Most guys dream of getting healthy, fit and shredded. When they start working out, they picture themselves rocking chiselled biceps like a Greek god and abs you could grate cheese on. They want to be ripped and lean, and for good reason – this looks great. But gaining muscle mass is super fun too. Being able to bench more and more impressive numbers as the weeks go by is a highly rewarding process. And who doesn’t want to get big and strong? It would be ideal, for many, to gain muscle while getting shredded.
Lots of people feel torn between hitting a low body fat percentage so they look amazing and toned, and getting big. It’s natural to wonder if you can gain muscle mass and lose body fat at the same time. This is hotly debated, and there are many different opinions on if it’s possible to get big and shredded all at once. Is it possible?
Yes, You Can Gain Muscle While Getting Shredded
But only to an extent!
To increase muscle mass, you need to lift heavy while eating enough to fuel your gains. Muscle requires a lot of energy and calories to create. You’ll be gaining weight, but you’ll be getting super strong. Unfortunately, it’s common to put on body fat during this process. You’ll be eating in such an excess of calories that your body likely will store some as fat.
Getting shredded is basically the opposite process to getting big. To get shredded, you need to minimize your body fat percentage. This means consuming fewer calories than you’re expending. Your body then “eats” its own fat stores and turns those into energy.
Luckily, there is a middle ground. You don’t have to treat gaining muscle mass or losing body fat as mutually exclusive. If you do this, remember that your strength gains and fat loss won’t happen at the speed that they would if you were focusing on a single goal. However, you’ll be looking incredibly fit and amazing.
If you eat a balanced diet that’s high in protein, do a range of exercises including strength training, and get enough rest, you should be able to gain muscle mass while getting lean at the same time.
What Should I Do?
There are a number of things to bear in mind if you’re trying to gain muscle while getting shredded. They are:
Don’t cut calories (too much)
To lose weight, you need to lose body fat. To lose body fat, you need to consume less calories than you’re using, so your body resorts to using its fat stores for energy.
However, if you’re trying to gain muscle mass at the same time, it’s a bad idea to not give your body the fuel it needs to turn your strength workouts into gains. You’ll be burnt out and tired. If you do decide you want to cut, cut no more than 300 calories from your daily BMR.
When trying to balance losing weight and gaining mass, you shouldn’t necessarily expect the number on the scale to go down. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you may even gain weight. Just continue to eat a balanced and healthy diet with minimal to no sugar, and notice how you look and feel, not how much you weigh.
Eat enough protein
This macronutrient is crucial for building muscle, so you need to get enough of it. Aim for 20 grams of protein per meal, four times a day. Don’t cram all your protein into one meal, but have it throughout the day so your body has a constant supply. Many people recommend consuming extra protein after a workout.
Great ideas for lean protein intake that will support your muscle mass goals without ruining your body fat loss goals include:
- Fatty fish such as tuna, tilapia and salmon
- White meat such as chicken and turkey
- Dairy – milk and yogurt are great choices
- Eggs – one of the cheapest forms of protein, eggs go with almost anything
Do a range of exercises
When you’re trying to gain muscle mass and get shredded all at once, you need to perform strength exercises for your gains, and cardio to lose body fat. For muscle gains, compound lifts are the most effective. Remember to focus on heavy squats, deadlifts and bench presses. Isolated movements can also be great, just make sure to vary what you do.
To burn body fat, you’ll want to do a range of cardio movements. Biking, swimming, rowing and running are all great options. If you prefer, try some high intensity routines that incorporate burpees, pushups, situps, kettlebell swings, and many more.
There are many great CrossFit classes to put you on the right track for gaining muscle mass and getting shredded at the same time.
Get enough sleep
One of the most overlooked aspects of fitness is getting enough rest. Most athletes are recommended to get between 7-10 hours of sleep per night.
Chronic sleep deprivation can “undo” the effects of dieting and lead to weight gain, which is not what you want. Sleep also gives your muscles time to restore and repair. Cells regenerate best at night, which helps you gain the mass you’ve been working hard for.
For best workout results, create a sleep schedule and come up with some techniques to relax you and help you wind down at night.
With hard work and patience, you’ll soon be looking shredded, big, and amazing.