a two pac 🙁
    Is it possible to tighten the loose skin on my stomach, as well?
    I eat extremely healhty: fruits, veggies, fish, lean meat, nuts, and I use a whey protein powder for my post lifting shake. (Although, I do still drink alcohol, and I love our local Mexican restaurant which we go to once a week)
    Can you possibly have a solution for me?
    I’m not sure what else to do.
    Thanks for listening, Katy

  • greg

    Hi Mike, i just come across your website , i have to say it is great.same as the article above, although i have question. I have been looking for an answer on many websites for last few days but information i have read so far are all confusing. Some say this otters say that. Question is what should i eat as pre workaout snack? (like 30 min. Before) i know what to eat/drink just after , read your other article , but what about a meal like 1h later problem is i do late workout ,here is what i do
    weight and cardio 3 days a week between 18;00 to 19;30
    And martial arts ( what could classify as cardio) 2 days a week from 19;30 to 21;15.
    I have been doing this for last 2 months
    But i don’t see any results ;(

  • Kevin Keogh

    Hi Mike, just bumped into your website and had me immersed reading it. I am a tad confused though. I started some serious fat loss and training just over three weeks ago. My waist was 36 (now 34) on a 5’9 frame. Although I look fairly good for a 57 year old I decided to embark on a 21 day carb cycling regime as its all the rage in England. On my 2nd cycle now and have made significant muscle growth whilst on high protein low carb diet. My current intake is just over 1200 calories – 645 Protein,157 Carb and 402 fat. I have been told that you simply cant burn alpha fat unless you bring carbs way down to kick start fat burning. Appreciate some guidance on this. Currently on 2 week High Protein then switch to 1 week High carb. Thanks Kevin

  • KateT

    Hello! I am about to order your book, but had a couple questions first. I am a 31 yo female, 5’4″, 120 lbs. I’ve recently lost 20 lbs through cardio, and now im skinny fat.I know nothing about weightlifting, although my gym has a great selection of free weights and machines. Does the book explain how to the exercises? Also, how important is the diet aspect? I do not have a lot of freedom in diet, as I have hypothyroidism and a B12 deficiency. Thanks in advance.

  • Hamad

    Hey mike, what’s the difference between BSL and beyond BSL ?

    • BLS is for beginner and intermediate lifters. BBLS is for intermediate to advance lifters.

      You would start with BLS then after 1-3 years and certain bench marks are hit, you could move on to BBLS.

  • darvens

    Hey Mike I’m 14 years old and I read ur article my problem is that my body tends to hold on a bunch of fat but I have a skinny frame and if I lose more pounds I’ll just be scrawny my goals are to gain muscle and be around 15%-20% bf I weigh about 180 pounds and I’m 5’9 I can’t really go on a strict diet because of finiacial issues and I was wondering if u can give me advice

    • Hey man!

      I wouldn’t recommend any serious fat loss dieting at your age because it can mess with your development.

      If I were you I would focus on eating plenty of nutritious foods every day and exercising regularly. Sports are great at your age of course.

      • darvensbox

        Thanks sir I appreciate I have one More question do You Think I Have gyno?

  • James Dickson

    Hello Mike, glad I found your site, My problem is that I’m a truck driver, can’t sleep anymore than 4hrs straight before I wake up, Body wise I have no problem with mass, I actually like my size except my stomach, I guess because I sit all day and night driving that’s where all the fat goes, don’t know what to do to fix this problem. I work out 4x a week, 6’3 260lbs, inches not pounds my motto.

  • Andy Goode

    Gain muscle while losing fat!


  • bulent

    Hi Mike, love reading your articles. I find them really helpful especially this one. I am 20 years old and weigh 180 pounds and I am 5’11. I go to the gym and hit the weights 4-5 times a week. I want to lose my belly fat and get a six pack while building muscle at the gym. I normally have 4 meals a day, cereal and eggs for breakfast and the other 3 I have protein on half my plate, veggies as one quarter and rice as another. Is this a good meal diet to go with to achieve my goals? Moreover I wanted to ask how shall I lose my belly I started going on jogs 3-4 times a week, shall I carry on doing this? Also shall I do my cardio in the mornings a coupe hours before my gym workout or shall I do them in the late evenings, many hours after my workout? Sorry for the long message, in summary I want to lose belly fat and get abs and gain muscle at the gym. Thanks Mike.

  • Pic

    Hey Mike, great articles – I’m 49 yo, already lean 5-10, 150 lbs. but have a slight belly – it looks bigger than it really is because the rest of my body is thin. My goal is to gain about 10 lbs. of muscle but also lose the belly fat – It’s a real challenge since I’m essentially trying to gain weight but lose my belly at the same time. Would you recommend I follow one of your strength training for programs for bulk with maybe 1 day a week of HIT training?

    • Building muscle and losing fat at the same is possible if you’re new to this style of lifting. You would start with a cut though. You can set up your cutting meal plan here:


      If you want to accelerate the fat-loss, you can do more HIIT than that. Check this out:


      What do you think?

      • Pic

        Thanks for the response and tips! Question – since my goal is a net weight gain, will a cutting meal plan be counterproductive? I don’t want to lose weight right now. Ideally, I would gain 15 lbs. of muscle and lose 3 lbs. of belly fat (just an estimate). My thought would be bulk first then cut. What do you think? Totally agree on the HIT though….just not sure how often I should do it. Guess I’ll start with 1 day a week and increase if necessary.

        • It depends. What you should start with (a bulk or cut) depends on what your BF% is right now. Do you know?

          This will help:



          • Pic

            Just ordered some calipers per your recommendation so I’ll find out soon enough – will post once I measure.

          • Sounds good!

          • Pic

            Took multiple readings and seemed to get no more than 15%…think I did it right. That said, it’s all around my waist…rest of me is lean. Remember I’m topping out at 150 and am 5-10. Starting to show a little more muscle and have been on your 4-6 rep split program 3 days a week with 2 days of 20 min. high intensity sprints….on my 2nd week.

  • YF

    Hi Mike,
    Great articles and scientifically-informed advice. I heard rumors that creatine use leads to premature hair loss. Any thoughts on this? Are there any studies to substantiate this? Are there any downsides to using creatine?


  • Aleksandra Fuentes
  • T

    Hey Mike, enjoyed reading your article. Wondering if you could help and answer a few questions?

    I am Male, 5’9, 182lbs, 19% body fat and new to weight training. I want to lose fat but also gain muscle simultaneously. I go to the gym 3 times a week and weight train.

    What is my recommended calorie intake each day in order to reduce fat but not to prohibit muscle gain? I usually eat around 1800, is this too low?

    Will the coincidence of me reducing calorie intake to 1800 cause me to see no muscle gains? I am worried that I will see no changes if the calorie reduction renders my weight training useless.

    Any help would be great!


  • RUSS

    Im 5’5″ 180lbs at about 25% bf. i guess you could say im skinny/fat. I’ve been working out on/off for awhile now without anything really to show for it and just started following your plan in BLS for 5 day training/ about an hour a day. My question(s) is would a Body Recomp benefit someone like me? i really want to lose all my belly fat and possibly build on the little muscle i have. Or should i just follow a cut/bulk plan for that? just like everyone else, i wanna do this as fast as possible. And if i wanted to add HIIT, do i have to add/adjust my calories?

    • You’ll be able to build muscle while cutting if you’re new to this style of lifting.

      If you are, you just need to follow a cutting meal plan and follow the BLS lifting program.

      What do you think?

  • Chris

    I just signed up for your newsletter and read the How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat.
    My question is about the heavy rep range. Every time I go there my left elbow gives me fits. I wrap it,use msm glucosamine chondroitin, take fish oil and am careful to exercise proper form and still it flares up. I am 6’3″ 225 and am at about 12-15% body fat
    any suggestions as to avoiding the elbow pain?

    • Thanks!

      Definitely need to avoid pain and are you dealing with any injuries?

  • Aleksandra Fuentes

    This is a good one too try it out

  • LJM409

    Hi Mike
    I read a lot of your books and follow your blog. I have run my numbers all different ways and get some that are just slightly different. Trying to figure out the best approach. I was an athlete at one time, ran/lifted weights. I am now 50, 4’11” and have ballooned up to 140 with the onset of menopause and some prescriptions I was on (no longer taking). The weight has stayed with me and I can’t get it off. Mostly belly fat. Following your program I will lift heavy about 5 days a week with the prescribed HIIT for cardio. I am having a hard time figuring the correct ratio of my macros.

    Should I work on the 40/40/20 (140/140/28) or if I use some of your other info that give me slightly different calories and higher fat 37/34/29 (130/120/44)?

    I am also going to try and get back to fasted workouts. I use to do this a long time ago and now just have to get use to it again. As far as supplements, will I see benefits if I only take the HMB/Creatine and not the pre-workout? Pre-workout usually give me some issues.

    Thank you in advance for all your help.

    • I get it on the weight gain. I’m here to help. 🙂

      I recommend sticking to the 40/40/20.

      HMB pre-workout it great. No need for creatine. Even better, my fasted training product, Forge. Check it out:


      LMK what you think!

      • LJM409

        Thank you. I will stick to those ratios and see how it goes. Will also try the Forge.

        Do You think the amount of calories given my height, age and weight are okay to start with? Starting with a deficit. I just worry about eating to little given my under eating for so long. The formula has me at 1372.

        Thanks again

  • Coleary
    • I like it overall. I had it in one of my products but had to remove it because it just tasted way too bad.

  • Tj Hogan

    Hi Mike,

    I just finished reading your book, and I tick all the boxes and still cant get under 15% body fat I weight train 5 days a week and run 5 miles every morning before my first meal I’m 5,10 and 75kgs. And just can push and break that 15% barrier my calories intake is 1500 it’s getting very frustrateing,

    Any advice

    • Thanks for reading my book! Check this out:


      • Tj Hogan

        Hi Mike thanks to get back I’ve did my research weeks ago about sodium balance for water weight etc and I’m eating very clean I even switched from chicken to Turkey as it just bit more leaner I’m not moving from 15% my workouts are very intense and so are my runs. I also don’t eat cheat meals and don’t have gluten, or have extra sugar in my diet,

  • Hi Mike,
    I just ordered your book for women today and cant wait for it to get here!!! Having a hard time with getting protein without going over my calories? I’m 45, 5’9″ and 152 pounds. Need to lose fat but want muscles. And the lower my weight the smaller and flatter my bum gets. I’m not new to lifting, in fact its the only thing that has ever worked for me for weight loss (and I have tried it all). Been on a two year break from it though… How am I supposed to create a deficit yet get all the protein I need? And build my glutes. All other muscles respond quickly for me.

  • Russell

    Hey Mike
    I just got your BLS book and I’m really excited to get started. I was wondering what your thoughts are about doing the T25 Insanity workouts (25 minutes) for a higher intenisty cardio workout in the morning and then doing the BLS program in the evening? Would that be too much cardio to be doing while also doing the BLS program. I’m about 20-25 lbs overweight right now and my main goal, since there are a couple months of summer left, is to lose weight as fast as possible to get back below 10% BF. Im 30 years old, 5′ 11″ and weight about 225. I’ve done the Insanity workouts before and had awesome results with them. Im just wondering if doing the BLS while doing that much cardio would be a good idea?
    Thanks for your help!

    • Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it. Anything you could do to spread the word would rock too! 🙂

      I think it’s a good HIIT routine and it would work well for you. That said, I wouldn’t do it more than 3 to 4 times per week in addition to your weightlifting.

  • Jeremy


    Great read! I love your articles, they’re all very in-depth and high quality. I just recently started my own website http://www.studentsfitness.com to show how full time students (like myself) and busy individuals can stay fit despite their busy schedules.

    I was wondering if you are accepting guest posts or sharing of articles on your website or social media platforms. I finished a 4000+ word in depth article describing “10 changes you need to make to lose stubborn fat”. It’s up on my blog.

    Let me know what you think!



  • Lisa

    Hello! Im 5’3 weighing at 113 pounds. I am trying to gain muscle in my legs and lose fat in my stomach. I have been training for about 6 months now and can really see the grpwth in my arms. I workout my legs twice a week and i am currently eating 1600 calories P 140 C 160 F 45. According to the formula that is a bit too much for my size but im actually losing weight with this amount. I dont know if i should keep eating at this ount or move up or down. Please help!

  • America

    So what happens after your body adjust to the macros in 2-3 weeks of loosing fat gaining muscle? Do you increase carbs? I haven’t been able to figure that out my body is complicated to figure out 🙁

  • dante`afk

    Hi Mike, quick question:

    I am using my fitness pal to track my calories for cutting, it gave me 1860kcal per day to lose weight.

    I am 6’2″ and weigh about 190lb, trying to get that cut look. I am working out 3 days a week with heavy compound exercises in the 6-8 rep range and do also 3x30minutes HIIT cardio per week.

    On training days I eat about 2600kcal and on non training 1860kcal.

    Do you think I should eat more?

  • YW. Sounds good! LMK how it goes.

  • Zach

    Mike, as a newbie lifter I’m trying to cut while still maintaining weight (I’m only 183 lbs to begin with). I assume this is an issue of adjustment, but whenever I have a day with a ~20-25% deficit (which I’ve been tracking very closely) I drop 1-1.25 lbs overnight (morning to morning when I wake up). When I then have a “normal” day, I pick the weight back up. Should I just not use such an aggressive cut?

    • When you’re a newbie lifter you’re going to be building muscle and losing fat. So, your weight will be changing and not a good indicator of progress.

      You should be looking leaner and your clothes should be fitting looser.

      Let’s stick to the 20-25% deficit and see how your weight changes on a weekly basis. Sound good?

  • nimesh jain

    hey mike,

    i have been reading both of ur books lately n implementing in my schedule..
    but m a dentist by profession and cause of prolonged sitting recently i have developed lower back pain, my doctor told me to stop workout…
    what do you suggest…
    any mild exercises or which body part i can still do…

  • Mark

    Hey Mike. Hope all is well with you. I’m currently in a cut, but my lifts are still going up in weight(not a newbie). You mention that you build muscle primarly through getting stronger, so I have this strange question to ask. Should I just maintain my numbers so that I can save my strength gains during a bulk? Thank you.

    • You’re a lucky man Mark!

      You should continue lifting as heavy as you can.

      Are you losing 1-2 pounds a week?

      • Mark

        Yes, 1 pound a week. Okay I will continue to lift heavy. Thank you, Mike. Have a great day!

  • jerome

    hey mike ggreat article.. i m lookn for a little guidance in my plan and routine.. at the moment i am running 6k everyday, and doing pushups and crunch routines.. i have been trying the intimittant fasting as well…im just curious if you can get similiar ( obviously not as quickly ) effects by just doing at home routines like pushups.. i dont currently have access to weights or the spare money for gym as im currently travelling..

  • Sohaib Aharmouch

    i’m 6’1 ,178 pound and i think something like 17% fat should i lose more fat or focus only on getting muscle now ?? cuz i start lookin like skinny-fat

  • Hannah Hunt

    Hi Mike. I am 129 pounds, 5’7” and female. I’m not sure if I should continue losing weight and add muscle, or should just add muscle, because I don’t want to be too skinny, but I want a flat stomach. Any way, I was wondering if I should primarily lift weights or do bodyweight exercises to gain muscle? I just want to tone up, but I’m not sure if I’d be able to go to the gym often.

    • Weights are definitely best for gaining muscle and where to go from here depends on your body composition.

      Do you know your body fat %?

  • Maria Rynn

    Hello Mike! First and foremost I would like to say your article was excellent! I’m actually trying to help my husband lose weight and after reading everything on your article, I think this would be the best approach for him because nothing else seems to be working….He is a 25 year old male that weighs 285 pounds and his height is 5″10. He also had surgery on his knee twice due to ACL tears and he has been stacking on weight ever since. I’m still confused about how to help him start this…so if you can please help me, I would really really appreciate it. He wants to go back to around 160-180 pounds. Thanks for your time and patience!

  • Dustin

    Couldn’t figure out best place to post this. IN your Max Muscle book, it has upper chest repeated with bi’s and tri’s. It also has shoulders repeated with legs (and a higher rep range). Could you explain this? Why repeat and why higher rep range?

    • From working with thousands of people, I found that upper chest and shoulder were lagging in most peopel. So, I added extra sets to help bring them up, however, I went higher rep to prevent overtraining.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • andria12000

    So at 115# I should consume only 23 grams of fat per day?? Less than 8 grams of fat per meal, that’s damn near impossible. And over 1 g/# of bw for protein is not necessary either. But that low fat level has me really stumped, man.

