The fitness industry has taught us that gaining fat should be avoided at all costs, and while it is true that you shouldn’t be obese, it’s important to note that fat gain is a natural process and a necessary element of a healthy, able body. That said, it is possible to gain muscle mass and sculpt your body without gaining fat in the process, albeit up to a certain point.
Achieving this will require careful planning and preparation, meticulous and dedicated execution, and intuitive autoregulation, so if you are a beginner you might want to stick to bulking and weight-loss plans that are easier to follow and implement. With that in mind, here are the five tips that will help you put muscle on your frame with as little fat gain as possible.
In its most basic form, gaining muscle boils down to calories and protein intake. We’ll talk about macronutrients in a bit, but for now let’s stick with the problems of daily caloric requirements and optimizing your intake for building muscle mass.
Understand that the best way to build muscle is to be in a caloric surplus. This is a massing period that requires increased energy intake in order to build muscle effectively, so a good starting point is to increase your caloric intake by 250kcal relative to your maintenance calories. Consuming more than that will spike fat cell production. Choose quality protein sources that boast healthy fats as well, such as salmon and fish in general, lean meats, dairy, and eggs.
While you’re eating healthy and sticking to a balanced diet comprising numerous healthy food sources, you also want to be hitting the gym quite regularly. Remember, consistency and hard work are the keys to long-term success, so you shouldn’t skip your workouts if you want to maximize your muscle-building potential.
This is especially important for the massing period, as weight training is highly effective in burning off excess calories aside from boasting numerous other benefits, and of course, its primary muscle-building purpose. Seeing as how you’re in a caloric surplus, you can go ahead and up the intensity of your workouts by adding weight, adding working sets, or shortening rest times.
When you’re training harder and eating more, it’s important to scale and optimize your protein intake. If you’re too sloppy with your macronutrients, you might inadvertently stifle hypertrophy while supporting fat gain. The key here is to choose protein-rich foods that boast healthy fats and a reasonable amount of carbohydrates.
You can stick to this type of diet plan by eating home-cooked meals and opting for healthy fast food when you’re out or simply don’t have the time to prep the meals yourself for the upcoming week. To maximize protein intake, calculate your daily requirements by multiplying your body weight with 1.5 grams of protein. Stick to your daily goal no matter what.
Keep in mind that no matter how hard you try, you will inevitably put some fat on your frame. It’s inevitable when you’re in a caloric surplus. That said, there is no need to reduce your caloric intake if you include effective cardio training into your weekly routine.
You can easily burn off the excess fat by introducing as little as 30 minutes of cardio on a daily basis. If you’re not too big on aerobic training, you can simply bring your calories back to maintenance level and let the weight training do the rest. Keep in mind, though, that lowering your caloric intake will hinder the muscle-building process.
The reason why clean bulking is so complicated to most trainees is that it requires you to monitor your progress constantly and make adjustments on the spot. Autoregulation is the keyword you’re looking for here, and it constitutes three basic activities: tracking, revising, and adapting.
Track your progress by weighing yourself every morning and examining your frame in the mirror every week. If you see that you’re gaining unwanted fat, you will need to reassess your caloric and macronutrient intake, and adapt it accordingly. Be realistic, be honest with yourself, and act on your observations.
If you are to choose the best hypertrophy plan, it would be to increase your calories significantly and your training intensity, and not worry about the fat gain. However, if you want to build muscle without gaining fat, you will need to take a more restrictive, calculated approach to diet and exercise. Follow these tips and you should have no problem maximizing muscle growth while retaining a chiseled physique throughout the year.