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wikiHow to Lose Weight and Gain Muscle

Three Methods:DietCardiovascular ExerciseWeight TrainingCommunity Q&A

In order to lose weight and build muscle you have to focus on three key elements: diet, cardiovascular exercise, and strength training. It will require hard work and determination, but the results will be worth it! Here are some tips on how you can start getting the body you want.


  1. 1
    Eat more protein. Protein is vital to building muscle. While strength training, your body enters a catabolic state in which it starts to break down muscle. Consuming protein after a workout helps put your body back into an anabolic state so that it can start to rebuild muscle. Here are some examples of high-protein foods that you should incorporate into your diet:[1]
    • Lean Beef. Beef not only contains approximately 25% protein (about 7 grams per ounce), it's also a good source of vitamin B12 as well as zinc and iron.
    • Chicken. Skinless chicken contains approximately the same protein content as beef and is a very versatile food.
    • Fish. Fish is as good of a protein source as beef and chicken, but fish like tuna and salmon are also great sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and Omega 3s which have far reaching health benefits including boosting your immune system.
    • Eggs. Aside from being high in protein, eggs are also another good source of Omega 3s.
    • Beans. Beans are a tremendous source of protein (the precise amount varies from bean to bean), but more than that, they're also terrific sources of fiber. This means that with beans, you'll feel fuller faster and stay satisfied longer.[2]
  2. 2
    Limit your carbs. It’s true that limiting carbs can result in weight loss, but carbohydrates are not the enemy. If used properly, carbs are an integral part of your diet and workout routine. Not only do they help your body absorb the protein you’re putting in, but carbs also give your body the fuel it needs to work out in the first place. Here are some carbohydrate-rich foods you should work into your diet:
    • Whole grains. Keep this in mind when shopping for bread, pasta, and rice. Whole grains are not only a good source of carbohydrates, but have been linked to lowering the risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
    • Oatmeal. Aside from being a whole grain and having the benefits listed above, oatmeal is full of fiber and will keep you feeling full longer than sugar-filled sweets, limiting your desire to snack as much before lunch or overcompensate with a bigger meal.
    • Spaghetti squash. Try this as an alternative to pasta if you want to limit your carbs. Spaghetti squash, when cooked properly not only resembles the familiar pasta, but it only contains about one quarter of the carbs.[3]
  3. 3
    Balance your calories. Your caloric intake will play a crucial role in your ability to shed fat and build muscle. Taking in too many calories will lead to unwanted weight-gain; taking in too few calories will make it almost impossible to build lean muscle.
    • You should be taking in somewhere between 10-15 times your body weight in calories every day. This may seem like a lot, but remember that you’ll be burning a lot of calories in your workouts.
    • Note: these numbers may vary depending on a number of factors such as height, age and gender. Use an online calorie calculator, or download an app capable of doing this for you; there are many free tools available.
    • Consulting a physician is recommended before making any drastic changes to your diet.
  4. 4
    Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are the enemy. They are high in additives and low in nutrients and have had a great deal of their vitamins, minerals and fiber stripped away. To make things worse, unhealthy fats, artificial sweeteners, and synthetic vitamins and minerals are typically added in after the fact. In most cases, your body doesn’t even recognize these ingredients as food! Here are examples of processed foods to avoid:[4]
    • Lunch meats
    • Hot dogs
    • Packaged chips and cookies
    • Frozen pizzas and frozen dinners.
  5. 5
    Use supplements wisely. Supplements are meant to be just that – supplemental. It’s okay to add supplement pills to your diet if you feel you’re not getting enough of a certain vitamin or mineral, but these supplements should never be used to replace the real thing.

Cardiovascular Exercise

  1. 1
    Make cardio part of your routine. Cardiovascular exercise is integral to losing weight as it helps you burn fat and increase your heart rate, thereby strengthening it. A strong, healthy heart effectively pumps oxygen throughout the body, and to your muscles, aiding in strengthening and toning. You should look to integrate cardio into your routine about 4 days a week, and should plan on spending about 30 minutes to get the most out of it.[5]
  2. 2
    Run. Running is cheap, easy, and is one of the best ways to get your cardiovascular exercise. It takes about 20 minutes for the effects to kick in. If you’re a beginner, 20 minutes is good enough, but a higher-level running workout should be between 30-45 minutes.
  3. 3
    Ride a bike. One of the key benefits of riding a bike is that it’s easier on the joints than running. The downside is that you may have to buy a bike, or have access to a stationary one.
    • If you own a bike, also get the gear needed to protect you, such as a helmet. You'll need locks for the bike too.
  4. 4
    Shadow box. Shadow boxing is exactly what it sounds like. Stand in front of a surface with your shadow in front of you and box with it as if it were an opponent. This is another cheap and easy method of cardio that you can do pretty much anywhere, and it’s fun! Just be sure not to get carried away and punch to hard or else you might over-extend your joints (or put a hole in the wall).
  5. 5
    Dance. Dancing isn’t only fun, it’s a terrific way to get the heart pumping and help you lose weight and tone your body. Some high-energy and body-sculpting dance styles to look into are:
    • Belly dancing
    • Hip hop
    • Zumba
    • Ballroom
    • Bollywood.[6]
  6. 6
    Swim. If you have access to a pool, swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise you can do. There is no impact on your bones and joints, making it an ideal way to exercise for people coping with, and rehabilitating, injuries. Swimming is also a tremendous full-body workout that will build and tone your muscles.

