Are you wondering what the best workout split in a calorie deficit is, or if lifting weights in a calorie deficit is still effective?
Lifting weights is an excellent choice when trying to lose body fat in a calorie deficit.
Overall, the best workout split in a calorie deficit to perform when lifting weights is an upper body/lower body split or full body routine.
Let’s talk more about it, shall we?
The Best Workout Split in a Calorie Deficit
A full body or upper body/lower body split is the best choice in a calorie deficit because you have the ability to burn more calories while also training each muscle group at least twice per week.
Studies have shown that training muscle groups twice per week is the best option when trying to build muscle and promotes superior hypertrophic outcomes over only training them once a week.
This is because when you train a muscle group, it takes 48-72 hours for the muscle to recover and grow.
A typical “bro split” would only allow for you to train each muscle group once per week. But, why waste all this time in between when you could train the muscle group again for more gains?
Training each muscle group twice per week allows you to hit each muscle group with enough frequency to promote optimal muscle growth.
Additionally, training multiple times per week also helps to increase your overall caloric burn because you are performing more sets and reps.
This means that you will likely be burning more calories over the course of the week, which is beneficial when trying to lose body fat.
So, if you are looking to build muscle and lose body fat, the best workout split in a calorie deficit is an upper body/lower body split or full body routine that works each muscle group at least twice.
Full Body Split
- Monday: Full body
- Tuesday: Off
- Wednesday: Full body
- Thursday: Off
- Friday: Full body
- Monday: Upper body
- Tuesday: Lower body
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Upper body
- Friday: Lower body
For full body routines, you will work every muscle group on one day, three times per week.
This means chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps of the upper body and the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves will all be included in one workout.
Full body routines are great for losing body fat in a calorie deficit because overall. they are taxing and you will burn a ton of calories in the process, while also working all of these muscle groups at once.
On upper/lower days, the upper body muscles will be worked on one day, and legs will be worked on lower day.
These days can also really make you feel like you have gotten a ton accomplished in the gym when hitting these muscle groups.
Another common workout split is push/pull legs and consists of working the pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps) on one day, the pulling muscles (back and biceps) on another day, and then legs on its own day.
A push/pull/legs split may look like this:
- Monday: Push- chest, shoulders, triceps
- Tuesday: Pull- back traps, biceps
- Wednesday: Legs- glutes. hamstrings, quads, calves
- Thursday: Push- chest, shoulders, triceps
- Friday: Pull- back, traps, biceps
- Saturday: Legs- glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves
It is important to know however, that with this specific split you will have to train more days per week in order to fit in every muscle group and work them twice per week.
This would mean push/pull/legs will be done over 6 days, while a full body routine can be done over 3 days, and upper/lower splits can be done over 4 days.
Now, if you are not a fan of these routines and want to stick to your own split or a typical bro split, is this still okay? Sure is.
You can still see results with any workout split, but studies do show that you will likely see better results with the workout splits that I have mentioned as more frequency will lead to more growth.
But, at the end of the day, it is important to find a workout split and routine that you enjoy and can stick to long term.
If you do not enjoy your workout routine, you are much less likely to stick with it in the long run.
Best Exercise to Pair With a Calorie Deficit
The best exercise to pair with a calorie deficit is any exercise you choose, but you should put compound movements such as squats on your list for sure.
Compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press and military presses tend to burn more calories than isolation exercises.
Additionally, these exercises also help to build muscle and improve your strength as they work more than one muscle group at a time.
Adding compound exercises to your workout routine in a calorie deficit is a great choice to burn more calories, while also training more muscle groups at a time.
As you keep performing compound movements over time in progressive overload, your strength and gains will improve.
What is Progressive Overload?
Progressive overload simply means that you are constantly challenging your body by lifting heavier weights over time, performing more reps over time or adding more sets over time.
This allows for muscle growth and gains in strength as you are consistently breaking down the muscle fibers over time by challenging them more and more.