    • You can raise fat intake to 0.3 grams per pound if that helps but physically speaking you really don’t need more than that. Some people do just like higher fat dieting.

      1,200 calories per day is not too low for everyone. My wife, for example, is 5’3 and 100 pounds and exercises a few times per week. If she wanted to diet to lose fat, she would have to eat around 1,100 to 1,200 calories because her body is small and doesn’t burn all that much energy.

      But if she were, let’s say, 5’10 and 150 pounds and exercising 5 to 6 times per week…1,200 would be too low.

  • Andrea

    I do two days of arms/upper body and two days of lower body, so it’s about 3.5 hours of weightlifting (including my minutes of rest between sets). Is that enough??? And what if you want to do HIIT on the same days as weightlifting so that I can get two days off of everything. Would I just separate my weights/HIIT, or do a protein shake in between the two?? for me, it’s usually easier to do all my gym stuff at the same time.

    • Yeah that’s good on the lifting and sure on the HIIT. Personally I would lift, have about 30 g whey, then cardio.

  • Dustin

    Hey Mike,

    For the 5-day Max muscle routine, were these created for specific days? IE triceps are a few days away from chest days because tricep are worked on bench and allowing to rest) or will it matter if mix up these days?

    • The routine is organized so that sore/tired muscles from earlier workouts aren’t effecting your current workout. Feel free to switch up the order if you find something that works better for you though. Just make sure you’re thinking with that.

  • Dustin Davies

    Thanks so much for all your articles. I have honestly used this website as almost a religious text. I am over being obese and have hit the gym hard and fast. I have many goals to meet and your advice has helped prepare me for what I am to over come. I have lost over 10 pounds and the first week and my Deadlift is at 300 pounds and my Squats at 225. Also doing dumbbell military presses at 60 pounds per arm.

    Thanks again and I hope to share my 3 month results.

    • Thanks Dustin. You rock. And you’re STRONG! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Chris Vasquez

    Hey Mike, great article! I’m 19, 5’7, & 136 lbs. I’m unfortunately skinny fat & have been wanting to find a way to bulk without getting fat because I already have a bit of a gut. I honestly dont count macro nutrients because most of the time I dont have time cook & calculate everything, so i cant clean bulk. But I generally try to eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, meat, etc. Anyways, i’ve been doing full body workouts 3 days a week. I barely started about a month ago, so i’m still new to all of this. Do you have any further advice that may aid me in my journey to a better strong & aesthetic body? I’d like to be bigger definitely, but I’d definitely like to be maybe 20-30 pounds more. I’m satisfied within my genetic limits, i just really would like to have a good muscular phyique on the leaner/smaller side if that makes sense? I dont want to be huge like arnold haha

  • James murphy

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve recently decided to take my health more seriously and managed to drop around 15lbs (male 6′ 2″ 210lbs) I feel that my body fat % is way too high, but I felt that weight loss without lifting had a negative effect on my muscle growth. I’m currently lifting around 4-5 hours a week with 2-3 hours cardio, with a sensible diet would you expect this to reduce my body fat? Are there any supplements you could recommend which could allow me to burn more fat?



  • DeePak PooNia

    hey mike, great artlicle i think it help me in future but i wana ask u i m 19 years old i train very hard for 6 days a week both time morning and evening doing cardio in morning and weight training in evening … with a proper dite or supplements but….. i dont losse fat or dont get any muscles i m same like i was in past what can i do ……. with proper site or perfect workout i was same help me …..

  • Piotr Kaminski

    Mike, what about IF with carb rotation (increase on training day after workout)?.
    I agree with all what you wrote, but from anecdote cases (yeap, I know they suck in science approach, and I agree) I’ve seen cases of mild “re-composition” even in fairly advanced heavy lifters (but I guess they could get same or even better results with typical bulk/cut approach).
    What is you experience with it? And since it looks like kind of working (I’m not aware of any scientific research of this approach), maybe it deserve mentioning in such article, or even maybe for article for it own? ;]

  • alex

    Hey Mike , im 5ft 9 and 170lbs and im trying to put on muscle and lose weight at the same time , according to how many calories i should eat it works out at about just under 1900 , is that enough for me to be able to lift heavy 4-6 times a week and do HIIT.Alex.

  • John Fahim

    I want to thank you for this website and everything you do on it especially seeing how you respond to the questions so quickly. I have been following all your guides and trying to cut down to the 6-7% mark that you hover around.

    I’m 6’1 and 198 currently in my 4th week of my cut. I am guessing I am around the 9-10% bodyfat mark. I lift heavy 4 times a week and am up to 25 mins of bike hiit 6 days a week. I train fasted and use your forge product. Next week I am upping the cardio to 30 mins a day. I wanted to know how you feel about ec stacks that people use while cutting. You can get it from the pharmacy still. That’s now supplement I never heard you mention.

    Thank again!

    • John Fahim

      I used your search tool for this first time and saw you said ex is safe in a previous post.

      Have you ever used it and what dose and frequency do you recommend

    • Great on what you’re doing.

      EC works and is generally well tolerated. I’ve never used but no reason not to.

  • Jen

    Hi Mike, just found your site and article. I’m 32, F, I’m 193lbs and 38.8%bf currently (believe me, I’m not happy about that). I’ve been lifting 5-6 days/wk and doing HIIT 7 months now. I saw results in the first 3 months, added muscle, only went from 41%bf to just under 39%bf. For the past 4 months I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels, I haven’t budged in weight, clothing, or bf. Ive been attempting this reverse dieting thing during those months but I’m ready to get things moving again. I have a question about your TDEE. Your calculator shows my TDEE around 2050cal/day. My Polar Loop shows I burn anywhere between 2400-2700cal/day and this is what I have been basing my “deficit” off of. Currently I am trying to eat avg 2200 cal/day but it sounds almost like your calc says I need to be 2050 just to maintain?? (Pls note I have not gained for the 4 months I’ve been reverse dieting at almost 2500cal/day). I’m just a little confused which number to use. BTW, I eat 200g protein daily (40%) and split c/f at 30% each. Just trying to figure out what daily cals to get to so I can finally get rid of some bodyfat. Thanks!

    • Thanks for all the info.

      For the trouble losing weight, check this out:


      Unfortunately, activity trackers can be painfully off on their estimations of calories burned.

      I recommend setting up a meal plan for losing weight and adjusting your intake based off results–not the activity tracker numbers. Check this out:


      With where your cals are at right now. You should be able to go straight to your cutting cals and start losing weight!

      • Jen

        Thanks so much, I’ve read just about every article on your site by now! This week has gone well so far. I’m a bit disappointed that my loop is probably so far off but if its based on the formula you detailed, I understand why. Hopefully I’ll have results in a couple weeks!

        • YW! Hope you’re enjoying them. 🙂

          Sorry about the Loop!

          I look forward to seeing your results.

  • Mahmoud Soliman

    hey mike if i trained 5 days per week and doing hiit 3 days after weight lifting is that right? and if i wanna do hiit the best one is on treadmill?

  • Curtis Myton

    Hi Mike, In your experience does CLA work. I am trying to perfect my abs and I am doing hard workouts 3-4 times a week with cardio and compound lifting. The top 4 abs are visible but the bottom ones just will not poke through ! They are there as I can feel them but not showing prominently like the rest. Any tips

  • Onur

    Hello Michael,

    I made a mistake and tried to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time for a long time. I cut fat but my muscle development failed. Despite that I gained strength and could lift more weights day by day. When considered that gaining strength is possible without muscle development (may be it’s not, I’m not sure:) ); now how will I increase my weights for muscle development during my bulk? Because I feel that I am very close to my lifting limits of weights?


  • Raul RG

    Hello Michael,

    I have been following your BLS program and so far is too great.

    I came from 18% of fat to almost 11% and maintaining muscle. But right now i have a doubt, how do you when to stop cutting and start bulking and viceversa?

    Should i go as low as 7% and then start bulking ?

    Thank you in advance,

  • Kelly

    Hi Mike, I recently worked with a weight loss program and have lost 20 lbs but was not able to work out during the program due to the restricted calories. Now I am in the “reset” phase for the next few weeks and have increased calories so I was able to start working out again following your program and it feels great! My only issue is that I was supposed to stay within 2 lbs for the month and since working out, that hasn’t happened… I am 4-5 lbs up. My question is it has only been 3 weeks- can I build muscle that fast to increase my weight, is it most likely water weight, or ?? It is confusing and frustrating to lose weight only to gain part of it back when I start working out trying even harder to be healthier. Thanks.

    • Great job on the 20 LBS you lost!

      Glad to hear you started training.

      That much weight gain is at least partially due to water retention and glycogen. You’re also building muscle if it’s your first time doing this style of training.

      Keep this in mind:


      LMK what you think!

  • ashokraju7

    Hi Mike. First of all thank you for sharing your great knowledge. Your website is the only one with articles full of solid references and backed-by science information.

    I’ve just come off a bulk phase. I feel I’ve unfortunately put on a bit too much fat during the phase and would like to cut down quickly before I start properly bulking again. Also, another piece of background – I’ve been weightlifting for 2 years with decent results. I’m not sure if I’m past the beginner phase of gains.

    I read your “Definitive Guide to Effective Meal Planning” and noticed that you suggest a 40% – 40% – 20% ration for protein – carbs – fat. However, in this article you recommend 1.2 grams protein / lb and 1 grams carbs / lb and .2 grams fat / lb body weight. This makes the ratio closer to 46% – 37% – 17%. I’m wondering which one I should follow. I’m thinking of following the latter ratio since it’s tied to the article of gaining muscle while losing fat and that’s definitely what I’d like to do, but I’m also worried about “starvation”.

    Based on my meal calculations it puts in me in a 25% calorie deficit. I know that this is what you recommend in the article, but I’m a bit concerned my body is going to starve and start storing fat. I’ve noticed this happen quite a few times where I start gaining fat on a calorie deficit (am I crazy? Is this possible?). I was wondering if you could suggest what I should do if that starts to happen. Should I go back to a 40% – 40% – 20% (protein-carb-fat) ratio if I start to gain fat on the aggress 25% calorie deficit?

    Greatly appreciate your help!

  • Brandon

    Hey Mike, can you guess my body fat percentage? I’m trying to determine if I should bulk or keep cutting. I’m guessing I’m around 12-13%, I was incredibly overweight just a couple of years ago and fear packing on unnecessary fat, your advice would be deeply appreciated. Thanks

    • Hey man!

      Yeah that sounds about right. 10 to 11% would be my first guess. IMO you could bulk. You do have good size though and might be really happy at 7 to 8%.

  • Davey McCrazy

    Hey Mike, just found your site the other day and I’m devouring all the articles – very good stuff!! I’m a long time gym bro that went through a very similar series of learning curves that you did, regarding your early gym efforts… Without quite ever reaching the potential that you have, Mr. 7.5%!

    Anyways, regarding bulking & cutting, I’ve found that my body demands bulking calories if I’m lifting aggressively (extremely hungry for 12ish hours after a workout), and I can NOT stop eating if I do something that gets me to that “bonk” stage & totally sucks up all my glycogen, like HIIT or GVT. Yes I eat mostly healthy, but notably less so when I’m in calorie crash mode… Then I just eat everything!

    I’m not normally a gluttonous person, though… I’m in my late 30’s now and often battling injuries that impede my training, and if I’m just “staying active” and not really lifting, then I eat conservatively and lose fat quite easily. Bearing all this in mind, I’ve found the best way for me to exercise for weight loss is to do “mild stuff” like a 45 min bike ride… Because the 3 hour bike ride will just have me eating non stop afterwards.

    Wondering if this description of my bodies response to exercise sounds familiar to you, and if there’s a name for it or any suggestions (or links?) you could pass along, to help me manage it more efficiently? Thanks!!

  • Juan

    Hey Mike, I’m 94Kg and 1.83m 27% FP. I’ve been doing the LSB for 2 weeks and calculated my ratios as 1.2 / 1 / 0.2. Now I noticed that you said for over 25% you should do 0.8 / 0.6 /0.3. I’m not losing too much fat. Should I switch to 0.8 / 0.6 /0.3?

  • Faris Hajdarpašić

    Hey Mike
    My body is like skinny-fat, and I just want to lose fat. What should I do, to lose fat? I was thinking about HIIT cardio, but idk. Can you help me pls

  • MikeL

    Hey Mike
    I am currently reading your Bigger, Leaner, Stronger book and am loving it. I am one of those people who spends too much time lifting lighter weights for a lot of reps, but am now very excited to start using your training tips. However, I am nervous about starting to lift heavier weights, especially in the deadlift and squat due to my history of a deteriorated and herniated lower discs. What advice do you have for people with lower back injuries in starting out with your training methods?

    • Glad you’re excited to lift heavy!

      I understand your concern. What does the doc have to say about you deadlifting and squatting?

      • MikeL

        Thanks for your response…I’ve been relatively pain free for the last 3 years after losing about 50 lbs, and since then the doctor feels as though I can continue on with no restrictions. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a little nervous when lifting heavier weights. Thanks in advance for any extra advice you may give.

        • YW!

          Awesome you’ve been pain-free! Makes sense being nervous.

          Let’s start light weight and higher rep and get the form down. Then you can work your way up to heavier weight and lower reps.

          What do you think? Happy to help!

          • MikeL

            Makes perfect sense to me. That’s what I’ll do starting this week. Thanks again!

          • Great! YW.

  • Daniel E

    Hi Mike

  • Daniel E

    Hi Mike, So i am 17 years old, i am around 6 feet tall and weigh around 195lbs. I just finished my “bulking stage” and im looking to go on a cut where i can lose body fat, while still maintaining and gaining muscle. My goal is to get to around 10% body fat or less. I am not really sure how much cardio i should do, and what to eat. Any suggestions?

  • Andrea

    So if I am doing your 3 day suggested workout, of pull-push-legs, does that mean only three days of the week I”m doing weights?? And that doesn’t seem to go with what you say when you say you need to put in 5 hours in the gym in weightlifting. Where am I confused?? I want to be doing enough, but not too much.

  • Menendra

    Hey Mike,

    Love your work. Very inspiring.

    This article answers many questions about protein synthesis. I’m a 30 year old and currently carrying a body fat percentage of 30%. I’m trying to get this down to somewhere by 15% as the first goal.

  • NB1986

    Hey mike,

    I’ve been cutting since about April now, lost about 20 ibs of fat and probably a bit of muscle, now weighing 140. My clothes are pretty loose on me unfortunately but I haven’t lost too much strength at all. Annoying thing now is that I have people saying I’ve gone too far but I have to disagree (photo attached for you to judge). I want to lose the last bit of flab around my lower abs and I still have some round the rear of my sides. Obviously this is the perfectionist in me but I still think I can lose more before I can embark on a a nice clean bulk – my last bulk put on a little bit too much fat for me as I got the method a bit wrong! Anyway, let me know what you think.

    Thanks man, love the work

    • NB1986

      And here is a pic from before the cut!👍

    • Damn! Great job brother! That’s a big change.

      That’s totally fine if you want to get a bit leaner. To help with last bit of fat, check this out:


      Keep this in mind too:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • NB1986

        Hi Mike,

        Hope you’ve had a great Xmas. Since we last spoke I decided to up my calories as I thought I was lean enough to start my bulk. I’ve been taking weekly/fortnightly 100 cal increases to keep things steady and I’ve not really been putting weight on which is expected as I didn’t reach TDEE. However, the last week was a bit different. I got to 2100 cals, my TDEE is between 2100 and 2200, and over a one day period my weight jumped from steadily reading 139 pounds to steadily reading 142 pounds. Admittedly I’ve neglected diet slightly over the past few days but I’ve certainly not overdone things. I would say I’ve eaten some high fat things. Whether my mind is playing tricks or not, I feel flabbier. The calipers suggest I’m not, but I swear I am! Could it be water? I’m a bit confused that the change feels so drastic over literally a few days!



        • I did thanks.

          That’s just water and carbs (glycogen). Don’t sweat it.

