What is a Lean Bulk? Learning to Building Serious Mass

by Josh | Last Updated:  September 15, 2020
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If you have been working out for a while, you must be aware that your body demands change from time to time. This is because of the rate of metabolism.

When we initially start working out, the body uses all the fat for building our muscles. However, eventually, the body’s fat levels change. The body begins to store excess fat.

That might be effective for those who want to gain weight. However, it is an unnecessary burden to other bodybuilders.

Sometimes, all we want is to increase the density of our body. If you are someone who wants to gain mass and muscles without adding extra pounds, join us in finding out everything about Lean Bulk.

What is a Lean Bulk? What Does Lean Bulk Mean?

The term “Lean Bulk” might sound oxymoronic to you because ‘lean’ and ‘bulk’, are two conflicting ideas. However, for bodybuilders, a lean bulk is preferred and common technique. It helps in increasing muscle fiber without increasing body weight.

Bodybuilders usually stay in shape by bulking and cutting. That means instead of losing fat and then gaining “good weight”, they use their original body weight for the development of muscle tissues.

Impossible as it may sound, this is plausible with the right diet and exercises. That is where Lean Bulk comes in. It is a process to maximize muscle gain and minimize fat gain.

The simplest way for Lean Bulking is to take a good amount of calories on days of rigorous workout. You also have to make sure that you take minimum calories on days when you do not burn them.

What’s the Crux?

Now do you know what makes Lean Bulk such a widespread phenomenon? It’s simple, a lean bulk is the shortest route to maintaining or improving the consistency of your muscles’ growth. The fact that we need fat for building muscles is what makes it difficult.

According to the law of physiology, if your body needs energy, you will need fat. But fat consumption also means adding calories that we cannot burn. Let’s break it down and understand how to lean bulk.

How to Lean Bulk?

Simply put, you need to check which scale of calories requirement you fall into for optimal results. This means the inclusion of certain statistics that contribute to calculating your body-fat percentages.

You should measure your Body-Mass Index so that you know the number of calories your body needs. You can do this by counting your TDEE count.

Once you have the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), you can see how to divide your calories among different nutrients. For muscle gain, consider increasing your calorie intake per day by 10%.

If your TDEE requirement is 3000 calories, your intake should be around 3300 calories for a lean bulk. Some people prefer adding +500 to their TDEE count if they want muscle gain.

Now, this marginal difference between 3300 and 3500 depends on how much activity you do. If your daily work requires physical energy, you should take more calories. Also, ensure that on training days your calorie count is high.

However, if your work does not require any physical strain, it is best to keep the calorie count to 3100-3150 (or the lower limit of the range you fall into!). Let’s dive into the analysis now.

Toned and ripped man with lean muscle lifting weights on a curling bar - what does lean bulk mean
Toned and ripped man with lean muscle lifting weights on a curling bar

Can I Use My TDEE Range When Not Training?

My answer to this would be a no. See, the fact is that in a lean bulk our objective is pretty clear. It is not to lose muscle but to avoid or minimize fat increases. It is to gain as little weight as possible while optimizing your muscle strength and enhancing the growth of muscle fibers.

The trick is that if you do not give your body extra proteins to synthesize and build muscles, you are going to end up weak. Your stamina will go down and that is not something we want at all.

So, it does not matter if you gain minimal weight while aiming for muscle strength. Your task is to ensure that any marginal weight is not overpowering. If you can feel muscle strength, a few pounds do not matter.

Stick to the Routine And be Patient

Now, remember that the process might sound draining. Lean Bulk is something that takes a lot of time. Your weight would not increase but your muscle mass will change drastically and qualitatively. Constant weight does not mean you aren’t getting results.

Wait for at least three months to see some remarkable gain in the muscle mass. The most rewarding part of this process is that the muscle mass you gain does result in extra fat.

So if your waist looks better, it is the perfect outcome of your workout and diet. You will not find any sagginess or fluffiness in your muscles. This is what makes Lean Bulk so satisfying.

