Body Recomposition Workout Plan

Total Body Recomposition Workout Plan

If you want to know how to successfully lose fat and build muscle at the same time and achieve the ultimate body recomposition, you want to read this article.

 Primeval Labs 2019 Lean Mass Recomp Guide and Training Program

Body recomposition, the process of building muscle while losing fat, is the holy grail of physique transformation. Most gym-goers will say that it either isn’t possible or only feasible for newbies.


But, here’s the thing -- science tells us otherwise.


Recomposition is possible and not only for rank beginners, either.


The short of it is that:

  • Yes, it is possible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time.

  • However, the process of recomping can only take place under certain conditions.

  • Most of the stuff you read about recomping on the internet is complete garbage.


In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly what it takes to pull off a successful body recomposition workout plan, who is best suited to undertake a recomp journey, and how you can do it, too!


Let’s start things off by discussing the type of individuals best suited to try their hand at recomping.


Should I Recomp?

Body recomping is most appropriate (effective) if you are:


  • A Novice (Beginner)

    Gym newbs with less than one year of proper training (following an actual structured program).

  • Detrained

    Detraining can result anytime you take a prolonged break from consistent, intentional training. This can be due either to injury, pursuing other athletic goals (e.g. triathlons, martial arts, etc.) that take you away from the gym, or just getting off track and not training because you don’t really “feel” like it.

  • Very Overweight

    If you have a high body fat percentage (greater than 25%) you are an ideal candidate for recomping.

  • Someone who wants to be lean year-round

    This is referred to as a slow cut and used by intermediate-level lifters who want to lose a bit of fat, but don’t want (or need) to do a lengthy cut.

    It’s important to remember that the more trained you are the more tedious it will be and the more time it will take to pull off a successful recomp.


How to Recomp Successfully

Regardless of which of the above categories you place yourself in,  to achieve a successful “recomp”, you need to do five key things:


1. Utilize a Modest Calorie Deficit

Recomping is about losing fat and building muscle.


To lose fat, you MUST be in a calorie deficit (i.e. negative energy balance). This means you have to burn more energy than you consume each day consistently.


Despite what you’ve been led to believe by TV doctors, nutritional “gurus”, and social media personalities, losing fat is not that hard.


Losing fat does NOT require you to eliminate carbs, avoid gluten, eat “x” times per day, eat only between certain hours of the day, or even something as ridiculous-sounding as a “keto cleanse.”


The only thing you need to do to lose body fat is maintain a negative energy balance.


That’s it.


Now that we’ve set the record straight on what it takes to lose body fat, the next question “how large of a calorie deficit” do I need?


This is where things get a bit more complicated.


You see, if you were strictly cutting and not trying to recomp, you can use a fairly aggressive calorie deficit (~20-25% below TDEE). This allows you to lose fat at a very steady rate (~1-2 lbs per week) while avoiding virtually any muscle loss.


However, since we’re trying to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously, we don’t want to use as aggressive of a deficit, especially if you are an intermediate lifter who is already relatively fit (~12-15% body fat).


The reason for this is that building muscle in a calorie deficit is not the easiest thing to accomplish, as a negative energy balance reduces the body’s ability to synthesize proteins.[1]


This is why individuals are at risk of losing muscle when dieting. Your body can’t create enough proteins to counterbalance the rate of breakdown.


Thus, when your goal is to maximize muscle growth, you need to ensure you’re not in a calorie deficit. And as total daily energy expenditure is a fuzzy, moving target, this is why people looking to build muscle will intentionally overshoot their energy needs and keep their body in a slight energy surplus. (“Bulking” in bodybuilding lingo.)


Again this brings us back to the question at hand:


How large of a calorie deficit should I use when recomping?


To glean some insight into this, let’s take a look at a 2011 study by Garthe et al.


