A Complete Guide for Losing Weight and Gaining Muscle in 2017

So the new year is here and perhaps you’ve already been to the gym a few times. Maybe you made the mistake of relying on motivation instead of discipline. Maybe you’ve already missed a day or two because you didn’t go in with a plan.

Well, here’s a complete plan for you that will tkae you pretty much as far as you want to go, if you’re goal is to lose fat and gain muscle.


Counting Calories/Macros

Don’t think in terms of percentages, think in terms of deficits. If you’re goal is to lose 1 pound a week, then you need to eat 3,500 calories less than your maintenance, which is a deficit of 500 calories a day.

But you also want to put on muscle, right? So calorie cycling is the best way to go, even though it’s not necessarily them most enjoyable.

Calorie cycling is eating at or above maintenance on your workout days and under maintenance on your rest days so you still end up with a 3,500 calories deficit at the end of the week.

If you lift 3 days a week that means you have 4 days to reach a 3,500 calories, which means you need a ~850 calorie deficit on your rest days. Yeah, it’s unpleasant, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Tracking Calories

So figure our your goal weight, or, better yet, decide how you want to look int he mirror. Then eat at a weekly deficit until you look like that. Depending on how much you want to lose, ti won’t be fast and it won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

You can track calories using numerous web sites and apps. My Fitness Pal and Calorie King are two good ones.

You can eat the foods you love to eat — remember, this is about reducing calories. You will feel better and will have more energy if you eat nutrient dense foods, but that’s not a requirements. Want a Twinkie? Have at it! Just make sure you account for those calories in your plan.

The easiest ting to do is to eat the same thing every day. Just make sure to use you favorite foods to make your meals.

Calculating Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) for Calories and Macros

You can calculate your macros or you can just go with this quick formula:

  • .4 grams of fat per pound of body weight
  • .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  • Rest of calories in carbs

So a 30 year-old 200 pound man who is lightly active needs (according to the calculator I linked) about 2,674 calories a day, which would break down to:

  • 80 grams of fat (.3 x 200) for 720 calories (60 x 9)
  • 160 grams of protein (.8 x 200) for 640 calories (160 x 4)
  • 329 grams of in carbs (640 + 540 = 1,360, 2674 – 1360 = 1,314, 1,314/4 = 329 grams of carbs)

These is a general calculation provided as an example for a person eating at maintenance on his workout day. Remember though, you are eating at a deficit. So if your TDEE is 2,674, and you are working out 3 days a week, you need to eat at a deficit of 850 calories on your rest days.

Calculations for the rest day (1,824 calories) of the person above would be:

  • 80 grams of fat (.3 x 200) for 720 calories (60 x 9)
  • 160 grams of protein (.8 x 200) for 640 calories (160 x 4)
  • 141 grams of in carbs (720 + 640 = 1,360, 1,824 – 1,360 = 464, 464/4 = 116 grams of carbs)

Fat and protein stay the same. Some people have gotten better results by eating more fat on workout days (.5 g per pound of body weight) and less fat on rest days (.3 per gram of body weight). People also report that upping protein can help with cravings. You can eat as much protein as you want. Use your carbs to add or subtract calories.

Remember that as you lose weight, your TDEE will get lower, so you probably want to adjust this every couple of weeks.

Also remember that all these numbers are a starting point. Use them when you start out, evaluate your progress every couple of weeks, and make adjustments as needed.

Bottom line: if you aren’t losing weight, you need to eat fewer calories. 

Creating a Meal Plan

The easiest way to  approach this is to create a meal plan for workout day and one for rest days and stick to it with no changes.

The easiest way to do this is use the same foods and alter their amounts to meet you macro goals for that day.

Here are some sample foods you can use to make up your meal plans:

  • Grilled or roasted white meat chicken
  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Tuna
  • Whole milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Grilled lean beef
  • Almonds

Simply pick and choose from this list and adjust the amounts to meet your daily goals. After a few days of doing this, it will become easy.

What To Do After You Lose the Weight

So you’ve achieved the look you want and now you want to maintain. That means figuring out your maintenance calories. You could use the calculator above, but by now you should have a firm grip on how you’ve been responding to the number of calories you’ve been eating.

Look at your weight loss average over the last three weeks to determine a baseline for what your running deficit.

For example, if you lost 0.8 pounds in week 14, 0.7 pounds in week 15, and 0.5 pounds in week 16, your total weight loss over 3 weeks is 2 pounds.

One pound of fat is 3,500 calories. If you lost two pounds over 3 weeks, your deficit was 7000 calories for that total time period (21 days). That works out to and average daily deficit of 333 calories. That means to keep your weight stable you can add a total of 2,333 calories a week (333 x 7).

Workout Routine

This is a workout routine for cutting. When bulking, add 1 set to each exercise.


Dead lifts – 2 x 3-5
Yates row – 2 x 4-6
Seated Rows  – 2 x 6-8
Close Grip Weighted Chins – 1 x 6-10
Barbell Curls – 2 x 6-8


Bench press – 2 x 6-8
Incline dumbbell press – 2 x 6-8
Overhead press 2 x 4-6
Later raises – 2 x 8-10
Clsoe Grip bench press – 2 x 6-8


Squat or Leg Press – 2 x 6-8
Straight leg lift – 2 x 6-8
Calves (any exercise) – 1 x 12-16

Workout 3 days a week, with a rest day in between. That’s it.

Track your weights. When you can hit the top number in the rep range it’s time to increase the weight.

Reverse Pyramid Training

RPT is starting at higher weight and dropping weight for the following sets.

Do the first set is within the rep range described, If you’re just starting the routine and aren’t sure of your weights, and started too light, don’t stop at 8 because it says 6-8. If you can do more, do them for that workout, but adjust your weight up for the next workout.

You second set should be the weight you used on your first set x 90% (.9) and done for 1 more rep than in your first set. Don’t do more than that 1 extra rep even if you feel like you can.

Go all-out on the first set to failure. On the second set, drop the weight 10%, and do one more rep. Just one. It has to be one in order for you to recover and
push more on the first set next week.

Chin ups and Weighted Chin Ups

Try to work up to 15 chins using your body weight before you add weight. As soon as you’re able to add weight, drop the reps down to 4-6 reps.

Squatting vs Leg Press

You can do squats, but if you’re goal is to add muscle and get bigger legs, leg press is the way to go. Leg press press hits the legs much better than squats as it isolates your legs. Your back and core have nothing to do with getting your leg muscles to push heavy weight when you leg press.


Cardio on rest days is fine as a way to get some physical activity, improve compliance with diet, and increase cardiovascular health. Keep cardio low intensity and light. Don’t count on it to burn extra calories, although that’s a nice side effect.


Some people swear by supplements and some have sworn them off for good I happen to think some supplements have been proven to be beneficial and are worth taking.

  • Fish Oil
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids 10g before training if you train fasted
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid for better insulin sensitivity
  • Turmeric to reduce inflammation
  • Ginger Root also helos with insulin sensitivity
  • Vitamin D3
  • Rhodiola Rosea has helped some people with cravings and bringing

So there you have it, a general guide to get you going on your fitness journey in 2017.


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