For many exercisers, the idea of bulking is stressful. You know that you need to gain weight in order to gain muscle (unless you’re a brand new lifter with the benefits of “newbie gains” or you know how to “re-comp”), but you don’t want the fat growth that comes alongside that weight gain.
Gaining a small amount of fat is inevitable when you’re bulking, but you can minimize it if you’re careful. We’re here to talk all about lean bulking so you can bulk up and gain muscle instead of fat.
Read on to learn more.
Maintaining a Caloric Surplus
Anyone who’s spent a lot of time committed to weight loss understands the importance of calories when it comes to gaining or losing weight. For the most part, “calories in vs calories out” is what determines your weight.
If you want to bulk and add muscle, you must eat more calories. There’s no way around it. That said, you don’t have to go overboard.
People who overdo their calorie intake with unhealthy foods are doing “dirty bulks.” While this is still going to be effective for muscle gain, it will also cause you to gain more fat than necessary. You can have the occasional high-calorie cheat meal if it keeps you on track, but you want to aim for a clean bulk.
Determine your maintenance calories. That’s how much you need to eat to maintain the weight that you are now.
You can bulk by adding 5%-10% onto your daily calories. It will be slow, but you won’t gain much fat. If you need to eat 2,000 calories per day to maintain your weight, you’ll aim for 2,100 or 2,200 depending on how fast you want to gain.
Macros: What to Eat
Your extra calories will mostly be carbs. You can add protein if you want, but as long as you’re already getting 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, it won’t be very beneficial (and it will cost you a lot of extra money!).
If you’re not yet meeting your protein goals, make sure that you increase your protein. This will allow you to gain muscle more efficiently. Adding a 200 calorie protein shake to your diet every day is a great way to lean bulk.
Your Bulking Exercise Routine
While you’re bulking, you want to prioritize strength training. It’s important for you to pay attention to cardio and flexibility as well to maintain optimal health, but strength training will give you gains. Remember, you’re not trying to lose weight.
Focus on progressive overload. With more calories, you should have more energy to devote to your workouts so you can put in more effort and get better results.
How Long Should You Bulk?
You don’t want to bulk for less than a month. You won’t make many gains in just a few short weeks. Remember, muscle growth takes time and commitment. Once you build extra muscle, it will be easier for you to lose fat when you’re ready to stop bulking.
Lean bulking is a slow process. You’ll only build up a few pounds of muscle within the first month or two depending on how slow you go and how long your body takes to adjust.
Gain Muscle While Minimizing Fat Growth
You don’t have to gain a lot of fat while you bulk. With a lean or clean bulk, you can minimize fat growth while reaching your mass gains. Remember: focus on a small caloric surplus and progressive overload to maximize your results.
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