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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet


What’s going on, guys? Sean Nalewanyj on www.SeanNal.com. And in this video today we’re talking about
the subject of body re-composition or recomping for short. Which, basically just means building muscle
and losing fat at the same time. Is it possible? Who can do it? And is it more efficient to go that route
in comparison to standard bulking and cutting cycles. So the first question is: is it actually possible
to build muscle and lose fat at the same time? The short answer here is: yes, it is possible. However, it’s going to vary quite a bit from
person to person in terms of just how far in both directions they can travel at once. And the three most important factors to take
into account on this are: number one, level of training experience; number two, bodyfat
percentage; and number three, genetics. So first off, the less training experience
that someone has the more likely it’ll be that they can recomp successfully and vice
versa. And that’s because weight training will still
be a new stimulus for their body and so it’ll react more strongly to the stressors and adapt
in, basically, a more pronounced way. And also because the amount of muscle that
any given person can gain and how fast they can gain it, that is directly proportional
to how much total muscle they’ve built so far. A brand new lifter is going to gain muscle
much faster than somebody who’s already been training properly for one year. And someone who’s been training properly for
one year is going to gain muscle faster than somebody who’s been training for two years. And after about three to five years of consistent
proper training, once you’re right up near your maximum genetic potential, muscle growth
is going to slow down very sharply at that point to where it might take a year or even
longer just to gain an extra one or two pounds of new muscle mass. So, training experience is a huge factor. The second factor is going to be bodyfat level. So people who have a higher bodyfat percentage
are going to be able to recomp more effectively than people who are already relatively lean. And that’s because bodyfat is a stored form
of energy and your body can use the energy in stored fat to fuel the muscle building
process. So if you’re thirty percent bodyfat right
now, your body already has plenty of extra stored fuel available that it can use to support
muscle growth even if you’re eating in a calorie deficit. Whereas, if you’re already relatively lean
as is, say you’re twelve percent of bodyfat, your body’s going to be fighting a lot harder
to hold on to that remaining fat since your body needs a certain amount of bodyfat for
health and survival purposes. It’s already trying to conserve energy as
is and it’s not just going to readily burn off that last bit of fat in order to build
more muscle. Especially since muscle is “calorically
expensive tissue” to begin with. So the higher your bodyfat is the more muscle
you can gain in a calorie deficit and the lower your bodyfat is the less muscle you’re
going to be able to gain while on a calorie deficit, if any at all. And if you’re trying to get down to very low
bodyfat levels then you’ll actually start losing muscle when you try to cut further. And the third primary factor to pay attention
to here is going to be genetics. The reality is that genetics do play a significant
role in the muscle building process. This includes a bunch of factors like testosterone
levels, growth hormone, insulin sensitivity, nutrient partitioning, myostatin levels even,
all of these things come together and will influence just how effectively any given person
can lower their bodyfat while putting on lean mass at the same time. So those are the three main factors that going
to come into play. And as a side note, if you are an enhanced
lifter and you’re using drugs to help out then obviously that’s going to change things
as well. And achieving a successful recomp, in that
case is going to be a lot easier. But this video in this channel are dedicated
toward natural lifters. And the vast majority of people watching this
are natural, so that’s not really something we need to worry about here. And the other side note is for lifters who
are returning from a training layoff. In that case recomping is also possible even
if you’re a more experienced lifter because you’re going to have the benefits of muscle
memory on your side. And so your body can build muscle and lose
fat fairly easily in those first several weeks back in the gym after you’re coming back from
a layoff. So in terms of practical application here,
the people who are going to be able to recomp most successfully are beginners who are also
carrying higher bodyfat levels. In other words, either you’re overweight or
you’re skinny fat. In that case, you’re going to want start off
by eating in a calorie deficit, consume adequate protein and combine it with a proper weight
training plan. And as you lose fat from week to week you
should be able to gain some muscle mass at the same time. There’s no guarantee on exactly how much you’ll
gain, because it does depend on your specific bodyfat level and on your genetics. But the bottom line is to just put your main
focus on fatloss and then to whatever degree your body is capable of recomping and gaining
muscle during that period, that’s just going to happen automatically and it’s not really
something that you have to really worry about other than just keeping your training and
your nutrition dialed in to maximize how much lean mass you do ultimately gain. Continue with that until you get down to a
good lean bodyfat percentage of around twelve to fourteen percent for men, about nineteen
to twenty-one percent for women. And at that point you can switch gears and
shift into a focused lean bulking phase. So that’s the main scenario where meaningful
recomposition is going to take place. Again, aside from the inclusion of drugs or
in the case of somebody returning from a training layoff. And the key word there is meaningful, okay. It’s not that other people can’t recomposition
and can’t still build muscle and lose fat at the same time, but you’re usually not going
to see significant progress in both directions simultaneously if you’re a more experienced