Gaining muscle and strength is only possible through progressive overload.
Progressive overload as I mentioned above does not only consist of adding more weight. You can choose to add more reps or sets instead.
If you do not want to increase weight one week on bench press, but are doing 8 reps within 1-3 reps of reaching failure and can’t do anymore, try increasing this to 9 reps or even 10 reps.
Overall, just try doing more than you did last week.
So, if you want to build muscle and lose body fat in a calorie deficit, try to add compound exercises into your routine and focus on them.
But, at the end of the day, all exercises are important. Isolation exercises are important too.
You can perform any exercises you wish. Do what makes you feel comfortable. But don’t forget about the compound exercises. Try them!
Should You Lift Heavy in a Calorie Deficit?
Lifting heavy in a calorie deficit is a great idea.
There is no reason why you have to go lighter when lifting weights in a calorie deficit, you should push just as hard as if you were not in a calorie deficit.
Lifting heavy weights while in a calorie deficit is still important because it will allow you to increase strength and also preserve muscle mass.
When you lift weights, the best thing to do is pretend you are not even in a calorie deficit.
If you would normally go heavy, then go heavy. If you would normally do 8 reps, then do 8 reps. Do not change anything just because you are in a calorie deficit.
Your goal should still be to increase strength and also preserve muscle mass while in a calorie deficit and the best way to do that is by lifting heavy weights.
Will You Still See Gains in a Calorie Deficit?
Despite the contrary beliefs, you still have the ability to make plenty of muscle gains while in a calorie deficit.
You can achieve gains in a calorie deficit by not adhering to as strict of a deficit.
If you want to lift weights and preserve muscle mass in a calorie deficit, then it is a smart idea to decrease the deficit amount by 200-300 calories.
If you would normally do a calorie deficit of 500 calories which would put you at 1,700 calories intake for the day, than maybe increase this to 1,900-2,000 if you will be lifting.
This allows your body to have more energy from calories to lift weights and also helps preserve muscle mass, but will also still keep you in a slight deficit.
Also, you need to be sure to getting an adequate amount of protein in your diet to see gains.
Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight if you are trying to gain some size and strength in a calorie deficit.
If you are not getting enough protein in your diet, you will not see gains while in a calorie deficit.
You have to increase that protein intake!
Related Post: Can You Grow Glutes in a Calorie Deficit?
Do You Have to Lift Weights to See Results in a Calorie Deficit?
Lifting weights while in a calorie deficit is not required to see results, but it can boost your results for sure.
Overall, lifting weights will burn more calories. So if you are looking to burn body fat by maintaining a caloric deficit, lifting weights will increase the amount of calories burned, and might even help get you to your goal faster.
Lifting weights while in a calorie deficit will also help to preserve muscle mass that might be lost when losing body fat.
You do not want to lose important muscle mass when trying to lose body fat.
If you do not strength train in a calorie deficit, a tiny bit of muscle loss is usually unavoidable, but you can work to keep it by strength training and maybe even gain some muscle in the process.
The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn at rest.
The higher your metabolism is, the easier it will be for you to lose body fat and keep it off in the long term.
So overall, lifting weights in a calorie deficit is not required to see results, but it can never hurt.
Lifting weights has the ability to be highly transformative for the body.
The best workout split to perform in a calorie deficit when lifting weights is an upper body/lower body split or even a full body routine.
You can try to start performing more compound exercises and focus more on them while also focusing on progressive overload.
Being in a calorie deficit does not mean you have to sacrifice muscle mass in the process of losing body fat, actually quite the opposite.
You can gain muscle and strength in a calorie deficit as long as your amount of calories consumed is not too strict and you are getting an adequate amount of protein in your diet.
Weight lifting has the ability to completely transform your body in so many great ways which can include losing body fat, gaining muscle, and being stronger overall, so it is a great idea to start picking up those weights.
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