  • houss

    hey mike,
    this is far way one of the best articles i have read! it make so much sense when you’re in a surplus you could gain muscle ( with proper training) and when being in a deficit you will lose fat. What i think about building muscle and losing fat at the same time? I rather say build muscle and minimize fat loss is the best option. it’s working for me; i’m doing the IF 16 hours fast and 8 hour eating window where i hit my surplus.( 200-300 calories surplus) and my bulk is slow but lean with minimal fat gain. I think it’s because my fat loss during the IF is higher than my fat gain hitting the surplus eating window. Correct me if i’m wrong?
    thanks man, again great job!

  • Aikas

    Hi dear Mike,
    Can I do my Deload week while I’m cutting or is it better to postpone
    it for my reverse diet after the end of my cut?

    • Yep, totally fine to do during your cut.

      • Aikas

        As I don’t have as much energy, would it be fine to skip a week of training or approach it with the formula in BLS with lowering the rep range? My previous deload was during a bulk and I took a week off – luckily, my strength didn’t decrease.

        • You can do a deload week or a week of complete rest. Either one is fine. Personally, I prefer a deload week.

  • Teodora Fleseru

    Hiii! I ve read all your books and I am already following your program for 2 months. Well, I am around 19% body fat and I ve lost,not pounds but cm since I ve started this diet(I have 51 kg and 160 cm). I ve been doing sports since I was 7, so for me it’s easy to lose fat.Now, I feel like I don’t gain muscles anymore, i’m kinda stucked. I eat around 1600 kcals/day and I lift weights 5 days/week(45 kg squat and 40 kg deadlift ) and in 2 days I do 20 min Hiit. Can I ask for an advice? Thank you!!!!

  • Steve

    I have lost weight (mostly a lot of fat ) but I don’t see any significant muscle gain. I’ve been working out properly for 2 months .
    Is this natural.
    By the way I lost 19 kg.

    • Great job on the weight you lost!

      Are you gaining strength on your lifts?

      • Steve

        Not much on the bench press and overhead press but squat went from 100 to 140 and deadlift went from 130 to 180 . ( I know it’s pathetic numbers ).I haven’t honestly checked weekly .
        Do I continue to loose fat and then gain or ?

        • Good job on the increase in squat and deads!

          Hmm. The goal when cutting is to maintain strength usually, but if you’re new to this style of training you should be able to gain strength/muscle while losing fat.

          For the bench and OHP, check this out:


          For the weight loss, you want to lose 1/2-1KG a week. More than that will effect muscle muscle/strength building.

          LMK what you think. Happy to help!

      • Steve

        Also thank you for helping out.
        Ps I went from 94 kg to 75 kg but my lifting stats are in pounds.

  • Darren Keating

    Hey Mike,

    I wanted to say that I’m a big fan of your articles. You tell it like it is with no fluff. I was hoping to get 2 seconds of your time for some advice on something that’s been bothering me lately. I’m also unaware of any consultations you might do or if it’s better to privately message these things. If you do, please let me know.

    K. So I’m 25 y/o, 5’10”, 163 lbs. I crossfit 4-5 times a week. I guess I’m about 15% BF? Maybe you can give a better idea. I’ve come to find out that my TDEE is about 2300-2400 and my BMR is about 1700-1800. For the past several months I’ve been eating 1900 cals give or take 50 a day in an effort to get lean and put on some more muscle. I lost some BF in the first month, but lately I’ve been at a complete standstill. I’m confused now on whether I need to go lower on my intake or if I should try something else. I’m afraid to go as low as my BMR. FYI my ratios are 40%P 35%C 25%F. Roughly 190/166/153.

    I don’t mean to be a bother, I would just love your two cents worth. (Pics taken at night after dinner)

  • Mikki

    Hi Mike!
    You mention in this article to lift heavy for 4-6 reps & 9-12 sets per workout… is this the same for women? Because you mention in your fitness plan for women to do 8-10 reps (and I don’t know how many sets per workout, it doesn’t say anything about that).
    I realized I’m doing about 8-10 reps per set & 16-20 sets per workout (heavy), is that too much when in a 20% caloric deficit? Should I lower the amount of reps&sets per exercise ?
    Please enlighten me! Thanks in advance!

  • Gadgets IO
  • Andrea

    I’ve never heard of doing 9-12 sets of heavy lifting, always just 3 or 4 sets. Is that what we should be doing “all the time” like our 4 days in the gym and how many exercises would that be? 4-5 exercises?? It seems like we’ll be at the gym all day! do you have any “sample” routines for a lifting program with that much volume??

  • Allan

    Hi mike so I’m currently cutting, just at the end of week 4. Think iv been losing anywhere round 1-2lbs, my waist is getting smaller which is the main thing. My biceps are also shrinking which makes sence but since my arms where already lean I’m wondering how I can be sure I’m not losing muscle? My reps still go up n down depending on the day really but no dramatic drop. I am currently working round a back injury so I can’t squat or deqdlift as heavy as I could but everything else seems to be round the same numbera give or take a rep. Any info would be greatThanks

    • Allan

      Probably should have mentioned I think I’m somewhere round 9-10% at 149lbs

    • That’s great!

      If you’re maintaining your strength you’re not losing muscle. SO good job. 🙂

  • Mariela Ramirez

    Hi mike what are your recommendations in meals that will create a calorie deficit? How would meals/snacks need to have as far as macros go? I’m on a carb cycling meal plan now. Is this something you’d recommend?

  • Delia Cox-Wilson

    Mike I have been doing a boxing cardio class 3 times a week and a 4th emphasizing on strength and resistance.and working on weightlifting twice in between. I work out 7 days a week. I’ve been going hardcore like this for about 2 months and eating a very clean diet with protein at each meal. I haven’t lost ANY weight. I am losing inches and my body seems to be slowly transforming but no lbs off. People are telling me, maybe you are not eating enough. I do cheat about 3 times a week on regular meals, but figured with all the exercise I could afford it. This has me so frustrated. I keep thinking if I gain the muscle first then I will lose the weight because it will help my metabolism. Please help!

  • Hassan

    hey im a student athelete, and i was wondering about what should i eat everyday while doing wieght lifting class and hiit exercises?

  • Alan

    Very well written article. thank you

  • John

    I’m confused by all this conflicting information! The guy on Muscle Hack says do reps in 8-12 range and a mix of compound and isolation. He says low reps – which you recommend won’t lead to bigger muscles. Stronger, yes, but not bigger.

    As for cardio, would 30 minutes on a threadmill 4 days a week combined with walking 3 miles lead to losing muscle? Is it better to cut increasing cardio or reducing calories?

  • becca

    Hey Michael–
    Very nice article. I am wondering if you have any other recommendations for people with diabetes. I have type one diabetes, and have always been very fit and healthy with my nutrition, but wonder whether there are slightly different rules for muscle gain/weight loss when the body doesn’t naturally produce insulin. Any information would be great. Thanks!

    • Thanks!

      Nothing special beyond controlling your carb intake. In my experience the “ceiling” with people with T1D can vary (how many carbs they can eat before it becomes unhealthy/problematic).

  • Daniel Brown

    Hey Mike!

    Due to time restrictions, I can only work out once per day. (although I do have ample time to work out every day for up to 1-2hrs and enjoy getting some activity in each day!) I know in BLS you recommend lifting 3-5 times per week and doing HIIT 3-4 times per week.

    So what’s the best way to split this up among 7 workouts/week? I really don’t enjoy doing HIIT directly after lifting since I like to give it my all so should I do 5 lift/2 HIIT, 4 lift/3 HIIT, or 3 lift/4 HIIT? Normally I’d think this is a no-brainer since I’m focused on lifting and go with 5 lift/2 HIIT, but if I could get the same volume in on 3-4 days just lifting for longer, then I feel like more HIIT sessions could help with fat loss since I’m cutting right now.

    Also, would this change depending whether I’m focusing on bulking or cutting? I feel like 5 lift/2 HIIT is the obvious choice for bulking, but I’m not so sure on cutting.

    Thanks again as always!

    • That’s not a problem.

      Personally I would do 5 lift 2 HIIT and see if that allows me to reach my goals.

      This is going to be relevant:


      That said if I found I needed a bit more I would actually probably do 5/2 plus 2 25 to 30 minute LISS sessions after lifting. Just to burn an extra 200ish cals per session.

      • Daniel Brown

        Awesome, I’ll go with that split then. And if necessary, doing LISS post-lifting is no problem (it’s actually enjoyable/relaxing for me as a former runner!).

        Thanks so much! You really have no idea how much all your writings/podcasts/etc. have helped improve my and my family’s lives for the better. The questions you take time to answer every day is just icing on the cake! 🙂

        • Sounds good!

          My pleasure. Happy to do it Daniel. 🙂

          Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • NaiKang He

    Hi Mike,
    this article really helps !

    but i have a really important question which bothers from starting your workout . i am right now skinny fat , my bf percentage is 18-20 % and looks weak , small and underweight . i want to bulk and then cut , because i don’t want to get too skinny and lose more of my strength. should i cut first before i bulk with your workout routine from the year one challenge . i have read your article about bulking and you said it,s better off start to bulk around 10%bf . here is a photo how i looked right now. please help!!

    • Hey man!

      Yeah I understand. You have to deal with looking skinny for the first bit but it’s the better long-term approach…

  • NaiKang He

    Hi Mike ,
    me again , i have to correct what i said earlier , i actually don’t know what my bf % is , i just say it roughly with an bf caliper . but today i checked a video( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo2sCdkVel8 ) and it’s says how you can estimate your bf by waist to height ratio , the calculation looks like this 80/183 cm=0.437 so it falls in the 9-10% bf. just to be clear , my height is 183cm and my waist is 80cm=31inch . is the calculation accurate , please give me an answer and check my photo on the previous comment …

    • I wouldn’t use that formula to determine your BF%. Instead, check this out:


      More important than the ideal weight is how you look. I recommend you do a few bulks and cuts until you’re a bit bigger than you want to be during the bulk. After that, cut and you should be lean and about the size you want to be. For when you should be cutting and bulking, check this out:


      First, let’s start with the cut. Besides, if you’re new to this style of training, you’ll be able to build muscle and strength while losing fat so it’s a win-win. 🙂

      What do you think?

  • NaiKang He

    how much bf% do you guess ? please also read the previous comment !

  • Ryan

    Hey Mike! Great article. Last year I lost around 60lbs in body fat, and recently I have wanted to lose more fat while gaining muscle (started lifting a few months ago). My goals are to gain muscle and lose fat, but I think I should focus more on losing fat as my body fat % is around 26.6 I believe. Currently I’m 5′ 8 1/2″ and weigh 187.3 lbs. How do you recommend breaking up lifting and cardio throughout the week? Right now I try to do intense cardio Saturday-Monday, while lifting/ doing light cardio right after on Tuesday-Thursday. My main question though is will doing cardio and lifting at the same time inhibit fat loss.


    – Ryan

    • Awesome job on the weight you lost Ryan! That’s impressive.

      For building muscle and losing fat at the same time, check this out:


      The way your routine is set up now is fine. Doing both definitely won’t get in the way of fat loss.

      Hope this helps! LMK.

  • Samuel

    Hey Mike! Awesome post, really helpful. I got couple more things to ask. I’m 6’2 and 220lbs, i think in about 16-20 bf%. Should I cut calories by eating less carbs, somewhere about 60-100g/day while eating a lot of protein? And the other question; Is it enough if I do HIIT 3 times a week for 20-30minutes and play ice hockey for 1h a week. And of course weightlifting 4-5 times per week.
    Thanks a lot!

  • Sean

    32m Jeffersonville Indiana
    6’2 275lbs, mostly in the stomach, elbow/forearm tendonitis, is there anything I can do to get rid of the tendonitis? My ideal weight is 205-210lbs but i need to find a meal plan that works for me as well as the best work out program.

    • First and foremost you’ll want to stop doing whatever is aggravating the tendonitis.

      Rest is #1 unfortunately.

      • Sean

        That is the thing, I am not sure what caused it…once i get it under control is it possible to keep it from flaring up?

        • Yes definitely but first you need to know what’s going on and how to get it to settle down.

  • Sean

    I bought an arm aid and have used it to no avail as soon as I stretch out it tightens right back up, it is so tight that my forearm muscles get fatigued just from grasping an object like my cellphone

  • Patrick

    Hello Mike !
    Great articles, by far my favorites. I have a lot of fat percentage, so I decided to cut, I dropped from 105kg, to 85kg. That is a lot however I still have a lot of fat percentage ( even though I’m 6ft2) However now I started to weight lift heavy again. I was confused about this whole bulking cutting thing, I really wanted to get rid of my remaining fat while gaining muscles at the same time. I set a caloric deficit of 500 and I often train till muscle fatigue. I want to mention that I am actually gaining muscles even on a deficit. I’m not sure if that is efficient enough. I wanted your opinion on this. Would you recommend me to stop cutting for now, and focus on buffing, jumping my caloric intake to 2900-3000, or should I continue with my cut while training heavy ? Wouldn’t that make me lose muscle if I don’t have enough protein synthesis ??

    • Patrick

      I forgot to mention that I have been weightlifting for a year now, so I’m not sure I’m a newb.

    • Thanks!

      It sounds like you’re doing a lot right.

      If you’re still quite a bit higher than 10% body fat and are feeling okay then I would continue cutting.

      And check this out:


  • Yo Mike!
    Love the article(s). Always the best.
    Quick question: what’s your stance on/understanding of slow-mo training (5/5 or 10/10 rep cadence)? Seems like it’s got a lot of benefits. I’m working out on a budget right now and wondering if that will get me the same or similar muscle growth results as lifting heavy since I can’t afford a gym. I am still doing compound movements, though (overhead press, bench, squat, supinated pull down). I’m in the 7 rep range, just not lifting heavy because I’m lifting slowly.

    Thanks from a big fan,

    • Hey hey! Glad you’re enjoying the articles!

      To answer your question, check this out:


      My pleasure! LMK what you think!

      • Hey Mike!

        Sorry it took me months to respond to this! I actually never saw that you sent this to me.
        That said: I read it. Then I read about 20 more of your articles. Now I’m starting on my own cutting program under the guidelines you set down. I’m three days in because I started late, and have done a chest, shoulders, and tris day, back and bis day, and leg day (today).
        Long story short: I’m dead. Your advice works. I’m as sore as I’ve been in years, probably even more, actually. So thanks for being one of the only guys I’ve come across online with integrity. Your shit works, and I’m hooked. Can’t wait to continue the transformation by adding days, cardio, abs, calves, the works.
        Quick question for you: I used your macro calculator and, long story short, for my cut, it’s recommending I eat less than my BMR. Is this normal? Advisable? I’m 6’2″, 195 lbs at 17% body fat. Thoughts?
        Thanks again for your help. One by one, I’m getting other people hooked on your stuff, too, so the revolution grows…

        All the best,

        • No worries, Ben!

          Hope you enjoyed all the articles!

          Glad it’s going well, haha. To help with the soreness, check this out:


          I look forward to seeing your results on the program.

          Hmm. Nah, I don’t recommend eating less than BMR. Can you increase your activity level? If not, let’s just stick to BMR.

          My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • Azouri

    Hey mike I was wondering how long should I be on a calorie deficit for if I’m at 14-15 percent body fat before muscle loss would occur?

    • It depends on your starting weight and how quickly you lose, but you should be able to get to 10% BF in 6-10 weeks.

      As long as you’re lifting heavy, keeping your protein intake high and not going into a crazy deficit (20-25% is good), I wouldn’t worry about muscle loss.

  • E

    hey mike! thanks for the article. I am just wondering, I have been gyming quite consistently over summer but have stopped for a few months. I am planning to start again in Christmas. I havn’t been eating very clean and have got a bigger stomach as I didn’t exactly eat less than I should have. What do you suggest me to do? Should I go for the calorie deficit and lose the stomach first or go for bulking and gain muscle and mass before dealing with the fat in the stomach. Thanks!

  • Sarah

    I bought T, L, S and I love it. I also purchased the year one book for women. I have to drive 20 minutes to the gym, so I want to limit my workouts to 3 days a week – can I combine the workouts and still have an effective workout plan?

    • Thanks for picking up my books and writing! I really appreciate it.

      That’s totally fine! You can follow the 3-day routine I lay out in the book and make good gains.

      • Sarah

        My ultimate goal is to be able to do a pull-up– will it give me enough back/arms to get that goal?

        • Yep. If you train and diet properly, absolutely.

          To help specifically in reaching your goal of being able to do a pull-up, you can swap out the one-arm dumbbell row with cable pulldowns.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Grace


    I have just bought the Thinner, Leaner Stronger Book and love it. However I have read an blog on here that to loose fat quickly macros should be 40% protein 35% Fat 25% Carbs. However the book is different 40 P 40 C:20 F %. I have done both low carb and low fat diets both lost weight and put back on even though I am eating clean, which now I know is not ideal as calories and macros now matter. Probably scared of now eating carbs haha, So I was wondering which macros i should I go by ?? I carry most weight around my stomach area so not sure whether a lower carb % would work best due to insulin. What are your thoughts ? Thanks x Really want to achieve my goals in 2016 and will be buy your one year challenge x

  • Kev

    Hello, i like the articles and i am considering ordering your book. I have a question about diet while losing fat/gaining muscle. Im lifting 3-6 days a week, and doing cardio 1-3 days a week, and im hitting my macros/calorie allowance just right. However most, if not all of my carbs come from fruit (apples.. im addicted to them..) I hear some say that its too much sugar to truly cut the fat (mainly belly fat) and the fructose is not great for post workout etc. Any and all thoughts would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Glad you’re enjoying them. 🙂

      Cool on the weightlifting and cardio routine. Awesome you’re hitting your numbers on the cals and macros too.

      You’re totally fine on the sugar. As long as you’re in a deficit. You’ll lose weight. Check this out:


      Check this out too:


      LMK your thoughts! My pleasure!

      • Kev

        Thanks Mike! Nice articles! For sure gonna grab up your books B.L.S. and B.B.L.S. (after the holiday spending of course). I love reading up on fitness in general (sometimes read up too much and overthink it) and im honestly thinking about trying to pursue a career in the fitness field so i can help other people with the physical and mental pitfalls of being out of shape, the pitfalls that i know all too well. A few questions ive had on my mind.
        1) Working out too much and cortisol levels. My weight training sessions go on for about an hour and a half as im currently doing full upper/lower body split. (ex M/W/Sat full upper body, T/TH/F are legs or abs or hiit or a combo or those three, sometimes two leg days etc. Sunday i play hockey for about 2hrs.
        2) The possibility of left over skin after losing weight. Hence why im thinking of keeping the 3 upper body workouts to help with the taper, dedicate a day for abs, another for legs, another one or two for cardio. Sometimes i drop one day for rest/errands etc.
        Some personal backround, im 5’8″, late 20’s, went from 275 and im currently at 175. Pretty tight everywhere except the classic pockets of fat around the waist flanking below the bellybutton and love handles. Going to get a caliper test from a doctor after the new year to get an idea of bodyfat %, afterwards aim for around 10% BF and see where im at from there and either continue to try and slim down or most likely commit to adding muscle mass by eating at maintenance for a bit then slowly go into a surplus.
        I can provide pictures etc if you would like for a more perceptive/personal opinion. Sorry for the novel i just wrote here 😀 Look forward to hearing from you! Thanks again!

  • Aaron Resnick

    Hi Mike

    I was cycling carbs and just couldn’t handle the swings. I’m trying your approach and my intake level of protein, carbs and fat are virtually exact to your formula above. I work from home, so that the makes the dieting part much easier. It’s spread out over 5-6 meals per day. I’m probably around 9%-11% body fat, but just don’t want to bulk up then cut. I want to do both now. My question is, if the progress is going to be slow anyways, why not increase the calorie intake a bit or into a surplus on the days you lift and have a moderate deficit on the days you don’t? How is it more beneficial to always be in a moderate deficit? Also can you do this program for awhile, several months, without having any unfavorable effects?

    Thanks, I just signed up for your newsletter.

  • Aaron Resnick

    Hi Mike

    I was cycling carbs and just couldn’t handle the swings. I’m trying your approach and my intake level of protein, carbs and fat are virtually exact to your formula above. I work from home, so that the makes the dieting part much easier. It’s spread out over 5-6 meals per day. I’m probably around 9%-11% body fat, but just don’t want to bulk up then cut. I want to do both now. My question is, if the progress is going to be slow anyways, why not increase the calorie intake a bit or into a surplus on the days you lift and have a moderate deficit on the days you don’t? How is it more beneficial to always be in a moderate deficit? Also can you do this program for awhile, several months, without having any unfavorable effects?

    Thanks, I just signed up for your newsletter.

    • I feel you. Low-carb just blows.

      Remember that your body is still recovery from your workouts on your rest days and the deficit is going to “hurt” that, as you know.

      Trust me–the best results when bulking come when you maintain a slight surplus every day. That said, if you want to slightly reduce your intake on your rest days to more reflect 110% of your actual TDEE on those days, you can.

      You can also go into a deficit for 2 weeks every 6 weeks or so if you’d like. It can help a little with stretching the bulk out (minimizing fat gain).

  • Daniela Osorio Rodríguez

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve been lifting consistently for 8 months. Due to physical imbalances in my left glute and technical issues I won’t be able to squat and deadlift heavy for a while. I’m a 24 years old, 5’4”, 125 lb, 23% bf woman, and I wanted to keep bulking but I’m not sure that’s the best for me right now. I was planning on keep working on my upper body strength while fixing my lower body problems, mostly with high-rep, single leg exercises. What would you recommend me in terms of nutrition during this period? Is it “safe” to attempt a cut? I don’t want to lose my hard earned muscle :$

    • Cool you’ve been training consistently for a few months. Sorry to hear about the issues!

      Hmm. If you’re able to do decent substitutes, you’ll do fine with a bulk.

      Are you able to do leg press, hack squat and hyperextensions?


  • Dimitris

    Hi Mike,

    I have been following your BLS program for the past 2 weeks. My starting weight is 75kg and i am 1.80cm. First week I was really suprised to see my weight shoot out by about 1.5kg and was already feeling fuller in my arms and legs. Second week the story reversed and i was weighing around 75.8kg this morning..in addition i looked and felt smaller in terms of muscle size. It is probably diet related as you have mentioned many times in your articles and books, but i was just suprised to see the effect so pronounced and thought i would share.
    I will now aim to eat at least 2,500 calories every day and see how the next few weeks develop.
    Finally is it normal to feel like I am not exercising enough when following your routine? Its just feels very easy..just focusing on one muscle group per day..so i just find it hard to believe i can make so much muscle gains with so little effort.. I am used to some other home exercise programs like P90X, in which i always felt i gave more during the workout than with BLS..

    • Hmm. Are you keeping your intake and macros consistent? What are you trying to do right now, cut or bulk?

      Regarding feeling like you’re not training enough, as long as you’re getting in your 9-12 heavy sets per workout with good form, you’re doing it right. And you should see results to prove it–your strength should go up and you should gain muscle. That said, if you’ve been training for quite some time, I recommend bumping the workouts up by 3 more sets. Just add one more exercise, and do 3 sets.

      Hope that clears it up for you. LMK.

  • Bryon Deane

    I signed up for your news letters and truly enjoy reading your articles. The plan is to use the Xmas Amazon gift card the wife got me for your book. I have been pretty much following the advice of this article since I read it (6 wks ago) and have been experiencing the “Newbie Gains” you discuss above. I am in a 500 calorie deficit , lifting heavy 5 days & HIIT cardio 3 days. I’ve been on avg dropping 1 to 1.5 lbs a week while seeing a noticeable gain in muscle . My question is what do I do once the Newbie gains inevitably stall? My ultimate goal is to (1.) Lose the “Dad belly” (I’m 40 BTW) and the dreaded love handles that accompany it (2.) Build defined muscle mass. Do I need to enter into a bulking phase once I stall out?? Any helpful advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Thanks Bryon!

      Cool on the plan to pick up the book. 🙂

      Great on the routine and that weight loss is right at the rate you want.

      Once the newbie gains are all gone, you just keep training and dieting properly!

      I like the goals! You’re on the right track. To help specifically with the belly, check this out:


      I don’t recommend bulking until you reach 10-12% BF. So, if you end up stalling or having trouble with the weight loss before then, make sure you keep this in mind:


      My pleasure. Hope this helps! Talk soon.

  • Aaron Resnick

    Hi Mike,

    I just bought your book Bigger Leaner Stronger, I’m really looking forward to it’s arrival.

    I have a couple herniated discs in my lower back. I’ve still been doing squats and leg press with heavy weights, but my back is telling me to take it easy. Can you provide a few exercises that might be lower impact where I can still build muscle? Also, I’ve been reading more about not needing to lift heavy weights to build substantial muscle. Several articles point to the study done at McMaster University –


    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks so much.


    • Aaron Resnick

      Haha… I just got to that part of your book. I think I may have the answer (outlook = grim). But, in the event I cannot do heavy squats, what should I do?

      • Aaron Resnick

        Sorry for all the questions. I’m ripping through your book and am very excited to get going. I took these pictures a couple days ago. I’m 37 and seem to still have a fast metabolism (I think). Even though I’m fairly lean, my stomach doesn’t look too good. We’ll see what happens as I start working abs properly. I’m guessing I’m around 12%, give or take, but we’ll see when the Accu-Measure 3000 gets here (just ordered). I just started on the bulk program today, and wow, I didn’t know how strong I was! Once I started writing things down and only doing 4-6 reps…incredible difference already. I’m so excited to keep it going. My question is on the amount of days working out during the week. Before this book, I’ve read a lot about not lifting heavy weights for more then 2 days in a row, that the body needs more rest. I really want to do the 5 day plan, it’s a beautiful split. Can you address that?

  • Jake

    Nearly 2 weeks into the workout in BLS and following the nutritional advice and I am feeling boss. Gains are coming fast, I am feeling and visibly looking more solid, and for a nearing 40 guy with some body fat to lose, to see the fat starting to melt away and my body growing at the same time is awesome. Feeling solid and pumped is like a solid state for me right now.

    The biggest factors for me that I can see, having started and stopped programmes in the past and lifting in my 20’s, are: i) working out 5 days a week ii) the new split of muscle groups as per BLS 5 day workout iii) the longer rests than I would normally have done with heavier weights meaning I can put more into each set, and iv) most importantly, eating 40 minutes before a workout.

    I am not as sore in the first 2 weeks as I have been in earlier attempts of a fitness comeback either. Looking forward to a great 2016 on this programme. Also looking forward to beta testing your app too!

    Thanks Mike, I hope 2016 is an awesome year for you.


    • Cool you’re rolling on the program! Awesome to hear on the gains. 🙂

      Gotta love building muscle while losing fat!

      Yep, those are all key points of the program .

      Soreness isn’t necessarily an indicator of a good workout. Genetics, nutrition, and conditioning all play a role.

      Check out my article on this:


      As long as you’re getting in your 9-12 heavy sets per workout with good form, you’re doing it right. And you should see results to prove it–your strength should go up and you should gain muscle.

      I’m excited to see your results in 2016 too!

      Glad you’re excited for STACKED as well. Should be ready March/April!

      My pleasure for everything. Thanks for the kind words and support! Talk soon.

  • Simon Jeffers

    I’m not sure if you have discussed this elsewhere but I’m interested in what your thoughts are about the beachbody programs. I’ve completed a couple of their workouts (t25 and insanity max 30) in order to loose weight and had great success. I wouldn’t say they are perfect though. I did feel hungry all the time and was constantly bombarded with prompts to buy shakeology and other supplements. I loved Shaun T and his motivation and the insanity approach of body weight only exercise was really handy when travelling. Having just read your article I think it explains why I found it effective in fat loss and short term gains but it probably isn’t effective long term?

  • aitor

    Great article Mike. So, Creatine is a good supplement to take while trying to reduce body fat and icrease LBM? you know, concern about the water retention effects of it and increase in body weight. do you recommend it while cutting? thanks

  • Bryan

    I have been following BLS and “clean” bulking for 4-5 months now and have gained what I figure to be 8-9lbs of muscle. I had never lifted before this and now I am starting on my first cut. I was just wondering how long into all of this would I still be able to see newbie gains? i.e. would it be possible to still gain strength even though I am cutting at this point? I have gained good progress and strength but being 6’3″, it doesn’t exactly show very well. Yeah… I guess I’m vain. 🙂 Nothing wrong with wanting to see the fruits of my labor right?

    • Bryan

      Also, is 2lbs a week for someone that burns around 4k calories a day too much for a cut? Others say so, but it falls right at the upper limit of your 20-25% rule. I am still eating 1.2g protein/lb of body mass to try to retain muscle. Thanks again!

  • KileyScene

    So! Wait! You’re telling me that carbs do not make you gain a lttle fat. Because I lost weight by cutting starchy carbs out of my diet… That’s weird I guess. So is it ok to have a cheat meal per week?
    Btw great article mike 😉

    • Yep. Overeating is what makes you fat. In order to gain weight, you need to be in a calorie surplus. To lose weight, you need to be in a deficit. Check this out:


      If you lost weight when you stopped eating carbs, it’s because you ended up eating less cals than you normally do which put you in a deficit. It’s as simple as that.

      Yeah, one cheat meal a week is fine. Check this out:


      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  • Juan Calvillo

    So if I weight 150lbs and I’m 5″8 age 17 what would my diet look to build muscle lose fat and decrease weight to be very lean kind of like Bruce Lee

  • Great. 🙂 No worries!

    It depends on how much you have to lose, how quickly you lose, etc. But, if you’re dieting properly, you’ll be able to lose 1-2 pounds a week so in 2 1/2 months you can lose a good amount of fat.

    Keep these in mind during the weight loss:



    My pleasure!

  • Hey Kareem! Cool you’re following the BLS program and ordered some supps!

    Thanks for all the info. Smart move on the cut.

    1. Take a look at this:


    2. Up to you. Fasted will accelerate fat loss, though. Check this out:


    Hope this helps! My pleasure.

  • I completely agree. Whatever diet fits your lifestyle and gets results is what I recommend. 🙂

    In the end, it all comes down to energy balance. How you ensure you’re in a deficit is up to you.

    Great job on the weight you lost and kept off!

    Talk soon.

  • I haven’t but I’ve read a bit on it and as far as I can see it’s basically bullshit/pseudoscience.

  • Unsure 18yr old

    Hey mike! I just finished Bigger leaner Stronger and I was wondering something. I am at around 14-15% body fat currently. I want to look the best possible in 7 months time. Should I try to cut first or should I go straight into a bulk? Keep in mind I am brand new to working out and am 18 years old. I am wondering because in the book you said don’t bulk if you are over 15% but I am not I am exactly that or just under. Hope to hear back from you!

    • Nice! First, I recommend you get to 10-12% BF. From there, depending how much time you have left until the 7 months are up, we’ll see what we should do.

      Keep in mind, if you’re new to this style of training, you’ll be able to build muscle while losing fat. So, it’s a win-win. 🙂

      LMK what you think! Talk soon.

      • Unsure 18yr old

        Sounds good! I am new so that is exciting to hear haha. Did my first workout in your five day split today on the cutting numbers you recommended in the book. Question though, I noticed on this site you recommend when cutting to take 20-25% of your tdee. Is that the same thing as the macro numbers you give us in the book? Thanks for the response! 🙂

  • Newbie

    Hello mike, I have a question? I have read your book and I am planning to cut most likely. I am 150 pounds. Do these numbers make sense to you? 180g protein, 150g carbs and 30g fat? Idk it just seems low but hopefully you can clear that up.

  • Calf

    Mike I have a problem! In your 1 year program it asks for Calf workout A but I cannot find anything that explains what calf workout A is… Any help?

  • Manny Perez

    Hey Mike,
    So is having a high protein diet and doing HIIT cardio sessions for 15 min on the weekends a good way still gain muscle mass and lose stomach and love handle fat? I’m 5’4, 135 Ibs by the way.


    • The HIIT will definitely help. Most importantly, you gotta make sure you’re lifting heavy, keeping your protein intake high and maintaining a moderate calorie deficit.

  • Bryon Deane


    I have been lifting weights and doing cardio while maintaining a 20% (roughly) calorie deficit since April of 2015. Been following your advice from these articles and the BLS program for about 4 months (by the way, results have been way more impressive during that time period as opposed to me doing it blindly) I’m 5’9 and started this journey at 203 lbs & ~26% body fat. Today I am 160 lbs & 14% body fat. I have made significant gains in strength size and definition. All that said I am still carrying most of the remaining fat around my waste line. I am thinking I want to get more disciplined with my nutrition and was thinking of purchasing a meal plan from you. I feel like I am still experiencing muscle growth and weight loss at the same time, just not at the rate it was a few months ago. So should I be looking at a cutting or bulkiing meal plan at this point? BTW my ultimate goal is 175-180 lean muscle body type.


  • 溫宇謙

    Hi mike,it’s me again:)
    I’ve started my second cut since last week, measuring everything that I eat carefully every single day.

    Since I workout 5times a week(+5 HIIT sessions), weighing 75kg,11%bf,
    my TDEE should be around 2400 according to the formula, that is, I should eat around 1800 to lose fat,right? (2400*0.75)

    However I’m feeling shitty for the whole week. Although there’s no significant strength loss, I’m feeling sore and tired.
    What’s even worse, I binged last night:(
    most of them are from carbs though.

    Can u please tell me what should I do to restart the cut?
    Ps. I’m a college student walking all day, and there’s a tracker in my phone tracking how much calories I burn via walking.

  • Bryan Dawson

    Wow, I came here for advice and found out I’m doing it almost exactly right. Maybe a little aggressive on the calorie restriction and not aggressive enough on the HIIT and protein consumption, but with a little tweaking I should be fine. I’m a little frustrated with my lack of muscle growth, but the weight loss has been pretty on point. A little history, I’ve lost around 80 lbs in 9 months (280 to sub 200) the first 45 or so were diet alone. I started feeling very weak, like difficulty picking up my 2 year old weak (I’m 47) so I decided to start lifting. StrongLifts appealed to me, but the gym at work wasn’t equipped well for it, so I did this and that, just pushing stuff around. New years hit and the gym at work got too busy, so joined a local gym. I also increased my caloric intake but still ate at a deficit. I started stronglifts, and switched my lunch time workouts to cardio. I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible, so I run at a pretty good pace for a couple of minutes, then fast walk for a couple of minutes, repeat until 1.5 miles.

    The weight just keeps sliding off, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my life, but I’m looking to kick it to the next level. It’s nice to know that I intuitively did a lot of the right things. Now it’s just time to really step it up. I’ve been exercising for about 4 months, with about 2.5 of that being the SL and the lunchtime cardio.

    • That’s great!

      I hear you on the muscle growth. The priority right now is getting lean. Since you’re relatively new to this style of training, you’ll be able to build muscle as well, but not at the same rate as if you were bulking. Once you’re lean enough, you can bulk and focus on building muscle. 🙂

      Great to hear the weight loss is still going well. Keep this in mind on your journey:


      My pleasure!

      Cool on the supps! Unless you’re training fasted, no need for the BCAAs FYI.

      Maybe a bit of both. 🙂

      I look forward to seeing your results to come!

      Completely agreed. Talk soon.

  • Ian Stewart

    Hi Mike, I’ve been cutting for around 8 weeks now and I’m looking pretty lean! I’m 5’7 around 130lbs. I don’t have that much muscle (skinny-fat ectomorph) but lifting heavy while in a deficit. I look pretty toned. I have no fat anywhere apart from my middle section (I think I must be around 12-13% bf at a guess). I think it’s hormonal as I’ve had issues with stress and anxiety in the past. I’ve tried in the past and failed to get rid of this small tyre of fat but its stubborn to say the least. I’ve never seen my abs ever. I’m still in a deficit and now started training fasted in the morning and doing some HIIT on non-training days and taking some fat burner supplements. I really want to get rid of this fat prior to increasing calories. I’ve switched to bulking in the past and felt fat as soon as I put any weight on. Is there anything else you think I should be trying to get rid of this stubborn fat? I’m at the stage where I want to put on weight before I get too scrawny but I’m scared I’ll never have a flat stomach or see my abs. How much longer should I realistically carry on in a deficit? Cheers!

  • mmteixeira

    Hey Mike,

    I just found this website – referred to it by a friend at work – in June 2015 I decided it was time to get my body back in shape – I weighed 315 lbs – so I started following a clean eating plan while counting calories – in the first few months I dropped 40 lbs just from walking, golf and the change in foods. Once i felt more mobile, I started doing some training DVD’s at home – 21 Day Fix, PiYo and P90 – and after a few rough weeks started feeling much more fit. In January of this year I started a Couch-to-5K plan – running three times a week while still doing some exercise DVD’s. As of today, I am down to 230 lbs and feel a whole lot better than I did 8 months ago (85 pounds lost in the last 9 months).

    As the Spring/Summer months are coming up, I would like to get stronger, maybe stating to tone up some as well but not necessarily bigger (still plenty of fat to lose) . I just ordered your book – Bigger Leaner Stronger – via my friend’s recommendation – and hope to start doing weight training based on your book 3 times a week along with continuing to run 3 days a week. I also plan to add in some for of Pilates and Yoga every day for some increased flexibility and core strength.

    I believe I would like to do two types of workouts a day – Running or Strength and then Pilates or Yoga – 60 to 90 minutes a day with Sundays just being an active recovery day with Yoga. Does that plan seem sound? Would it be better doing strength training and running the same days and then combining Pilates/Yoga on the alternate days? I am still eating clean – would that have to change slightly?

    I am looking forward to reading your book…


    • Welcome!

      Wow. Awesome job on the progress you’ve made since June 2015! That’s impressive.

      I like the plan to add in some weight lifting to build some muscle. BLS will lay out everything you need to know about training and dieting to build muscle and lose fat effectively. 🙂

      Cool on your workout routine. Just make sure you don’t overdo the cardio:


      Great on the clean eating. No, it does not. Just make sure you’re hitting your target cals/macros too. Clean eating doesn’t guarantee results:


      LMK what you think of the book!

      • mmteixeira

        Thank you for the reply – this is important to me so definitely trying to learn…

        I found a Meal Planning article on your Legion website – I would like to still lose weight but gain some strength – please tell me if I interpreted this correctly:

        Weight: 229
        Body Fat Percentage: 35% (visual guess)
        Activity Level: 4-6 hours (1.35 multiplier) – 30-45 minutes a day 7 days
        LBM: 148 — BMR: 1831 — TDEE: 2472
        Calorie Target (22% TDEE): 1850

        Calories from Protein (148 x4): 592 — (over 25% body fat modify this to 1g/lb of LBM (lean body mass)

        Calories from Fat: 405 (45 x9 at .2/lb)
        Calories from Carbs 853 (213 x4)
        Exercise: Running 3 days, weight training 3 days, Yoga or Pilates daily

        If I read the article right – 1850 cal per day with the right macros above should allow me to lose weight at a safe rate (1-2lbs per week) without sacrificing muscle. Does that sound accurate?

        Thanks again – your advice is most appreciated and valued….

        • Welcome!

          Yep, that all looks right!

          Let’s stick to those numbers and see how you do.

          My pleasure. 🙂

  • mmmpork

    I swim laps for my cardio (front crawl mostly) and I was wondering if swimming counts as more of a cardio or resistance activity? I am just starting on a strength training program focusing on strengthening my core first then moving on to heavier weight training, so I don’t see the swimming as a replacement for weight training, but I was just curious about where swimming stands in the cardio category.

  • JM

    I am 5’2” and weigh 123 pounds with 21% body fat and 38.2% muscle. I am doing the Jamie Eason LiveFit program, which is 6 times of lifting weekly and approximately 3 days of cardio weekly. My food intake is: consuming between 1000-1100 calories per day with the macros being: 30 carbs, 30 fat, 40 protein. My goal is to get down to 17% body fat, and the last three weeks I have been stuck at 21%. Can you please offer suggestions/ideas to lose more body fat? Thank you so incredibly much for your time and expertise!! I am at a loss as to why that number isn’t budging –when I’m giving 100% in the gym, and not cheating with my food intake.

  • SP

    Hi Mike, I’ve been thinking if I should cut or try to add more muscle now. I am around 14% bf, lost about 7kg couple months a go in a 2 month-diet. I can’t say I’m happy about my appearance, still can’t see my abs, but looking a lot better than before the last cut. I would also like to add size on my muscles. On July I’m going to army,(I live in Finland and it’s a responsibility after you turn 18)and it’s going to be a lot of running and weight loss, at least that’s what I’ve heard. I just thought that if I could be able to get as much muscle as possible before July, the fat gains wouldn’t be such a big deal because I would lose it there. I’m also going to go to gym in the army and eat enough to save as much muscle as possible. You have any thoughts about this?
    Thanks a lot! By the way, I appreciate what you do, I personally get a lot of motivation and really helpful advice from you and from your site and I bet others do also!

  • John C. W

    So with Phoenix I can be able to lose fat and gain muscle on days in doing different either one right? Meaning even if I’m cutting on lifting days or should I only cut on cardio days and have a calorie surplus on weightlifting days

    • Yep, if you’re new to this style of training and eat in a deficit, you’ll be able to build muscle and lose fat, and Phoenix will be able to help with the fat loss.

      You should keep your intake consistently in a deficit except for on scheduled refeed days:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • John C. W

        But what if you’re not new to weight lifting and trying to do both. Would you suggest maybe a period of weight training and then period of carrio fat loss? Thanks

        • Hmm. If you’re not new to this style of training, you really won’t be able to effectively build muscle while losing fat.

          I’d recommend focusing on losing fat and then focusing on building muscle separately. Check this out:


          LMK what you think. Welcome!

          • John C. W

            I mean I have been doing it for a while obv I haven’t really been losing fat becuz of bloating. The next step in gonna take to try and get rid of this stupid bloat completely is lower my cortisol levels and then should I completely take out fiver from my diet and see what happens but could I not have milk with protien shakes then? Also when you say wheat, does that also mean whole wheat bread? Cuz I usually have that a lot and maybe that’s been a problem. Sorry for all the questions lol I just am frustrated by this bloat although it has def helped although it’s still not completely gone yet thanks

          • I hear you. To help with the bloating, check this out:


            Nah, you still want to have fiber:


            Let’s start with those. LMK your thoughts.

            No worries! Happy to help.

          • John C. W

            Alright thanks I’ll just make sure I reduce the fiber intake then and I’m looking into help lower cortisol levels becuz I feel like that has been a big deal for bloating and what do u think about probiotics? Like for helping with bloating thanks man

          • John C. W

            Thanks that article was very helpful I’m gonna try to lower my cortisol levels with those tips but a side note on probiotics I’ve done some research on the best and how it helps to bring the good bacteria back in your stomach again and all that, what do you think about them?

          • Cool. 🙂

            There’s evidence that probiotics may be able to help people with healthy guts but we just don’t know yet. I talk about that here:


          • John C. W

            Ok thanks I’ll give you an update soon!

          • Welcome! Sounds good!

  • Tim Martin

    Hey Mike,

    After reading B.L.S. I’ve been following your cutting advice word for word and have some concerns I’m hoping you can address.

    I’m 31. After 9 months of hard bulking and gaining 20kg on approx.
    4500-5000 cals/day which saw me gain on average 0.5kg/wk, I began
    cutting exactly 3 weeks ago today. In those 3 weeks I’ve gone from
    87.4kg (18% BF) to 81.0kg (13.7% BF) — which is making me panic
    somewhat as the 6.4kg mass loss is far greater than the recommended
    1-2lbs/wk! frown emoticon

    Following your formula, I’ve been eating (within 50cals) everyday:
    P – 230.4g / C – 192g – F – 38.4g — or 8140.8Kj/day (BMR: 8033.28).

    I’ve stuck to the 5 day split, and been doing 1-2 HIIT sessions each
    week. I’ve maintained my strength across all exercises, and actually
    gained reps/weight on some – so I don’t FEEL like I’m starving myself
    (though the hunger is real 24/7!).

    Either I’ve completely
    misunderstood something in B.L.S or messed up my calculations, or just
    simply need to eat more to slow down the muscle loss.

    I really hope you can shed some light, I’m scared I’ve just lost 6+ months of hard work in 3 weeks frown emoticon That would be devastating.

    Sorry for the longish post, thank you for being so generous with your time!


    • Hey Tim! Thanks for picking up my book and thanks for all the info.

      Great job on the successful bulk!

      Yikes. Yeah, that’s a lot of weight to lose. It’s normal to lose more the first few weeks due to water and glycogen, but after that, it should settle to 1-2 pounds a week. If it hasn’t, adjust intake accordingly.

      Cool on what you’re eating. Are you maintaining strength on your lifts?

      Nah, you haven’t lost much if any. LMK how much you’re losing weekly, and we’ll take it from there. 🙂

      No worries! Talk soon.

      • Tim Martin

        You’re an absolute champ Mike! Thanks for getting back to me.

        I’m mostly maintaining strength on the big 4 lifts, and gaining strength on most other lifts even with the (now 8.1kg) weight loss in 4 weeks. I’ll continue until I hit 10-12% BF. Friends have started commenting on my rapid weight loss, thinking I might be ill or had given up on the gym life…

        Can’t wait (!!) to get back to bulking, How I miss eating!! 😀

        • NP! Thanks. 🙂

          Great to hear on the strength.

          So, you’ve lost another 1.5 KG this past week? That’s not too much over! Let’s increase your intake by 25g carbs.


          Yep, gotta love bulking, haha.

  • Georgia Murphy

    Hi Micheal,

    I am 152cm tall, 67kg and 33% body fat. I train weights 3 days and cardio based circuit classes 3 days per week. I have been eating roughly 1700 cals per day since early Jan and not seeing any fat loss, I am making strength gains though which I’m happy about. Could you tell me how many calories and what marco break down I should aim for to lose fat please.

  • Peter Van Doren

    Hey Mike,

    Last few weeks I’ve been reading a lot of your books and posts. I myself am active as a personal trainer and lifestyle coach so it has been very interesting to read about your views on everything. Now I naturally agreed to most of your statements, but there is something that I can not find in the writings and something that I really don’t have an answer to.
    I am a calorie and macronutrient counter. I do weight training and I also like long cycling rides and I like running (up tot 10 miles). I am an alround athlete with as much muscle mass as I can maintain with the amounts of cardio I train.
    The thing that keeps me thinking is:

    I imagine my average daily energy expenditure is about 2100kcal.

    When I decide how much my intake of a day should be and imagine I have been on my bike and I have burnt about 750kcal. Should I just throw in an extra 750 kcals in my intake if I don’t want to lose weight/muscle?
    Also, when I go for 60 minutes of heavy weight training (4-6 reps) I would say I burn between 250 and 400 kcals during this workout. Do I add this to my daily intake?

    I don’t seem to find an exact answer to this anywhere… What’s your idea about this? Should you always add the burnt energy of your workouts to your intake?

    Thanks for your reply!

    • Hey Peter! Thanks for reading my books and articles! Hope you’re enjoying them. 🙂

      I don’t recommend adding in cals burned from each workout because most estimates or calculators used to determine energy expenditure from activity are painfully inaccurate. Instead, I recommend you calculate your intake here (which takes into account your average weekly activity level):


      Stick to the cals/macros you get from there and adjust based off results.

      Hope this clears it up for you. My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • Jessy

    Hey Mike,
    I have been reading your articles, and have learned a lot. I have a degree in Exercise Science so I have a decent background, but your articles have helped a lot. For the past few weeks I have been tracking my calories and macros, and even though I used your calculator to determine the numbers, I’m not sure I have it right. I am currently weighing 118 lbs and about 22% body fat. I have been weight training usually 4 days a week with maybe 1 day of cardio. I would like to put on 5-10 pounds of muscle, and decrease my body fat. So I think I need to be in a calorie deficit? Currently I am trying to eat 1500 calories a day with about 120 grams of protein, 150carbs, and 35f. Is there anything I need to change? I do seem to look a little leaner but I am more interested in building muscle. Thank you!!

    • Hey Jessy! Cool you’ve been reading my articles and tracking your intake.

      For what you’re trying to do, you want to start with a cut to get down to 20% BF. Once you reach 20% BF, you can RD into a bulk and focus on building muscle.

      If you entered the correct weight, BF% and activity level in the calculator, those numbers are correct. If you’re building muscle while losing fat though, the scale won’t be a good indicator of progress. Instead, track your BF%:


      My pleasure! Hope this helps. Talk soon.

      • Jessy

        Thank you! What would you recommend for supplements? Right now I am taking whey once or twice a day because I’m having a hard time getting enough protein. I’m not too interested in a fat burner as in the past they’ve made me feel super weird. Should I be taking creatine once a day and whey once a day? I have read your supplement article but I only have so much money in the bank ☺️

  • Claudio Tonelli

    Hi Michael
    Thanks for this article.
    It is exactly what i was searching for.
    I’m in my first 8 weeks of weightlifting.
    How much time do you think is needed to lose about 5% of bodyfat???
    I’m following a 20% deficit during weight training days(i’m using your training formula) and a 25% deficit during other days.I do HIIT for about 120 minutes per week.And i’m following all the others suggestions.
    Do you think that 2 weeks of doing this is to early to see some results?
    Because i’m not seeing any of them.

