My opinion is that in the lifting world you have two categories of people:
- Those that always found it easy to gain weight and muscle but had a hard time getting lean
- Those that always found it easy to get lean and stay lean but had a hard time gaining muscle
The category you find yourself in is not your choice. It’s determined by genetics, your family’s and friends eating habits, your job, how much time you spend around food, personal beliefs, your self image, and many more.
Naturally each category faces different challenges on their fitness journey, in my opinion equally difficult.
In this post we’re going to focus on the challenge to stay lean while bulking faced by the guys in Category #1. People that like to eat big never had to worry about weight gain, it happened automatically if they didn’t pay attention to their calorie intake.
So the classic bulking plan never made sense to them: “Eat 200-300 calories more than I need? I already do that! How do I gain muscle while staying lean?”
The answer is a lifestyle lean bulk.
The Lifestyle Lean Bulk Strategy
I think that a much better strategy for these people is to employ the Lifestyle Lean Bulk strategy. Here’s how my friend Greg O’Gallagher from Kinobody does it:
- Eat at maintenance as default.
- When you’re more hungry than usual or you want to eat more because of a social event, have a few hundred calories more than maintenance. This will provide the surplus needed to build muscle and gain weight.
Note: Have only a few of these days every week otherwise you will gain too much weight and fat.
- Have deficit days from time to time to maintain leanness.
Instead of having a small constant surplus everyday, you have short periods of time every month when you eat in a surplus. Those days are not fixed, you have them based on how you feel and on your social life. Inevitably every month you have a birthday to go to, a family visit, a short trip, and a few dinners with friends. Those are the days when you create the surplus needed for muscle growth. The rest of the time, you eat at maintenance or sometimes in a slight deficit.
To make this work you need to master the skill of allowing yourself to go over your diet without feeling guilty. Going 200-500 calories over your maintenance doesn’t mean you’ve screwed it up and you might as well eat 1000 calories more.
Remember it’s all part of the plan.
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The Program I use for building muscle
The program I follow right now is The Greek God Program. I’m in category #2 so I consciously need to create the surplus, otherwise I don’t gain weight. So I follow the lean bulking plan presented in this program but you can do the training while using the Lifestyle Lean Bulk like Greg does it.
This program is designed to create the “model type physique”. You gain strength while staying lean and only training certain key lifts once every 4-5 days. Lifestyle oriented.
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