The season when lifters are focusing on gaining as much muscle as possible has just begun, and we know that you’re all wondering how to survive another bulking season without becoming fat and then having to work your a*s off with HIIT training all spring so that you can spring back into shape. Losing fat is difficult. Fat gain is all too easy – try gorging on your favorite junk food for a couple of months and soon enough you’ll develop meaty slabs of fat around your waist.
Yet the challenge isn’t only about blocking fat gain – it’s also about building pounds and pounds of lean muscle! So how can you prevent fat gain while significantly increasing muscle mass?
Just follow the tips below!
#1. Don’t Ditch Cardio
Yes, we know you’re tempted to ditch the tedious cardio sessions as soon as the opportunity opens, but let us assure you that this is not in your best interest. First of all, cardio is extremely healthy for your cardiovascular health and much more, and literally everyone should do it in one way or another. Second, cardio will help you stay lean while you bulk up. In fact, studies have shown that doing at least three 20-30 minute cardio sessions (post-workout is best) each week while bulking will keep you fit while priming you to weight train even harder. Don’t overdo it with the intensity though, or you’ll lose precious muscle.
#2. Cheat Meals, Not DAYS
Ok, abstaining from cheat meals every day is a very hard thing to do while bulking, but we propose a solution: have cheat meals, not cheat days. It’s ok to eat the occasional pizza, hamburger or extra-large doughnut, but this should be done in moderation and limited to maximum 2-3 times per week. This way you will get your beloved cheat meals AND prevent overeating of junk food that would undoubtedly lead to new layers of fat above your muscles.
#3. Smart Cheating
What’s even better – if timed correctly, cheat meals can be your best ally instead of enemy! As we mentioned, when your ultimate goal is gaining muscle mass cheat meals are ok as long as they’re dispersed throughout the week, but what’s better, science has discovered that cheat meals can even help you with muscle hypertrophy. Namely, human physiology is set up to best handle an increased intake of calories, especially those coming from carbs in two periods of the day – first thing in the morning and right after a weight training workout. So if you time your cheat meals in this way and combine them with a protein shake you will maximize the results of each workout.
#4. Low Carb It
This gem of a tip has helped countless bodybuilders stay on the top of their game during bulking periods, and you should incorporate it into your regime as well. Having a low-carb day at least once per week will help your body reset and keep body fat under control. Although carbs aid in post-workout recovery, replenish glycogen and support muscle growth, eating carbs at the wrong times can cause them to be stored as fat. Carb cycling is a way to get the best from both worlds – weight loss and staying lean on one hand, and supporting muscle growth on the other.
#5. Build Muscle and Burn Fat With Your Workouts
Increasing the weight with which you train isn’t the only way to add intensity when you’re looking to gain as much muscle as possible. Hypertrophy can be stimulated by other intensity techniques as well, such as supersets, drop sets and rest-pause training; all of these can be immensely effective in spurring massive muscle growth. Keep your overall reps high and the workout pace fast. Also, keep in mind that one of the best ways to know if you’re gaining muscle is if you are getting stronger – be sure that if you are gaining strength, you will also gain size.