Factors That Play a Role in Muscle Strength

We have already touched upon what changes you can expect from Lean Bulk. However, we found it important to also state the factors that contribute to muscle strength.

That will make it clear if results vary across individuals. Some of these factors are as follows:

Age

Many researchers have found out why age plays an important role in bodybuilding. It is because muscle building co-exists and depends upon the production of certain hormones.

In youth, the production of these hormones is at its maximum, which is why they see results faster than other age groups.

Genes

Now, some trainers say that the cut off body fat percent in females is different from that of males. That might not be entirely a gender case.

I believe that it differs across individuals and has to do with the genes that people inherit. That is why some might need a more committed physical routine to gain the same result as others.

Type of Work

We have already stated that the type of work you do influences your calorie burn out. Hence, if your work involves physical activity, there are more chances of quick results than if you have a desk job.

You have to notice how your body adapts to the diet and training. If the fatigue overpowers the muscle strength, take a step back, and work out a more wholesome diet.

Stage of Training

If you are new to this training, you can expect better results in the beginning. However, by the time you reach the intermediate level, Lean Bulk becomes more about keeping up the consistency instead of gaining more mass.

Now, I do not invalidate any of these facts but I do insist on one thing. If you are dedicated and committed enough to your physical training and diet, none of these factors can come in your way. Just try to do it right and regularly.

Tips on Training

Try to go a level higher every week with your weight lifting. Through this optimization, you can help your muscle come out of a restrictive routine.

Muscles become conditioned to one limit of weight, and unless you break it, there won’t be any growth in muscle fiber. Here are a few tips on how to Lean Bulk through training:

  1. Increase your reps and the intensity of weights every other week by gradually taking a step ahead.
  2. Always put compound exercises as your priority. Through compound workout, you cover more muscles and bear a higher intensity of tension in muscles.
  3. Take breaks if you cannot see any visible increase in your muscle strength and fiber. In that gap, try to eat healthy and rich food. After you have given your body rest, try to take up a more arduous routine, including a more severe workout and lifting.
  4. Take your measurements. Calculate them after a week’s training and find out regions that have remained unaffected. Focus on those specific muscles in the upcoming week.
  5. Try to include compound exercises in your routine. Also, take up small cardiovascular exercises that can help you develop willpower and stamina.

You can begin with weight-lifting for strengthening the upper and lower body, and then move towards digging, shoveling, and endurance exercises. Take a gap between the two for better results.

You can decide on one day for specific regions that do not show immediate change in muscle composition. Keep doing your cardiovascular training in the background.

These tips should only influence your training routine. You do not have to religiously abide by them. For the best results, it is important to understand your body and pick out a routine that challenges your muscle strength.

As long as you are aware of what your body’s limits are, you can stretch yourself to achieve more. Don’t forget to take recovery breaks!

Diet for Lean Bulk

Now, some people might consider this secondary to the training. But I find a nutritious and suitable diet the most crucial part of the training procedure. In fact, in a diet for Lean Bulk, the first focus should be on a balanced diet.

It can be rather complicated to decide your diet for Lean Bulk. When you lose weight, you focus on a calorie deficit. Your metabolism rate decreases. Other components such as hydration rate or glycogen level also alter.

In case of a weight gain, we work towards a better metabolic rate. Now, how to put these two types of diet in one frame? Through a balanced diet and rigorous training, Lean Bulk is possible. Let’s get into it right away!

Basic Macronutrients

Now let’s get the factor of basic requirement out of way by understanding that, for Lean Bulk, you need three nutrients:

These are macronutrients, meaning that their constitution in your diet should be maximum. They are energy giving sources that can prepare the body to take up exhausting routines without fatigue.

Proteins

Now you know that the increased nutrient during Lean Bulk is protein. It is helpful for resistance or what you can call strength training. The reason for it is that we are focussing on getting better muscle strength so that it gives density to your body structure.

Proteins play a vital role in building muscle fibers. They allow new tissues to build in the body. Amino Acids, which are a good source of nitrogen, are the building blocks of proteins. A good protein diet is your priority if you want to work on your muscles without gaining weight.

