One of my aims is to gain muscle mass to increase fat-burn.

What would be a good way to achieve this?

It should be natural to concentrate on big muscles, but from what I understand legs for example are not so easy to increase, as we use them a lot (While it is easy to increase the arms muscles, but it won't contribute a lot to the total mass).

How important are "core muscles" in terms of body mass? (I have been thinking that Pilates might be good because it gives a relatively small increase in a large mass of muscles?). Upper body in general?

Are there specific exercises that will increase mass quickly because the muscles are used differently?

The aim is to have a quite moderate program, mostly at home, to be just a bit stronger / more musculus than I would otherwise be. I am looking at high gain/pain, preferably with only one set pr exercise.

add 1: relatively quick return

  • I know it's not what you were looking for exactly, but if you would consider a gym, the Starting Strength program will (probably) give you the highest gains in muscle mass. It's in general much higher to get an increase in muscle mass using just bodyweight exercises (but possible).
    – VPeric
    Oct 8, 2011 at 12:53
  • Its quite different yes. Also it is not difficult to increase muscle sizes, though the ones that matters for total mass might be.
    – Olav
    Oct 8, 2011 at 15:27
  • 1
    It is difficult to increase mass. For hypertrophy, you need to do something like 8 reps challenging reps. If you can do just 8 pushups then great, but pretty soon you'll progress past that and keep building just your endurance. It's really hard to make a pushup/situp/whatever just a little harder, while it's really simple to add a 2kg weight to your squat or whatever.
    – VPeric
    Oct 9, 2011 at 8:58

3 Answers 3


Indulge me by letting me give you a little back story. I lost a lot of weight, most of it fat. I wasn't too happy with the end result so I worked on getting back some of the muscle I lost. I started out with a program called StrongLifts 5x5. I'm not providing a link because it's creator has done some very controversial things lately and wouldn't encourage anyone to use that program anymore. I then started the Starting Strength program. I've gotten to a place where I am pretty strong, and added a fair amount of muscle. In the process I've also gained some weight.

The important part of my story that I want to convey, and the part that relates to your question is this: it wasn't until I could squat 295lb and deadlift 335lb for 5 reps each that I started burning more fat. While bigger muscles do in fact burn more calories at rest, you have to get pretty strong before it starts doing what you are talking about.

Things like running, pilates, zumba, etc. are also very different types of exercising. What you get with them is a very modest amount of strength, but a whole lot of conditioning. You will be able to burn a lot of calories with them, but the muscle you gain doing these types of activities will only be enough to sustain the activity (plus a little extra). You won't need any supplements with that class of exercise, and it seems more in line with your fitness goals.

  • 1
    What exactly happened with Stronglifts 5x5? Can you explain?
    – Jose Luis
    Oct 10, 2011 at 12:16
  • Essentially, Medhi has kicked out all the free members of the Strong Lifts forum--including all the ones he brags about in his SL 5x5 report. The only way you can be a part of the forum is by paying him $10 a month. He also seems to have a hair trigger for ejecting even paying members if they disagree with him on any points. That and his habit of selling advanced lifting advice to novice lifters who have yet to learn the basics. Oct 11, 2011 at 2:34
  • I see. But then that doesn't change the fact that is a simple program and that is purportedly effective. No? I'm just asking because I want to carefully choose a good program and I am a beginner. What do you suggest?
    – Jose Luis
    Oct 11, 2011 at 6:56
  • 1
    Starting Strength hands down. If you get the book, it is very informative and provides much better descriptions than you will find on the SL site. The SL program itself works, no doubt about it, but there are only two main differences between SL and SS: 5x5 vs. 3x5 and one lift: barbell rows instead of power cleans. Oct 11, 2011 at 15:39

If fat loss is your main goal. Then you have to enlarge your basal metabolism to burn more fat during rest. Try to focus on the bigger muscle groups such as legs, chest, back and shoulders by doing high intensity basic exersices like squat, bench press, lat pull and death lift

Try looking at the cross fit program for more examples of exersices...

Off course you should train each muscle in moderation. Focus on movement patterns, not muscle groups. Your muscles are but tools. Movement competency is the finality...


Compound exercises are the most important.


If fat loss is your goal, then diet is 50-70% of everything. What you eat, when, frequency, do I eat before bed? etc... Cardio is the other 30-50%. (But you need to do this)

If building muscle is your goal, then then diet is 50-70% of everything. (see above) Extreme workouts is the other 30-50%. (But you need to do this) Don't neglect the importance of food. Compound exercises are the most important. Don't waste your time on isolation of smaller muscles. (I.e. biceps, abs, etc..) unless you are already doing larger compound movements. (Bench press, squat, shoulder press, pull up/pull down, deadlift) These exercises are the most important for building mass.

I just wanted to add, you say you are doing 1 intense set per exercise. If so don't forget to warm up extensively. (Perhaps by the same sets at a low weight)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.