Which Comes First: Losing Fat Or Building Muscle?

Losing weight and getting a lean and sculpted look is the desire of most people that start a fitness routine.

However, the right way and the best step by step guide to achieve this goal may leave you confused.

Different fitness professional will give you different best way to achieve a leaner look depending on where their passion lies.

Most bodybuilders may tell you that what you really need is to build muscle first. So you need to lift weights and more weights. They swear that is what will burn fat.

Cardio lovers will tell you that you need to “cardio” the fat out of your system first before even thinking about building muscle.

From my experience with clients, i will say that It’s better to burn fat first before building muscle, if you want to lose fat and at the same time achieve a clean and lean body.

First, what is fat and what is muscle?

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If you can pinch it;it is fat

Simply put, if it is soft, jiggles and you can pinch it, it is definitely fat. And Muscle is muscle. It is firm.

What you want to burn is the “jiggle” and what you want to get more of is the “firm”

There are 2 things you need to look at before you start any program.


  1. The first thing you have to consider is your body type.

You have to train according to your body type to lose fat the right way. If you do not train according to your body type, you will still get result but it may not be the result you want.

Find out how your body type affects your fat loss here


  1. Another thing to consider is that you already have muscles and fat

Yes. You have fat and you have muscle.  The reason you are not seeing the muscle is that it’s covered by fat.

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Fat is stopping your muscle from showing


It follows that for you to see the muscle you have to get rid of the fat.

How do you get to meet your muscle? Of course by burning fat

Let’s look at the best way to do that

For the women I have trained who have significant amount of fat to lose, asking them to lift heavy weight initially makes them get bulkier.  I do not see any significant fat loss to make heavy weight lifting something to add to their program initially.

However when their nutrition becomes healthier, they will lose fat. Combine that with cardio and lifting lighter weights and you see more fat loss.

When other body toning exercises like squats, side hip adduction, pushups with shoulder taps are added we see more obvious fat loss and more body toning aka muscles

Men that have some body fat to lose, who focuses on lifting weights without watching their nutrition and getting in their cardio, bulks up easily. But you will notice they do not get a tighter body or stomach. They do not get 6 pack abs no matter the kind of weight they lift because they did not do anything about burning fat first.

Something to consider – It is not only weights that will help you build muscle. Exercises like squat, lunges also help you to build muscle especially your leg and glutes muscle.   TWEET THIS

You do not have to lift weight to build muscle; it just makes it faster

Push up helps you to build your shoulder, chest and arm muscle. Triceps dips build your triceps

So, the remedy for fat loss does not belong to weight lifting alone

The best thing to do is to combine the 3

  • Cardio – Use both body weight exercises and equipments like treadmill and elliptical
  • Nutrition – Invest in eating healthy, observe portion control and your body type
  • Weights – Use weights according to your body type and goal. Keep in mind that if your body fat percentage is more than it should be, you need to start with lighter weights.

Burn fat first before building muscle.

To do this you have to engage in low and high impact intensity interval training. You have to vary this exercise because when you repeat the same exercise for some time your body becomes very good at doing it.


When your body becomes good at it, it will no longer require a lot of energy to perform the task, so the weight loss from that exercise routine will drop. Switch things up from time to time.

An example is the stationary bike. If you normally ride it for 10 minutes nonstop, it is time to switch it up. Ride the bike for 5 minutes and do 20 jumping jacks and 10 jump squats, and then hop back on the bike for another furious five minutes ride.

You can add shoulder taps to your normal pushups. Don’t just squat, jump up and turn round in midair and end it with a squat. This will give a needed boost to your fat loss effort.

Vary your reps, your exercise sequence and your work out time. Start with lighter weights and work with your trainer to know when to add more weights.

Above all be consistent in your effort. Do not agonize over the number on the scale. Define what fat loss will look like for you (be realistic) and start taking the steps to achieve it.





Which Comes First: Losing Fat Or Building Muscle?

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