Posted 3 years ago

Can you grow muscle when dieting?

In some cases, yes. If you’re a beginner or an assisted individual (anabolic steroids) you’ll be able to grow muscle mass whilst dropping body fat. The physiological reason being that is the mechanism which builds muscle tissue are at such a heightened level, even in a calorie deficit.⁣

In both cases progressive overload is needed: accumulating load over time is the only way to ensure you’re growing tissue. Over the years I’ve often seen beginners get stronger their whole initial dieting phase (say 6 months) and then continue to get stronger for the whole gaining phases. This can be almost 12 months of consistent growth so you can only imagine how strong someone can get and the difference in their physique in that time frame. ⁣⁣

However as you become more of an experienced lifter, with a fair amount of tissue, I’m sorry to tell you that adding tissue whilst dieting, won’t happen, not if you are natural. The body will always favour survival over adding muscle mass. Whilst you are controlled starving your body and mobilising fat, the body simply chooses to put energy (calories) towards recovery, opposed to growth.

As adding tissue is deemed as metabolically expensive, meaning it requires a fair amount of calories to do so, therefore the body will opt to put energy towards other body systems that are necessary for it’s survival.

So when you see any instagram posts talking about people growing into a show, they are being mislead. They are simply seeing more shape and structure to muscle as they take fat away, thus giving the illusion that they are bigger, when in fact, they are simply, leaner.

Individuals using anabolic steroids will usually always be able to add tissue when dieting, in the initial stages. This is simply because the signal to repair tissue and grow is so high with higher androgen levels being present in the body. This also allows assisted individuals to diet on much higher calories than natural athletes. This is often due to the assisted individual having a fair amount more muscle mass.

Towards the end of an aggressive diet for a show/shoot this may not happen but they certainly won’t lose any. Whereas an advanced natural lifter will have to accept a small loss in muscle mass towards the end of their dieting phase. Assisted individuals who blast (higher drugs dosages) and cruise (TRT dose) will only really grow during a blast.⁣

Whether you are assisted or not I’d recommend ensuring you bullet proof your: sleep, stress, recovery, volume across the week, protein timing and meal frequency to ensure you hold onto as much muscle as you can when dieting. Only in doing so will you ensure you present the physique in the best way possible.

If you are unsure on how to bullet proof those factors, get in touch and find out how we can help.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons