How to get muscle gains without fat gains
So, you are ready to put on some serious muscle? You know that you will need to pay serious attention to the way you train, eat and recover- but if you're a little nervous about gaining body fat in the process, you are not alone! A very common concern when it comes to building mass is the increase in body fat that generally tags along with it. While it is near impossible not to gain any body fat at all while bulking up, that doesn’t mean you can’t work to keep that gain as low as possible.
In this article we will cover a few different factors to take into account when actively trying to build muscle without adding extra fat- including diet, training, recovery, sleep hygiene, etc. Armed with these tips you can confidently begin your journey toward gaining muscle mass without fat gains.
Diet for Gains
In order to make muscle gains you need to eat- no secret here. In order for muscle growth to occur, you need to fuel your body with a sufficient amount of calories not only to give you the energy for your training but also to foster recovery and gains! Focus the majority of your caloric intake on muscle-building foods that support these goals. Aim for a variety of healthy, nutrient dense foods, including lean protein in all of your meals each day, complex carbohydrates and enough healthy fats to support building mass. And don’t forget to stay hydrated! Water intake is important for muscle gains not to mention a myriad of your body’s most essential processes. Try to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
Strength Training for Building Mass
If the goal is to build muscle, train like you mean it. You’ve fed your body for muscle growth, now it's time to step into the gym and train. Head into the gym with a solid plan that focuses on progressive overload. Full body workouts with compound lifts that work multiple muscle groups at once are better when it comes to making strength and size gains. Go heavy with your reps, and focus on immaculate form.
Cardio for Muscle Gains
You might think that cardio has no place in a routine when you're actively trying to build muscle, but you'd be wrong! Cardio has its own benefits during a bulking phase as its additional calorie burning abilities can help you keep fat gain to a minimum. Cardiovascular activities also have heart and mental benefits- so don't skip them!
That being said, don't go crazy with additional cardio. Too much high intensity cardio can hinder gains. Stick with low-impact cardio like walking, jogging or cycling, and don’t do it more than 1-2x per week.
Rest, Recovery and Sleep
Rest and recovery are a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to gains! Your body needs rest days in order for your muscles to grow and it needs an adequate amount of sleep in order to recover from intense strength training. A quality night's sleep can lead to a better gym performance the next day, so it's imperative not to neglect this factor of your training. When it comes to recovery, get in tune with your body's cues and don't be bashful about taking a day off if your body needs it. Pushing yourself past your limits will not assist in muscle gains; it is a recipe for overtraining, burnout and injury. 3-4 tough training days per week is more than enough to put on substantial amounts of mass if you are working hard on your compound exercises and eating properly.
Finally, remember that muscle requires more energy- so more muscle on your body burns more calories than fat does. The harder you work for those muscle gains, the better your metabolism and caloric expenditure will be, helping to keep your body fat in check in the long run. Keep these tips in mind while you train and eat to gain muscle, without adding extra fat!