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The Complete Workout Guide To Lose Fat And Gain Muscle

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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They say that one of the best ways to lose weight is to build muscle. But if you’re a beginner to weight training, you might not know where to start. There are hundreds of options for workouts, and if you feel a little overwhelmed when trying to choose one, you’re not alone.

That’s why we’re offering you a simple workout plan that builds muscle tissue and targets body fat. Let’s look at why building muscle mass is an excellent weight-loss strategy and how you can get the best results.

A man following a lose fat and gain muscle workout
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Why Building Muscle Is the Best Fat Loss Strategy

Some believe that if you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t try to gain muscle. It’s likely because when you focus on gaining muscle, oftentimes, the numbers on the scale don’t go down as quickly as one might like. You might have been told that lean body mass is best.

Contrary to what you might have been told, you can lose fat AND gain muscle. And working on your muscles might be the best way to burn fat stores.

That’s because as you work on building muscle, your resting metabolic rate naturally increases. This means you can enjoy a higher calorie burn at rest, and you’ll burn more fat in the process.

Of course, only focusing on working out while eating anything and everything in sight won’t yield the same weight loss results that you might want. You’ll need a balanced diet alongside your workout plan to get the most out of your fat loss plan.

Do Calories Still Play a Role in Fat Loss with the Right Workout Plan?

Yes, calories always play a role in weight loss. The method you choose for working out and tracking your calories can differ, but how much you eat still matters in the end.

Your activity level dictates how many calories you burn, which influences how many calories you can eat. You’ll likely start with a caloric deficit as you build lean muscle mass. But with time, you may need a caloric surplus to boost muscle growth and increase your metabolic rate even more.

The types of workouts you do will influence your caloric deficit or surplus as well. You don’t want an energy deficit if you’re working out consistently, so make sure you’re getting enough calories per day.

So, yes, your calorie intake matters, but so do the workouts you rely on. Additionally, those who work out more will need more calories to sustain their muscle growth to avoid muscle breakdown. Most importantly, calories from protein will make the biggest difference when you’re seeking to build muscle and lose fat.

A woman doing workout to lose weight and gain muscle
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Which Workouts Are Best for Fat Loss?

Certain workouts will have a more effective outcome for fat loss than others. Weight training can help to build muscle, which can yield more effective metabolic processing while cardiovascular activity can raise your heart rate and burn more calories in one session.

The benefit of strength training and building muscle is that it increases your resting metabolic rate. So you’ll burn more calories at rest than you would by doing cardiovascular training only.

The Only Fat Loss and Muscle Building Workout Plan You’ll Ever Need

If you’re ready to undergo a muscle-building workout plan that kicks fat to the curb, we’ve got an excellent plan for you. It’ll both boost your metabolism and help build strength and endurance. We’ll also talk about the best foods to eat to improve your fat loss and muscle growth.

The Objective of This Workout Plan

Rather than focusing on burning calories to lose fat, this workout focuses on building strength. In doing so, you’ll boost your resting and active metabolic rate. This means you burn more fat whether you’re working out or sitting around.

The point of this strength training program is also to help you avoid obsessing over fat loss and the best strategies to achieve it. Instead, you’ll focus on getting stronger and performing to the max. The fat loss results will follow.

A word of caution: performing these exercises without knowing the proper form could lead to injury. Consider consulting a personal trainer if you’re unsure how to perform these physical activities properly.

A muscular man doing workout to lose fat and gain muscle
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How to Split Your Workouts for Max Results

To get the maximum strength training and fat loss out of your workouts, you need to approach them the right way. According to fitness experts, the most effective way to get gains is to split your workouts by focusing on different portions of your body each day you work out.

For example, you’ll work on your upper body one day and your lower body another. You can also throw in a full-body workout routine here or there.

The most important thing is putting some rest days in between your workout splits. This gives your muscles adequate time to rest, repair, and grow.

In our ideal workout plan for building muscle and losing fat, we’ve split the workouts into manageable sections throughout the week.

