How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle – Tips From a Personal Trainer

To lose fat and gain muscle, you need to ignore “the fat burning zone” and remember that veggies preserve muscle mass! These five fat loss, muscle building tips are from certified personal trainer Jini Cicero.

Before her tips, a quip:

“Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.” – Robert M. Hutchins

That’s not the number one way to lose fat and gain muscle! If you’re serious about bulking up, read The All-Pro Diet: Lose Fat, Build Muscle, and Live Like a Champion.

And, here are five tips for fat loss…

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle – Tips From a Personal Trainer

1. Remember that an effective workout may last only 45 minutes. The best time to work out is when you can fit it into your schedule — and if it’s done properly, you CAN complete a total body workout in forty-five minutes (complete with warm-up, cardio and stretching).  Keep the rest between sets to a minute, include a series of 4-5 “bursts” of high intensity cardio after resistance training, and end with a stretch of your personal “hot spots” or, the areas of your body that tend to be the tightest. My favorite way to lose weight is with the 10 Minute Solutions Pilates DVDs (high intensity 50 minute workouts).

2. To gain muscle, skip the elliptical trainer. Treadmills and ellipticals are typically the most popular pieces of cardiovascular equipment in the gym. While many people prefer the elliptical because it’s easy on the knees, remember that it also supports a great deal of your body weight. This decreases the demand on your cardiovascular system, so the calories burned is also decreased (and you’re not losing fat!). Additionally, the way these machines are programmed is notoriously inaccurate, so the average person believes he burned a lot more calories than he actually did.

3. To lose fat, work your whole body. For years, the conventional wisdom was to lose weight by breaking it down into a combination of “body parts.” However, the muscles don’t work in isolation!  The body was meant to function as a unit.  Instead of isolating specific body parts, focus on combination movements that work as many muscles simultaneously as possible. You’ll gain muscle if you train your whole body during each workout.

4. Remember that the “fat burning zone” is a myth. Here’s the concept: the body burns a greater amount of fat at lower intensities than it does at higher intensities. It’s true that the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities.  But, it’s a greater percentage of a smaller number. At lower intensities 50% of calories may be burned from fat, while at higher intensities only 35% of calories are burned from fat. At higher intensities, you burn a LOT more total calories. So, to lose fat and gain muscle, go for short intense workouts.

5. Eat your fruits and veggies; they increase muscle gain! A recent study suggests plant foods may help preserve muscle mass.  Over time, some foods create a mild but slowly increasing metabolic “acidosis.” Acidosis promotes muscle protein wasting by both increasing protein degradation and inhibiting protein synthesis, or creation.  Diets relatively high in potassium-rich, alkaline-residue producing foods (fruits and vegetables — which the Mediterranean diet is all about — may help neutralize acidosis. This study concluded that eating more (alkaline) vegetables and fruits can help build muscle.  This is particularly important as we age because our muscle mass naturally begins to decreases (and remember: losing muscle mass slows your metabolism).

If you need motivation to achieve your fitness goals, read How the Best Womens’ Golfer in the World Overcame Childhood Scoliosis.

If you have questions or thoughts on these tips for burning fat and building muscle, please comment belowand, read Jini’s other article on Quips & Tips for Achieving Your Goals:5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight – Fat Loss Tips.

To learn more about Jini Cicero, visit her website.


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7 thoughts on “How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle – Tips From a Personal Trainer”

  1. Increase muscle leads to build big muscle. Big muscle formation depends on the body type each individual have. However this is not the controlling factor. What is important is that the commitment and the perseverance to reach the desired muscle size.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m glad these tips from Jini are helpful for your personal training. Good luck — I hope you burn lots of fat and gain lots of muscle. :-)

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Wow, Jini, what a comprehensive, informative response! Thank you for answering Daniel’s question…and giving such good advice.
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post blog ..Pay Off Your Mortgage – 5 Ways to Make Mortgage Payments Go Away =-.

  4. Daniel,

    Thank you for your question.

    Before I make a few suggestions, I would need to know something about your habits…are you getting enough sleep? How is your diet? Do you ALWAYS eat breakfast? Are you participating in any activities that help you relax before bed (i.e. yoga, meditation, a jacuzzi bath?)

    When you are working that many hours and doing physical work on top of that, it should stand to reason that you would be burning a lot of calories and getting lean, right? Well unfortunately, there is a lot more to it than that. With your current lifestyle, you are likely elevating stress hormones which is your body’s protective mechanism against perceived danger (i.e. the “danger” of not getting enough sleep or eating unhealthy food). This causes you to store fat around the mid-section and make fat loss more of a challenge. If you’re exhausted all the time, that could be more “proof” that your body is probably running on adrenaline and other stress hormones and not getting enough sleep. You’re probably not going to feel much like pushing yourself to exercise later on so focus on what you CAN do now.

    Until your schedule is more manageable, I suggest you focus on creating some good, healthy habits that will prime your body and your metabolism for when you can add some good, quality exercise on a daily basis. Get yourself on as regular a schedule as possible and then focus on getting good quality sleep-make this a routine. At the same time, concentrate on getting in 3 solid, healthy meals each day with lean, clean protein being the centerpiece of each meal. Regulating your sleep (7-9 hours each night without fail!) and eating low carb, high protein meals (and cut out all forms of sugar) will do wonders for your energy level and for how you feel overall. Once you have that squared away, you can begin inserting some body resistance exercises into your work day whenever you have a break here and there (i.e. body weight squats and lunges, various push-ups, standing core work), until you feel you have the energy to do some short duration, high-intensity bursts mixed throughout the day. Once you’re feeling better, add weight training exercises coupled with burst training either at home or in the gym.

  5. I work over 60 hours a week and when I am working I really push hard and fast paced. I’m all out of sorts with my scheduling and maintaining a fit body. By the time I get home I feel as though my body is humming and I do NOT want to move. I have a desire to lose weight and gain a six pack but I lose all motivation. Is there anything that could be recommended for my lifestyle so that it wont effect my job performance?