Get Shredded and Reveal Your Fortress!
Much like with fat loss, gaining muscle is partially controlled by your caloric intake. As we mentioned before, losing weight/fat can be driven by creating a calorie deficit (burning more calories than consumed) and similarly, gaining muscle/fat can be driven by creating a calorie surplus (consuming more calories than burned). Since it is very difficult to gain muscle while in a calorie surplus without gaining some degree of fat, many fitness junkies looking to add muscle find themselves packing on a few more extra pounds as well. Now is a great time to shed that excess fat and reveal the fortress you built during the off-season.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky though. Just as gaining fat can be a byproduct of gaining muscle during a calorie surplus, losing muscle can be a byproduct of losing fat during a calorie deficit. It will take careful planning, training and dieting in order to ensure you’re maintaining all of your hard-earned muscle while the fat melts away. Follow these principles and you’ll be on the road to success:
You’ve heard it all before, protein helps to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Without an adequate amount of protein in your diet, it may be difficult for you to retain the muscle you’ve spent months building. Some excellent sources of protein include; Chicken, Eggs, Fish, Lean Red Meat and Whey Protein.
If It Ain’t Broke
If you’ve seen great results lifting heavy for the last few months, don’t stop now. Keep the same heavy loads on the bar as you had prior. Your body is constantly in a state of adaption; make sure you give your muscles a reason to stick around by training as heavy as ever. Compound movements such as: squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses and rows should be the focus of your routine.
Don’t overuse cardio in your routine. The treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike are great tools when used to burn excess calories. Aim to burn just enough to get into a calorie deficit. Anything more excessive than that and you risk depleting your body of the fuel it needs to function and maintain muscle.
Lean Body Mass
Tracking Lean Body Mass will be a great indicator to whether the weight you’re losing is fat or muscle. Start by calculating your body fat percentage. Then multiply your body weight by your body fat percentage. Take the final number and subtract it from your total body weight. This is your Lean Body Mass, keep track and if you notice a significant drop you may need to increase your caloric intake or make other adjustments to your routine.