You can tailor the workout somewhat to your needs, but we suggest doing 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets of each. If you feel that the number of reps or sets you’ve chosen is too easy, try increasing weight or the intensity of the movement rather than increasing the number of reps and sets you do.

Monday and Thursday: Focus on Chest, Arms, and Abs

Your first split of the week will be chest, arms, and abs. You’ll focus on the same area on Thursday as well. We have six exercises we suggest. You’ll need barbells and a bar.

The purpose of these exercises is to build muscle in key areas of your arms, chest, and back. They’re also intended to strengthen your core, giving your body the strength and stability it needs to continue building muscle.

Chest Flyes

You can use dumbbells or a chest flye machine to perform this movement. If you’re using dumbbells, lie on a bench or stand with your dumbbells straight out from your chest. Slowly lower the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended, hold for a moment, and then rise back to start.

Advanced Move: The best way to advance a chest flye is to increase your weight and hold the move longer at full extension. You can also change the angle of the lift to work different muscles.

Tricep Dips 

Place your hands palm down behind you on a bench and extend your body in a straight line with your heels on the floor and your toes pointing up. Keeping your core and legs tight, lower your body by hinging at the elbow. Try to keep your legs straight, but you might bend your knees if the move is too difficult.

Advanced Move: Use bars and your body weight to increase the tension on your triceps. You’ll place your hands slightly behind your body and lift yourself off the ground. Bending your knees, you’ll lower yourself several inches and raise back up to start.

Bench Press 

Never underestimate the value of a good bench press for strengthening your upper body. Choose your max weight and grab a spotter as you lie on the bench with the bar extended above you. Lower the bar to your chest and return to your starting position.

Advanced Move: Try raising your feet into the air with your knees stacked over your hips and bent at a ninety-degree angle. As you lift the bar up and down, keep your back pressed to the bench, and don’t allow your legs to sag.

Push Ups

You likely know how to do a push-up, but we’ll cover the basics of good form anyway. Proper pushup form involves putting your body into a plank position with your hands flat on the ground. Your body should form a straight line from shoulder to hips to heels. Keeping your core tight, bend at the elbows and lower your body to within an inch of the ground; then return to start.

You may also do knee push ups if your core can’t withstand a full push up. You’ll maintain a straight line from shoulders to knee rather than from shoulders to toe.

Advanced Move: Use a band to increase resistance on your arms and core. Take each end of the band in both hands and wrap it around your back. The band should be pressing on your upper back and shoulders while you rise from the pushup.

Bicycle Crunches

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Raise your shoulders in a crunch while keeping your head and neck neutral. At the same time, raise your legs off the floor.

To perform the movement, you’ll pull your right elbow forward as your left knee retracts to your chest. Elbow and knee should meet and then retract to the starting position as your opposite elbow and knee perform the movement. Repeat until you’ve completed all of your sets.

If you can, make sure that the extended leg sticks straight out from your hips and is parallel to the floor rather than rising upward at an angle. If your core isn’t strong enough to keep your legs parallel, raise them to an angle, but keep them straight.

Advanced Move: Place a mini band around your feet so that as you extend your legs in the bicycle crunch, your legs have to push and pull to perform the movement. The added tension increases the effectiveness of the move.

Mountain Climbers

Perform a plank with your hands flat on the ground and your body forming a straight line. Keeping your core tight, move your left leg forward to meet the back of your arm and return it to the plank position. Then do the same with your right leg, alternating the movement until you’ve completed your reps.

If you’re doing the basic version of mountain climbers, you might consider increasing your reps to 20-30 instead of 8-12.

Advanced Move: Get into a plank position resting on your elbows. As you “climb,” your knee should touch the side of your upper arm. You can go one step further and do cross-over mountain climbers in which knees will touch opposite arms.

Tuesday and Friday: Focus on Legs and Core

You’ll continue to focus on your core to some extent as you target your legs. The benefit of focusing on the core and legs together is that your stronger core helps you grow your muscles and prevent injuries in areas like your lower back.

