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Build Muscle and Lose Fat: Top Three Tips

The myth that you cannot build muscle and lose fat is just that – a myth. You lose fat by calorie deficit? And you gain muscle by eating more? Right…, so how does that possibly come together? Well, it comes across as an unachievable performance goal because most routines that attempt this fail to consider our top three, yet science-backed, tips for how to build muscle and lose fat.

So let’s grab some science, and bring on the top three tips to build muscle and lose fat…

1. Maintain Healthy Protein Levels in Your Diet

To build muscle, your body needs to synthesise more muscle protein than it breaks down – simply put, you need to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Protein also plays an important role in weight loss. Evidence suggests that eating protein can stimulate your metabolic rate and burn more calories in addition to reducing your appetite. Check out a study by researchers at Maastricht University that demonstrated even an increase in protein from 15 to 18 percent of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50 percent.

What is a healthy protein level? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training. Protein intake should be spaced throughout the day and after workouts.

2. Manage Your Calorie Intake

This is where it can get tricky. You need to own up to managing your calorie levels if you want to build muscle while burning fat. But keep in mind since you are attempting to do both, the results will not be as noticeable or as fast as if you were only doing one or the other. That is, if you were building muscle, and bulking, your calorie intake and workout routine would readily add mass, while in contrast, a calorie reduction with high weight training and cardio could lower fat quickly. But in this instance, we are working to walk between these goals.

The first thing you need to do is figure out your maintenance calories – that is, how many calories you burn on your rest/non-workout days. (This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate, BMR, and is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest.) There are many ways you can determine this number, but an online calculator is likely the easiest option. Here is one from the Mayo Clinic that uses the Mifflin-St Jeor equation. But understand this number is not going to be your constant intake – it is the guide to figure out your intake. To balance fat loss and muscle building, use the following calorie intake levels, based on your maintenance calories:

  • Weight training day: Increase your caloric intake by 5-15% with a focus on protein.
  • Cardio day: Stick with your maintenance level calories
  • Rest day: Decrease your caloric intake by 5-15%

You need to focus on this part of the effort – calorie management. This is where your program is made or broken. And before we move on, do not neglect to manage your macronutrient levels. We talk about this in our Performance Diet Tips.

3. Focus on Resistance Training In Your Workouts

Resistance training is the best method to build muscle and burn fat – if done properly. You can spend hours in the gym moving weight around, our you can maximize a workout with heavy, compound lifts. It’s not completely that simple – but, just about that simple. Compound movements burn more calories. The very fact that you have to use more muscles to stabilize the weight means that you stress and develop more muscle and burn more calories and fat as a result.

Focus on multiple sets of heavy compound lifts, with smaller isolation motions as finishing moves. This will enable you to keep your focus and energy on the primary lifts. You do not need to get fancy on this – just stick to the basic press and pull motions. You can find numerous online sites with workouts that focus on compound lifts – check them out.

Now keep in mind this is not about toning up, or physique training – as we tend to stay away from that with performance training. What our top three tips to build muscle and lose fat are for is just that – build muscle and lose fat. There are variations to what we call out above, and of course, every body is different – so you will have to see exactly how you respond to the training and diet management. But if you follow these general tips, you will find that losing fat while adding muscle is possible.

-Train Hard!

Best Triceps Exercises to Develop Size and Strength

The best triceps exercises to trigger growth and development are old fashion staples – ones you’ve seen in the gym dozens of times. But in a sea of online workout fads, we wanted to get back to basics and call out five exercises to develop your triceps.

The triceps muscle is the triceps brachii and is located in the back of the arm between the elbow and the shoulder. It consists of three heads and makes up about 75 percent of the arm. For most, it responds well to resistance training, it with reasonable work, you can add shape and size to your arms through triceps training.

So let’s get to the exercises:

close grip bench press

1. Close Grip Bench Press

This will put the emphasis on your triceps, although your chest is still working on this. Proper form is to keep your elbows in, hands closer together on the bar, and focus on the extension and squeeze of your triceps.

Recommended tempo (starting with the lowering phase): 3010

triceps push down

2. Cable Tricep Pushdown (Extension)

This will put the emphasis on your triceps – the key is to keep elbows by your side and not jerk the cable when you start the motion. It should be smooth, up and down, all triceps. Focus on contraction when extended, and slow eccentric motion as you allow the cable to raise.

Recommended tempo (starting with the triceps contraction phase): 1130

triceps dips

3. Dips

Another triceps motion that also activates the chest, but also your shoulder (deltoid) muscles. Whether you use a regular dip bar as pictured or an assisted machine – be careful on this one, as lowering too far can strain your shoulder joint. Keep this one focused on your triceps, and squeeze with each raise.

Recommended tempo (starting with the lowering phase): 3010

 

overhead triceps press

4. Overhead Dumbbell/Barbell Extension

This really isolates your triceps and gives them a good full stretch during each repetition. Proper form is to keep your elbows in and forward; an e-z grip bar will work best for this if you want to use a bar versus a dumbbell. For a dumbbell, recommend using one, holding with both hands, as shown. You can also use a cable machine if you have the proper attachments. Focus on the contraction when you reach full extension.

Recommended tempo (starting with the raising phase): 1130

5. Diamond Push-Ups

diamond push-ups

This really isolates your triceps and gives you an option to keep working on your knees if you hit failure using a full plank pose. As with the other exercises, focus on the contraction when you reach full extension.

Recommended tempo (starting with the lowering phase): 3010

Triceps appear to benefit from weights between 30 to 85 percent 1RM range, which comes to a weight that will enable 5 to 30 reps on a first set taken to failure. Working all the triceps heads, by varying exercises will also add to growth and size. Vary between low to moderate weight with higher reps, vs heavier weight for fewer reps. Additionally, try to keep your triceps exercises to no more than three per session – more is unlikely to add substantial development, and risks delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Whether you combine triceps into your “push” routine, or an “arms” workout, is up to you.

– Train Hard!

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