    • YW! Happy to hear it!

      How long it takes to lose 5% BF depends on your current BF% and weight. When dieting properly, you should be losing 1-2 pounds of mainly fat weekly.

      Cool you’re doing HIIT.

      Yep, you should start seeing results the first week. If you’re not losing 1-2 pounds a week right away you need to decrease your intake and/or increase your activity level.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Claudio Tonelli

        Thanks for the reply.
        Basically i made a mistake calculating calories for one food.
        My deficit was about only 12%.
        I was eating only 250 calories under maintenance.
        I just made a week completely 25% deficit.
        And i was wondering if because of the 4 weeks at 12% deficit its better to do a reverse dieting to speed up the metabolism o to continue with the 25% deficit(Lifting + HIIT).

        • NP! Glad you spotted the incorrect deficit and corrected it. Let’s see how it goes!

          Nah, no need to RD. Just drop straight to the 25% deficit and continue cutting.


  • Antoine Leclercq

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for your article, very enlightening and it feels trustworthy.

    I’ve started following your program for burning fat and gaining muscle (the 5 day split one). I’ve been lifting weight occasionally but I was never serious about it so I guess I could say I’m beginner and I think it would work for me to gain muscle while losing fat.

    I’m starting my third week and the problem is that my gym doesn’t have any barbell, just dumbbells and they go up to 50 Lbs only. I have stick with this gym for the next 3 months (then I’m moving out). I wanted your advice on how I could make the most out of it though.

    For now, for example, on Mondays I’m starting with the chess press machine because I can actually increase the weight as much as I want, then I do incline bench press with the 50 lbs dumbbells (maximum weight available), then flat bench press. I go over 6 reps for the bench press but I can’t increase the wieght. Same for deadlifts and squats I have to perform with dumbbells and 50 Lbs is already too light for 4-6 reps.

    What do you think I should do to get the most out of this gym (in order to build muscle and lose fat)? Maybe increase the rep range? The number of sets? Try to use some other machines?
    I was also thinking about buying a set of 2*100 Lbs online. Do you think it could be worth it? If so, do you have any recommendation (which wouldn’t be too expensive)?


  • Alexis Padillla

    Hey Mike you are a great mentor thanx for the life changing expirience. I have a long question, I have been in you program for about 2 1/2 months and I have seen excellent results more than i expected. Read your book and took the spreadsheet from excel tip and it change dieting for me, it has been the best thing ever. But my question is really, before I started your program I was doing some weird programs, ignorant in my nutrition i was in a super calorie deficit for my TDEE for about 4 months. I did loose weight and look better, then I was 218 with 25% bf. after doing that program for 4 months I got stuck on 198 17% bf for weeks. then your book and tips help me out in the las 2 1/2 month to really cut and dont feel like S***T. I went down to my current weigh 183lb 12% bf. But my body and general self are feeling pretty bad after going 25% deficit with your book. If i add all of the months that i have been in dificit it will be close to 6 months. I was thinking reverse diet for a few weeks and the i dnt know if i should go bulking or again at cutting bx my main goal is really 10%bf. an I get some advice?

    • My pleasure!

      Cool you’ve been rolling on the program and getting good results. 🙂

      Hmm. Yeah, it sounds like you need to RD and then continue cutting until you reach 10% BF. After that, you can RD again and then bulk. Check this out:



      • Alexis Padillla

        been on a rd for a week now, i only did 150 to start, feeling better all around already, many thanx. i wanted to ask you about intermittent fasting, if I do the 16/8 because of my work schedule i would be fasted only on cardio hours in the morning. my main concern is the protein and carbs after workouts, would that affect my workout recovery?. i work from 8:30p to 6:30p, then i go to the gym at 7:00pm but i guest after lifting no post workout meal? I do cardio at 7am since you recommended to split cardio and lifting since it does so much to the body specifically in a calorie deficit. what do you recommend, if you have any suggestions regarding my work schedule? Thank you for the feedback…

        • Nice! Yep, gotta love eating more, haha. Welcome!

          That’s totally fine to only do the cardio fasted.

          You need to plan your workouts with your feeding window in mind so that you can have the proper post-workout nutrition. Check this out:


          You don’t need carbs post-cardio, but you should have 20-40g protein. If not, you need to take BCAAs or leucine post-cardio and every 2-3 hours until you eat.

          Hope this helps. LMK what you think.

          • Alexis Padillla

            Which one is better bcaa or just leucine alone, and can you share a good dose amount of the best?Since casein takes longer to diggest, does it mean that there is a longer wait for been fasted, should we used when cutting for fasting? Also I have a large Hispanic community here in Texas, are you doing any spanish translations?

          • I would just go with leucine as the other two aminos in BCAAs don’t really do anything in this context.

            Yeah casein will take a bit longer.

            And not yet but I will be looking at translations later this year.

          • Alexis Padillla

            How many grams of leucine every 2-3 hours should I take?

          • 3-5 grams.

  • Nicola Kong

    Hello Mike,

    Great article, i’ll definitely recommend this website to my Fitness group in China ! 🙂

    I have one question and no one around me was able to answer it clearly. I’ve been cutting for about two months, losing 1,5 pounds a week, sticking with the same diet and same training. I’m weighing myself every night and morning, and there’s always a difference of 1.5 pounds ( i guess it’s normal )

    But it’s been two days my weight is the same at night and morning ( no drink or food at night, used the restroom, same routine )

    Do you think that maybe it’s because what you described in your article, ? ( During this past two days, been working on back muscles with heavier weight than usual )

    Thanks in advance for you answer !

    • Hey hey! Thanks. 🙂

      Your weight not changing for 2 days is normal. Your weight could be the same for several days and then you randomly dump water. That’s why we track your weekly weight.

      If you think it’s possible you’re building muscle and losing fat, you should be tracking your BF%. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! LMK how it goes.

      My pleasure!

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Hey Mike! I’ve been cutting 3 weeks now, I’ve dropped from 71.5kg to 69 on 1930 calories a day. Not very confident in assessing myself for when to start bulking. Could you let me know where you think I’m at, what my target should be, or if I should increase or decrease the calories? Kind of feeling in a rush to start bulking, since my face is looking a bit gaunt, plus I have never followed a diet (not even one as easy as yours!) in my life : ) Thanks.

    • Great job on the weight you’ve lost!

      I’d say you’re around 13% BF. Let’s continue cutting until you reach 10% BF.

      I hear you on the face looking gaunt. It won’t be for long, and it’s just part of the process. It’ll give you more time to bulk and build muscle since you’ll be starting from a leaner point. 🙂

      The goal while cutting is to lose 1-2 pounds a week. So, adjust your intake as necessary to make that happen.

      LMK what you think! Welcome.

      • Elijah Laughinghaus

        ok great, thanks for the input. I really am amazed you take so much time helping everyone out on these forums.

        Is there any average that corresponds per %, so that I can estimate my time left? I mean, is it possible to guess that if I’m at 69kg now, I should hit 10% around 66kg or something?

        • YW! Happy to do it. 🙂

          Not really just because the amount of actual fat each person has varies completely based off total weight even when they’re the same BF%. (a guy that’s 200 LBS and 10% BF has more fat than someone that’s 150 LBS and 10% BF).

          To help give you an idea though, when training and dieting properly, you should be losing 1-2 pounds a week.

          To track your BF%, take a look at this:


          Hope this helps!

      • Elijah Laughinghaus

        Well it’s been about a month and I’m down another 6 pounds, I’m down to 142 pounds, I was going to post another pic but you really can’t see hardly any difference, I have no idea where the weight is coming from! Frankly I’m a little nervous weighing so little. I’m 6’1″, moving on down into the 130’s sounds crazy. I have noticed, the last three weeks I have not made gains in the gym weight wise. And today, I actually had to bump my weight down slightly in order to finish my sets. Is any of this a sign I should stop cutting?

  • Philip

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks very much for this article…..I am using some of your supplements like Pulse, Forge, Phoenix, and Recharge. I have been doing IF and fasted training the past 3 weeks now. My goal is to lose a lot of those stubborn fat around my waist and build muscles. I am 5’10” and 180 lbs. Medium build but have stubborn fat around my waist.
    I typically do my workout between 12:00 p.m and 1:30 p.m and have my first meal around 2:00 p.m. so my feeding window is from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
    And i take 10gs of BCAA before sleep around 11:00p.m. ish and then in the morning when i wake up i take another 10g BCAAs and then again another 10g BCAA around 10:30 a.m. and then i drink BCAAs before, during, and after workout between 12:00p.m. and 1:00 p.m.
    So you can see that i take BCAA on a regular basis throughout the day.
    So my question is:
    Taking BCAA so many times during fasted window, does it break the fast?
    For me personally when i don’t take BCAA throughout the day and during the fasted period, i feel miserable and my workout is horrible.
    So i want to take BCAA throughout the day for better lifting session, but at the same time i don’t want to spoil the fasted session to produce maximum growth harmone.
    Please advice.


    • Hey Philip! YW!

      Hope you’re enjoying the supps.

      Cool you’re doing IF and training fasted. No, BCAAs do not break the fast. However, you only need to take BCAAs right before fasted training. The other times aren’t necessary. If you feel better taking them throughout your fast, though, go ahead.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Graham Gurg

    Hey sir. I am in the 9th week of bodybuilding. I am 18 years 5’7 and i am having an average protien intake not enough for surplus results i guess .. my problem is that i am confused about when i should start getting leans as they say calorie cutting slow downs the muscle gain process..i am 65kg i can see my abs but i want to look more lean and lose some face fat too.. so basically I’m asking that should i do cardio and strength training? Or i should gain some muscle first and than look forward to get lean? Or i first i should lose fat and than focus on muscle building? .. i wanna have lean muscles and low face fat but also I’m afraid that fatloss will slowdown my muscle gain… plz respond soon

  • Steph

    Hello there. This article helped me understand alot. I have only been weight training for a week now, so hopefully with this knowledge i now have i can get back to my old self. After starting a new desk job a year ago i have gained 40 pounds. But with all this information i feel i will be even better than before. Thanks!

    • Hey hey! Happy to hear it!

      Sorry to hear about the weight gain since you started the desk job.

      I like your attitude, and I look forward to seeing your results!

      Welcome! Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Shannon Brown

    Hi Mike,
    Just started following. I’m a 50yo female, with the usual girth around the waist. I workout 4-5 times a wk. 1.5hrs with a personal trainer. She consistently reminds me to get more protein 80-120g daily and be sure to get my fiber rich veggies. Thru meal tracking, I never seem to reach the protein levels. Eat 1hr aft waking & every 3hrs after. Usually I can do that until life interrupts :} Usual sources of protein tend to constipate, what do you recommend to reach the protein levels I need?

    • Hey Shannon! Welcome!

      Cool on everything you’re doing. To make sure you’re shooting for the right amount of protein, check this out:


      To help you reach your protein intake goals, I recommend lean cuts of meat for meals. For snacks, I recommend Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, jerky, etc. Whatever you can’t get from whole foods, I recommend supplementing with protein powder as necessary.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Destiny

    Hellooooo Mike! I am a avid follower of you. You have helped me in the past year. I am try my darn-near-hardest to punch through this muscle thang!!! The worst thing I could do for myself is loose the muscle I have worked so hard for. My stats are: I am a 38 year old mother of 6! I am right at 119 lbs at 5’1. Little! But I have the showings of a six pack, some nice quads, and my biceps are sexy! I have read your book Thinner, Leaner, Strong twice now! I looooove it! I am in a calorie deficient of 20% of my TDEE. That gives me around 1495 calories. I lift heave 5+ days and have cut my hiit way down, per your advice. (I used to be a cardio junkie). So my question for you is this, my man… Being so low on the scale I seem small but I have some fat on my thighs (typical woman thing) and I want a more ‘cut’ look. Is this calorie deficient thing gonna smoke the muscles I have? Can I actually build more muscle while loosing about 7 more pounds! I am not new to lifting and working out….just new to lifting heavy with low cardio! I have recently separated the two after reading your book! But, I want more muscle definition! Or Should I consider bulking? 119 lbs seems like a dream to most woman but I’m barely 5 feet tall. I use My Fitness Pal and watch every calorie that goes in my mouth. The last time you responded you really helped me understand that I must do this in order to achieve my goals! Difficult while cooking/feeding 6 kids and a husband! But not impossible. Thanks so much!

    • Destiny

      And to add to this…I just got my Shredded Chef yesterday. It’s definitely made for men, no? The Beef Stroganoff has almost my entire days worth of fat in that one meal? Wahhhh! No fair. Little people can’t have stroganoff? I want to be cut and lean but I don’t want to eat chicken and broccoli all day either! I think this may be tougher than a man building muscle? I went to Simply Shredded, per your suggestion, and all they eat is broccoli and chicken? I guess it’s possible! But it’s hard….

  • Ian Glass

    Hi Mike

    I have just finished reading BLS and would like to thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge.

    I have just started the program, however I am a bit puzzled with either to cut, bulk, maintain or cycle. The reason for this is the fact I am a skinny fat guy and although i do not want to lose any wait, I do want to lose the belly fat and gain some muscle??

    I am 6ft tall at 186lbs and 13%bf ( all around my stomach ) apart from that I am very thin. My routine includes 4x heavy weights and 4x HITT per week.

    I have just read the article on body recomposition and like the idea however a 20% cut has got me concerned I will drop too much weight and look even more thinner??

    The flip side is to go on a calorie surplus however I don’t need anymore fat thanks…

    So I suppose my question is given my current body composition what would you recommend when recomposition calorie increase, decrease or maintain??

    Many thanks in advance for your support in getting off on the right foot

    • Hey Ian! Thanks for reading my book and writing! My pleasure. 🙂

      I think you should cut to 10% BF.

      Getting thinner will happen when cutting, but it’s just part of the process. Once you’re lean enough, you can bulk and focus on building muscle.

      What do you think?

      My pleasure!

  • Lisa

    Hi Matt! Newbie here. I have a few questions in regards to the fitness routine. First, I am a wimp right now (that’s why I’m doing this) and I have a hard time doing all of the exercises in some of your programs at my max weight – my muscles don’t get tired as much as I lose stamina. Also, I see many fellow noobs (or sadly, maybe they’ve been at it a while) who have HORRIBLE form (even as a noob I can tell they’re jerking the weights and compensating with muscles that aren’t meant to be involved in the exercise). Wouldn’t it just be better for them to focus on form at a lighter weight, and once they’ve got that down move up to lifting at an ever-increasing max weight like you recommend? For this reason and for my stamina, is there expected to be some adjustment period before you’re in an ideal training groove where you can then begin to regularly increase weight without risk of injury or, passing out/puking at the gym? 🙂

    • Hey Lisa! I understand! You want to work with the heaviest weight possible to do for the rep range you’re working in with good form. If you can’t get at least 8 reps with good form, the weight is too heavy. If you can do 8 reps the first set at a given weight but can only get 6 reps the second set, you need to drop the weight for the third set.

      And yep, I completely agree with starting with light weight at first to get comfortable with the exercises and get the form down.

      As long as you keep your form in, I wouldn’t worry about injury. Form won’t have too much to do with passing out or puking, haha. I guess make sure you’re pushing hard but not TOO hard and make sure you’re taking care of yourself!

      Hope this helps! Talk soon.

  • Vahn

    Hey Mike! First off, thank you for all these awesome articles. They’ve been extremely helpful. I’m one of those skinny fat people out there and have started doing major resistance training per your suggestions as well as some cardio (not as much as I was doing before). I’m 5’2 and weigh 105lb. I would love to lose some fat around my abdominal area (those kids!) So I’ve been eating 1200 calories a day and doing resistance and cardio (1.5hr) 6 days a week. Does my caloric intake seem too little? I don’t want to stay skinny fat forever:) THANK YOU! Love your protein supp btw!

