You’ve put in months of hard work to lose excess fat, and right now you’re feeling pretty amazing about your progress.
But right now, it’s time to get stronger and build up some muscle, and that means moving into a bulking phase.
While a higher calorie intake might sound amazing after a few months cutting, you’re worried about maintaining that lean aesthetic you’ve been working toward for so long.
Don’t worry, we’ve got five tips on how to stay lean all year round, even while you’re bulking up. Check it out.
One of the easiest ways to gain fat is to eat badly. While you may now be enjoying a much higher calorie intake, eating to fulfill energy requirements instead of macro needs is a fast track to adding pounds of fat, rather than muscle.
Instead, you should aim to nourish your body, stick to your macronutrient requirements and eat plenty of healthy foods.
Instead of going crazy and eating everything in sight, you should take a more planned approach to add mass. If you’re looking to build muscle, figure out your maintenance calories and up it by between 10-20% – this should give your body enough additional energy to grow muscle.
On top of this, you should ensure you’re getting enough protein in to make the repairs you need to develop your muscle. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a high protein diet promotes a leaner physique, and they recommend you aim to consume around 2g of protein per kg of body weight in order to gain muscle .
If you plan on maintaining your lean physique, just stick at your maintenance calories and keep your protein intake high. This should help to keep your muscle intact, without adding fat.
So, say no to cheeseburgers and pizza for your post-workout refuel – that kind of bulk is definitely a thing of the past. Smart nutrition will keep you looking lean even while you’re adding mass.
Track Your Food Intake
One of the best ways you can ensure you’re hitting all your nutrition goals is by tracking what you eat.
This goes beyond just calories too. We’re talking about perfecting your macronutrients and energy intake so you can keep building lean muscle.
You can download easy-to-use apps, that can help you scan in your foods, and make life a whole lot easier for you.
Once you’ve got an app, input your calorie requirements, along with your macronutrient needs. After that, it’s simply a matter of planning out your days, scanning in everything you eat and ensuring you’re ticking off all those boxes.
One mistake many people make with food tracking is aiming to hit calories but not macros. If you want to stay lean it’s essential you meet your protein requirements, as well as ensuring you get enough carbohydrates to energize you and fats to keep your body healthy. Otherwise, you could just gain body fat rather than muscle.
Use Compound Movements
No doubt you know working out will play a huge part in gaining muscle mass. Without exercise as a stimulus, you won’t develop muscle – even if your nutrition is on point.
If you want to stay lean, you can adapt the way you approach resistance training to promote more muscle growth, lift more weight and heighten calorie burn.
You can do all of this by training more compound movements like squats or deadlifts.
These types of lifts recruit more muscle in every rep. With more muscles working in every exercise, you’ll develop more strength and burn through more calories during a workout.
One study found that multi-joint (compound) movements burned more calories and lead to more muscle development than single joint movements . These two elements are key to developing a lean physique.
Train Consistently and Challenge Yourself
This may be obvious, but you have to keep moving forward with your training to encourage muscle growth and ensure you’re always challenging yourself.
Your body develops and grows muscle through a process called progressive overload , which is the concept of aiming to lift heavier as your body adapts to the strain you put it under.
For example, if you lifted the same weights in every session, your body would initially change to be able to take the strain. But after a couple of days training at the same loads, your body will stop improving because it’s no longer challenged by these weights.
If you’re a seasoned lifter, you may know all about this. But it’s key to keep up this good work if you want to stay lean as you bulk.
Challenging workouts lead to more muscle development, which then leads to higher calorie burn and a leaner physique.
Check out Thermogenics
One element you may not have thought of on your lean bulk is including more thermogenic supplements in your lean bulk.
A thermogenic is food that, when consumed, can help to heighten your metabolism, boost calorie burn and even improve fat oxidization .
They work by pushing your body into a thermogenic state, which means they raise your temperature slightly. Producing this additional heat requires energy, and that’s where you start to burn through extra calories.
One study found that taking a thermogenic found in green tea resulted in a 17% increase in fat burning during moderate exercise .
The main thermogenic ingredients, with the most scientific backing are:
- Caffeine Anhydrous
- Cayenne pepper
- Green tea
These types of ingredients are regularly used in fat burner supplements due to the amount of scientific research surrounding their ability to increase the number of calories you burn through in a day.
While the abilities of a thermogenic are limited – they aren’t going to make you drop 10 pounds in a month – they could give your lean bulk an edge and help you keep the excess fat at bay.
Despite what you may have heard, it’s not impossible to maintain a toned, shredded physique while you add mass. By using these five tips, you should have everything you need to maintain that lean look, even if you plan on adding muscle.