Can you gain muscle while losing weight?
As a basic premise, it would seem that growth in your body would interfere with the simultaneous shrinking of your body. But there have been many reports of people claiming that they can gain muscle while losing weight. Let’s take a look at one way this could happen, for an average woman living in the US.
How to lose weight through exercise
To lose weight through exercise, the average woman would have to burn about 2000 calories per week. She would have to eat the same number of calories that she is currently eating, although eating less may be helpful. She would have to do the same amount of physical activity that she is currently doing.
If she is currently going to the gym twice per week and eating about 2000 calories per day, she would have to continue to visit the gym twice per week and eat no more than 2000 daily calories, while burning 2000 calories per week through additional exercise.
How to gain muscle
In a previous post, I wrote the following about gaining muscle:
“The American College of Sports Medicine, the leading trade association of exercise physiologists and other professionals working in exercise, has recommended guidelines for lifting weights. They reviewed the evidence and they throw light on how to lift weights to develop muscular strength, muscle mass, power, and muscular endurance.
“To gain muscle, according to the ACSM, you could lift weights for 5 sets per exercise, for 12 repetitions per set, with at least 2 minutes between sets. It should take about 4 seconds to complete each repetition. Let’s assume that the workout includes 9 exercises. The total number of repetitions will be approximately 540. The total time to complete those repetitions will be approximately 36 minutes. The total rest between sets will be approximately 88 minutes.
“If you’re lifting weights for bodybuilding, plan on doing it for about 2 hours. That doesn’t include time spent on a warm up or cool down.”
Putting it together
So if our subject did the right type of strength training, maintained that effort week after week, while restricting calories, and continued to do what she was already doing, she should expect to lose weight.
Here’s what the program could look like:
*Do 4 hours of strength training per week. That could be as straightforward as doing 60-minute strength workouts on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays. Another option is to do a 2-hour workout on Mondays and Thursdays.
*Do a mix of machines, barbells, dumbbells and bodyweight strength exercises during each workout.
*Warm-up with a 15-minute walk before each strength workout.