  • Paige

    Hi there!
    Currently I’m looking to gain weight and lose belly fat. I have a thin frame but I get fat stored on my midsection and get slight love handles. I’m 5’1″ and around 105lbs. I’ve been wanting to buy a protein to make shakes with in orders to consume more calories as I’m always in a deficit. I probably only eat about 1600 calories a day and I’m looking to move that up to 2600 or more. I would like to gain weight and have trouble eating enough to do so. I also do squats and other compound exercises and will be following the ‘strong curves’ program. You say we need a deficit to lose fat but I need to gain weight so I can’t be in a deficit. Is my answer to consume more calories to put on weight/muscle everywhere while starting to do HIIT to get rid of my side/belly fat? I stayed away from any cardio as I would keep reading it wasn’t effective and made you lose muscle. I’ve never incorporated HIIT.

  • Jay Kim

    Hey Mike, curious to hear your thoughts on this, thanks!


  • Troy

    Hi Mike, im a male, 5’5, currently 160lb. In order to gain more muscle but lose fat, should I be doing a calorie defecit or is it best to bulk up then cut? Ive been eating less lately and I notice that I feel weak when I do my lifts.

    • Hey Troy! Thanks for the info. It depends! If you’re new to this style of training, you can build muscle while losing fat so I’d recommend a deficit. If you’re not, you’ll have to focus on one thing at a time (building muscle or losing fat). Whether you should start with a bulk or a cut depends on your current BF%. Check this out:


      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Alice

    Hit the nail on the head!!

  • Hunter
  • Bill Crutch

    Good evening,
    I am a male, 54 years old. There is a lot of talk about how training programs for younger guys doesn’t work for guys over 40. What are your thoughts on that subject?
    Thanks, Bill

  • Sultan Seraj

    Hey Mike, i’m 5’8 around 153 lbs and roughly 13% percent body fat. My cut was successful but my i don’t think my body cooperates with bulking. I end up gaining a lot of fat even though I tracked my macros. I liked your article an cutting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. I am planning dropping my caloric intake slightly (10 %) from 2522 to around 2250 cals. Cutting was easier for me but this way i’m not cutting too calories. I was wondering what macros should be. For now have them at 40/40/20. Is that good or should I change it?


    • Hey hey! Thanks for all the info.

      Hmm. What do your cals/macros look like? How much weight are you gaining weekly? Are you hitting the heavy compound lifts and progressively. overloading?

      40/40/20 is great for the macros.

      Welcome! LMK.

      • Sultan Seraj

        Hey thanks for responding!
        I attached a image of my cals/macros for the new lose fat / gain muscle routine
        I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know about my weekly weight gain, but I always make sure to hit compound movements.

        Currently I’m trying to do heavy lifting every other day which includes: 2 exercises per body part for the whole body (for example (chest and tris – flat bench, dips, incline press, tri extensions etc for remaining parts). On the other days I plan to do HITT cardio and light/moderate calisthenics (body weight pull ups, push ups, dips etc).

        Let me know what you think about my routine and diet plan. Does anything need to change? Should I keep my plan as is for the 6 days I train and then go low carb on my rest day?

        Thanks again!

  • Darrik Mullins

    Hey Mike, I’m on a 20% calorie deficit doing BLS, and this is my first week. I’m currently 5’10 187 lbs and 27% body fat. Eating 1700 cals per day and tracking on myfitnesspal. I’m also using basically all of your supplements (whey, pulse, forge, Phoenix, recharge, Genesis, and triumph). Well, I have actually gained a pound this week. Any idea why? Thanks!

  • Johnny Hill

    Hey Mike

    Can I do the HIIT and the lifting in the same gym session (e.g. HIIT for 25 mins then lift for 40 mins)? Or is it better to separate cardio and lifting? Thx

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    I am successfully losing 1.5-2lbs per week, however, having tracked my intake very specifically these last couple months, I am noticing that I rarely hit my carbs limit, and generally go about 20% over on my fats. Is this of any importance, as long as I am losing the weight, or will this negatively effect overall body composition?

    By the way, I posted down the thread a reply to your reply, I wasn’t sure if you’d see that or if I should repost it up here at the top, LMK, thanks!

    • That’s great! Right on track.

      That’s fine. What’s most important is that you hit your target cals and protein. After that, you have some room to play around with the carbs and fat. Just remember, it’s 1g fat for every 2g carbs.

      Yep, I’ve seen your reply, and I answered it. 🙂

  • Sultan Seraj

    Hey Mike, i’m 5’8 around 152 lbs and roughly 13% percent body fat. My cut was successful but my i don’t think my body cooperates with bulking. I end up gaining a lot of fat even though I tracked my macros. I liked your article an cutting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. I am planning dropping my caloric intake slightly (10 %) from 2600 to around 2350 cals.
    My cals/macros for the new lose fat / gain muscle routine are:

    cals: 2,371 carbs: 338g fat: 50g protein: 150g

    The reason i change it to more carbs than protein is because I have gout and am afraid of eating too much protein. I try to limit it to 1g per pound of bodyweight at the max.

    I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know about my weekly weight gain, but I always make sure to hit compound movements.

    Currently I’m trying to do heavy lifting every other day which includes: 2 exercises per body part for the whole body (for example (chest and tris – flat bench, dips, incline press, tri extensions etc for remaining parts). I try to do 4 sets with reverse pyramid training so that I can use progressive overload effectively. I usually go heavy for 6 reps then slightly decrease the weights for 8, 10, then 12 reps. On the other days I plan to do HITT cardio and light/moderate calisthenics (body weight pull ups, push ups, dips etc).

    Let me know what you think about my routine and diet plan. Does anything need to change? I am working out too much? Should I stick to one exercise per body part per day? Should I keep my plan as is for the 6 days I train and then go low carb on my rest day?

    Thanks again!

    • Hey Sultan,

      Cool on the cut and on your next bulk, start with just your TDEE for your intake and see how your body responds.

      1g pro/lb is plenty. You could go a little lower while bulking if you’d like–0.8g/lb would work too.

      Your training sounds reasonable. Check this out just to make sure:


  • Yo Mike,

    Can I pick your brain for a min? I’ve been struggling with recomping, losing weight, and/or bulking. Figuring out which one to start with can get daunting, but l think I’ve got it nailed down. I’m still a relative newbie, and I’m 6’2″, 200 lbs at 26% body fat (classic skinny fat), so I’m pretty sure a cut/recomp is the way to go.
    Here’s my question: I’ve used your macro calculator to figure out what my daily calories should be, but I’m a little lost. I lift 2-3 times/week, about 45 minutes per session, but my job has me walking about 15 hours a week, usually about 2-3 miles per day! The activity multiplier spits out about 2118 calories for someone with my numbers “exercising” 6+ hours per week, but what about 15 hours of LISS cardio? Just wondering if there are any special provisions I should take given my job.

    Thanks for all your help. Like I’ve said on other threads- still making gains following your training, and feeling better than I have in years. Who knew lifting weights could be so much fun?

    Cheers and all the best,

    PS- nice 405 deadlift. Is that still your number?
    PPS- ever heard of a Youtuber who goes by Elgintensity? He’s a lifter, lawyer, and funny man who’s made a name for himself roasting ego lifters and fad dieters. He’s funny AF. You might enjoy him.

    • Hey Ben,

      You definitely want to cut/recomp first. You’ll do well.

      Hmm let’s keep it simple and say the 15 hours of walking burns about 4,500 calories. You can simply add that to your estimated TDEE for the week and recalculate your daily intake.

      LMK if that makes sense. Really glad to hear you’re doing well too. 🙂

      The most I’ve pulled recently is 425 for 3. The reality is if i wanted to really make the move toward 500 I would have to eat and weigh more, but I don’t want to be fatter, haha.

      Yeah I’ve seen his Crossfit video. Was hilarious.

  • Graziano

    Hi Mike! I always really appreciate your scientific evidenced based articles, so this time I want to share a recent university research about the right protein intake for maximize losing fat while gaining muscle at the same time, this is the link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160127132741.htm

    • Thanks for the share, Graziano. High protein diet and lifting weights is proven to be very effective yet again! 40% calorie deficit though…wow. That must have been tough on those poor guys.

  • Luke Chudders

    Hi mike
    I want to start your bigger leaner stronger program after being off for about a year. Would you recommend lifting abit lighter to start and slowly progress up again in weight. Thanks

    • Hey Luke! Awesome you plan on starting the program!

      Yeah, totally fine to start light to get the form down and get comfortable with the weights. When you’re ready, you can start working your way down to the heavier 4-6 rep range.

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Hey Mike! Is it time to start bulking yet?? At 6’1 and 145lbs, I’m feeling like an anorexic skeleton…! : / Let me know where you think I’m at, thanks!

    • Start the bulk, Elijah! This will help:

      • Elijah Laughinghaus

        awesome, thanks!

        • No problem!

          • Elijah Laughinghaus

            It might be premature, but I know it’ll take you some time to reply and this seems strange. My last week cutting, I totally failed. I was at 65kg on day 1, and remained at exactly 65kg every day for the next 7 days. Every week prior I lost a full 1kg on the same diet, no problem. Now it’s only day 2 of my bulk (I increased from 1920 to 2430) calories, and I’m already weighing in at 66.1, which seems a bit strange. Is it too early or would you recommend making an adjustment?

            p.s. I’m amazed how tough the bulk diet is, it’s so hard to keep the fat down and get the carbs that high! I’ve been searching your recipes, but not seeing lots of high carb high calorie low fat recipes in there. Any tips? (p.s. no meat)

          • Right way to come out of a cut and into a bulk is to reverse diet:


            Recalculate your TDEE, and follow the steps in the article above.

            You can consider carb sources that are purely carb with minimal fat such as grains, potatoes, legumes, rice milk, or even whole fruit juice.

          • Elijah Laughinghaus

            wow I’m glad I asked, I definitely simply went right into the full calorie level the calculator suggested for bulking, I had no idea I should ease into it. After only 4 days, I am already hitting 2kg over where I started, which is insane. I’ve always struggled to gain even a little weight, even eating with totally careless abandon.

          • Yeah for sure. I’m glad you did as well. For the bulking phase, keep these guidelines in mind:


  • Austin

    Hey Mike got a question for you. I have a very mild case of either Gynecomastia or pseudogynecomastia and I was wondering if gynecomastia pills actually work? I assume they are total bollacks but I figured I would check to see if you knew.


    • No, they don’t. I should write an article on this actually. I’ll put it on the list.

  • Vicki D

    Good Morning Mike, I have started reading your book and am overwhelmed with so many facts that I don’t even know where to begin. Help. I am 52 years old. 5′ 8″ and weigh 145. My norm used to be 130. Age is slowing me down and I am losing all muscle. Time to get serious. I started doing some lifting and now my elbow is aching. I can barely lift my coffee cup. Weakness and pain. I also want to make sure that I am doing the lifts properly. Do you have video’s on how to do the exercises you suggest in the book?

    • Hey Vickie, that’s great you picked up the book! Check out this YouTube channel I really like for form videos:

      Youch! Wrists and elbows can hurt if you’re doing “too much too soon” before your joints are ready. Take some time off for the upper body lifts and let them recover. I find that taking Legion Fortify helps a lot for me and my clients.

  • patrickherzer

    Hi Mike. Thanks again for another great article.

    I’ve been doing BLS for a 4 months now. I have always worked out regularly with a combination of long distance running and periods of intense weight lifting during the offseason. I had been focusing on cutting and got down to under 10% body fat (Started at 11.5) with a goal of hitting 8% and then bulking. My timing was rough as my family had a series of vacations set up for the summer. We hadn’t taken vacations in 3 years and I really wanted to let go and enjoy things. Needless to say, and I don’t normally do this, but I fell off the program pretty hard. Over the last 5 weeks of on and off vacations and unfocused eating, I have gained about 8 pounds. I took a week off the weights, which turned into 2 weeks but continued running or doing HIIT. I am feeling rather done with cutting and would love to start bulking, but to be honest with you, I’m not pleased with how I look after these last 5 weeks. I’d guess my body fat is at around 11. Would you recommend I go back to cutting and work my way back down or bulk for a while and then cut. The idea of cutting again just doesn’t sound fun but neither does carrying around this belly that has managed to find me.

    • Hey Patrick, that’s great you’ve been on the BLS program! If you’re not pleased with how you look due to the excess fat gain without the accompanying muscle gain, then I would start a cutting cycle until you are satisfied with what you see. You got this man! Keep up the great work.

  • Mar Wal

    I am 28 years old. 6.1′ and weigh 178. I started lifting weights 4 months ago. After reading your very helpful (!!!) articles, I finally want get my diet right. But I am not sure if I should start with cutting or bulking. I tried to measure my body fat using a caliper resulting in 11%. But I am not sure about that – it seems too low! I attached some photos…what do you think? My legs and breast look quite lean, but there seems to be some loose skin/belly fat. What would you suggest – cutting or bulking?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Welcome! Glad you’re enjoying the articles. I would cut while lifting using the BLS program. 11% does seem low. Based on the photos, I’m guessing 14-15%

  • KatyB

    Hi Mike! I recently bought TLS along with the one year challenge and am getting ready to start the program. My husband wants to join me. I imagine the principles presented in TLS and BLS are very similar but do you recommend he buy the BLS book? What about the challenge workbook? Do the workouts differ significantly for men and women? Thanks so much for your accessibility!!

    • Tim Baxter

      Katy, why don’t you check out tis free report? It may help you!

    • Hi Katy, That’s great! Good for you 🙂 Glad to hear your husband wants to join you. The principles are similar, but the workouts and approach is a bit different and the male workouts have different emphasis.

      No problem at all. Happy to help.

  • Dorian Stern

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks you so much for the informative article. It explained a lot for me. Now as for my workout routine. I would consider myself one of the “weight lifting newbies”. I’ve always done cardio (taebo,p90) during the summer seasons and stopped once school came around. but just 3 weeks ago I’ve finally committed to joining a gym. I’m 5 11′ and weigh 207 pounds. I want to try and lose weight and build muscle at the same time just as your article talks about. Currently I go to the gym mon-thursday. Rest in Friday. And sat & Sunday I do intensive cardio (taebo, p90 etc). In addition I’ll run for about 10 minutes before and after weight lifting. My diet consists of two high carb days on my tough days at the gym, two medium carb days and two low carb days for on my cardio days. Would you say that this is an effective strategy for weight loss and muscle growth? I’m going to try adding more compound workouts when lifting and lower reps.

  • Sharon Freestone

    Hi Mike,
    I just bought your book and started reading the female version which is great so far but in reading this article, would you recommend the same supplements for females looking to lose fat and build muscle? I’m just down to that last stubborn 5 pounds that just doesn’t want to budge. I could use a little more muscle but I have shoulder injury atm so if I can move more fat, I’d be stoked. And I live in Australia so do you ship or distribute here?

  • Matt DiPaolo

    Hey Mike,
    I am about 2 1/2 weeks into your program and starting to look at my goals. I am at 27% BF, which I started at 28%, my scale is telling me that I am around 37% muscle. I know that genetically speaking as a newbie I am able to gain around 20-25 lbs of muscle the first year. My question is, since I am cutting, would setting a goal to gain 20 lbs of muscle in a year feasible?
    I have also heard that I may be able to cut 30 lbs of fat in a year being I have a high BF%. Does that sound right?
    I am running my numbers (I’m an excel junkie) and it looks like if the above is true, I may get down to 15% BF by the end of my fiscal workout year. I may be over thinking this but I also don’t want to set too high, or too low, of goals for myself.
    My wife and I are reading your books and taking your Whey+, which is awesome. We are ready to try your pre and post workout supplements on our next order.
    Thanks your caring about your clients,
    Matt’s inner fit kid

  • shootinkdive

    Hello Mike! Firstly I want to say I have learnt so much from your articles, I love them! Thank you for taking time to write these articles! I have just started fitness two months ago and I hope you can help me further! I am trying to lose fat and look fit!
    I am 5ft3, 110lbs, female, current body fat is 26% (first thing in the morning) and 23% (in the evening), I measure it with an Omron scale.. For the
    past 2 weeks, my weight and body fat has not gone down a bit!!! Before I
    started two months ago, I was around 116lbs, 28% BF. For these two months I have done a lot of cardio (mostly swimming) and only occasionally some
    resistance exercise (ones that I do at home watching youtube workout videos).
    After reading your articles, I will cut down on cardio and try to do more
    resistance! I am so afraid to lift weights in the gym (cannot afford a PT) but
    I will try my best, and will include HIIT as my routine!
    Some questions I hope you can answer:
    1. Is my progress so far OK? I feel that it’s very little
    improvement for two months!! : (
    2. I can’t get legion products in China (where I live), so I
    am planning to get HMB and Yohimbine from other brands and do fasted workouts in the morning.. After workout I will drink a scoop of OM protein (which I do now), then proceed to my breakfast (about half hour later). Will this help lose body fat and weight and gain muscles?!
    3. I previously ate too little most of the time, so I am now trying to eat 1250 calories and slowly build back up, and cut.. Is this correct for my situation?!
    4. Are cheat meals and refeed days the same thing? I am sorry I don’t quite understand.
    5. Would resistance exercise help me? It’s not the same as weight lifting right? I only have 1.5kg dumbells and a yoga mat at home..

