If you're seeking to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously, then it certainly is possible. Of course, you cannot accomplish either of these goals effectively whilst trying to do both at the same time, but you can break down fat tissue and synthesise new muscle tissue.
Many of my clients have this goal and choose to opt for a balance in fat loss and muscle development, rather than focusing too heavily on either extreme. A common question that I am asked is regarding decreasing girth measurements, particularly around the arms and chest; "Why are my measurements decreasing if I'm building muscle?".
This is a common situation for anyone who is just initiating a new exercise routine. If you are trying to tone-up, by losing fat weight and building muscle mass, then you can expect a decrease in your girth measurements. The chest and arms are no exception.
A typical chest girth measurement will be taken around the entire horizontal circumference of your chest at nipple level. This measurement is greatly affected by:
- Pectoral muscle mass
- Latissimus dorsi muscle mass
- Fat tissue stored around the chest, arm pit and back
A typical arm girth measurement will be taken half way between the shoulder and elbow. The measurement is greatly affected by:
- Bicep muscle mass
- Tricep muscle mass
- Fat tissue stored around the bicep and tricep muscles
Fat loss occurs far more readily than muscle gain in the typical person. Whilst a typical person who has been training for a few months can expect to build somewhere within the vicinity of 3-6kg per year with a bulking emphasis, the same typical person could expect to safely lose 0.5-1kg a week in fat mass. Based on these rough figures, you could expect to lose nearly 9 times the amount of weight you carry in fat, relative to the amount of muscle you could expect to gain.
Note that these are very rough figures for illustration purposes and I am not citing any studies in this post. The point is that you can lose a lot more fat weight than you can expect to gain in muscle weight.
Because your potential for fat loss is generally far greater than your potential for muscle gain, you can expect your measurements to decrease if you are chasing after both goals simultaneously, with a fairly even balance. It is not realistic to expect to lose 20kg of fat mass and gain 20kg in muscle mass within a short period of time, for example. Rather, a 20kg weight loss and 4kg muscle gain would be far more realistic to achieve for the typical male.
As you are moving toward your health and fitness goals, it is very important to measure your progress along the way. That is why we offer a number of workout accessories to assist you in analysing your body composition. A few that may be of particular interest include: