How to Cut Stored Fats and Keep Muscle Mass

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenic

March 1, 2019

Bulking up has definitely got some disadvantages and one of the biggest is the ability to grow pure muscles only. For the majority, myself included, “lean bulking” comes with some extra body fat too.

However, there is definitely solid muscle hidden behind the extra stored body fat, but now you have to cut it off to achieve that jacked body for the summer.

During winter, it doesn’t matter how lean you are because it looks better if you appear bigger in clothes. On the other side, when undressed, a leaner guy will always look more massive than the one that is actually heavier. Muscle definition and proportions make it be so.

As summer is approaching slowly, I think you will want to be as shredded as possible, by cutting the extra fats and preserve mass. It can be done and it doesn’t take more than 3 full months to reach that stage. However, it’s not as easy as it appears at first glance.

Follow my tips and you will have the summer physique you strive to achieve, all with bodyweight exercises:

1. Decrease the carb and fat intake

Both carbohydrates and fats can be converted and stored as body fat. Not all of them will be used as fuel, that depends on the metabolism and on the intensity of your physical effort.

Until this point, you used all the macros to get the extra weight, but now it’s just playing against you. So drop on carbs of any kind and especially on fats. Remember that fats can contain over 600 and up to 900 kcal for only 100 grams. That’s a lot!

Carbs, on the other hand, can contain from 100 to 400 calories for 100 grams, depending on the cooking method, type of sugar, density etc. In the raw state, all carbs will provide 4 kcal per 1 gram. Beans absorb water, polenta as well, and that is why they will provide fewer calories for 100 grams.

Therefore, drop on carbs, but do not remove them entirely. Eat the ones that aren’t that calorie-dense. Examples of calorie-dense carbs: French fries, rice, wheat as bread (especially), pasta, table sugar, sweets, junk food etc. On the opposite side, you have beans, polenta, peas, green peas etc. I can agree that rice and especially brown rice cannot be removed from the diet. It provides not only low-GI carbs but also fiber and protein. Just limit the amount and eat less than usual compared to the period when you bulked.

Fats come in many forms, and not all of them are making us worse. Don’t eliminate them, but please reduce them to a minimum amount and especially the animal fat sources.

2. Increase the protein intake

Here is the tricky part. Protein can be used as fuel and the organism will do so when you drop so much on the beloved one aka complex carbohydrates and fats.

You will not feel that strong as you should. This is only because of the lack of carbs intake, but there is no need as you will not engage in much strength training anymore.

You have to increase a bit the protein intake for two reasons:

  1. To provide the body with calories to be able to train
  2. To ensure that you preserve the muscle mass built over the winter.

Micronutrients are out of the discussion because you can get as much as you please.

3. Drink more water

You have to understand that to completely metabolize proteins it requires a hell of a lot of time. All you can do to help the process (digestion included) is to drink lots of water.

Water is free-calorie so nothing gets deposited as fat.

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4. Don’t eliminate strength routines

When I make reference to calisthenics strength training I mean that classic bodybuilding training type with sets and reps, consisting of compound exercises: pull-ups, pushups, dips, squats, leg raises -all bodyweight.

Certain athletes will only call strength training when they do weighted calisthenics. The rest of the bodyweight exercises are for them endurance-boosters only for both muscles and cardio. That is also true, but that doesn’t mean basic bodyweight training isn’t strength work too. It depends a lot on one’s strength and endurance levels and on time under tension, pause, sets etc.

This mention is none important because you can choose to do both or just one of them. I just wanted to clarify the obvious so you make sure everything is alright and you’re not confused about anything. What matters is to train once a week the big groups (biceps, chest, shoulders, legs, back, triceps, abs). It’s a good thing that compound exercises work for multiple groups at the same time, and that is a time-saver.

So do pull-ups, pushups, dips, leg raises and squats once a week. That will keep your muscles tense and the extra protein you take will go on rebuilding the bricks, and not only to provide energy or to have them stored as fat.

Try to train all the big groups in 2-3 workouts tops. Merge pushups and dips with pull-ups and maybe squats with abs work. Train to failure! It usually takes me around 60 minutes to complete a workout like this. You can find these types of workouts on my YouTube channel or in my program.

5. Do more cardio training

You do the minimum required of strength training to preserve the pure muscle mass.

Then 3 or 4 other workouts on the remaining days of the week should be dedicated to cardio. Do a lot of running, skipping rope, sprints, swimming sessions, stairs work, hiking or anything else suited. Go hard and keep your workout long enough, for about 60 minutes or so.

Or as I said above, calisthenics can be used as cardio too if you know what exercises to pick and how intense to train. Cardio is related to breathing, so everything you do has to involve it somehow. If you do short intervals of high-intensity training, then you also have to pause and breathe deep. Let your heart pump hard, but then let it recover properly. Your heart rate will go up and down and maybe giving, in the end, an average of over 120 bpm, which is great.

There are certain exercises like burpees, planks, plank-to-pushups, sit-ups, jumping-jacks, wall-sits, jump-squats and even some dynamic pushup variations that are way lighter and could be used for burning calories.

You can also do a lot of full-body workouts consisting of pull-ups and dips too. They are for building strength and muscles, but if you merge them with light exercises, and keep their reps to a bare minimum, then you’ll get the desired result. In this case, you can even eliminate the specific strength training as long as you incorporate the same exercises in your training on a daily basis.

6. Final tips

Don’t overeat. You have to train a lot to burn 500-1000 calories to compensate for 100 grams of chocolate which represents the equivalent. It takes 3 minutes to eat it and maybe 90 minutes to burn them off. Be wise!

Train 4-5 times a week, smart and hard at the same time. When I say smart, I mean that you should pick your exercises in such a way and of such intensity so that you are able to train a full hour. The longer your workout session is, the more you burn. The hard part is that you should train with high frequency and keep moving even after you are tired.

You start using stored fats as fuel after you breathe hard and the heart rate is pretty high.

I hope this comes as a help to you and if it does, then help me out reaching more exposure by sharing the article with your friends. Thanks and let me know how it goes with your transformation after those 3 full months.

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