If I’m trying to gain muscle but I’m gaining too much fat in the process, should I cut calories from my diet or add cardio to my workout routine?

Weight gain when building muscle is a sore point for most people. How do you find the balance between the calories you are consuming, and the effect they are having on your ability to build muscle. This is a tough question to answer without getting enough information about your training and nutrition program.

If you are gaining weight, that means you are eating more than what your body needs. Therefor, it’s only alternative is to shuttle the excess calories to your fat cells, then they begin to grow.

Cardio is one method for assisting some fat burning, but I would recommend leaving this till the last stage. Incidental exercise such as walking, will serve you a lot better at this time.

Let me highlight some points below, that will help you along the way; both in determining how to get a hold of the weight gain, and how to gain the necessary education from your bodies needs, to put it into a muscle building action.

6 strategies to eliminate fat gain, and keep building muscle.

  1. Get tested. Get yourself either a body scan, or DEXTA to determine how much body fat you now have, in which parts of your body, as well as calculate muscle mass. This will give you a great starting point to work from. It’s obvious that you are gaining weight because of your diet. Clean it up, and only eat whole foods, low fat protein sources, and adequate fat. Limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat, making sure they are sweet potato, white basmati rice and oats. Stay away from refined foods. You will have to alter, tweak and then get tested again. I have found this to be the best way to lose body fat, without sacrificing muscle.
  2. Use tempo to your advantage. This allows a new stimulus for the body to adapt. I don’t see many people in the gym paying enough attention to one thing that can change their hypertrophy and weight loss results. Exercise control of the movement by lowering the weight to a count of 4, whilst raising the weight quickly, in 1 second. If you are squatting, lower yourself with control for 4 seconds, pause at the bottom, then lift yourself up in 1 second. Count out loud, in your head or however you feel is appropriate. After a while, you will automatically find yourself adapting to this, and it will get a lot easier.
  3. Shorten your rest periods. Rest periods when weight training, serve a specific purpose and also support our strength training goals. My advice on this one, would be to lengthen your rest periods (1 minute to 1.2 minutes) if you would like to focus on strength lifting. That means, your 1RM will have to be heavy, and you should be performing 1–4 reps of this, needing over a minutes rest. If you want to burn body fat and increase your gains, shorten your rest period. Work with 2–3 exercises back to back, and really smash it out.
  4. Circuit training with weights. Circuit training really get’s the sweat going, and challenges your whole body. You can create one program focusing on lower or on upper body – maybe try out a full body circuit. The trick is to do as many reps and sets as you can, without a rest in between the exercise. Resting is only permitted at the end of a full round. You can include 5–10 different exercises. This will really break through a workout plateau. Change it up from full body on day, to lower and then upper body.
  5. Clean up your diet. Make sure that you are eating the necessary food, whilst picking the lowest calorie versions possible. It’s about quality, not quantity. Opt for cruciferous veggies, low fat sources of protein, and the necessary fats. Carbs should be used on your training days only, and exercise eating carbs only from your veggie sources. Treat meals should be saved after 40 days of implementing this change in your diet. This will get you completely focused on what should be eaten. Don’t forget to re-test yourself with a scan.

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