Again, we’ve put together six exercises that you can do weekly to build strength and target stubborn body fat. These are a combination of weight training and resistance training exercises to help build muscle tone.

Dumbbell Static Lunges

With a dumbbell in each hand and resting at your side, split your legs into a lunge position. Start with your right leg and perform 8-12 lunges before switching to your left leg. You could also alternate legs if you prefer, but make sure each leg does 8-12 reps.

Remember that the proper way to do a lunge is to keep your front knee from moving forward as you bend. Your back knee should bend straight to the ground. If your front knee moves over your toes, you’ll likely sustain a knee injury.

Advanced Move: Lower your knee till it touches the ground before rising. Increase your weight as your strength allows.

Weighted Squats

Use dumbbells or a bar to enhance the quality of your squat. You’ll rest the weights on or near your shoulders, keeping your shoulders rolled back and neutral. Remember that your legs can withstand heavier weights than your arms, so don’t be afraid to try a little heavier weight.

Advanced Move: Deepen your squat until your butt is nearly touching your heels. You can place your feet on wedges or small blocks to help you deepen the move.


Stand with your legs hip-width apart and your arms holding the bar in a rest position against your legs. Allow your hips to sit back as you bend your knees slightly and lower the bar below your knees. The bar should slide over your thighs and knees, staying tight to your body rather than hanging out in front of you. Then return to the start position, continuing to keep the bar tight to your body.

Your back should be straight as you lean forward, and you should focus on using your legs to lift the bar up and down while your arms stay neutral.

Advanced Move: Try a Romanian deadlift in which you maintain constant tension on your glutes and hamstrings by not touching the ground between reps.


This exercise uses your body weight to strengthen your legs. You’ll step onto a bench or chair with one leg while raising the other into a high-knee position. Lower the high knee to the ground and alternate legs for 8-12 reps each.

Advanced Move: Perform a box jump rather than a step up. Place a box in front of you and tuck your legs to your chest as you jump onto it with both feet landing at the same time. Challenge yourself to jump higher as you master each box level.

Jump Squats

Perform a standard squat by keeping your back straight as you push your butt down and back as if you were sitting in a chair. As you rise to the start position, jump as high as you can, trying to tuck your knees to your chest as you jump. When you land on the ground, immediately go into a squat and repeat the movement.

Advanced Move: Add weights to a regular jump squat or try a twist jump squat. As you jump, rotate your body so you’re facing to the left when you land. Continue this motion until you complete a circle (4 jumps in total) and then repeat by turning to the right.

Plank with Knee Bends

Initiate a plank position by making a straight line with your body while resting on your hands or elbows and your toes. Keep your core tight as you twist and lower one leg to the ground. Perform the same movement on the other leg and repeat until you’ve done 8-12 reps on each side.

Advanced Move: Place a tension band around your knees to increase tension as you dip your knee to the floor. Keep your core tight and your alternate leg steady and straight as you dip.


To perform a burpee, start by standing with legs hip-width apart, and quickly drop into plank position. Do a pushup, lowering your body to the ground and back up, and then jump your feet up to your hands. Once there, you’ll jump into the air. As you return to the ground, immediately go into your pushup.

A burpee is best done quickly, but slow it down if you’re struggling to get the proper form with the movement. It’s better to slow down and keep your core tight than to go too quickly and get sloppy.

Advanced Move: As you perform your pushup, lower your body to within an inch of the ground, deepening the movement. Then, as you jump, perform a tuck jump before repeating the movement. You could also perform a box jump instead of a tuck jump if you prefer.

Wednesday and Saturday: Rest and Cardio

Rest is vital for muscle protein synthesis to occur. The body composition process requires adequate rest from heavy workouts, so don’t skip these days.

Resting can be somewhat of a misleading term in a strength training and fat loss routine. While you should take it easier two days out of the week, that doesn’t mean you don’t exercise at all. Instead, you’ll engage in less intense workouts to give your muscles time to recover before diving into the next set.