In the study, 24 elite athletes were randomized into either a slow weight loss group (0.7% weight loss per week, maximum) or a fast weight loss group (1.4% per week).[2]


For nine weeks, both groups of athletes followed energy-restricted diets tailored to meet their weekly weight loss limits of 0.7% or 1.4% respectively. All athletes also performed 4 resistance training sessions per week, following their “usual training regimen.”


At the end of the nine weeks, both groups (unsurprisingly) lost weight and body fat. However, only the slow weight loss group increased their lean body mass. Specifically, the slow reduction group gained an average of 2.1% lean body mass at the end of the nine weeks.


This study gives evidence that if you want to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, you want to lose a maximum of 0.7% of your body weight per week.


So, for example, if you weighed 180 pounds, you would want to lose approximately 1.26 pounds per week at a maximum to be able to lose fat and build muscle.


To achieve this weight loss rate, athletes in the slow reduction group consumed 19% ± 2% below their TDEE. This is roughly ~20% less than the number of calories needed to maintain your weight daily.


For the average person, this works out to somewhere around 500 calories per day (3500 calorie deficit per week), which yields roughly 1 pound of fat loss per week.


An important thing to keep in mind is that while you may be losing fat per week, the number on the scale may remain constant. This is caused by you losing fat but gaining an equal amount of muscle at the same time.

Sidenote: this is also why weight should not be the only metric used to assess body transformation and recomposition progress.


And in case you were wondering, the athletes in the fast reduction weight loss category used an average calorie deficit of 30% below TDEE.


2. Consume a High-Protein Diet

Eating enough protein is important for building muscle and outright essential for preserving lean mass when cutting calories.


Consuming adequate protein helps maintain a positive nitrogen balance in the body even though you are in a calorie deficit. Eating enough protein also ensures that your muscles have the requisite amount of essential amino acids they need to repair and, more importantly, grow.


So, how much protein is “enough” to achieve a positive nitrogen balance and provide the potential for muscle growth?


Most research points to a maximum intake of 0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day as the amount needed to support muscle growth. Consuming above 0.8g/lb of body weight, while acceptable to do, does not lead to additional muscle growth beyond what is attainable at the 0.8g/lb/day amount.


In other words, feel free to consume more protein if you want each day if you enjoy it, but it won’t necessarily make you build muscle any faster.


Now, in regards to body recomposition, protein intake recommendations are typically higher.


Various studies demonstrating successful body recomposition efforts have subjects consume approximately 1-1.6 grams per pound of bodyweight (2.4-3.4g/kg of body weight).[4,5]


A 2018 study by The Hypertrophy Doc, Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, and friends found that when test subjects (aspiring female physique athletes) consumed a little more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (2.5g/kg/day to be exact) they gained lean muscle mass while losing just over 2.2 pounds (~1kg) of fat.[6]


This number (2.5g/kg/day of protein) also fits in nicely with a 2014 meta-analysis by Eric Helms and colleagues which concluded that protein requirements are between 2.3-3.1g/kg of fat-free mass for individuals following an energy-restricted diet (i.e. calorie deficit).[7]


A good starting place for daily protein intake for active individuals (training 4-5 times per week) is between 1.1-1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight. This provides sufficient amounts of dietary protein and essential amino acids to support the body's protein requirements and maintain a positive nitrogen balance.


And, if you’re worried about any potential adverse effects from consuming a high-protein diet, you really shouldn’t be, if you are an otherwise healthy individual.


A 2016 study by Jose Antonio and colleagues found that even after consuming a high protein diet (2.6 to 3.3 g/kg/day) for four months (16 weeks) there was no negative effect on blood lipids or markers of renal and hepatic function.[8]


The takeaway here, is that protein is your friend when in a recomp diet and bulking. It provides your body with all the essential building blocks it needs to build and repair muscle tissue. It also helps keep you full and tastes delicious!


Since protein is a priority when cutting or recomping, but calories are restricted, many individuals struggle to consume enough protein and stay within their calorie limits.


To help you hit your protein needs, we created ISOLIT.


