“Winter is Coming!” so brace yourself and prepared to see plenty of guys in your gym getting puffy, heavy and….. fat. It’s bulking season after all so it’s ok to let your belly grow a bit right?
There is no excuse in getting fat during cold seasons just to struggle to cut down for summer. It doesn’t make much sense. In the golden era of bodybuilding athletes did not change their appearance from Hercules like to Sumo fighter one. And they were definitely looking much better than nowadays Mr. Olympias(at least in my opinion). Don’t get me wrong, putting a little bit of fat while in calorie surplus is normal and acceptable but there is definitely no reason to lose your ABS completely.
How to stay lean during a bulk?
Set your base properly. Make sure you know your maintenance calories as this is going to be your starting point. Make sure that you’re applying progressive overload into your workout regiment, and that it is specified to your goal- strength and muscle development. If you have all that in check you’re already on a good path for lean bulking.
Calorie rotation is a great tool to keep your bodyfat low. And opposite to popular belief, it is very easy to do. Simply on the days that you’re working out eat 300kcal more than your maintenance and on your off days 100kcal more than your maintenance. And stick to 3-4workouts per week. This way calorie manipulations are easier to track, and you can still push yourself hard enough to trigger muscle growth.
Yes, calories in vs calories out are important, but nowadays we tend to forget that the quality of the foods also matters, mainly due to the micronutrient profile. Whole foods are full of minerals and vitamins that help us to regenerate faster, and that keeps the metabolism healthy. So stick to whole foods whenever you can.
I hope you all know that the ”anabolic window” is way bigger than 30min. Intermittent Fasting has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, boost Testosterone and Growth Hormone production. And while there was no study showing the direct benefit of IF on the muscle building process, the fact that all the benefits coming from IF are indeed what we want during a lean bulk is well known. However, it is not necessary to practice IF it is only a tool that should be used to make your fitness part of the life more enjoyable.
I know that many of you may be sceptical about this one as plant proteins tend to be seen as a lower quality one. Regardless of that from my personal experience incorporating much more plant-based meals is a great game changer. It takes a bit of a different approach in the kitchen but it’s definitely worth it. I always struggle to put on size but once I have swapped to eating 80%-90% plant-based I’ve started to see much faster results. Give it a try, it works!
Incorporate bodyweight based moves to your workout
I know that not everyone has to like callisthenics and that’s amazing, do what you love and be proud of it! But adding weighted pull-ups/chin-ups or dips into your workout regiment maybe a great ”checker of a new weight”. If you’ve gained Xkg and your strength on pull-ups or dips has increased it means you’re doing a great job. But if you’re heavier and these lifts are dropping then you’re probably just fatter. Even if your bench and squat got better. You see squat and bench press can benefit from additional fat due to change of leverage. Pull-ups and dips will tell you the truth!
Stay active on rest days
Yes, rest days are necessary for proper recovery and growth. But rest day doesn’t mean zero activity day, sitting in front of the laptop/TV. If you want to keep your bodyfat low while being in a calorie surplus, find yourself very low-intensity activity that you enjoy and perform it on your rest days. One of the best ideas for that type of activity is walking. It is not going to “eat” your muscles, it won’t hinder your gym performance, nor will it decrease your recovery. It will actually help with all of the above and you can use that time to share it with your friends/beloved one or listen to audiobook/ favourite music.
The activity that I would stay away from is prolonged jogging and any type of endurance or HIIT training. Basically, if it causes you to change your clothes afterwards it may not be the most optimal activity to perform.
There you have it! My top tips for staying lean on a bulk and year round. Apply them and B.Strong&Healthy!