Jogging, swimming, biking, rowing, and other forms of cardiovascular exercise are great for rest days. You’ll want to keep your heart rate elevated rather than pushing to your max on these days.

This is also the time to listen to your body and help it recover from the week’s workout. If you’re feeling particularly tense in your legs, for example, walking it out and performing gentle stretches or yoga can be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Unless you’re injured, sitting idly all day without exercise is not ideal for those trying to build strength and lose fat. You’ll want to stay active, but there’s no need to push your muscles to the max.

A man eating before working out to lose fat and gain muscle
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What to Eat to Boost Fat Loss and Build Muscle

We would be remiss in giving you a strength training and fat loss workout plan without touching on the right foods. What you eat is vital in helping you to burn fat and achieve the gains you want. Here’s what we suggest.


Each meal should contain protein in some form. Ideally, you’ll eat 1-2 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight daily. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating an average of 100 grams of protein per day.

Poultry, lean meats, eggs, fish, dairy, nuts, beans, and legumes are all great protein sources. They’re swimming in amino acids, which is what your muscles use to rebuild and grow.

A high protein diet is not only great for gains, but it’s also excellent for helping you achieve your fat loss goals. It can help to reduce cravings, boost your metabolism, and encourage your body to metabolize fat stores instead of carbs.

Whole food protein is the best source when you’re building muscle, but you can use protein supplements to help you reach your daily goals if needed. If you’re struggling to achieve adequate protein consumption from food alone, supplementing with whey protein could help.


Superfoods are more than just a fad diet. To be called a superfood, it must be brimming with vitamins and compounds that boost a person’s health. You’ll look for foods rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, fiber, and essential vitamins. There’s a long list of superfoods, and a quick Google search will show you the majority, but here are some of our favorites:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach
  • Fresh berries
  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Fish like salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, and herring
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes

While these are great additions to your diet, remember that you should eat all things in moderation. A diet consisting of only avocados and berries will put too much fat and sugar into your diet, counteracting your weight loss efforts. Track your calories and macronutrients, and you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping these superfoods in moderation.

A man drinking water during his workout to lose fat and gain muscle
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Water is one of the simplest and most profound ways to help your body composition. Most people don’t drink enough water, and focusing on this simple health trick will yield a host of benefits. 

When it comes to muscle gains, hydration aids in muscle repair. It also helps your body with endurance and achieving your fitness goals. 

For fat loss, adequate water intake helps to reduce cravings, boost willpower, and keep your organs working properly. It can help your metabolism run more efficiently and prevent an energy deficit. 

Consistency Is Key

The real trick to building muscle and losing fat is to stick with it. You can’t hope to do this workout plan for two or three weeks and see the results you crave. You’ll certainly notice a slight difference in how you feel and your body composition in that time, but it usually takes at least a month of consistently working out and eating right to see a noticeable difference. 

If you’re hoping to build muscle, a split workout routine and a healthy diet must become a part of your normal routine. It doesn’t take long to gain fat without a proper diet or to experience a loss of muscle mass when you stop working out. Stick with it, and you’ll get the results you want.

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How Fast Will I See Results?

Most experts agree that you’ll see results within four weeks as long as you’re consistent. It will take 2-4 months for others in your life to start seeing the results of your hard work.

At about the six-month mark, you’ll notice a major change in the body recomposition process. Around this time your body will start to truly change, and it takes longer for you to lose the muscle and gain back the fat. That doesn’t mean you can quit–this is a lifetime commitment, but know that it gets better with time. 

Is This Workout Plan Right for Me?

If you don’t have any orthopedic or other medical restrictions, this workout plan should work for you. Research has shown time and time again that strength training and a good diet can boost metabolism and burn fat faster than cardiovascular training. It’s also highly attainable since it’s split into different days with 3 rest days built in.

Always talk to your doctor about starting a workout routine to make sure you’re physically fit for it. And take your time to learn how to do the exercise the right way to avoid injury. With a consistent workout routine, you’re well on your way to achieving your goals.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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