lifter or if you’re already at a relatively lean bodyfat percentage. So for example, if we take a more experienced
lifter who’s coming off of a bulk and his bodyfat climbed up to, say eighteen percent,
and now he wants to do a cut. Yeah, if he structures his program properly
then he might still continue to gain a bit of muscle and strength while he drops his
bodyfat back to that twelve percent level. But it’s not going to be to the same degree
that he experienced while he was eating in a calorie surplus. So on paper, he can say, yeah I lost fat and
gain muscle at the same time, but it’s probably going to be mostly fatloss and maybe a small
amount of muscle gain. So even though, yeah, technically he recomposition
during that time it was still primarily just a cutting phase for the most part. And that’s another important thing to keep
in mind here. You can gain muscle while you’re in a calorie
deficit as long as we’re not talking about getting shredded to, like below ten percent
bodyfat, in which case you’ll probably actually lose a bit of muscle. You can gain muscle in a deficit but it won’t
be to the same degree that you’d achieve by eating in a straight calorie surplus. So this isn’t a black and white thing. Some people will say, well, you can gain muscle
in a deficit or at maintenance as long as you eat enough protein. And so for that reason you don’t actually
need a surplus and bulking is a waste of time. Well, true, you don’t need a surplus to build
muscle in the basic sense but if you want to build muscle as effectively as possible
then, yes, you probably do need to have a small surplus in place. So for that reason if you’re already at a
good lean twelve percent bodyfat, give or take, and you’re primary goal is to gain
muscle size and strength, that’s your main aim, then I’d recommend just going with a
standard lean bulk at that point by eating in a small calorie surplus in order to maximize
your gains. You’re never going to lose bodyfat while in
a surplus so a true recomp is out of the question at that point. But your strength is going to go up faster
and you’re going to gain more overall lean mass with that surplus in place. And if you do it properly and you do it patiently
you won’t gain a lot of bodyfat anyway. And even after you do gain a bit of bodyfat
you can just do a quick cut and lean right back down. So, in the bigger picture you are gaining
muscle and losing fat, it’s just not happening at precisely the exact same time. But in the slightly bigger picture it kind
of is. But that’s the key thing, you have to lean
bulk properly. A proper bulking phase is done slowly and
gradually and it only takes a relatively small calorie surplus in order to maximize muscle
growth in the first place. This is the big mistake that a lot of lifters
make and it’s why a lot of people ultimately get scared of the idea of bulking in the first
place, because they’re worried that they’ll put on a bunch of bodyfat. But the bottom line is that your body can
only use a pretty limited number of calories for the purpose of muscle growth in any given
day and once you exceed that number the rest of those calories are just going to be stored
as fat. You don’t need five hundred or seven hundred
and fifty or a thousand extra calories per day to maximize your gains. Most of that will end up as fat, especially
as you get more advanced. So as a rough guideline beginners can go with
a surplus of about three hundred calories above maintenance per day. So that means lifters with less than one year
of proper training experience, intermediates with, let’s say between one two three years
of proper training experience, can go with about two hundred to two hundred and fifty
calories. And more advanced lifters at three years and
beyond somewhere around a hundred to a hundred and fifty calories above maintenance. Those are just approximate figures to go by. They’re never going to be perfect. But that should provide enough calories to
optimize muscle growth while keeping fat gains to a minimum. So while I do recommend eating in a calorie
surplus in order to maximize your gains if you’ve already got that relatively lean bodyfat
percentage to start out from and you want to get bigger and stronger, especially if
you’re a more advanced lifter because recomping at that point is going to be extremely difficult
if not impossible, you still shouldn’t be getting fat during your bulk anyway. If you do things right then you’ll gain muscle
along with a small amount of fat then you can go back to a deficit again to get rid
of the fat while preserving the gains that you made, then you can lean bulk back again
with a small surplus, then go back to a deficit. So really it’s not much different from recomping
anyway, because over time, again like I said, you will be gaining muscle and losing fat
“simultaneously” but it’ll just be happening in the slightly bigger picture. So, a lot of information to take in there,
but to sum it up, yes, recomping is possible. It is possible to build muscle and to lose
fat at the same time, but it will usually only happen to a truly significant meaningful
degree in beginners who are also carrying a decent amount of extra bodyfat, lifters
who are coming back from a layoff, or those who are using drugs. And genetics will also influence just how
successful your recomp is. For everybody else standard bulking and cutting
cycles are usually going to be the most efficient approach. But if you do them properly you’ll stay relatively
lean year round anyway. So thanks for watching, guys. I hope you found this advice helpful. If you do want to get a complete, fully structured
roadmap in terms of training, nutrition, and supplementation to properly guide you throughout
this entire process. Step-by-step depending on your individual
goals, experience level, and your body type then you can check out my complete Body Transformation
Blueprint system over at www.BTBluePrint.com. Or by clicking up here. The link for that’s also in the description
box. If you found these tips helpful make sure
to hit the like button, leave a comment and subscribe to stay up-to-date on future videos. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram
as well if you aren’t already. The links for that are also in the description
box. And the official website is over at www.SeanNal.com. Thanks for watching, guys. And I’ll talk again soon.

56 thoughts on “The Truth About “Recomping” (Is It REALLY Possible?)

  1. Coming off a training layoff, and working on a recomp. Right now I'm in training limbo. My bf is down to 16% (was at 34%), but I'm still working on getting lower. Since I have the calorie deficit going on I'm making painfully slow muscle gain, and just dropping about a pound a week. Really mad at myself for letting my body get so out of shape, all the cookies and donuts weren't worth the work I'm having to put in now. Better to just avoid putting yourself in a position where you have to recomp.

  2. I read a study, dont remember where but the results showed that overweight beginners builded muscle mass even on a – 800 calorie deficit.

  3. Hey Sean great video !
    One question , if i am in a caloric deficit and I want to start bulking should i up my calories to +300 of my maintenance or just +200 every week until I reach the maintenance+300 ?

  4. Does this apply to a teen? You’ve said in the past that teens should not eat in a caloric deficit, so would I not be able to recomp if eating at maintenance or slightly higher?

  5. This video is spot on. I recomped for a whole year as a beginner and even though I gained muscle and strength it was such a slowwwww process. A lot slower than I thought it would be. But that was just my experience. I think if I could do it again I would have went on a cut first. I was like 25% bf.

  6. If I plateaued and didn't gain muscle mass 1-2 years due to inappropriate nutrition habits, does that affect the potential muscle mass I could have gained those years? Specifically does that affect how much muscle I gain in future years?

  7. Thx Sean, this information was very enlightening for me. I do exercise all year round but only do on & off moderate weight training compare to HIIT cardio, I heard of muscle memory & by taking a hiatus from lifting even for several months I was able to get back the muscle tone & also regain the strength back in a couple of weeks. I don't loose more than 3-4 lbs from my heaviest but noticed more muscularity & vascularity probably due to a 1% body fat lose, I am a over 50 y.o. & "natural" of some what athletic built & do you think older people would have difficulties in making gains & to maintain their gains?

  8. Great video. I got interested in your channel over a year ago and one of the main reasons was because you also provided transcripts of the videos in the notes. I hope you keep doing that as it makes it easier to copy the text in my notes to review later. Thanks.

  9. Hi All,
    I am 6'1 , 200lbs
    No muscle definition, bf around 18-20% I would say. I look weak, " skinny " . Trying to eat at maintenance . Any advice?

  10. I have been workoing out about 8 years (working out poorly and not eating right) and im still pretty small and weak. Does this mean i still can get my noob gains after 8 years of training.

