The secret to your success is your own hard work and focus. My goal is to give you the tools to accelerate that success. I am not here to make it easy, but I am here to make it possible.

Nick Mitchell

So you think guys can’t build muscle and get lean at the same time?

A few years ago whilst at the Poliquin Strength Institute in Rhode Island, I had the great pleasure of meeting Daine Mcdonald.  When Daine had relayed his recent travelling commitments to me I was taken aback to say the least.  I’ve been known to bitch and moan to myself about having to fly across the Atlantic to learn new things to benefit our personal training clients, and Daine was clearly a machine.  Jetting here there and everywhere to keep on improving, making, if memory serves, something like 4 trips in 5 months from Sydney, Australia to various parts of the USA.  All taken under his own initiative, on his own expenses, and as every freelance personal trainer is only too aware every week away from work is a week in which you are not earning.  And not only was he ultra-focused on learning, but he also looked the part and knew how to push himself in the gym.  Needless to say I was impressed.  Fast forward 2-3 years, and Daine is about to open his own personal training gym in Sydney, his business, Clean Health, is going from strength to strength, and best of all he is about to marry the very lovely, smart and funny Claud Newton.  Claud without an “e” means she is a girl, in case you wondering…

Daine has been putting out some great material of his own, so when he dropped me an email asking if I might be interested in sharing some of his original work with you I was only too happy.  And without further ado, here is Daine on gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time (Hint: it CAN be done!).

 So you think guys can’t build muscle and get lean at the same time?

Back in August I wrote an article on my website titled “So you think women can’t get lean lifting heavy weights?” It was by far my most popular article of 2011 as it dispelled a common misconception that many have when it comes to women and weight training.

Fast-forward to 2012 and this new years has seen an influx of new initial consultations with new clients coming in to train with my team at Clean Health. Many of them have been males wanting to “get big” or “put on muscle”. After doing this they then want to “cut-down” or “get shredded”.

In light of this and after numerous similar discussions I have had with clients over the years I decided to give an example of this type of discussion and how to deal with it.

TMGJC = Typical male get jacked client

Me = Me


TMGJC: Yeah so I really want to bulk up for the first two months and then cut down in time for summer

Me: Bulk up? You are already 19% body fat and have a pec skin-fold of 8mm which is as bad as a ‘healthy’ British male. The only thing you should be worrying about right now is dropping a cup size

TMGJC: What?!?

Me: Don’t get all pre-menstrual on me. Look all jokes aside and I am not talking about your man-boobs, in your current state the only thing you should be worrying about is dropping some body fat, with a pec fold that high and a hamstring site that I need to measure with a pair of XXXXL calipers your body is in a highly toxic state.

TMGJC: I see…

Me: Right now due to your ‘healthy’ breakfast of fat people… aka weetabix with toast and a side of fruit you have made yourself insulin resistant. Part of your homework is to read this article on Functional Fit Magazine for a more in-depth understanding on this topic.

A high insulin load can increase the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which basically converts androgens into estrogens. It’s the same as you waking up, putting on a dress and high heels and going to work. The more estrogenic you become the more you begin to look like a woman, hence why your breasts are as large as my fiancée’s.

Not only that, but if insulin can not drive glucose into your muscle cells it will store it in your fat cells, which is what is happening to you right now.

TMGJC: You are not the nicest of people are you?

Me: Are you paying me to be nice?


Me: Good because I am not here to be a mate, I am here to guide you on how to get the most out of your body and to transform your physique.

TMGJC: … okay so basically you are saying I have breasts, am lacking in male hormones and am insulin resistant? If that is the case you are saying I should not be worrying about bulking up, how am I meant to gain muscle?

Me: Correct you have breasts, but rest assured you do not need to be stuck wearing a man-kini the rest of your life. The less insulin resistant we make you the easier it will for you to build quality lean muscle.

TMGCJ: But I don’t want to lose weight…

Me: Listen… I am not interested in weight. It means nothing. Let me show you some photos of a few clients of my company and my own that were transformed in as little as 9 weeks…


TMGCJ: Wow! They all have changed a lot!

Me: Overall none of their total weight dropped more than 3kg’s, in fact in two of those cases their overall weight actually increased. Not only that but as you can see their body fat has dropped significantly.

TMGJC: Are you a magician?

Me: No, I just use sound science based nutritional and supplementation protocols along with structured HARD training to get results

TMGJC: Okay you have sold me. So how do I go about doing this?

Me: Very simple. Follow these three steps and you will be on your way to reversing the damage from your toast with fruit and pre-workout banana’s.

TMGJC: Pre-workout banana’s… how did you know that?

Me: Call me psychic. Anyway I want you to start following three steps today to enhance your ability build lean muscle whist burning body fat:


  1. Eat a meat and nuts breakfast. Not only does it set up brain chemicals that promote drive, arousal and concentration but it also keeps insulin low in the blood, control insulin and you will better control your ability to lose body fat and build muscle. Coach Poliquin talks about it in great detail here. All of those guys above eat meat for breakfast, not fruit with some yogurt drizzled over the top!


  1. Replace your 1-arm swiss ball presses and single legged bosu squats with compounds lifts such as dips, military presses and squats. Ask someone like former IFBB pro Milos Sarcev what exercises he did to get big and lean and I assure you that he didn’t do anything on a bosu or swiss ball. To build muscle you need to stress that body part as much as possible. You want broad shoulders do DB Arnold presses, DB lateral raises and so on. Don’t stand on one leg on an unstable object and press a lightweight above your head!


  1. Boost your hydrochloric acid (HCI) levels. HCI is produced in the stomach and allows us to break down proteins into things called amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle. If you are unable to do this efficiently then guess what? It will be harder for you to build muscle. I have seen some guys lean out dramatically within a few weeks just by adding a high quality HCI supplement into their regimen. For more information on how to correct this read here.

TMGJC: I thought bosu squats helped build core strength and bring out my abs?

Me:… (Deep calming breath)

Me: No. Follow those 3 steps and I will see you next week, this consultation is over.


If you want to follow the rest of Daine’s work you can click on this link to find him on Facebook, where he makes frequent updates.


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5 Responses to “So you think guys can’t build muscle and get lean at the same time?”

  1. Nicolas says:

    I am on it! Hopefully it will be the last thing i try! Thanks for all the info Nick, Charles, and Daine!

  2. Bigtransformation says:

    Agreed! It defintely can be done – I did just that when I first started. Currently cutting up but retaining the muscle mass I got whilst losing fat.
    Would it be possible to attach a bigger version of that image? Clicking on it just reveals the same size

  3. Cpickles says:

    another great post thanks for the continued inspiration and information

  4. Hilarious post, loved the client / trainer discussion!

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