Body Recomp is bullshit?
Many people with knowledge of weight lifting and the functions of the human body will say body recomp is bullshit and to some extent they’re right.
Your body can never be in both an anabolic and catabolic state at any given moment.
However, it’s entirely possible to alternate between the two.
Some days you can practice the art of burning fat while on other days you can practice the art of building muscle.
In this article I want to talk about how body recomping is a great way to gradually gain muscle and lose fat, while avoiding “yo-yo” dieting.
If you have the patience and the knowledge to dial in some fairly accurate macro targets, and have had trouble with classic bulk/cut cycles in the past, body recomping is going to be your best option to help you get the body you want.
So lets talk about how to build muscle & lose Fat (basic body recomp).
Who Can benifit from Body Recomping?
Anyone can reap the benefits of body recomping but 3 body types tend to generate better results than others.
1.The Skinny-fat Body Type
Body Recomping for the skinny-fat body is great because this is usually a beginner body type.
During this stage they will be in a perfect position for burning fat and and building muscle.
The new stimulus being introduce to the body from resistance training will shock the body into change.
The Skinny-Fat genetics will still be there no matter what , so running with a body recomp protocol will help partition calories further to the muscles.
As a skinny-fat body naturally wants to hold fat around the mid section , body recomping can help solve this issue.
While you will be losing fat and building muscle , remember the primary goal should be fat loss.
2.You have neared your genetic potential
There is a second body type that can gain from using a body recomp protocol.
That is the individual who is lean and walking around near their genetic muscle building potential.
At this point building natural muscle becomes a lot slower and harder to achieve.
This means a traditional bulk can lead to fat spill over faster.
At the same time when you have little fat to burn , burning fat becomes harder.
The good news is your body is set up for great calorie partitioning.
This means on workout days you can be a little more aggressive with the calorie surplus.
The process is a slow one but you will stay lean year around while slowly building muscle.
3.Maintaining is the goal
The last body type to succeed with a body recomp protocol is the individual who just wants to maintain their current physique.
The goal here is simple: Maintain muscle but don’t gain fat.
I find this works best for individuals who put on fat easily and the ones who struggle to build muscle.
You will need to follow some simple rules for this to work.
- Keep workouts short and efficient, focus on a few compound lifts for tracking strength.
- Stick to working out just 3 times a week max and keep weight heavy and reps low. The low volume will keep from over working the body , and the heavy weight will keep strength levels up. As long as your strength levels stay consistent, you’re maintaining your physique.
- Adjust calories for maintenance. On your workout days simply move more carbs over to this day and lower fat. On off days lower carbs and raise fat. For both situations you would keep overall calorie intake the same.
Body Recomp Protocol
If you want to focus on building muscle and losing fat at a slow rate then it’s better to use a recomp protocol.
This is where you will eat at a calorie surplus on training days to encourage muscle growth and a calorie deficit on rest days to encourage fat loss.
At the end of the week you will have eaten very close to maintenance but it is likely you will have improved your body composition (more muscle and less fat).
• Rest Days (4x per week) -‐300 calories under maintenance
• Lifting Days (3x per week) +400 calories over maintenance
Weekly Calorie Surplus = 0
It’s best to use a modest calorie surplus/deficit on lifting/rest days.
Having to go too low in calories on rest days and muscle recovery and growth will be compromised.
As well going too high in calories on training days will inevitably lead to fat spill over.
So instead of building a little muscle on training days and losing a little fat on rest day you will be gaining muscle and fat on training days and losing muscle and fat on rest days.
Obviously big calorie swings between lifting/rest days aren’t optimal.
Therefore using a 300-‐400 calorie
Determining Maintenance Level Calories
Without knowing your maintenance intake of calories, none of the protocols will be very helpful.
Fortunately determining your maintenance calorie intake is rather simple.
Assuming 60 minutes of physical activity per day, most people burn 15 calories per pound of bodyweight.
Now obviously this is just an estimate.
It is very unlikely that these numbers will be exact.
However there is a very strong chance that you will be within shooting distance of the numbers calculated.
If you are gaining weight too quickly then you can lower your maintenance level calories by 10%.
If you are not gaining weight or gaining weight too slowly then you can increase your maintenance level calories by 10%.
Eventually you will be able to zone in on your approximate maintenance level calorie intake.
Example for 160 lbs guy:
• Maintenance level calories: 160 x 15 = 2400 calories
Lean Bulk Protocol Using This Example:
• Rest Days (4x per week) = 2500 calories (+100)
• Lifting Days (3x per week) = 2900 calories (+500)
Weekly Calorie Surplus = 1900
Recomp Protocol Using This Example:
• Rest Days (4x per week) = 2100 calories (-‐300)
• Lifting Days (3x per week) = 2800 calories (+400)
Weekly Calorie Surplus = 0
Determining Protein, Fat & Carb Intake
Of secondary importance to calorie intake is the make up of those calories.
The first thing that you must do is to ensure you are consuming adequate dietary protein.
Since protein is essential for muscle growth this is the number one priority in regards to macronutrient intake.
Before even worrying about how much fat and carbs to eat you need to first determine your protein needs.
