How to build muscle and burn fat with less work, according to a personal trainer

  • You can shed body fat, build muscle, and get stronger without long workouts or fad diets.

  • A personal trainer who helps clients transform their fitness said simple routines are key.

  • Do fewer reps in the gym and flexible diet, and you're more likely to stick to your routine.

Forget the bro science you keep seeing on TikTok — you can actually work smarter, not harder, in the gym for better results.

A simple, sustainable routine can be an effective way to build muscle and burn fat with less time and effort, said Adam Enaz, a personal trainer and dietitian specializing in fitness transformations.

Contrary to what popular fitness influencers may suggest, severely cutting calories, foregoing carbs, and exhausting yourself on the treadmill isn't the best way to get ripped, according to Enaz.

"There's a lot of bro science in the fitness community, particularly when it comes to men," he told Business Insider. "People have this idea that to get fit you need to run loads and eat low carb. It's the opposite."

Enaz said that a few hours of lifting weights per week and some basic nutrition know-how is all you need to create a lasting routine to shed body fat and pack on lean muscle — no fad diets or back-breaking workout trends required.

Stop doing endless cardio

One of the common issues that can prevent people from reaching their aesthetic goals is excessive cardio in an attempt to burn body fat, according to Enaz.

"When you do cardio you lose fat and become slim but you don't get toned or get an aesthetic appearance," he said.

Too much cardio can be a waste of time if you want to build muscle. Some aerobic exercise is still important for overall health, though.

Focus on shorter workouts with weight training

If you want more defined muscles, strength training such as lifting weights is key to prompting muscle growth.

"Lifting weights made me more confident, stronger, and helped me get the appearance I have," Enaz said.

A concept called progressive overload is key to getting great results lifting weights, Enaz said. What it means is that you need to continually challenge the muscles over time by lifting gradually heavier weights, or with more reps.

But it doesn't mean you need to hit every muscle group from every angle to make gains. One client working with Enaz saw more defined muscles with four hours of weekly exercise.

"People are smashing their chest and biceps, doing three to four exercises in a session thinking it will cause muscle growth, but you'll reach a plateau," Enaz said.

Research suggests you can get 80% of potential muscle gains with between five to nine sets a week per muscle group — after that, additional sets lead to diminishing returns.

A close up of a man's arms and legs as he prepares to do a heavy deadlift exercise.
Weighted exercises like deadlifts offer a lot of benefits for a short time in the gym, helping to build muscle and work your whole body at once.Westend61/Getty Images

Stick to simple exercises

Enaz coaches in-person sessions based in London, but also helps clients worldwide with virtual sessions. He said exercises with dumbbells or gym machines like the leg press are great for building muscle for fitness beginners, since they don't require complicated technique.

You don't need to overcomplicate your exercises, either, since classic compound movements like deadlifts, shoulder presses, and the like can work multiple muscle groups at once.

Don't cut carbs

Low-carb diets have become a popular weight-loss strategy, but they may not be your best bet for building strength and muscle.

Carbohydrates are a crucial source of energy, especially for providing quick fuel during intense exercises, dietitians previously told Business Insider.

Enaz said a high-carb diet with weight lifting can be a better strategy for creating a lean, muscular physique. One of his clients, 45-year-old Bobby Liu, achieved better muscle definition, increased his strength, and reduced his belly fat by eating a flexible, high-carb diet.

Eat enough food, especially protein

If you're working hard in the gym but not seeing results, you might not be eating enough to build muscle. While a calorie deficit is important for burning fat, undereating by too much can cause you to lose muscle mass instead of fat. Enaz said that's why people don't see results if they cut calories severely.

However, you also don't need to overdo it if you're trying to build muscle mass — an extra hundred calories a day can be a good start, Enaz said. Eating more won't necessarily build muscle tissue any quicker, and can lead to fat gain instead.

"When men are trying to gain muscle, they think they need to eat as many calories as they can," Enaz said.

Stay consistent and be patient

Programs that promise amazing results at lightning speed likely aren't sustainable, and you're better off taking a slow and steady approach to see real, lasting change.

"We want things quick, especially when everyone has a six-pack on Instagram and people are photoshopped. It makes you feel like you need to look like that right away," he said.

Enaz said his approach to fitness often surprises clients who expect a more complicated secret to achieving their goals. But it's not a unique exercise or diet that leads to gains, it's mastering the basics and sticking to them over time, he said.

"It's not that people don't know what to do, it's that they're irregular. They do it for a week, and then stop," Enaz said.

Read the original article on Business Insider