Winter is over and it’s time for that layer of fat to melt like spring snow. It’s not just about losing weight, it’s about cutting fat and maintaining muscle mass. After all what’s the point of having low body fat if there isn’t any muscle to show underneath it. Putting on muscle takes longer than losing fat, so sacrificing muscle mass to lose more fat is like taking one step forward and two steps back in the long run. Constructing your ideal body is already time consuming. Rather than backtracking, work efficiently with these tips for maintaining muscle mass on a cut.

Stay Smart

A common misconception is that the training plans for putting on muscle mass and losing fat are nothing alike. Although it is true that some elements will change, it doesn’t make logical sense to change everything. The strategies used to put on muscle are the same ones that keep it on. There are endless gimmicky workouts that will tempt you to change what you’ve been doing. Instead, stick to your guns (pun intended) and stay on your program.

Stay Strong

Stick to your basic weight-training program. Swapping out low reps that build strength and muscle for high reps to burn more calories is a mistake. Monitoring the weight lifted on compound staple exercises such as bench, squat, overhead press and deadlift is a crucial component to making sure you’re holding onto muscle. While strength staggers and dwindles on reduced calories it shouldn’t drop at an alarming rate of 3 plus reps of your previous workout. Be sure to keep a log of your workouts and diet for future use so to spot any trends in your program that either worked well or didn’t.

Don’t Stay Too Hungry

Exercise puts stress on the body, that’s why our bodies respond to it and grow back stronger and bigger. Consuming reduced calories puts a whole extra level of stress on the body, making it even more difficult to recover. Again stay smart, cutting calories too drastically puts a stress on the body that will result in significant loses in both strength and lean mass. A good number to start reducing calories by is 400-500. This should result in a weight loss of about one pound a week. If weight loss is staggering or too fast simply adjust calorie intake accordingly. Underfeeding might make the scale drop quickly, but it will do the same to strength. Making sure to hit your daily protein intake of 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight also helps keep you satiated and less likely to overeat. Equally as important protein is necessary for recovery and preserving muscle mass.

Optimize Workout Nutrition for Muscle Mass

To keep workouts going at a high level and recovery optimized plan your pre, peri (during) and post workout nutrition. Eating a limited amount of carbohydrates means that they should be used to their upmost potential. This means planning out carbohydrate intake to ideally do the following: Fuel your workout pre-workout, fuel your workout and ensure glycogen refill and nutrient uptake into muscle tissue peri and post workout. Not only does this nutrient timing assure that you have energized workouts and optimal recovery but also that minimal carbohydrates are stored as fat. Thus forcing your body to burn body fat for energy.