The Student Room Group

building muscle on maintenance/deficit

Is it possible to build muscle on maintenance? I am a 20 year old female and my height is 162cm. I dropped from 97kg to 68kg (current weight) and I plan on hitting 60-62kg before I go gym to build muscle. I was wondering if I could build muscle in the following two scenarios:

Scenario A - let's assume my maintenance is 1600 calories. I eat 2100 calories in total that day and burn 500 calories in the gym. This means I'm back down to 1600 calories by the end of the day. I have eaten at a 500-calorie surplus but I am still at my maintenance at the end of the day. Would I build muscle? Is this what they mean by eating at a surplus or do you actually have to be above your surplus after burning calories by lifting? (In my case, I'd have to finish the day over 1600 calories).

Scenario B - My goal is to have 1350 calories by the end of the day. Let's assume I burn 500 calories at the gym, so I eat a total for 1850 calories that day. After I burn the 500 calories, I'm back down to 1350 and I leave it at that. Can I gain muscle this way?

The scenarios may be confusing but I'm looking for advice.
I have never done weight lifting before and I was previously obese. Would I struggle to see results/see results faster in any of these scenarios?

I am looking forward to hearing from you all
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 1
There are many factors which contribute to how easy it is to build muscle at maintenance or a deficit. The following things make it easier:
Having a lot of body fat (you don't have an excessive amount anymore)
Being a beginner
Having good genetics for muscle building
Drugs (don't recommend them)

As you've never lifted weights before, you definitely can build muscle in a deficit as long as you progressively overload. This will gradually get harder until the point it becomes practically impossible for the majority of (drug free) people. For myself, having been lifting for many years, I cannot build muscle in a deficit and usually lose a bit of strength.

So you can try what you're suggesting until you stop making progress (weights you can lift don't go up anymore). At that point, you have to think what's most important to you, building muscle or continuing to lose weight? If it's building muscle, you'll have to eat a bit more.

Quick Reply