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Body Recomposition: Definition, How-to, Benefits, and Tips

What is a Body Recomposition?

Body recomposition is a process of simultaneously losing body fat and gaining muscle. It works for inexperienced and overweight trainees because they are more sensitive to training stress and have more stored energy (body fat) to fuel muscle growth. Trainees must resistance train, be in a calorie deficit, and eat enough protein (at least 0.7 grams/lb).

Is a Body Recomposition Good for Everyone?

Body recomposition is the most efficient way to drastically improve one’s appearance, which makes it a desirable approach. 

The problem is that body recomposition is generally not the best method for most people beyond the beginner stage. Building muscle in a calorie deficit is possible, but it is far slower than if someone is in a surplus.

Results would come incredibly slowly and be more difficult to track with popular methods, such as tracking body weight, taking body measurements, and monitoring visual improvements through progress photos and videos. 

Traditional bulking (controlled weight gain) and cutting (controlled fat loss) cycles would be more effective.

A recomposition is suitable for people new to training (particularly overweight individuals), those returning from a long break from training (being able to experience newbie gains again), and lifters who take performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Given the greater sensitivity to training and the higher amounts of stored energy in the form of body fat, an overweight beginner will likely see muscle growth even in a bigger calorie deficit that results in greater weekly fat loss.

How to Coach a Recomposition: 4 Steps

Step 1: Build a Training Plan

A basic muscle-building plan will be enough for a successful recomposition if trainees also take care of their nutrition and recovery.

You can start with three weekly workouts and approximately ten direct sets for the large muscle groups and 5-6 for the smaller ones. Aim for gradual progression (you can track your client’s performance with Hevy Coach’s built-in analytics).

Step 2: Calculate a Small Calorie Deficit For Your Client

The ideal deficit is typically around 500, resulting in the recommended weekly weight loss of 0.5-0.7% of body weight. 

However, that’s likely too much for body recomposition unless the person has a high body fat percentage (30+% for men and 40+% for women).

A smaller deficit of around 150-200 calories is better for most people because it allows for steady fat loss without being too significant to impair muscle growth. 

Step 3: Calculate the Client’s Protein Needs

Getting enough protein is another crucial piece of the body recomposition puzzle because the nutrient supplies the building blocks (amino acids) needed for muscle recovery and growth. 

According to research published in the Journal of Nutrients, the recommended protein intake is 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight or around 0.7-1 gram per pound. 

People doing body recomposition might benefit from up to a gram of protein per pound instead of 0.7-0.8 grams, though there is no definitive proof. Protein timing doesn’t appear to play as big a role.

Step 4: Track Their Progress

Proper progress tracking for body recomposition should be a combination of visual improvements, circumference measurements, and gym performance monitoring:

  • Visual improvements – clients should take progress photos to more easily track visual improvements from month to month
  • Body weight tracking – body weight should remain mostly the same or go down slowly as new muscle replaces body fat
  • Body measurements – clients should measure the circumference of different body parts, such as the upper arms, chest, waist, hips, and thighs
  • Gym progress – trainees should ideally see some performance improvements in their workouts to create the necessary overload for muscle gain

Our strength coaching platform allows you to gather all this data from clients. They can share videos and photos through the built-in chat and upload their body weight and measurements for you to see. 

The built-in analytics allow you to examine their gym progress and see how their performance changes on every exercise you prescribe.


1. How long does body recomposition take?

It’s highly individual because everyone has a unique starting point. However, most new trainees can see noticeable improvements in their physique within 12 to 16 weeks.

2. Does body recomp work?

A body recomposition can work and bring noticeable improvements, but it’s typically reserved for beginners and trainees returning from a long break from the gym. More advanced trainees are better off doing bulking and cutting cycles.

3. Do you need to do cardio during a body recomposition?

Cardio is not mandatory during body recomposition. The majority of results will come from a mild calorie deficit combined with a good resistance training program.

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