How to Build Muscle & Lose Fat (basic body recomp)

true will aesthetics

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

The Skinny-Fat body is a complicated body type, I have spoke about it a few times before , here and here.

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.

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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.

As a skinny Fat you need to drop down to your rigid core while building strength as well.

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.

  1. Keep workouts short and efficient, focus on a few compound lifts for tracking strength.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

Meal  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:

Meal  1:

  • 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

Workout Notes:

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

Tracking Progress

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:    

  1. Front  pose  relaxed,  flexed  abs  and  double  biceps  pose
  2. Back  pose  relaxed  and  double  biceps  pose
  3. 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.

Now,  sometimes  people  want  more.  Sometimes,  having  a   program  like  this  isn’t  enough.     If  that’s  YOU,  then  I’d  invite  you  to  join  my  1-on-1  Coaching   Program.     This  is  a  program  where  I  create  a  customized  meal plan and workout protocol for YOU! I then support you in your success every week for questions and concerns. Most programs take tweaking and this is where 1-on-1 coaching stands out! I will be there to guide and re-set the necessary adjustments for the diet and workout as needed.

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