Most research indicates that the maximum amount of protein needed to support muscle growth is 1.8 grams per kg (or 0.8 grams per pound) of bodyweight, but I have seen great results with protein even at just 30%.
Since we need to be careful not to overeat and cause fat gain it makes sense to eat lots of protein to stay full and satisfied.
For this reason I recommend eating one gram of protein per pound of goal bodyweight.
As long as you include high protein foods in your meals it will be relatively easy to reach this.
So if you are 160 lbs and your goal is to be 175 lbs then aim for 175 grams of protein per day.
Don’t set your protein intake more than 15 over your current weight in pounds.
So if you’re 160 lbs and your goal weight is 180 lbs then set your protein intake at a maximum of 175 grams per day.
When you are within 15 lbs of your goal weight then you can adjust your protein intake up to 180 grams.
The next macronutrient: Fat
To set is fat intake. Fat should make up 20-‐30% of total calories.
Going too low in fat will leave you hungry between meals and will make your meals blander.
As well low fat diets may negatively impact testosterone levels.
Use 25% of total calories as the default for fat intake.
If you prefer to include more fat in exchange for carbs you can adjust this number up to 30%.
If you prefer less fat and more carbs you can adjust this number down to 20%.
A fat intake of between 20-‐30% of total calories will leave the largest percentage of your calories to come from carbohydrates.
This is an ideal scenario for building muscle.
A high intake of carbohydrates will ensure that you maintain full glycogen stores in your muscles.
Your body is more efficient at building muscle and being in an anabolic state when your glycogen stores are full or near full.
In addition, carbs are the most efficient energy source and
The better and more intense your workouts are the more muscle growth you will promote.
• To calculate fat intake you must multiply calories per day by 0.25 (25%) and then divide that number by 9 to get grams of fat per day.
• To calculate carb intake you will need to add together fat calories and protein calories.
Subtract this number from total calories per day.
This will provide you with the number of calories to consume from carbs per day.
Divide this number by 4 to get the carbs per day in grams.
Meal Frequency & Distribution
Assuming you are hitting the appropriate amount of calories and macronutrients, then meal frequency isn’t awfully important.
In fact, whether you eat two meals or six meals won’t make an ounce of a difference.
For that reason I recommend sticking to the meal pattern that you enjoy the most.
For most people, having to eat 5+ meals per day is a pain in the ass.
Most people I find do best on 2-‐4 meals per day.
The biggest meals should come in the evening and after training.
This I find maximizes fat burning during the day and amplifies glycogen storage in the muscles from training.
As well, big meals early in the day tend to cause tiredness.
Lastly this eating pattern tends to be the most enjoyable and Ideal for busy professionals.
My recommended plan is to skip breakfast, eat a moderate sized lunch, train in the afternoon, have a big dinner with plenty of carbs post workout and then another big meal 1-‐2 hours before going to bed.
If you train in the evening then it would be better to eat a moderate sized lunch, another moderate sized meal 2-‐3 hours before training and a big dinner post workout.
If you train earlier in the day then it’s best to take 10 grams of BCAA before training, have a normal sized lunch, a big dinner and another meal 3-‐4 hours later (2 hours before going to bed).
Example Meal Schedule
Wake up – 8am Meal 1 – 2pm (protein salad or 2% Greek Yogurt and almonds)
Workout – 5:00pm Meal 2 – 6:30pm (animal protein and rice, potatoes or yams)
Meal 3 – 10pm (animal protein and rice, potatoes or yams)
Sample Meal Plan #1:
- Plain greek yogurt or cottage cheese
- handful of almonds
- serving of fruit
Meal 2 & 3:
- Chicken breast
- brown rice cooked in 1-‐2tbs of coconut oil
- veggies and spinach salad
Sample Meal Plan #2:
- Salad loaded with grilled chicken breast (sliced) tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheese and avocado
- serving of fruit Meal 2 & 3:
- Beef (flank steak, 90% lean ground beef, roast beef) • potatoes or sweet potatoes
What About Breakfast?
I recommend skipping breakfast.
I can already hear the comments… “Skip breakfast? Are you crazy?”
There is really no good reason to eat breakfast.
By pushing your first meal later into the day you force your body to burn fat for fuel, you elevate growth hormone and you increase insulin sensitivity in the muscles.
This creates the perfect storm for building muscle and burning fat.
As long as you limit the daily fast to 16-‐18 hours there will be no muscle catabolism during the fast.
When you do eat, after an extended fast, the anabolic effects of that meal will be much greater.
This is due to improvements in your muscles insulin sensitivity.
This leads to greater nutrition partitioning into your muscle stores.
I have found that by skipping breakfast I have had a much easier time building muscle while maintaining leanness.
That said it is essential that you provide your body with the right amount of nutrition during the feasting window.
If you are incapable getting in the appropriate amount of calories in 2-‐ 3 large meals then fasting is probably not for you.
If you wish to perform the strength training before your first meal then I strongly recommend taking 10 grams of BCAA before training.
Pre workout protein is highly beneficial at increasing protein synthesis and preventing protein breakdown.
Therefore it makes sense to provide your body with 10g of BCAA before training.
Training For Body Re-composition
This workout is going to be just three times a week , alternating between workout A & B on non consecutive days.
Don’t lift more than 3 days a week if recomp is strictly your goal.
Remember, you’re eating a caloric surplus on your workout days, so working out more often would turn a recomp into a bulk.
Workout A: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
- Incline Bench Press: 3 sets (RPT -‐ 5, 6, 8)
- Weighted Dips or Close Grip Bench: 3 sets (RPT -‐ 6, 8, 10)
- Lateral Raises: 3 sets x 8-‐12 reps
- Rope Push Downs: 3 sets x 8-‐12 reps
Workout B: Back, Biceps, Traps, Legs
- Weighted Pull ups: 3 sets (RPT -‐ 5, 6, 8)
- Bent Over Flyes: 3 sets x 8-‐12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets x 6-‐10 reps
- Pistols + Calf Raises: 3 sets x 4-‐6 reps + 10-‐12
The first two exercises of every workout are your key movements.
These exercises are the ones you want to strive to improve on.
On Workout A you will be doing incline bench press and standing press.
On Workout B you will be performing weighted chin-‐ups and hang cleans.
The goal will be to add 2.5 lbs each workout and perform the same number of reps (5, 6 and 8 reps).
Conversely you can alternate adding 5 lbs to your second and third set and 5 lbs to your first set.
Your first work set will be for 5 repetitions.
You will then reduce the weight by 10%, rest 3 minutes and perform your second set for 6 reps.
You will then reduce the weight by 10% again, rest 3 minutes and perform your final set for 8 reps.
For chin ups use your total weight (bodyweight + additional weight) when determining 10%.
For your third and fourth exercises you will be sticking to the same weight for each set.
In addition you will only be resting 2 minutes between sets.
Stick with the same weight until you reach the upper threshold of the repetition range.
For barbell curls you will stick with the same weight every workout until you can perform 10 reps for all 3 sets.
The next workout you will increase the weight by 5 lbs.
You will alternate between Workout A and Workout B three times per week on non-‐consecutive days.
Therefore you will perform each workout 6 times over the course
One of the main reasons why people fail to follow through on their workout program and nutrition plan is because of a lack of accountability.
They make it extremely easy for themselves to miss workouts, half ass it in the gym and not follow their diet regime.
This is simply unacceptable!
The reason most people have so much difficulty following through on a workout plan is because they make up excuses for why they can’t hit the gym.
They lie to themselves that it will just be this one time and the following weeks will be different.
The truth is that if you are going to skip a workout now then you will do so again in the future.
You need to hold yourself accountable and do whatever it takes to drag yourself to the gym.
I have never met anyone in my life that couldn’t find one hour to workout three times per week.
If something comes up then shift things around and make it work.
There is simply no excuse for not being able to workout three times per week.
End of Story!
Progress Tracking #1: Lifts
Every workout you should be recording and tracking your main lifts. Your main core lifts or incline bench and weighted chin ups.
If you are consistent and you put in a maximum effort when you are at the gym then you will experience these incredible results.
Trust me that when you are capable doing weighted chins with 90lb and inclining 225lb your physique will be very muscular!
Combine this with low body fat and you will be dropping jaws.
Progress Tracking #2: Weight and Waist Measurement
Each week you should be weighing yourself and measuring your waist circumference around bellybutton with normal relaxed posture (no sucking in or flexing).
If you are slowly gaining weight, about half a pound per week, and your waist is staying the same then you know you are building pure muscle.
This is very good.
If you are recomping and staying around the same weight but your waist is becoming smaller then you know you are gaining muscle and losing fat.
Now on the other hand if your waist measurement is going up then you know you are overdoing it with your calorie intake.
Therefore you would want to cut the calories back to eliminate fat gain.
Make sure to weigh yourself the same day each week.
Weigh yourself and measure your waist first thing in the morning after using the bathroom.
Progress Tracking #3: Muscle Measurements
Each month I recommend taking a few additional measurements to get the full picture.
This will give you an idea of how exactly your body is changing.
I recommend measuring the chest with relaxed posture at mid chest level, no flexing in or sticking out the chest.
I also recommend measuring your arms.
The best way to measure the arms is by flexing them and measuring around the middle of the biceps.
Always measure prior to working workout our, without a pump.
Progress Tracking #3: Photos
A picture says a thousand words!
A picture can say so much more than a number.
For that reason it is wise to take regular, monthly pictures to track progress.
I recommend taking pictures in the morning and in the same lighting conditions each time.
Here are the pictures I recommend taking:
- Front pose relaxed, flexed abs and double biceps pose
- Back pose relaxed and double biceps pose
- Side pose flexed triceps and side pose flexed biceps
As with all my programs, I like to conclude all my guides with one last thing…
I can give you all the tools you need to succeed, but in the end, your success comes down to one thing:
I can give you the blueprint, but I can’t do the work for you.
You have to.
If you follow this program and the methods I outline, you WILL see results.
You may have to cast your belief aside.
You may have to decide to tune out the mainstream media, stop reading Men’s Health or following the programs out there by the “Gurus”.
That’s what it will take: dedication, focus and commitment.