ISOLIT is a 100% pure whey protein isolate protein powder that delivers 25 grams of high-quality, leucine-rich whey protein in each serving. It’s also low in carbs, lactose, and fat. And, each scoop only contains around 135 calories, making it a high protein, low-calorie option that can fit into any athlete's calorie budget.

Click here to purchase Primeval Labs ISOLIT, a 100% pure whey protein isolate protein powder supplying 25 grams of protein per scoop.


3. Focus on Heavy, Compound Lifts

It’s fairly common for individuals seeking weight loss to drastically change their training program from a lower rep, heavier weight style of training to one of lighter weight, higher reps. This is usually done under the misconception that higher reps are better for fat loss and lead to better muscle “toning.”


But, rest assured, performing a lot of high rep, light weight workouts does little for building muscle and next to nothing for increasing strength -- both of which should be what you are trying to do when recomping.


The best way to preserve strength and build muscle while recomping is performing compound exercises (e.g. squats, bench, deadlift, rows, etc) with heavy weight.


Why is heavy weight training so important?


Well, for a few reasons.


First off, when in a calorie deficit, your muscles are at risk for breakdown, something you do NOT want to happen. As the more lean mass you lose, the lower your metabolic rate drops, which means the more you have to reduce calorie intake so as to remain in a deficit.


Weight training provides the requisite stimulus your muscles need to maintain their size and strength in the face of fewer calories. (Note: This is also why maintaining a high protein intake is so important during cutting and recomping.)


And, in the case of recomping, we’re trying to build muscle, and the only way muscles will get bigger and stronger is if you are training them regularly following the rules of progressive overload.


Second, if you remember from above, we mentioned that during periods of calorie restriction, such as when cutting or recomping, muscle protein synthesis is suppressed.


Heavy resistance training, however, ramps up muscle protein synthesis.[9] The increase in protein synthesis can be further enhanced with the ingestion of protein[9], such as whey protein or a blend of EAAs high in leucine, the “anabolic” trigger that activates mTOR[10] and gets the muscle-building ball roll.


This is why it’s frequently recommended to consume some sort of protein before and/or after training. Not only does consuming protein provide the building blocks needed to repair and grow muscle tissue but it also ramps up MPS, making it possible to build muscle while in a calorie deficit.

Click here to purchase Primeval Labs essential amino acid supplement EAA Max.


So, back to the topic at hand...why specifically perform compound exercises and how “heavy” should the weight be that we are lifting respectively to our 1-rep max?


Simply put, if you want to build muscle and strength as quickly and efficiently as possible, you want to focus on compound exercises.


Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work more than one muscle group. Examples of compound exercises include exercises such as:

  • Squats

  • Deadlifts

  • Bench press

  • Overhead press

  • Pull-ups

  • Rows

  • Lunges


These movements recruit a tremendous amount of muscle and give you the biggest bang for your exercise buck.


They also allow for the greatest amount of overload, and since one of the key factors in hypertrophy is mechanical tension, compound exercises should be the type of movements you emphasize in your training program.


Now, that’s not to say isolation exercises (movements that involve a single joint and emphasize a single muscle group) are useless or unnecessary. You should perform some isolation exercises in your routine, as compound movements may not stimulate certain muscles (side delts for instance) as effectively as an isolation movement could.


Therefore, your training will include some isolation work (curls, tricep pushdowns, side laterals, etc), but the brunt of the lifting will be devoted to compound movements.


This brings us to the second part of the “Compound Exercises with Heavy Weights” -- how “heavy” does the weight need to be?


Generally speaking, you want the majority of your reps to be in the 6-15 rep range (~70-85% of your 1-rep max), with most sets performed in the 6-10 rep range.

The reason we recommend sticking with lower reps; and heavier weight is two-fold, based on a pretty strong body of scientific research.[12,13,14]


  1. Using heavier weight allows for greater amounts of mechanical stress (tension) to be placed on your muscles. High rep, lower weight training creates more metabolic stress in working muscles, but not as much mechanical tension.

