Build Muscle Lose Fat in Waist


I am 39 years old, male, 6'0" and now weigh 175 pounds, a drop from 188 pounds after diet and exercise.

I have been thin my whole life and very active. My primarily goal is to build muscle mass and lose fat in the waist.

I am thin everywhere, except my waist. In losing weight, I have lost weight in my butt and legs and some in my waist. I did not want to lose weight in my butt and legs however.

I have been working out at home on a home gym about 2-3 times a week for about 20 - 30 minutes mainly focused on my arms, shoulders and chest, with crunches included.

My question - What diet should I maintain to build muscle in the areas I am working, while losing fat in my waist and stomach and minimizing any additional loss in other areas?

I eat beef and baked chicken and some pork. Other protein sources include occasional milk, and I also love boiled eggs and cheese.

Is this possible? How about food types, calories, etc?  How many reps and sets for max muscle gain and how many days of rest before working again?

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken

Congratulations on your initial weight loss.

First off, if you don't know your body fat percentage you should get it measured or get a simple, cheap, 1 site Accu-Measure skinfold to estimate your body fat%.

It would allow me to help you more because I would have an idea of what kind of weight you lost.... if you say you lost mass in your lower body it could have been muscle?

For example, a past client of mine (below) at age 50 gained 1 pound over 4 months!

That doesn't sound like much, but when you consider his body composition which went from 19.6-14.7% which was actually 7 pounds of fat loss and 8 pounds of muscle gain you could easily figure his body would have changed dramatically.

Personal Trainer Results

It goes to show you that to a personal trainer, scale weight means absolutely nothing.

Maintain Muscle:

If you want to keep your lower body muscle mass you have to stimulate the muscle fibers with resistance training.

Performing a few sets of lunges every day you workout will probably be enough to maintain and/or build the muscle back which you lost.

Make sure you feed your muscles immediately after training as this will also help prevent muscle catabolism and speed recovery.

The protein balanced in with your healthy diet and plenty of fluids, and multivitamin should also help you maintain your lower body mass.


It is hard to achieve concurrent goals, especially if you are currently trained. To do so often requires almost the perfect diet which would take a dietitian and/or lots of trial and error to figure out.

Your best diet is going to be balanced for your body, which varies from person to person but you should start w/ complex carbs, lean protein and a source of healthy fat with each meal.

Find a metabolic equation online and figure your BMR. Add your physical activity caloric expenditure for a general idea of how many calories your body uses in a day.

Try to eat that much calories rather than eating less like you would for weight loss or more like you would for bulking.

Basically you're not trying to lose weight, or gain weight, but letting your training and diet balance dictate what happens to your body not the amount of calories. It is pretty difficult w/out some good data but can be done w/ trial and error.


For max muscle gain you need to be on a periodized training program. This simply means you alternate cycles of higher training volume (simplified say higher repetition) with cycles of low training volume (lower reps) and rest.

You ask for sets and reps for "max muscle" gain which would mean you would stay in the higher repetition period (cycle) for a longer time throughout the year. For example, lift your exercises in the 10-16 reps per set for a month, take a week off and then lift heavier weights for 3-8 reps for a couple weeks and repeat.

A generic scheme to build muscle most efficiently is 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps to failure with the heaviest weight possible with good form.

Final Words:

Your goal for someone who has been working out regularly is difficult but definitely not impossible. It will take some trial and error to figure out your optimal diet, but strive for balance just like in your training program.

Train hard and trained balanced and keep in mind you usually get what you put in to training programs meaning if you put in the maximum effort on all fronts you will probably achieve your goal.

A good addition to your training routine would be some of the following exercises which work multiple large muscle groups

Combination Exercise Videos

More Muscle Gain and Fat Loss Information

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