The Best Exercises To Build Muscle And Lose Fat

Find out what the best exercises are to build muscle and lose fat and learn why these exercises are the most effective at transforming your physique.

By Megan O'Connell
Edited by Tom Amitay

Published September 30, 2020.

Whether your goal is to build muscle or lose fat, your training will be a major determining factor in whether you achieve your goal or not. Regular and targeted exercise, along with a calorie-controlled diet, will help you achieve your physique and fitness goals, no matter what they may be.

Many people believe that your training style and exercise selection needs to change depending on whether your goal is to gain muscle or lose fat, however, this is not the case. You will be able to lose fat or gain muscle using the same movements, however, you will need to adjust your training frequency and intensity, rep schemes, weights and sets in order to match your specific goal.

Compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups and push-ups involve a number of different muscle groups and joints and have been proven to burn a significant amount of calories while also allowing for muscle growth and increased cardiovascular fitness.

In order to grow, your muscles need to be placed under stress through exercise and resistance training. You will also need to be eating in a calorie surplus and consuming a sufficient amount of protein. After your workout, your body will repair or replace damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils will increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy or growth.

In order to gain muscle, aim to increase the weights that you use during each workout session in order to progressively overload the muscles. Limit the number of reps and sets that you perform of each exercise and focus on using heavier weights, allowing yourself to rest between sets.

In order to lose fat, you will need to be in a calorie deficit. This can be achieved by eating fewer calories, burning more calories or a combination of both. In order to burn more calories, perform compound movements as above, but aim to complete more reps and sets at a lighter weight, with very limited rest, in order to increase your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular fitness.