There are two common fitness goals - to gain muscle mass and to
lose body fat. Unfortunately, for the most part, the two goals
are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Building muscle mass is going to require you to take in a surplus
of calories because, well, let's face it, you can't build muscle out
of nothing (unless of course you have some chemical help going on).
Losing fat mass on the other hand is going to require you to be
in a negative calorie balance because that is what will get your
body burning off additional body fat as fuel for its tissues.
Striving to accomplish both goals at the same time is rarely a
good approach because more than likely you will just end up spinning
your wheels and getting nowhere.
Most weight lifters will have to accept some fat gain when they
are looking to gain weight, however how much fat gain they need to
add is question. It is this variable that we are hoping to
Can you really gain weight without getting
When adding muscle mass there are two approaches
you can take.
Some take the approach of just eating as much food as they can
possible cram into themselves. Their life suddenly becomes one long
24-hour buffet in their quest for muscle mass as they are under the
thinking that the more food that goes in, the more muscle synthesis
that will go on.
This thinking is heavily flawed. The body can only assimilate so
much muscle tissue at once and after it has done so, any remaining
calories are simply going to be stored as body fat. Plain and
simple. You my friend, are no exception to the rule.
For those guys who are out there taking in five thousand or more
calories per day, this is obviously going to be way more than they
need and will result in a considerable amount of unwanted fat weight
over a period of three to six months (how long most people will
The second option is to adopt a more moderate approach and only
eat so many additional calories to support this muscle growth and
that's it. This will allow you to hopefully get as much lean tissue
gained as possible without the accumulation of a monstrous rise in
So that leads us to the next question you're probably wondering.
How much muscle can you build? How many calories over maintenance
should you be eating?
You've probably already heard of the guy who claims he's added 20
pounds of muscle in the short timeframe of six weeks. While
this may be a very rare occurrence among an individual who is brand
new to weight lifting, has insanely good genetics and utilized an
excellent training and nutritional program, the fact of the matter
is that most guys are simply not going to be able to come even close
to adding this much muscle tissue.
A natural trained individual can hope to achieve about half a
pound to one pound of muscle per week - if he's doing everything
correctly. If he doesn't have the greatest genetics or isn't
feeding himself optimally, this will decrease even further. So
as you can see, at a measly two to four pounds of muscle growth per
month, you aren't going to be needed to eat insanely high calorie
The higher your intake is, the more you risk putting on
additional body fat. As a general rule, keep it to about 250
to 500 calories above maintenance in hopes of putting on mostly
muscle without too much body fat. Keep track of your current
body fat levels and appearance and if you see that too much of your
weight gain is coming on as fat mass, reduce your calorie intake
It is always best to go by REAL WORLD results since you are in
the real world after all. You can read as much as you like as to how
many calories you should be eating, but this does not mean that's
going to be the exact number that will produce results.
Different people have different metabolisms that will respond to an
increase in calories in various ways. So as you go about your bulk,
adjust according to the results you are getting.
Remember that the more patient you are with your muscle gains and
the slower you go, the more time you can spend adding muscle mass
and the less time you have to spend dieting off the additional fat
you gained - which as I'm sure many of you already know, is not a
So next time you decide you are going to do a 'bulking' phase,
take a slower approach. Not only are you much more likely to
maintain a favourable appearance this way but your mind will thank
you as well. Nothing kills confidence levels faster than
seeing all muscle definition go out the window in a matter of weeks,
so keep the weight gain under control so you don't have to deal with