    Now, both mechanical stress and metabolic stress can induce hypertrophy, but researchers agree that mechanical stress (i.e. weight on the bar) is the primary driver of all factors that affect hypertrophy.

    You can read more about the various factors that impact muscle growth, here.

  2. Training with heavier weights also results in a higher degree of muscle fiber activation compared to lighter weights.


Based on these findings, two things are pretty clear: 

  • You should base most of your training around lifting heavy weights

  • Progressive overload is essential to muscle growth.


Muscles will only grow if they are forced to perform more work than they previously did.


Progressive overload can come in many forms (adding weight to the bar, performing more reps, increasing the number of sets, reducing rest times), but as we just finished explaining, using heavy weights gets the best results for natural lifters.


Now, this doesn’t mean that high-rep training is pointless, and it does not mean it can’t help build muscle (which it can), it’s just that it shouldn’t be the focus of your training.


Heavy lifting in a moderate rep range (6-10 reps per set) should be.


4. Perform High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as Needed

The first, and most important, rule of weight loss is that calories in must be less than calories out.

Now, this can be accomplished by:

  • Reducing calorie intake,

  • Increasing energy expenditure (“calories out”), or

  • Some combination of the two


This is where the infamous cardio factor comes into the equation. On the one hand, cardio takes up time and, more importantly, energy that could be better spent on recovery from strength training workouts.


On the other hand, cardio increases energy expenditure, which could allow you to eat more calories while still maintaining your calculated calorie deficit.


This leaves individuals seeking weight loss and body recomposition in a bind.


So, what’s the answer?


High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, for short.

High-Intensity Interval Training is a type of cardiovascular activity that’s short on time and long on calorie burn. It provides the best bang for your buck in terms of getting the increased energy expenditure of cardio without having to eat away at muscle tissue or waste hours of your day on the treadmill or elliptical.


HIIT is performed by alternating periods of all-out effort and periods of low-to-moderate intensity effort, usually at a work-to-rest ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, depending on your level of conditioning.


Numerous studies have shown that interval training burns more fat than steady-state cardio (LISS).[15,16,17]


One study conducted at the University of Ontario highlighted just how much better HIIT is compared to LISS.[18]


For the study, 20 subjects (10 men and 10 women) were randomized into two groups and performed either 30-60 minutes of steady-state cardio or 4-6 30-second treadmill sprints (with 4-6 minutes of rest in between each sprinting effort.[18]


After six weeks of performing their mode of cardio, the HIIT group lost significantly more fat than the LISS group.


In addition to greater fat loss, HIIT also comes with several other benefits, including[19]:

  • Increased resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours post-exercise.

  • Increased levels of skeletal muscle fat oxidation (fat burning)

  • Greater insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle

  • Post-workout appetite suppression

  • Statistically significant spikes in growth hormone and fat-burning catecholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline


But that’s not all. 

HIIT is also better when it comes to preserving muscle and strength compared to LISS.[20]


Now, the question becomes -- how much cardio should you perform each week?


For body recomposition goals, we typically recommend 2-4 sessions of HIIT per week, with each one lasting 25-30 minutes.

HIIT can be performed on just about any “standard” cardio machine you typically use for steady-state cardio, but two of our favorites are the rowing machine and recumbent bike.


Begin all of your HIIT sessions with a low-to-moderate intensity 5-minute warm-up. When your warm-up is complete, go right into your first “sprint” (max effort period) for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, the transition to your “active recovery” interval for 60 seconds moving at a low-to-moderate intensity.


Repeat this on-off cycle for 25-30 minutes and then end your workout with another 5-minute cooldown.


5. Get Enough Sleep

Quite possibly the most underrated, yet critically important, factor that impacts muscle growth, fat loss, and ultimately body recomposition is the duration and quality of your sleep.


