Many of us are familiar with bulking, to gain more mass. However, bulking incorrectly can lead to increased fat rather than building muscle mass. This guide will give you tips on how to lean bulk, so you can gain muscle with minimal fat gain.
The first step to bulking is ensuring your body has the protein it needs to grow muscle. When trying to lean bulk you should ensure every meal you eat has at least one protein in it. Your daily protein intake should be 1.5-2g per kg of body weight. For example, someone at 200lbs (91kg) should eat 136.5- 182g of protein per day. Monitor your muscle gain, and adjust your protein intake as required.
To lean bulk, you need to eat enough calories throughout the day. However, you must avoid consuming too many carbohydrates and fats. In particular, you will want to avoid saturated fats. Fat should be less than 20% of your daily food intake. Focus on adding whole grains over processed carbohydrates. You can also use this helpful calculator to help you work out your needs.
Nuts and nut butter are a great way to increase your calories while consuming healthy fats. Additionally, nuts contain protein so can help you hit your protein targets. Ensure you only eat the recommended serving size of nuts to minimize the amount of fat you consume.
Bulking is difficult, and often a cheat meal is a great way to end a week. However, to avoid losing the progress you have made, consider these changes. Take the idea of your cheat meal, and swap an ingredient or two for healthier options. This will give you the satisfaction of your cheat meal while keeping you on track. For example, a burrito made with a wholewheat tortilla or a pizza with additional veggies.
Too much cardio can prevent you from building muscle, however, some cardio is crucial to keep fat gain at bay. As such, adding in a light cardio warm-up to your routine can increase fitness, and prepare your muscles for lifting. This also decreases the risk of injury due to muscle strain.
Compound lifts can help maximize muscle growth. Using them over isolation lifts will help to increase hormone secretion to help build mass. Compound lifts will utilize more muscle groups and increase your muscle mass more evenly than isolation lifts. Focus on heavier reps while performing deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and overhead presses.
When trying to lean bulk, you should plan your workouts around your carbohydrate consumption. The more you do this, the better equipped your body is to help grow muscle and minimize recovery time. For pre-training, you should consume vegetables and starchy carbohydrates that offer a slow release of energy. After a workout, you should consume foods that have a higher glycemic index like fruit.
Ensuring you get enough rest is key to muscle growth and recovery. A common mistake that many people make when bulking is training every day. However, overtraining can cause catabolism, which then has a detrimental effect on muscle growth. To ensure your body gets enough rest, limit your workouts to 3-5 times per week. As long as you are eating correctly and performing compound lifts, your muscle mass will increase.
Knowing your personal limitations is just as important as getting enough rest and eating correctly. You must understand the process and expectations of bulking to avoid over or under compensating. The process of gaining muscle mass is difficult and slow. Overall most people who lean bulk can expect a max gain of 2.5lbs or 1.1kg of muscle mass per month. However, the more muscle mass you have the less you will be able to gain per month. Be aware of this and focus on keeping your body fat down rather than the amount of muscle mass you gain.
As you start on your bulking journey, ensure you follow the tips above on how to lean bulk in a healthy and effective way. Manage your expectations, and plan your weekly meals and workouts for best results. Avoid overcompensating, and focus on getting enough rest.