Muscle gain AND fat loss goal? How to go about it

As a personal trainer, you soon begin to realise that 90% of your clients want to ‘gain some muscle & lose some fat’. Now I’m not saying this is a bad goal – this is in fact a very good goal… however it has to be understood this is a LONG term goal and not the current goal you should be working towards.

Trying to gain muscle, whilst also attempting to lose fat is near enough impossible. It’s hands down guaranteed to lead to frustration, anger and it will completely demotivate you when you don’t see the results you’re after, regardless if you’re training your arse off in the gym.

So Mr personal trainer, what’s the solution you may ask? It’s simple – aim for either fat loss OR muscle gain, separately. The body of your dreams is unfortunately a long game and it won’t happen overnight. As soon as you’ve accepted this, you can make your training and your diet more specific to your realistic goal and start seeing some real results!

Let me make this real clear for you:

Goal - muscle gain: Calorie surplus + resistance training = increase muscle and fat mass

Goal - fat loss: Calorie deficit + resistance training = decreased muscle and fat mass

As you can see above to gain muscle and lose body fat you need to take different approaches.

Is this starting to make any sense?

Don’t panic – you won’t be going round in circles. With a solid diet and training plan in place, when your goal is to gain muscle you will gain maximum muscle and minimal fat & when on a fat loss plan you’ll aim to lose minimal muscle and maximum fat mass.


  • Set a goal for the next 4-8 weeks specifically to fat loss OR muscle gain

  • Set realistic targets to aim for every 1-2 weeks (+1.5lbs for muscle gain OR -1.5lbs for fat loss PER WEEK)

  • Assess yourself; make sure you’re on track. If you’re not – adjust your calories

  • Goal complete! Plan the next 4-8 weeks dedicated to your next goal

OK I think I know what you’re saying to me now… but what order is best?

This entirely depends on the person and your end goal. I’d always recommend losing weight first if you have a high body fat however, as you don’t want to risk gaining more for health reasons. But generally, just think about what’s more important to YOU - you’ll quickly know what the right answer is.

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