Weight Training

  1. 1
    Make weight training part of your exercise routine. Lifting weights and resistance training are surefire ways to build and tone muscle if done properly. Knowing how and when to lift weights is important so you don’t overdo anything and end up injuring yourself or being counter-productive. Here are some guidelines to remember:[7]
    • Timing is important. Strength training should be limited to 3 times a week on alternating days (M, W, F or T, Th, Sat) so you can give your body ample time to recover.
    • Form is more important than weight. Don’t go overboard and try to lift the heaviest things you can find. Using proper form and lower weights will actually lead to building bigger, more defined muscles.
    • Shake things up. Your body will get accustomed to the routine if you do the same exercises over and over again. This actually inhibits your ability to fatigue your muscles and break them down properly. Mix up your routine by adding in new exercises and keep your muscles guessing!
  2. 2
    Try incline dumbbell presses. This exercise breaks away from just your standard bench press when working on your chest.
    • Sit down on an incline bench with the dumbbells resting on your lower thigh.
    • Lift the weights up to your shoulders and lean back on the bench.
    • Keep the dumbbells at shoulder width with your palms facing away from you.
    • Exhale as you push the dumbbells upward focusing on using the muscles in your chest.
    • Hold for a second at the top of your extension.
    • Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. You should take twice as long to lower the weights as you took to raise them.
    • Repeat these motions for the desired amount of repetitions.
  3. 3
    Do squats. Squats are for more than just your legs. When done properly, they create an anabolic environment which promotes muscle building throughout your entire body. You don’t even need weights to perform an effective squat.
    • Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart.
    • Keep your back in a neutral position.
    • Keep your knees centered over your feet.
    • Slowly bend your knees and lower your body until your legs reach a 90-degree angle. Breathe in as drop down.
    • Return to the starting position, breathing in as you do.
    • Repeat this motion for 15-20 repetitions. Beginners should only do about 2-3 sets of these.
  4. 4
    Perform weighted leg raises. A strong core is essential to overall strength and fitness training. These leg raises will work on your hip flexors and have some added benefits for your abs.
    • Sit on the end of a bench.
    • Place a light dumbbell between your feet. Make sure that you have a good hold on it.
    • Lie back on the bench and grab the bench on each side behind your head for support.
    • Raise your legs by flexing your hips and bending your knees toward your torso.
    • Lower your legs slowly until your hips and knees are extended outward in the starting position.
    • Repeat these motions for the desired amount of repetitions.
  5. 5
    Attempt reverse-grip barbell curls. This spin on standard curls not only strengthens your biceps and forearms, but it puts an extra emphasis on your core as it requires more core-strength to maintain stability while performing the exercise.
    • Stand up straight holding a barbell with your palms facing backwards.
    • Make sure your arms are extended with your back straight and shoulders back.
    • Curl the barbell upward, focusing on using your biceps, until the barbell is shoulder height.
    • Hold briefly at the top of the motion and flex your bicep.
    • Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
    • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • How do I stay motivated?
    User Contributor
    Listen to music and find workouts that you actually like. If you don't like running, don't do it. Try yoga or something else instead.
  • Is rope jumping great cardio exercise?
    User Contributor
    Yes, it is one of fun way to do exercise!
  • When you said that you should eat 10-15 times your body weight in calories, did you measure your body weight by pounds or by kilograms?
    User Contributor
    Either would work. You just have to make sure you use the same units for both your body weight and the calories.
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    • Keep your exercises and your meals fresh. It'll be easier to stick with a diet and workout routine if you're always keeping it fresh and exciting.
    • Rest is as important as exercise. Don't try to overcompensate by working out as much as possible. Give your body a chance to recuperate and rebuild.
    • Work out with a friend - especially when training with weights. Not only will they help to keep you motivated, you may need them to spot you if lifting heavy weights.
    • It's always recommended to speak with a physician before drastically altering your diet or doing any strenuous new activities. Better safe than sorry.
    • Don't rest too long between sets. You want to keep the momentum and energy going, and too much rest can make you less motivated to finish your workout.

    Article Info

    Categories: Building Muscle & Strength | Losing Weight

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