It seems like an impossible task: gaining muscle while losing weight and getting ripped, but it’s nothing more than a balancing act. Admittedly, it’s difficult to not lose muscle when you’re losing a lot of body fat, even when you’re training consistently.

No matter your age, genetics, fitness level or personal goal, diet will make up about 80% of your results. Training is important, of course, but if you don’t get your diet right, you won’t succeed.

You have to remain committed and, if you want something bad enough in life, work for it and you will most likely achieve it. Eating correctly requires discipline. Here’s how to do it with the training plan that goes hand in glove with it.


Manage your calories


You’ll need to reduce your caloric intake and increase protein in order to whittle down your waistline and keep muscles recovering. But you can’t cut out entire meals or certain foods without recourse. In fact, sometimes you add foods.

Normally, with intense strength training, the body needs more protein, about 1–1.5g per pound of lean body weight, with a blend of 40% from food and 60% from a protein powder source. Building and conditioning muscle requires higher protein use to increase nitrogen balance while supplying key amino acids to support greater recovery, strength, and growth.

When training hard, you don’t want to become catabolic and lose muscle from not having enough protein in your system, so it’s key to keep close track of your macros to facilitate even greater lean-muscle gains without excessive body fat. When people increase their protein percentages and lower their carbs to get in shape, they sometimes reduce their fat intake. It may seem counterintuitive, but this can be a mistake for someone trying to gain lean muscle mass while losing body fat.

A low-fat diet is acceptable for a general exercise, but when you’re trying to maintain rock solid muscle, that’s when healthy fats (flaxseed, olive oil, natural peanut butter, etc) become important. Your body needs good calories to gain and maintain lean hard muscle, so you want to find that fine line. You want to use the protein for rebuilding, fiber for cleansing and managing insulin spikes, and healthy fats for the energy.

“Adding 30-50 g of a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber to your diet once or twice a day helps curb hunger, reduce glucose spikes and improve health bacteria in the gut, while removing unwanted waste from the body,” says Hawk. He recommends using BarnDad’s FiberDX and adding it to a protein shake in order to get your fiber fix.

With any fat-cutting, you need to increase your training intensity for each body part. The goal is to maintain gains while cutting as much fat as possible. To do that, kick up your cardio to 45 minutes a day, five to six days a week, with some of the mesomorphs and endomorphs doing 60 minutes. It’s suggested you do your cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach so that they could burn more fat and calories faster. For weight training, the goal is to stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible to nail those separations.

The big difference in this workout is to do more volume training. Although you start off doing heavy sets to maintain as much mass as possible, you then should do giant sets, supersets and other combos. Cut rest time between sets to increase fat burning. Each muscle is trained once every six days, except for abs. Isolation movements are stressed over the compound movements. The intense pace not only helps burn fat, it leaves you soaked and gasping at the end of each workout.


Your routine starts here

This is a four-day-on/one-day-off routine, using the following techniques… Rest on days five and six


Day 1

Cardio, chest and core

Cardio: 45 minutes on treadmill at brisk walk with light dumbbells. While walking on the treadmill I perform 4 sets of 20 reps curls, front and side shoulder raises and front pec flyes with 8-12lb dumbbells.

Machine bench press 15, 12, 12
Dumbbell Incline 15, 12, 10
(3 pyramid sets increase weight on each set).

Dumbbell press 15, 12, 10
Dumbbell flye 15, 12, 10
(3 giant sets of each).

Dumbbell pullover 20, 15, 12
Cable flyes high 20, 15, 15
Cable flyes low 20, 15, 15
(3 giant sets of each).

Decline crunch
Right side intercostal crunch
Left side intercostal crunch
(3 straight sets of 35-40 reps for each).

Bar twists
Side bends
Reverse hyperextensions for lower back on a stabilizing ball
Leg lifts off bench
(3 giant sets of 50 reps of each)


Day 2

Cardio, harmstrings, quads and calves

Cardio: 45 mins stationary bike

Lying leg curls
Seated leg extensions
(4 supersets with reps between 10-20; increase weight on
each set).

Seated leg curl
Machine leg press wide
Machine leg press close
(3 supersets with reps between 10-20; increase weight on each set).

Machine seated calf press
Standing calf press
(3 giant sets with 20 reps – increase weight on each set).


Day 3

Cardio, back, traps, abs

Cardio: 45 minutes on treadmill, walking with light dumbbells. Perform 4x 20 reps curls, front and side shoulder raises and front pec flyes with 8-12lb.

Wide-grip lat pulldowns
Reverse close grip pulldowns
Dumbbell rows
(3 giant sets with 15-20 reps — increase weight on each set).

Hammer machine single arm row
Cable rows
(3 giant sets with 15-20 reps — increase weight on each set).

Close grip barbell upright rows
Dumbbell shrugs
(3 giant sets with 15-20 reps — increase weight on each set).

High cable trap pulls
Front kettlebell raises for traps
(3 giant sets with 15-20 reps — increase weight on each set).

Stationary ball crunch
Leg lifts off bench
Bar twists
High cable intercostal pulldowns
(3 giant sets with 30-50 reps per exercise).


Day 4

Cardio, shoulders, triceps and biceps

Cardio: 45 minutes on stationary bike

Seated machine press (shoulders)
Single front dumbbell raise (both hands on one dumbbell) (3 giant sets with 10-15 reps — increase weight on each set).

Dumbbell flyes
Rear delt pullback off pec deck
(3 giant sets with 10-15 reps).

High cable straight bar
Triceps pushdown
Barbell curls
EZ curl bar French press, triceps
Machine preacher curls
(3 supersets: 4 exercises 10-15 reps).

Machine triceps dips
Dumbbell alternating curls
(3 supersets: 2 exercises 10-15 reps).

Rope triceps pushdown
Supine rope cable curl for biceps
(2 supersets: 2 exercises 15 reps).

Standing cable wrist curl
Standing reverse wrist curl
(2 or 3 giant sets of 15 reps).


David Hawk is a former IFBB pro. For more muscle building tips and nutritional information from Dave, visit