  11. I guess if you're not so concerned about building muscle and rather more focused on cutting then staying in a minor deficit all the time can work and any muscle added is a nice bonus…..until reached disired weight, then switch to calorie maintenance level.

  12. ScottHermanFitness just made a video about this recently. He is of the mindset that aside from newbies, body recomp is impossible. Period.
    I tried explaining about other variables like the experienced guy returning from a training layoff, but he was adamant that it can't be done. lol …I just did it myself over the last few months.

  13. Nice video Sean. One can certainly build muscle at maintenance or in a deficit, but it's not optimal, and will be limited by training experience, genetics, and the amount of body fat the person is carrying. Bulking and cutting is a much more efficient strategy.

  14. Excellent upload Sean, thx. For years I bulk and cut, works fine for me. I see a lot of new newbies that start cutting way too fast resulting in disappointed skeletons in the gym.

  15. Excellent video, Sean. I am obese and want to start lifting weights. Now I know which program I should buy from you. Thumbs up !!!!

  16. Great video as usual Sean!
    Can you please start writing transcripts again for your videos. I watch your videos and like to come back and just read what I watched a day later or so… thanks.

  17. I'm currently on a slow bulk and eating 300-400 Cals above maintenance to minimize fat gain. Every so often, I'll end up having a major cheat day where my calories exceed maintenance by 2000-3000 or a few in a row while on vacation or such. What is the best way to recover from this? I typically drop calories below maintenance for 3-4 days afterwards to keep my weekly average where I want it. Is this counterproductive when bulking? Should I just accept the fat gain and realize that I'll have to stop bulking sooner rather than dropping below maintenance for a few days?

  18. I believe that stored fat does not convert to energy to aid building muscle. When burned, 80% of it turns into carbon monoxide and you just breathe it out through your lungs, and the remaining 20% becomes water. Just setting the facts straight. Thanks for the great video!

  19. Its getting decent… was around 34% BF back in november and should be sitting around 25% now. At the same time Im also very slowly adding a few kgs on the muscle weight. But what really seemed to have made a difference in my case was running into your chan Sean.

    I began to understand what macros are and the way you approach form instead of looking bad ass with heavy weight has also improved my workout greatly.

    Gotta keep in mind that its a lifestyle more than a specific goal to be reached.

  20. 😩I only need/want to loose 10 lbs (and keep it off this time) and I would like to have more defined arms nothing major (ai’n a girl) but it seems like my body doesn’t want to give up these extra pounds – it is really starting to send me down the dark abyss of the unhealthy way to lose these 10lbs. 😔

  21. is there a certain BMI calculator you would recommend? i know i am definitely overweight which has become a problem after losing my leg. I get a lot of variation from web-based calculators. I appreciate any help

  22. I am at 165lbs 18% body fat. I've been lifting for over 5 years. Will recomping happen if I eat at maintenance and train or should I go on a cut and then try lean bulking at 250 cal above maintenance?

  23. Sean I thought you said if I work out twice a week, I would gain muscle depending of course my intensity. Im confuse with your video on traning a muscle once a week video .Do I have to hit the same muscle twice a week instead of different muscles.? Will it hurt my gains? let me know. and again thanks for info.''

  24. I agree with 99% of this video. I hate to be that guy, but I noticed a technicality with his claim that you can't lose fat while in a surplus around 7:28. I think it would be possible to lose fat while in a surplus because let's say you have a beginner who eats in a 100 calorie surplus to gain 1lb/month. If they have a high bodyfat already, I feel like they will be able to lose fat because their body wants to gain muscle at around 2lbs/month.

  25. I need someone who has experience to help me with my macros. I need help determining what my calorie intake needs to be for cutting. Started lifting 4-5 days per week, a month ago. And now doing 30 mins cardio afterwards. I work on my feet, my job is very physical. I am 29, 5'11", 220 lbs. 27% body fat. What should my caloric intake be? Because I haven't seen the scale move much yet. I'm thinking around 2400 calories??

  26. I was a skinny fat beginner in February. It's amazing how long I've come in just 4 short months. Now it's been 5 and continuing the recomp.

  27. Why are you talking about calorie deficit all the time ??? The most straigthforward body recomposition is gaining muscle while losing fat at constant weight which means calorie equilibrium and not calorie deficit.

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