10 Day On-Ramp – Day 6 – Building Muscle

Welcome to Day Six!

Over halfway through now! If you’re still here, you deserve a pat on the back!

This ten day process is mainly about setting you up with the habits, knowledge and tools you need to lose fat.

But today we’re talking about building muscle!

You will normally find it quite difficult (pretty much impossible, to be honest) to build any appreciable muscle while you’re in a calorie deficit.

Except when you’re a beginner to proper resistance training!

If you’re here, it’s fairly likely that you are a beginner – so good news! If you keep up your new habits over the next 6-12 months, you will build a fair bit of muscle, even if you’re losing fat.

Fat loss requires a calorie deficit and resistance training doesn’t burn as many calories as some other forms of exercise (mainly cardio). However, that does NOT make it a bad choice for fat loss!

Resistance training builds muscle. Other forms of exercise won’t protect your muscle mass in a calorie deficit, and you REALLY want to hang onto your muscle and ideally build more of it.

The more muscle you have, the easier it will be to lose fat.

That’s because muscle is calorically expensive tissue, compared to fat.

All body mass requires energy to maintain it. That’s why your TDEE will be higher, the heavier you are. The more of that weight is muscle vs. fat, the more energy you will need to maintain it.

When you build muscle, you increase your BMR (basal metabolic rate). The more muscle you have, the more energy you require to maintain your weight. Your TDEE has gone up! You can eat more food and still be in a calorie deficit!


You DO want to build muscle. Even if right now you think you don’t. You won’t get “too bulky”. The women who have the kind of “toned” bodies you might want, have all built muscle.

  • You won’t wake up one morning and suddenly be “bulky”.
  • Women have much lower levels of testosterone than men, which makes it VERY hard to build a lot of muscle.
  • You have to eat A LOT of food to build large amounts of muscle – and you’re likely not doing that.

You Can Store Energy in Muscles Instead of Adding Bodyfat

Muscle also increases the amount of glycogen you can store. Glycogen is basically just glucose stored in your muscles. Your body creates it from the carbohydrates you eat. Our body does this so our muscles have an easily accessible store of energy.

You might be noticing that your weight has been dropping very quickly in this first week. That’s because when your body has to find energy from somewhere other than food, it will tap into glycogen stores. Each gram of glycogen is bound to about 3 or 4 grams of water. As you use this glycogen, your body drops stored water. This all weighs something, so in the first couple of weeks you might see some rapid scale weight change as your body lets go of stored water.

Most people never use their stored energy. Their glycogen stores are always full. When you’re resistance training and spending time in a calorie deficit, you will use this energy. That means that some of the glucose in your blood after you eat can go into your muscles to replenish your glycogen stores instead of being stored as fat. This is another reason why resistance training helps you to stay lean!

You can’t store fat in a calorie deficit, but if you have a day of eating a lot of calories (cheat day, perhaps) you can get away with a bit more than other people if you’ve been working out and in a calorie deficit, as you’ll have some space to store some carbohydrates as glycogen.

Muscle Adds Years to Your Life, and Life to Your Years

Various studies, such as this one, have determined that muscular strength correlates with longer life.

How do you get stronger muscles? You train them against resistance.

Good thing that’s exactly what you’re doing!

You will also lose muscle mass every year once you enter your 30s and 40s. The more muscle you lose, the lower your basal metabolic rate will become, and the easier it will be to gain fat.

After decades of muscle loss, you’ll be weak, frail and have a seriously diminished quality of life as a result.

Training to develop your muscle mass means you have a greater amount of it to try and hang on to as you age, and when you use it, you will be less likely to use it.

Do you want to be able to still explore the world and keep up with your grandkids when you’re in your 70s and 80s? Then you should do resistance training.

Cardio Does Not Prevent Against Muscle Mass Loss

Doing cardio does not prevent against muscle mass loss like lifting does, and may accelerate it.

This is reason enough on it’s own to take part in some sort of resistance training as your physical activity.

Muscle Makes You Look Amazing

Muscle will transform the shape and appearance of your body. Cardio will not do that.

When you lose weight with cardio, you will lose fat AND muscle, and just become a smaller version of your current shape.

With lifting in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose FAT not “weight” and you may even gain muscle at the same time. You might not see the scale change that much. It may stay the same or bounce around a certain range while your reflection in the mirror transforms right in front of your eyes.

It’s not uncommon to see transformation photos where people look hugely different from their before photo to their after photo, but are the same weight in both.

That’s because you CAN build muscle as you lose fat. Muscle is dense, not wobbly, goes in all the right places and makes you look more attractive. Fat is the opposite.

While you’re new to resistance training, you will adapt quite quickly and may be able to progress your weights quickly in the gym. This is known as the “newbie gains” period, and it’s one of the easiest opportunities you’ll ever get to gain muscle as you lose fat.

More on how to make sure that happens in the next couple of emails!

Today’s Actions:

1. Take your “before” photo now if you haven’t done so already.

Don’t share it unless you want to. It’s main purpose is as a marker for you to compare future photos against.

2. Stop Weighing Yourself.

I don’t want you to weigh yourself during this process. Take your scales out of your bathroom. They don’t measure fat. They measure weight. That includes fat, muscle, water, food, faeces, urine etc. etc. A myriad of things can influence it, so getting upset when it goes up from one day to the next is silly.

Scales are good for seeing trends over time. Even as you lose weight, it doesn’t go down linearly. It bounces up and down constantly, but generally trends down. The two weeks of this challenge might not be long enough to see a trend.

Also, if your scale has a bodyfat scanner or some way of reading your bodyfat, COMPLETELY ignore it. That is about as accurate as a drunk playing darts blindfolded.

From now on, take a photo once a week. You might not see changes week to week, but over time you will if you’re doing everything right. Make this a part of your routine instead of weighing yourself too often.

You can still weigh yourself, but I’d ask you to leave it until the end of the 14 days. Just remember, the scale measures a lot of different things that make up weight, and muscle is one of those things. It’s quite possible your weight could be the same, or heavier, but you LOOK better.

3. Have a Relaxing Weekend.

This is a 3x per week full body routine, so if you’ve done your third session of the week on Friday then you’re all done!

You can have 2 rest days, or you can have more of an active rest on one of the days and go on a long hike, a bike ride, do some yoga or go swimming. Recovery is just as important as lifting weights.

That’s it for today! Speak to you again tomorrow.