You sure can. Working on your muscular endurance and maintaining a calorie deficit at the same time are going to double your efforts towards achieving a leaner and more toned appearance. You'll be improving the condition of your muscles and reducing the amount of fat that surrounds them.
Can I Build Muscle When Cutting? The answer is yes. It is possible to build a small amount of muscle while in a calorie deficit, but it isn't going to be as much as if you were in a caloric surplus. It is essential to remember that when cutting, your body is in a calorie deficit.
If you can sustain a lifting program and eat a caloric deficit, your body will be able to pull from its fat stores to both fuel itself and potentially build muscle mass. Prioritizing foods rich in protein is a key component to both losing body fat and building muscle at the same time.
Toning and cutting refer to losing body fat and gaining muscle definition and are both common goals for people starting out at the gym.
As long as you're using an appropriate volume and intensity in your workouts and maintaining a moderate calorie deficit, you probably won't have any trouble recovering from your workouts, and thus don't need to change anything while cutting. In fact, you may even be able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
A cutting diet lasts 2–4 months, depending on how lean you are before dieting, and is normally timed around bodybuilding competitions, athletic events, or occasions like holidays ( 4 ).
It's pretty simple. If you're lean enough to bulk (10-15% body fat or less for a man, or 18-23% or less for a woman), you should probably bulk first. If you're above these ranges, you should cut first. And if you're a beginner who's somewhere in the middle, you should recomp.
"In general, muscle is not lost before fat—it is very dependent on nutrition and activity volume," Miranda-Comas says. "A person who is attempting to lose weight by not eating may lose weight in muscle first before fat."
Once you reach a body fat percent of 15% for men or 25% for women, that's when you'll want to start the cut. With a calorie deficit and ensuing weight loss, you'll start losing that fat gain you've put on over the winter months.
So, what are the best rep ranges for cutting? The best rep range for cutting is one that allows you to sometimes train with heavier loads to preserve basic strength (5-10 reps) and more moderate to light loads to allow you to retain as much muscle while training in higher volumes (10-20 reps).
For beginners, it isn't too uncommon to build muscle while cutting. For intermediate or advanced lifters, maintaining your muscle mass during a cut is often a more realistic goal, and if you are able to train hard enough to actually increase your muscle mass while cutting, then that is just a bonus.
Adding cardio into a cutting phase is not necessary, however, it can help in that it burns additional calories. In some instances, burning 200 calories more a day may be easier than eating 200 calories less per day. That is ultimately up to the individual.
Changing the Diet
If you have been consistently increasing in body weight, I would start with a 10% reduction in total calories. This might still leave you in a slight calorie surplus, but for the first two weeks into the transition phase this is fine as growth can still occur.
Use HIIT rather than steady state cardio
If you're trying to burn through body fat in a cutting program, you'll generally have 4-8 weeks to get rid of as much fat as possible. A HIIT program in your week of lifting can really help cut down fat in as fast a time as possible.
However, most people who start dieting by cutting out a certain amount of calories each day will see results within one to two weeks, even if it's just one pound lost.
In general terms, a person at a reasonable level of fitness will start to see changes after two months of serious strength training, and results should be clearly visible after four. For a truly ripped physique, most people need a minimum of one year's hard work.
As a rule of thumb, your total cardio for the week should take no more than half the time you spend lifting weights. So if you spend 90 minutes 4 times per week lifting weights (6 hours), that means you should do no more than 3 total hours of cardio per week.
Assuming you want to keep as much muscle as possible, your weight training should change very little, if you start doing less weight training during your cut, you're more likely to lose a higher % of muscle.
Furthermore, the longer the cut, the more muscle mass is lost overall since it is impossible to avoid muscle loss, so keep this in mind. Most bodybuilders do not exceed cuts of 4 months but usually do at least 2 months.