Studies note that lack of sleep leads to disruptions in hormone production which can result in muscle loss.[21,22,23]

One study, in particular, found that after only seven days of getting 5 hours of sleep per night, men’s testosterone levels dropped by 14%![24]


Sleep deprivation also negatively impacts other important hormones related to muscle building including insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and growth hormone (GH).[25] Additional research notes that skimping on sleep increases cortisol levels, which further hinders muscle growth and promotes fat storage.[26]


And, to top it off, lack of sleep also increases appetite, which heightens your risk of deviating from your diet and overeating.[27]


Now, the amount of sleep an individual needs is highly individualistic. Some people can sleep 7 hours and feel fine, while others need a full 8 or even 9 hours per night. The National Sleep Foundation states that adults require an average of 7-9 hours of sleep per night to be fully rested.


If you presently struggle with sleep, there are a few things you can do each night to improve your sleep quality:

  • Limit exposure to blue light 2 hours before going to bed. Blue light hinders melatonin production and thus impacts your ability to go to sleep on time.

  • Set an alarm to signal that it’s time to turn off the lights, laptops, TV, smartphones, and tablets and start getting “ready” for bed.

  • Have a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea

  • Perform some light yoga/stretching or meditation

  • Read


In addition to these tips, you can also use an all-natural sleep aid, such as EAA Sleep.


EAA Sleep supports muscle recovery and growth while you sleep by providing all nine essential amino acids needed for muscle repair. It also includes a powerful matrix of natural sleep aids, including melatonin, L-Theanine, GABA, and 5-HTP.

EAA Sleep is non-habit forming and does not cause any tolerance or addiction. It also will not leave you feeling groggy the morning after.


Sleep is too important to your results and since you’re trying to “thread the needle” (build muscle while losing fat) in terms of body composition, every night is an opportunity to make gains!


Lean Mass Recomp Training Program

Your recomp training will consist of resistance-training workouts four days per week centered around compound exercises with heavy weight. Some lighter weight, higher rep work will be included for isolation exercises and the beloved muscle pumps.


But, the vast majority of your gym time will be dedicated to lifting heavy ass weight.


Resistance training, high protein intake, and a moderate calorie deficit are your three pillars of success for body recomp.


Your goal when stepping into the gym is to stimulate your muscles and try to beat your previous workout numbers either by performing more reps, or if you completed all of your reps the preceding workout, adding weight to the bar.


Two to four HIIT cardio sessions will also be included during your training program. If you’re relatively new to training, start by including only one or two HIIT sessions since they require a high amount of effort and can be quite taxing.


For your weekly training plan, you’ll be performing four workouts consisting of an upper/lower split. Dividing the body up into two groups allows for increased training frequency and higher overall volume compared to the traditional bro split or full-body workout, respectively.


Click here to try Primeval Labs high energy pump pre workout Ape Sh*t.


So, an example weekly workout template could look something like this: 

  • Monday: Lower A

  • Tuesday: Upper A HIIT Session 1

  • Wednesday: HIIT Session 1

  • Thursday: Lower B

  • Friday: Upper B

  • Saturday: HIIT Session 2

  • Sunday: Rest


Monday - Lower Body A





Back Squats



2-3 min

Romanian Deadlift



2-3 min

Hack Squat



2 min

Lying Leg Curls



1-2 min

Seated Calf Raises



1 min

Hanging Leg Raises



1 min


Tuesday - Upper Body A





Bench Press



2-3 min

Barbell Row



2-3 min

Military Press



2 min

Pull Ups



2 min

Incline Dumbbell Press



2 min

1-Arm Dumbbell Row



1-2 min




1 min


Thursday - Lower Body B





Trap Bar Deadlifts



2-3 min

Front Squats



2-3 min

Leg Press



2 min

Reverse Lunges


8-10 / leg

1-2 min

Leg Press Calf Raises



1 min

Cross-Body Mountain Climbers


30 sec / side

1 min


Friday - Upper Body B





Dumbbell Bench Press



2-3 min

T-Bar Row



2-3 min

Arnold Press



2 min

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown



2 min

Cable Lateral Raises



1 min

EZ Bar Curl (superset with next exercise)



No rest

EZ Bar Skullcrushers



1 min

Rope Hammer Curls



No rest

Rope Tricep Pushdowns



1 min


The Best Supplements to Recomp

We’ve said it before and we’ll continue to say it forever -- diet, training, and sleep are the primary governors of success when it comes to body recomposition.


