Most effective approach to building lean muscle while burning fat


(George) #1

Question for the more experienced lifters out there:

Is it more effective if I target a 1 set of muscles (e.g., biceps, chest, legs, etc) 3x/week, 3-4 sets, for approx. 30 minutes with no rest time in between exercises, and another set of muscles (e.g., triceps, shoulders, back, etc.) the other 3x/week, 3-4 sets, for approx. 30 minutes with no rest time in between exercises, with 1 rest day at the end?


Run through a circuit where I target all my desired muscle groups, 3-4 sets for approx. 50 minutes with no rest in between exercises, 4 days/week with 1 rest day in between?

I’ve been doing the first of the two and having decent results, but wondering if the 2nd (or any other suggestions) would be more effective

(Boots on? Balls to the wall? Good start.) #2

If what you’re doing is working for you then FWIW I’d be inclined to stick with it for now. If it stops working for you then you still have the other strategy in your back pocket :slightly_smiling_face:

(George) #3

Good point!

It’s working in terms of my strength has increased and muscle mass when flexing is noticeable (at least to me lol), but I don’t get that post-workout burn/soreness anymore, I think I’ve gotten a bit addicted to that feeling.

I like the idea of my current regimen just because I’m actively doing something 6 days/week, but the other idea, although it’s minus 2 days of lifting, is also attractive just because I feel I’d reach a higher level of fatigue post workout from working so many groups for almost double the time.

Any thoughts? @Dread1840

(Chris - #4

Have you thought about an upper/lower split or push/pull/legs? You could split those up over 4, 5, or 6 days.

4 day upper lower goes: chest, back, shoulders, arms/quads,hams, calves, then rest one day and repeat.
5 day: upper/lower as above Monday and Tuesday, then Weds chest, shoulders, tris, Thurs back, bis, Friday legs
6 day u/l: upper/lower/upper/lower/upper/lower
6 day ppl: Monday push: chest shoulders tris, Tuesday pull: back, bis, Wednesday legs: quads, hams, calves, then repeat with Sunday off

I wouldn’t recommend a 6 day upper lower unless you are advanced, it hits everything 3x a week. The other 3 variations could potentially work for anyone.


If your lifting to grow, get stronger, I feel you need to rest between sets. Not long, but a minute or 2 to let the blood flow. Do opposing muscle groups the same day. Biceps/triceps. Hams/quads. Chest/back. Make sure to get full range/stretch in the exercises, which opposing muscle groups help with. And experiment with rest days between work. Add weight, and a spotter. Your forcing the muscle to grow, and to make it grow, you have to push it harder. Change the order of your exercises so the muscles are fatigued and shocked when they have to work in more than the ordinary manner. The burn will come back when your pushing them to grow.

(Marianne) #6

@FishChris, didn’t know if you had saw this category (Weightlifting within Exercise)?


If you’re lifting right, that’s not gonna happen. You’re not lifting for almost 30min straight. That would be hard even for the experienced. Pick your rep range and make sure you fail within that range. If not, up the weight. If you can’t make it into that range, lower it. Doing that will make sure you’re not going easy on yourself, which is obviously a waste of your effort. Building muscle burns fat, but doing both is only easy at first, expect it to get very hard to accomplish both simultaneously. Hitting the same muscle groups 3x/week is a LOT. Also, have you considered switching to a 5x5 style workout and focusing on larger compound movements? That builds a very good base for isolation lifting after. You can do both, but don’t ignore the big boys. Also, if you’re afraid of protein… don’t be. If you’re not getting in enough for building from your diet, supplement it in.

(George) #8

So after a bit of tweaking I followed this routine last week (plus increased my calories), resulting in almost 4 lbs of fat loss:

3-4 days/week:
4 sets
French press (curlbar)
Revere grip curls (curlbar)
Skull crushers

4 sets
Bent over row, then reverse grip
Curls, narrow grip, then wide grip
Bench press
Shoulder press (curlbar)
Bench press (dumbbells)
Shoulder press (dumbbells)

4 sets
Cross body curls
Hammer curls
Dumbbell pullovers

4 sets
Overhead tri extension (dumbbells)
Bench flys
Bent over flys

2 days/week:
Kettlebell swing

I do it all at home out of convenience, time and comfort. I know there’s more I could be doing for lower body strength training, but given my bad ankle that’s really been acting up ALOT lately, this is the most I can manage.

Any input from more experienced lifters would be appreciated!


That’s a lot of arm work, and you need to decide what your trying to accomplish. Build muscle, or define what you’ve got. 3 to 4 days per week of that routine will slow muscle growth down. Heavier weights, fewer reps, more sets, then adequate rest will grow them. The weight should be sufficient that the final rep of each set is at failure. If it’s not, add weight (I know you lift alone at home so maybe not possible to lift this way, but it builds size and strength at a decent rate)

(George) #10

Goal is to continue burning fat while building muscle, and hope that some definition happens as I lose more body fat. And yeah my arms, chest and back are all I really care about so I’m trying to target them and come at them at slightly different angles and better range of motion (that’s why I repeat some but with dumbbells instead of a fixed bar). Those days are not consecutive, so I’m getting 48 hours of rest time in between.

I stop each set roughly a rep or two before failure, but for the one’s that are safe to hit failure while alone on the last set, I do.

I was considering going down to 2 day/week instead of the 3-4, but after reading a couple independent studies I decided to try getting more in, while still having rest days. I can’t cite the studies directly at the moment, but there were a few multi-month ones done on two groups of lifters. 1 group hit the same muscles 2x/week with 2 rest days in between, and the other group hit the same muscles 5x/week consecutively, and took weekends off. Both ate the same, or roughly the same diet. At the end of the study, the amount of lean muscle mass gained was nearly identical between both groups, but the group that lifted 5x/week lost a higher percentage of body fat in the process


Everyone is different, but I’m finding 2 heavy lift days per week allows my scale weight to drop. If I lift 3 or 4 days, my weight climbs 4 to 7 lbs. over he course of the week. It doesn’t start down again until I rest for at least 2 days. And too old for the Olympia anyways… bahahahahahahaha

(George) #12

Whoa! It climbs that high for you!? Holy crap.

Well I start slowing things down a few days prior to weigh-in. So I hit back to back weights on Wednesday and Thursday, then I eat, then fast until Saturday, then weigh in. So maybe that little rest period helps lol.

Also I’m limited on how heavy I can lift without dropping money on big plates. I’m at a manageable weight right now that I’m able to hit failure between the 8th and 12th rep. of each set, but will probably end up buying more plates within a couple weeks if my strength increases. I increased it by 10 lbs last week, so I’m still adjusting to that.

(Marianne) #13

I’m going to forward this to my husband. He has worked out way before I met him (21 years ago), and has a very nice shape. He’s got great muscle all over (while being thin), but he would like that six-pack. Still, I think he would be interested in what you are doing.

(Marianne) #14

Also forwarded to my husband.

(Chris - #15

If he wants to expose his 6 pack it’s more important to work on diet. No amount of lifting will get fat levels low enough to expose them.

(Marianne) #16

He’s doing keto now and normally OMAD. Do you incorporate IF, too? I wish he’d get his fanny on this forum and research.

(Chris - #17

IF if I’m looking to cut fat, but not really while building muscle.