Well, well, well.
We’ve come to one of the most popular questions I receive.
It is very difficult to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. Though it can be done, it is rather inefficient to achieving your goals.
Instead, most bodybuilders and YouTubers tend to focus on one or the other throughout the year. Typically, bulking and gaining as much muscle in the winter as possible and cutting to show off your physique leading into summer.
But, this begs the question, which should I choose where I am right now?
The answer: This depends completely on YOUR goals and your current fitness level.
However, I can recommend the following: Beginners (<1-2 years of experience) to resistance training should probably focus purely on strength and muscle growth. If you start cutting from the get-go, you are going to look just plain flat, skinny, and not muscular. The only time I would recommend otherwise is if you have a lot of fat to lose, then I would say cut fat prior to bulking. But remember, in order to achieve the chiseled, lean look, you NEED to build some muscle first. Something that can help beginners (and advanced lifters alike) to put on some additional size and strength, is creatine. I highly recommend you pick some up. It's cheap and effective. Learn the difference between Creatine Monohydrate and HCL.
Intermediate lifters (2-4 years of experience) could continue building muscle or try cutting. If you are skinny build, even after 2-4 years, then hell keep bulking up. If you are skinny-fat, keep gaining muscle. We need to build a good physique to show off before you lose the fat. If you are muscular but not defined, and looking to get your veins, abs and jaw to pop, I would suggest cutting.
Advanced lifters (5+ years) should have a good idea whether they should bulk or cut. By now, you should have a solid physique that you’ve diligently built (even if its covered by fat). If you haven’t managed to build enough muscle to start cutting after this long, you need to revise your nutrition, workout and goal.
The bottom line:
The only way to achieve the hard, lean, chiseled look that you’re wanting, is to have sufficient muscle mass AND a low body fat percentage. Simple as this: if you have muscle and want abs, then cut, and stick to it for 8-12 weeks at least. If you have no muscle or fat (skinny), build muscle. If you have little muscle but some fat, build muscle. If you have lots of fat to lose, I suggest looking into completing a 72 hour fast or adopting the OMAD diet. This will focus on jump starting your fat loss journey, then you can focus on muscle growth later.
Something to keep in mind: the more muscle you have, the easier it will be to lose fat.
Just remember, you can choose any path that you want. These are simply what I would do in each situation. One thing to remember is to choose a goal and stick to it. Do NOT yo-yo back and forth between workout plans, bulking/cutting, or random fad diets. This will only leave you further away from your goals, miserable and angry with yourself.