Without those three things in place, it doesn’t matter how many supplements you take. You will not get the results you want.


Now, that’s not to say that supplements don’t have their place. They can and do work.


It’s just that the vast majority of people spend more time trying to figure out what is the best pre workout rather than making sure their diet is on point or increasing their numbers in the gym.


Supplements have their place, just understand that your diet, training, and sleep need to be addressed first.


To help you with your 2019 lean mass recomp transformation, we’ve compiled a list of the best supplements to include in your daily supplement stack:


Mega Pre Red

Pre-workouts exist to get you amped up for your training session, and (more importantly) provide your muscles with nutrients that help them to last longer and perform better (or they should at least….).


Mega Pre Red is our high-stimulant, high-performance pre-workout supplying 400mg total caffeine (per 2 scoops) alongside other research-backed ergogenics, including 3.2g Beta-alanine, 3g betaine, and 6g l-citrulline.


Mega Pre Black even includes potent nootropics in Huperzine A, Alpha GPC and Choline Bitartrate to support focus and the ever-important mind-muscle connection.



Creatine is the single most studied, successful, and proven effective supplement in the history of sports nutrition. The stuff works, plain and simple.


Numerous studies have shown that creatine enhances ATP production, strength, power output, lean mass gains, and even cognitive function.


Simply put, if there is one and only one supplement you would consider purchasing, it should be creatine.


Prim-ATP is our preferred creatine supplement. It contains 5 grams of pure creatine anhydrous along with the full clinical dose of 150mg of elevATP for added ATP production and performance during training.


Primeval Labs Prim-ATP contains 5 grams of creatine anhydrous and 150mg elevATP per serving.   


EAA Max is a delicious, low-calorie option for getting some additional essential amino acids into your body without taking too big of a chunk out of your daily calorie intake.

EAA Max contains all nine essential amino acids, including 5 grams of 2:1:1 BCAAs to support muscle protein synthesis and limit protein breakdown.

EAA Max is available in TEN mouth-watering flavors and is a great in-between meal snack to keep protein synthesis elevated and help maintain a positive nitrogen balance. 


We’ve expounded on the importance of protein for fat loss and muscle growth enough in this article, so we won’t continue to beat the drum.


You know you need it, so make sure you’re getting at least 1 gram per pound of body weight per day while recomping.


To help you reach your protein macronutrient goals for the day, Primeval Labs has created ISOLIT.


ISOLIT is a high protein, low-calorie protein powder supplying 25 grams of high-quality 100% pure whey protein isolate per serving. ISOLIT is low in calories, carbohydrates, lactose and fat and provides a delicious protein-packed option any time of day.


ISOLIT comes in SEVEN delicious flavors, mixes easily, and can fit into even the most strict nutrition plan.


The Bottom Line on Lean Mass Recomping

Despite what you may have been told, building muscle while losing fat is possible, even if you’re not a beginner. A successful recomp doesn’t involve any weight dietary shenanigans or fancy training protocols


All you have to do is follow five simple steps, and you will be able to build muscle and burn fat at the same time. To recap, those five steps are:

 1Utilize a modest calorie deficit to lose a maximum of 0.7% of body weight per week

 2. Lift heavy weights 3-4 times per week using compound movements

 3. Use HIIT cardio as needed

 4. Get enough sleep

 5. Supplement wisely

Do those five things and you will be able to successfully recomp.



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