Burn Fat and Build Muscle in the Same Workout

STACK Expert Anthony Mychal provides workout advice on how to build muscle and lose fat faster.

Build Muscle

Burning fat and building muscle are two of the most common goals in the weight room, but most athletes find it nearly impossible to do both at once. The easiest way to build muscle is to progressively overload fundamental exercises (the big man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, stuck almost exclusively to his favorite six—the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Row, Chin-Up and Curl). You'll lose fat quicker by elevating your heart rate with high reps and little rest.

Athletes usually get frustrated when trying to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously with opposing workout strategies. You can solve the problem by bridging the gap between the two.

Bridge the Gap

Start with a modified circuit training program. Circuit training, a mix of strength and aerobic exercises, usually consists of low- to moderate-intensity weight and machine movements primarily used to elevate the heart rate. With your modified circuit training workout, you'll place greater emphasis on strength training through an up-tempo pace with heavier weights.

How to Modify Your Training

Most weight training workouts are performed at a slow pace with long rest periods that allow for complete recovery. To maximize fat loss, it's important keep your heart rate high during recovery.

You can stimulate muscle growth with recovery times of 30 to 90 seconds between exercises. Instead of sitting on the bench between sets, however, perform a superset or dynamic interrupt to keep your heart rate elevated.


A superset is a pair of exercises performed one after another with little or no rest. The key to a superset is performing two non-competing exercises on opposing muscle groups. For example, supersetting Pull-Ups with Bench Presses works well, because the Pull-Ups engage the back and the Bench Press works the chest. A superset of Curls and Chin-Ups won't work, because both exercises fatigue the biceps.

Since supersetting includes less idle time, it burns more calories. And, because the exercises are non-competing, you'll still build muscle.

Dynamic Interrupts

If supersets aren't an option because your gym is too crowded, perform a filler exercise to stay active during your normal rest period. Fitness expert John Romaniello calls these exercises "dynamic interrupts."

Although the two techniques look similar, dynamic interrupts are more aerobic than traditional supersets. Instead of pairing two strength movements, you'll pair one strength movement with a bodyweight exercise that elevates your heart rate. A good example: Deadlifts and Jumping Rope, with 15 to 30 seconds of rest between the two.

Follow these guidelines to achieve your muscle building and fat loss goals. Also, remember to keep track of your nutrition to make sure you're fueling your body for quality workouts.

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