    I do see some improvement in my body, my arms have more
    muscles (but still fatty) and I have a big belly, I’ve always had a big tummy
    since I can remember!!! It’s really frustrating to see not much progress
    (especially on body fat levels) and I really hope you can please help me!
    Sorry to disturb you with such small matters, I see everyone else have 10% 15% body fat, I am really shy to ask you about my situation but I hope you can give me some advise. Thank you so much and I hope you have a great day!
    * Please sell your products in China!

    • That’s great! Happy top hear it. Good job starting on your fitness journey.

      1. That’s good work dropping body fat and losing lbs.2
      2. No problem. Fasted training with the supplements will help, and so will the protein.
      3. Based on your stats you provided (omron device not accurate for body fat, by the way), 1250 is a good target. Take a look at this:
      4. Nope. Not the same, but they can be. Cheat meals are deviations from your meal plan that are indulgences. A refeed is planned and done with set targets:
      5. Not quite. You lift, yes. But it is not full weight training. Take a look at this article for guidance:

      Hope that helps! Keep up the good work.

      • shootinkdive

        Thank you for your reply! It’s very motivating! You are so awesome Mike!

        Three more questions:
        1. On days that i don’t do fasted workout in the morning, should i still take HMB and Yohimbine before breakfast? Or should i take a protein drink instead?
        2. Will having a greek yogurt before i sleep help as well??
        3. Thanks for the macronutrient calculator (only saw the one without those percentage before this). So now my calorie target is 1250, and probably i will raise it up to 1400 in the next few weeks.. but when do i start calorie deficit? And when do i know to start increasing calorie intake again?!

        I will try to lift weights, and i hope my diet and supplements will help more! Thank you again for your reply!

        • You’re welcome! Glad I could help.

          1. Nope. Breakfast as usual.
          2. Sure! If it fits into your daily macros.
          3. 1400 is too high for your body stats. 1250 is a good target right now for deficit. Your maintenance is 1540, approximately.

          Increase calories when you are done with the cut. Follow these instructions when ready:



  • jan

    Hi Mike,
    how much weight should I lose per week? I am asking, because I seem stagnating…I started with 78 kg and 14-15% BF. Now I am 74.5, but my weight is not reducing anymore (I am still in a 20% deficit + adjusted my macros to the new wight and BF).
    Could it be that fat loss and muscles gain are now in balance? What I mean is that the amount of fat I am losing per week, I am gaining as muscles. Could that be possible?

    • 1lbs/week is a healthy target. If you’re not losing any more weight, take a look at this:


      With recomp, it’s possible that you’re gaining muscle while losing fat–causing the scale not to budge. Easy way to tell is by tracking your body fat % and waist measurement weekly.

  • ThatsGonnaHurt

    I’m eventually going to ask this question below but you might as well know why you are reading all of this… “So, simple question… while cutting should I expect strength loss or have I cut my intake too far?”

    50 Y/O M 235lbs scale says 32% BF but based upon picture references I would say more like 25%. Most of my extra weight is around my stomach. I’ll reluctantly upload a pic if any really wants to see.

    I am trying to lean down to around 15% BF. 10%-12% would be ideal but I’d rather have some flexibility in my diet so 15% is my target.

    Prior to 2 weeks ago my strength gains were good in the gym and I was netting about 2300 Cal (I give myself an extra 300 for gym time daily)

    I am in the gym 6 days a week and I take Sunday off to rest/recover. I’m pleased with my routine but I’m sure there is room for refinement. (M-Chest, T-Arms, W-Legs and Core, Th-Back, F-Shoulders, S-Squat, DL, Core) 3×5/6 with 2 warm-up sets for a new body part. When I hit 6 reps and could have gotten 7 its time to increase weight.

    So here is the is the issue. In the last 2 weeks I have dropped my net calories down to 1750 to try to burn the fat. It’s working because I am seeing more definition. Problem is that my strength has dropped as well. Strength wise I’d say I have gone back 2 weeks. Bench was 245 and I’ve dropped it to 235 as an example in order to get my 3×5. Oh, I should say I have only been back in the gym since April. It was 15 years since I was in the gym before that.

    So, simple question… while cutting should I expect strength loss or have I cut my intake too far?

    My Nutrient goals in cut are are

    Calories 1750(net)
    Carbohydrates 131 g 30 %
    Fat 39 g 20 %
    Protein 219 g 50 %

    I supplement BCAA’s and Creatine. I use Whey and blended protein powder (Straight Whey pre-workout in AM and post-work out and blended the rest of the day). Drink about a gallon of water.

    Let me know if you need any other detail. Thanks in advance.

    • I know you meant well trying to push the fat loss boundary by dropping your cals, but you dropped them 350kcal below your BMR. That’ll explain how your performance has gone down.

      A healthier starting point for cutting hard is a 25% deficit from your TDEE (approx 2835kcal): 2126kcal, which happens to pretty much be your BMR.

      You’ll also want to increase your protein intake to match your body weight. Once you’re below 25% BF, then increase to 1.2x your body weight.

      Hope that helps!

      • ThatsGonnaHurt

        I appreciate the help. Thanks. I was leaning toward I wasn’t feeding correctly and this confirms it. I appreciate what you guys are doing. Many thanks!

  • Paul Drummond

    Hey Mike! How long should I wait after I workout before I eat? I’m doing IF. I weight train at the end of my fast and end my fast with a post workout meal including a protein shake.

    • Hey Paul, you can fuel up immediately after your workout 🙂

      • Paul Drummond

        Thanks Mike! I appreciate you!

  • YF

    Hi Mike. Above you state that “If you want to maximize muscle growth, train with heavy loads and a moderate volume.” While this statement seems intuitively correct to me, I’d like to mention several recent studies by Drs. Brad Schoenfeld and Stu Phillips, which, surprisingly, fail to support it, and instead show that high rep (lower load) training can produce equivalent hypertrophy to lower rep (higher load) training, provided that sets are performed to failure. What do you think?

    Here are the studies:

    Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men. Morton RW, Oikawa SY, Wavell CG, Mazara N, McGlory C, Quadrilatero J, Baechler BL, Baker SK, Phillips SM. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2016 Jul 1;121(1):129-38. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00154.2016. Epub 2016 May 12.

    Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men.Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, West DW, Burd NA, Breen L, Baker SK, Phillips SM. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Jul;113(1):71-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00307.2012. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

    Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men. Schoenfeld BJ1, Peterson MD, Ogborn D, Contreras B, Sonmez GT.J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Oct;29(10):2954-63. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000958.

    Big claims for big weights but with little evidence. Burd NA, Moore DR, Mitchell CJ, Phillips SM.Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jan;113(1):267-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2527-1. Epub 2012 Oct 20.

    Comment in

    Preponderance of evidence proves “big” weights optimize hypertrophic and strength adaptations. [Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013]

    • It’s not that you can’t build muscle with lower weights and higher reps. You definitely can, as long as you progressively overload.

      However, I have found that to progressively overload in the higher rep ranges is a lot more grueling and eventually just becomes difficult to continue long term.

      I have found it a lot easier to continuously, progressively overload in the lower rep range which eventually leads to more growth over time.

      Feel free to try out going higher rep and lighter weight for a few months and see how it goes, though.

  • anuj
  • John C. W

    so i have a leaky gut and I’m getting it worked on but i think thats why i can’t lose any more weight or fat. obi i have some bloating but i heard it affects your hormones and causes hormone imbalances as well so is the leaky gut the reaso i can’t lose weight? also does leaky gut cause water weight too? just curious thanks

  • Darrin C.

    Hi Mike…you are now my #1 resource for all my health/exercise information & guidance. (I have purchased and read almost everything you’ve published — money well spent!)
    Thank you for this website, providing issue-specific answers to questions I didn’t even know I had.

    I’m 50, athletic build, with some disc and arthritis health issues that tailor my workout plan accordingly, but I have been able to stay true to your theories and it has worked.

    I use almost all of your products – Pulse, Forge, Triton, Genesis, Recharge, Lunar, and Triumph. I work out fasted most times, and I have done a reduced calorie 40/40/20 diet for the last month. Results? Heck yes — 3-5% fat loss and 10 lbs. I went from 185 holding in my stomach to a relaxed 175! I’m ‘happy’ with my body but of course want to get more muscular still.
    (Some of the recipes I created to comply with the 40/40/20 can be found if you look for my profile – RadarContact – on http://www.FatSecret.com, a great place to monitor and plan your caloric intake.)

    (sorry…) MY QUESTION: I don’t want to lose any more weight (since the fat loss I feel a little puny), but want to keep my current “look” but get bigger now.
    To cut to 175 I went to a 2000/day with between 18-23% fat intake (avg 20%).
    All the calculators put me up at around 2500 for maintenance but I’m scared I’ll put the fat back on (NO!). My daily lifestyle and job involve a lot of sitting, except for my 4 weekly workouts; I shoot for 5-6 but life gets in the way sometimes.

    Long post, sorry to all. If no reply, I understand… I can see how busy you are!


    • Hey Darrin, that’s great you’re getting so much out of my content! Happy to hear you’ve put the knowledge and supplements to good use and have gotten great results.

      To stop your cut and go into maintenance, you must first reverse diet:


      Use this to find your macro targets:


      Start with a 1.3x activity multiplier and see how it goes. Adjust based on results.

      Hope that helps!

      • Darrin C

        Thanks Mike!
        I’ll do it!
        (My biggest challenge will be reducing my protein intake…this old dog is so used to “the more protein the better”, I’m usually up around 40% without even trying)
        I cut at 2000, so I’m going to take your advice (always!) and increase to 2150 for the next week.

        Keep up the good work, my friend…we all appreciate it!


  • Stephanie Weir

    Hi Mike! I am studying to become a personal trainer and I am fascinated by body recomposition.
    I trained just as you explained above and saw massive results!
    I do have a question however, and I hope you can answer. When it comes to diet and training in calorie deficit, does the diet and amount of calories need to be adjusted during the recomp process?
    For example, when I was prepping for Comp, my pt got me started at 1400 cal. While doing progressive load compound exercises. He then added a few extra calories every week (with iifym technique) until I got up to 2000 cal. He then slowly started taking calories away until I got back to 1400 again and I got extremely ripped. The whole process lasted 6 months.
    I believe I did a “bulk” and “cut”
    but what if I don’t want to go through all that? Is it possible to just start at a calorie deficit adapted to each person without going through the bulking and cutting phase? So should I just stay at a constant calorie deficit? What happens once I have reached the goals I had? Do I increase my calories?

    Sorry for the VERY long post!! I hope my question makes sense!


  • Jesse Sumrak

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the awesome article! I’ve read BLS and Beyond BLS – loved them both, but I always find myself coming back to this article to refresh and get some highlight take aways! This is the go-to source on the internet for a brief, thorough explanation of Progressive Overload Training and HIIT and in combination with each other. Doesn’t get much better than this!

    I recently signed up for a 50K trail running race, and I’ve been doing a TON of running to get in cardio shape for it. Do you think I can continue doing this kind of heavy compound lifting for my training for the next 8 weeks? I’m already seeing a decline in my strength, but I don’t know if I should jsut keep pushing and trying to maintain, or if I should decrease volume temporarily?

    Thanks for your help, Mike. You’re the man!


  • Michael Watson

    Hey Mike, so got a couple questions maybe more depends. So for my first question I noticed you said you need to be on a calorie deficit can you break it down on how many calories from my maintenance I should eat whether it’s lower and how much lower. And also will this make me loose weight or can I gain weight I know it’s gaining muscle while losing fat but just wanted to know if imma gain weight from it. I weigh 228 right now and wanna get to 245 lean

  • Zeljko Markanovic

    hi mike im following your book for few weeks now, i lost 6 pounds in the last 5 weeks but i noticed that i gained 2 pounds… i dont know how that is possible i eat mostly 500 calories less and maybe sometimes 200 cal less but that shouldnt be a problem right? also my fat macros are sometime 50-60 grams instead of the 42 grams but is that a big deal? my protein intake is around 200 and so are my carbs..

    • That’s great you lost 6 lbs! Temporary increases in weight when not strictly following a meal plan is normal. If you’re constantly drifting above target, however, that can work against your weight loss. More detailed tracking will help.

  • NaiKang He

    Hi mike ,
    I have been weightlifting for 7-8 months and want to know if I can build muscle while cutting . I am at 16%bf 175lbs right now which comes at 147lbs muscle and 28 lbs fat , and I want to go to 12%bf 168lbs which comes at 148lbs muscle and 20lbs fat . Is this achievable considering my situation with proper nutrition and training .

    • At 7-8 months, you’re pushing the end of your newbie gains. Your goal is definitely achievable though.

  • Amine Laifi

    Mr Matthews, I would like some clarification on how to adjust my protein and fat intake when following the cutting/bulking diets described in “BLS”. Suppose I am on a cutting diet. After a couple of weeks, my weight starts to drop. According to the book I should cut down my carb intake. What about fat and protein? Do they stay the same according to the starting point I calculated? And supposed I cut down to 9% or 10% and I decide to bulk. Do I re-calculate the starting point again?

  • Hey Mike! Awesome informative article. I have a question though. I’ve been having an issue with my weight fluctuating up and down. I’ve cut to my lean mass of 175lbs. on a calorie deficit of 500 kcal less then my TDEE (6’1″, 37 years old, HIIT twice a week and compound lifting 3 days). And I’ve watched my macros like a hawk, however I seem to keep going to 179lbs. then back to 175lbs. and vise versa every other day. My sodium intake is below what it should be and I’ve been drinking water while I fast (leangains, 16 on 8 hr. window). I’m just baffled. Any thoughts as to why? Thanks in advance and keep up the honest, constructive work.


    • Hey hey! Hmm. Sounds like it could be a water retention issue. Check this out:


      My pleasure! Will do. 🙂

      • Thx a lot man. I’ve actually bookmarked this article before. Lol. I’ve bookmarked so many of your articles I forget. Sounds like I need a refeed. I’ll see if that works (and will enjoy trying! Lol). Thanks again. Cheers!

        • No problem! That’s great you’ve read the article before. Definitely hard to keep track of all that data lol. Cool. LMK how it goes.

          • Hey Mike. I’ve since gone back down to 175 lbs. I think it was a water retention issue. Thx again.

          • Awesome. Happy to hear it.

  • Kathy

    Hi Mike. I need to lose only 5 pesky pounds and I’m trying to gain muscle at the same time. I am female, 5’6″ and weigh 121 lbs. I have been working out for 6 weeks, early morning hours, 30 mins cardio, 1 hr lifting, 3 days a week using weight machines. Beginning on Friday, I will be transitioning into free weights since I want better results. As of this week, I changed my workouts from 3 sets and 10 reps, to doing 4 sets of 6 reps at 80% of 1RM of my lifting and on the same days, cardio consisting of 30 sec running then 5 min. walking intervals for 30 mins. Im trying to stick to 1500 cal/day and not eat past 4-5pm since I dont usually stay up past 9-930. What should my carb/protein ratio be, what time of the day and is there anything else I could be doing? Thanks!

  • Mike

    Can anyone tell me if I would lose inches of fat doing this type of program? I rally want to get rid of this spare tire and get stronger at the same time

    • Definitely! When you’re at a caloric deficit, you will lose fat. Strength will also increase when you train in the BLS style of lifting.

  • Jean-Baptiste Olive

    Hello Mike Matthews, first THANK YOU. I was lost in the diet and routine jungle and you saved me. You’re a “gainsaver”. I’ll hop on your program as soon as I can. But I have a question first.

    I started bodybuilding 4 months ago and bulking at the same time and had some newbie gains. But soon I realized that I had put on belly fat visible under the t-shirt (i also have hyperlordose and bloating due to food intolerances that