They give energy without immediate build up in the tissues. If the protein intake is less, the chances of muscles wearing and tearing increases manifold. Plus, if you do not get the energy to workout enough, the problem will only increase.

For any type of protein, there will be three categories:

In this category, isolate is the most suited protein for bodybuilders because of its pure constituents. Another important step is to choose whey proteins over milk proteins. Milk proteins take a longer time to digest. The benefits of whey protein are:

Another type of protein that you must keep in your diet is soy protein. It is also a great source of amino acids. Soy protein is good for weight loss as well.

Carbohydrates

There are two schools of thought. One set of trainers believe that proteins, when taken with carbohydrates present in fruits, can give the right energy to the body. The other set believes that to lose weight, one should give up on carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates help in retaining the proteins within the body, even during physical strain. They give energy during rigorous exercises and save the proteins from getting exhausted. Proteins as amino acids must remain in our body for other purposes.

The only problem with carbohydrates is that if we do not burn them, they get stored as fat. From experience, I have seen that bodybuilders are conscious of this fact.

Unfortunately, what people do not know is that carbs help in muscular activity and storage of glycogen. You need glycogen if you want to build strong muscles.

You can get carbohydrates from the following sources:

Carbohydrates are rich in carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Their purposes might be many, and one should not reduce or dismiss them as weight-gaining nutrients.

So, even if your concern is to regulate the weight in Lean Bulk, your diet needs to have at least 60% carbohydrates.

Fats

Now wait, do not presume that fats are to be avoided in a Lean Bulk diet. If you want to know how to lean bulk, you will have to pay attention to the individual function of every macronutrient.

Fats are rich sources of energy. You need the energy that fats give so that you are strong enough to do compound exercises religiously.

Yet no one can deny that any extra calorie intake through fats can also turn more disastrous than we thought. It would wash away all efforts within minutes. The types of fats are as follows:

The type of fat that you need to always avoid is trans fat. You can find it in every packaged or hydrogenated food. However, you can take some calories of saturated and monounsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fat helps in removing bad cholesterol and saturated fat helps in the production of testosterone. High testosterone means a high development of muscle fiber.

To find some of the common sources of fat, check out the following list:

Depending on the categories of various types of fats, one should ensure that they take a small amount (from nuts, etc) every day for the workout. Fats are essential for retaining and providing energy for hard training.

Now that we have discussed nutrient count, let us quickly look at ten easy tricks that will help in getting a Lean Bulk physique.

1O Tricks for Your Lean Bulk

Consume Enough Calories

Your aim is to give your body enough energy to maintain the lean bulk routine. In this routine, all exercises are directed at making your muscles stronger. Hence, if you compromise on your calorie count, you will feel energyless and drained out.

Your diet has to be rich and your food elements must complement each other. Some ways of maintaining a good diet are:

  1. Having nuts, eggs regularly.
  2. Preparing a morning smoothie that is rich in proteins and carbohydrates.
  3. Introducing fiber-rich food in your routine.
  4. Deciding a time for every meal to avoid any side effects.
  5. Ensuring there are enough proteins in all meals.
  6. Regulating the consumption of fats.

Introduce Multivitamins and Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet

You need to fulfill not only your macro but also micronutrient count. Vitamins are a type of nutrients that you cannot get in the right amount through food sources.

It is highly advisable to add in a supplementary multivitamin that can help ensure you keep a balanced diet.

You should also consider taking Omega 3 tablets that help in lowering the bad cholesterol of the body. That will help regulate your body weight.

Always Track Your Body fat Levels

You need to mandatorily keep a check on your fat-levels to make sure you don’t tilt towards one side– bulking or leaning.

If you bulk more and gain excess fat, you will need more time to lose the extra calories and increase the metabolism of the body. If you go on the leaning side, that means a calorie deficit, and your muscle will wear out instead of getting strengthened.

The calorie deficit or the catabolic state needs time for recovering. In this state of the body, your muscle tissues break down. The only thing that can help the body is rest and a wholesome diet.

