7 Secrets To Gain Lean Muscle
Without Getting Fat
Gaining Lean Muscle Without Getting Fat Is a Challenge
Here's Why, And Here's What You Should Do About It
To: Men who want to get lean muscle who don't want to get fat
From: Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
This website is dedicated mostly to BURNING FAT. If you still have substantial fat to lose, please be sure to visit the home page for more information about how to get lean. However, literally thousands of men who have already used my Burn The Fat Program to successfully get lean, have found themselves asking what is the next step? "Now that I'm lean, how do I start gaining some muscle without getting fat in the process?"
This is a very good question, because most people who embark on programs to gain more muscle, do not get lean muscle - they just get fat! Some people set out to do this intentionally - they call it "bulking up" - which means gaining as much weight as possible even though that means gaining muscle and fat at the same time.
Gaining large amounts of fat along with the muscle is a terribly misguided approach because if it was so difficult taking off that body fat in the first place, why subject yourself to having to do it all over again? The truth of the matter is, once you're lean, you can stay lean and begin to gain lean muscle.
This, however, has turned out to be a tremendous challenge for countless men, as it almost always seems that you gain as much fat as muscle. That is, if you follow most typical muscle mass building programs which have you eating everything in sight. There is a better way.
The Secrets To Gaining Lean Muscle Without The Fat
Just as with a fat loss program, your lean muscle gaining program begins with calories. Most men need 3200-4000 calories to gain lean body weight, more if they're extremely active. If you are average in body weight, or slightly under weight, you'll probably have a maintenance level around 2600-3000, depending on how active you are. This is just a generalization. It's best to use a calorie calculator and pinpoint your exact optimal maintenance level.
Once you calculate your daily maintenance level (referred to as total daily energy expenditure or TDEE in the "calorie Calculators" article), your calorie surplus should only be 10-20% over TDEE. For most men, this is about 400-500 calories above maintenance. This will give you a good starting point. For example, if your TDEE comes out to 3000 calories per day, then you need about 3500 calories per day to gain lean body mass (3000 TDEE + 500 surplus). If you go too much higher, you'll probably gain fat along with the muscle. Keep the surplus, but keep the surplus small because you cannot force feed your way to more muscle mass. Excess calories will always be stored as fat.
Remember that your initial calorie calculations are just a starting point. Any time you change your calories, your metabolism will adjust itself like a thermostat in an attempt to maintain some sort of equilibrium in body weight. Sooner or later, you may need to increase your calories a second time to keep the weight gains coming. This explains why many men gain weight initially on 3200-3600 calories a day, but later need to bump it up to around 4000.
Except for extremely active, extremely large and/or "anabolically enhanced" men, very few need more than 4000 to 4500 calories to gain weight (contrary to the stories you read in the magazines about pro bodybuilders eating 6,000, 8,000 or 10,000 calories a day, etc). Eating more and more calories thinking that you'll keep gaining more muscle doesn't work. You'll just get fat. All you need is that small surplus.
It all starts and ends with calories. Listen: It does not matter what else you do. if you are not eating enough and not getting your calorie surplus, nothing else you do will matter - not your training program, not the specific foods you eat, not the supplements you take - nothing. So don't mess around and don't guess. write yourself a menu and tally up the calories. The get busy with that fork of yours!
Once you have the calories covered, then you can begin to break down your strategy into the finer points. Here are the most important steps:
7 Steps To Gainining Lean Muscle Without The Fat
1) Use optimal meal frequency: Six meals a day is optimal. If you eat fewer than five to six meals a day, you will either; a) be under your calorie surplus level required for gaining muscle, or, b) if you're meeting your calorie requirements, then you're eating too much per meal and this can contribute to fat storage. You might get by with five meals, depending on your calorie requirements, but if your calorie needs are high (say, 3500+, then six meals is optimal.
2) Keep your meals moderate in size Think about the calories per sitting, not just total calories for the day. If you need 3500 to gain weight, then three 1166 calorie meals won't do. Even though total calories would be right on target, the total calories per meal would be too high.
3) Continue doing moderate amounts of cardio Unless you're the genetically gifted, fast-metabolism (ectomorph) body type, you need cardio to minimize fat gain and maximize the gain of lean tissue. Cardio should be minimal, but without it, most people will add substantial fat along with the muscle. I'd recommend three days per week, 20-30 minutes -- yes, even on a muscle gaining program. Most people avoid cardio completely, thinking that the extra cardio will cancel out the calorie surplus...which it does, unless you increase your calories even more. So basically, you're eating more and doing more cardio. Does everyone need cardio on a mass gaining program? No, but if you're having trouble gaining muscle without gaining fat, then YOU need cardio
4) Choose high thermic foods and natural foods. Take advantage of foods that boost your metabolism such as vegetables, natural starches and lean proteins. Great carbs for gaining lean weight include yams, oatmeal, whole grains, beans, brown rice, and potatoes. For protein, choose one of the following for each of your six meals: lean red meat, eggs (mostly whites, limited yolks), chicken breast, turkey breast, protein powder, fish, or cottage cheese.
5) Avoid processed foods and junk foods. Many people use a "weight gaining" program as an excuse to "pig out" on anything and everything. Your goal however should be muscle gain, not weight gain. Again, unless you're the fast metabolism body type, you can't afford to eat refined junk foods containing white flour, white sugar and processed fats. You simply have to eat larger amounts of the healthy foods. The foods shouldn't change that much between weight gain and weight loss programs, what changes is the calorie amounts.
6) Be sure to include essential fats or oils. Include at least 1 tbsp/day of essential fats such as flax oil or Udo's choice oil blend supplement, or eat fish (Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, or other fatty cold water fish, etc) at least 2-3 times per week. These good fats help with muscle growth, hormone levels and they even have a thermic effect in small amounts, whereas saturated fats are non thermic and they reduce insulin sensitivity. By the way, these "good fats" are great for boosting your calories too because they are so calorie dense. 3500-4000 calories of low fat food is an enormous amount to choke down. Using the essential fats is an easy way to get the high number of calories you need for weight gain.
7) Zig Zag Your Caloric Intake - Use The Calorie Cycling Method. Now for what may be the most important technique of all - especially if you are an endomorph (the body type that is inclined to gain body fat easily.) This technique parallels my advice for fat loss. On fat loss programs I recommend that you do not stay on low calories for a long period of time without "re-feeding" and taking a higher calorie day to prevent metabolism from slowing down. The same technique can be used in reverse for gaining lean muscle without fat. To gain lean tissue you must have a calorie surplus. The trouble is, staying in a surplus can cause fat accumulation. Instead of staying in a surplus 100% of the time, if you zig zag your caloric intake between 3 days at a surplus of about 10-15% over maintenance, then you reduce calories down to maintenance or 5-10% below maintenance (deficit), you prevent the accumulation of body fat. The drawback of this technique is that you spend less time in a surplus, so muscle gains occur more slowly, but the trade off is worth it because you save time that would have to be spent dieting off the fat at a later date. I highly recommend this technique for the endomorph body type
That's it - just follow these guidelines for eating, train hard, think big and you can definitely gain pure muscle without gaining any fat.
Train hard and expect success,
Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Fat Loss Coach
About Fitness Coach, Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer, certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book in Internet history, "Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. Tom has written hundreds of articles and been featured in IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development and Mens Exercise. To get more information about Tom's e-book about natural fat loss, visit the home page at: www.BurnTheFat.com
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