The concept of bulking is a pretty straightforward one- in order to tack on some mass, you’ve got to eat like you mean it! There are no real rules to the bulk, it's simply all about adding as many calories as you can to your daily total, no matter where they come from. It's a tried and true method for putting on weight and making strength gains quickly. The issue arises, however, when in addition to building muscle, you also start to add quite a bit of body fat as well.
Here’s where the idea for lean bulking or clean bulking comes into play! By paying more attention to the number of calories you’re adding each day as well as their inherent value (no empty calorie here!) you can not only build mass but also prevent an excessive amount of fat gain in the process.
A lean bulk might be slower than if you had just eaten everything in sight with a “dirty” bulk, but you won’t need to worry about cutting those extra lbs at the end of your bulk and it is definitely the healthier of the two options. Ready to give the lean bulk a try? Read on for the details!
How to Lean Bulk- How to Gain Muscle without Gaining Excess Fat
The premise of a lean bulk is to focus the majority of your diet on whole, minimally processed foods. The caloric surplus you're after should consist of plenty of lean protein and whole grains. While not completely off limits, junk foods, high fat and high calorie items should generally be avoided. Ideally no more than 20% of your total caloric intake should be from healthy fat sources.
You are still actively trying to up your caloric intake, though. So where should the bulk of those extra calories come from? Protein!
You already know that protein is the main nutrient responsible for helping your body build muscle, so this should come as no surprise. If you need more reasons why protein is so indispensable, check out our article on Protein for Lean Bulking HERE. Focus on getting protein into every meal and snack you eat each day. Aim for around 1.5-2g per kg of bodyweight.
The lean bulk is all about diet, but it goes without saying that the bulk goes hand in hand with your training sessions. We go into all the details regarding training during your lean bulk in our companion article, How to Get Muscle Gains Without Fat Gains , but here are some general tips to keep in mind.
Focus on Compound Lifts (ie squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc to maximize output)
Train for Hypertrophy (shoot for a slightly higher rep range to help efficiently build mass- 8-10 reps is a good starting point)
Don’t Neglect Cardio (low-intensity cardio still has a place in your training sessions when lean bulking for fat loss and endurance benefits)
Rest and Recovery (arguable one of the most important factors of your lean bulk- this means plenty of quality sleep each night and recovery between training sessions)
Bottom line- Lean Bulking could be for you if you are looking to put on some serious muscle mass in a slow, healthy, controlled manner without a ton of unintended fat gain. Take a good hard look at the extra calories you plan to add to your diet and aim to get the majority of them from whole food sources with an emphasis on lean proteins. Coupled with your diet, train hard and with intention and your lean bulk can certainly bring you some strength and size gains!