In Lean Bulk, we try to avoid the transition between the catabolic and anabolic (repairment of tissues) states by ensuring that the body remains on a middle ground.

Keep to Your Goal

Suppose your body weight is 4% more than the ideal weight. Only if you do not want this additional increase should you bother about it. You need not focus on losing it because others advise you to do so. If you are comfortable, there is no need to work towards a change that you do not require.

These differential expectations are not results of gender, age, etc. They are simply outcomes of personal inclinations that determine how much you want to stretch your body. Place respect and trust you decision for your body.

No Problem in Choosing Protein Supplements

Many times, the body does not get enough proteins even after following a strict regime. In this case, feel free to consider getting premium-quality protein supplements that fit your needs.

Just try to ensure that you keep to your protein range. That is how to Lean Bulk by maximizing your output. Along with that, allow your body the carbs and fats it needs. Give enough time for digestion. As long as you burn the macronutrients, your diet will not discount your rigorous training.

Consider Cardio

You must develop cardiovascular stability. No, it would not be instrumental in giving you muscle strength. Yet, it helps make your stamina and the resistance capability stronger.

Cardiovascular exercises help in pumping enough blood to the heart. This clears out the breathing process. Cardio exercises to keep you healthy. That is why you must try out swimming, jumping, or any bulking cardio from time to time.

Dedicate less time to cardiovascular exercises and training but do include them in your routine. They help in giving an overall strength to your body.

Do Extensive Lifting

Can you try pushing yourself for harder routines without wearing and tearing your muscle fibers? If yes, you should upgrade your lifting workout every week. Taking small but consistent challenges is the only way to increase your muscle mass.

Here is also a small piece of advice for people who have a greater BMI. If the Lean Bulk method becomes difficult, you can always choose to start by losing weight.

You must consider cutting down your fats and then moving towards the bulking leaning method. It will just make the exercise a little easier than before.

Structure Your Routine

Along with creating a balanced diet and workout plan, you must stick to the time of activities. Avoid having carbs at night. You can try fats and carbs in the morning instead.

For better performance, you can try protein powders, caffeine, citrulline malate supplements, etc. But try to pick natural elements instead of artificial additions.

There are many sources of nutrients available in the market. Do your research before you choose.

Try Out That Perfect Meal

Split your calorie count into four to five meals and decide on regular diets that are wholesome and fulfilling. You do not have to starve yourself, just choose the right way of following the routine.

You do not even have to compromise on taste. Prepare your meal by deciding which nutrients you want. You can manage your salt and water intake too if you take the task of managing your meals on yourself.

If your routine does not allow such a pattern, there are many healthy options available in food shops that make nutritious food. You can take their help as well!

The crux of the matter is that enjoy food rich in fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. Try out products like chicken turkey, avocado, eggs, tofu, etc. Divide your nutrients in a ratio of 40:40:20 or 50:30:20, where the maximum percentage is proteins.

Take Days off

If the Lean Bulk diet becomes overwhelming for you, do not refrain from taking breaks. It is a good practice to give your body the time to recover. You can follow the Lean Bulk method for a period of 2-3 years.

However, it is important that you break from this routine every five or six months to disrupt the cycle of conditioning. If you are willing to achieve this consistency, you should try to experiment with your training and diet.

Try compounded exercises, full-body workouts, and keep changing your meals from time to time.

These tricks are secondary to your idea of fitness. Lean Bulk is a method that requires your discretion and understanding of the body. You will not feel any change at the beginning of your training. Within a few months, you will feel a new strength and mass in your muscles.

Final Thoughts on What Does Lean Bulk Mean

A lean bulk is really used and meant to help those wanting to add lean muscle mass while limiting the overall increase to body fat typically linked to traditional bulking, this tends to give slower progress so it is a balancing act.

If you are just starting to get into fitness then this is more than likely not the most viable way to start building up your mass and you may want to focus on getting your protein up and getting the workout and foods in to gain solid mass and later cut to remove body fat.

I am not an expert in this but felt it was of value to people who are considering this as their approach to add more muscle mass and hopefully it gave you some tips and hints to get excellent results!

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