5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fat While Bulking

It's the season when lifters are shifting their focus from getting lean to packing on muscle.

By Eric Broser, Muscle & Fitness
Now that temperatures are beginning to drop and days are getting shorter, most lifters begin to shift their emphasis from achieving six-pack abs to adding slabs of new muscle. And while it is necessary to add some body fat when looking to significantly increase mass, there is no need to wash away all of your cuts and watch your gut overflow from your favorite jeans. And that is precisely why we’re here—to help you add plenty of lean tissue without nearing the land of obesity. In fact, if you follow through with the tips below, you will not only be able to get bigger and stronger throughout the fall and winter, you'll also keep much of the definition you had all summer long.

Tip #1 – Keep the Cardio

While I know that it is very tempting to skip cardio in the “offseason,” it’s not in your body’s best interest. Not only is cardio heart-healthy, it also can help increase your appetite and keep you relatively lean while you add in all those extra calories. Of course it’s not necessary, or wise, to perform the same amount of cardio as you would during a cutting phase, but a good 20 to 30 minutes five days per week (post-workout or in the evening) will get the job done.

Tip #2 – Cheat Meals, Not Days

Enjoying a free meal of pizza, burgers, fries, pancakes, alcohol, or dessert can be healthy for both your body and mind if done in moderation and limited to just a few times (at most) per week. However, the practice of allowing yourself entire cheat days will do nothing more than make you feel like garbage and contribute to “pregnant gut syndrome.” If you’re serious about making quality winter gains, be reasonable with your cheat meals, or your abs will be going on a long vacation.

Tip #3 – Strategize Cheat Meals

Like we mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional cheat meal when the primary goal is gaining muscle mass. However, if timed correctly not only will junk foods do less damage, but can actually help with hypertrophy. Two times a day, our physiology is set up to best handle a heightened intake of calories, especially from carbohydrates—first thing in the morning and right after a weight training workout. This is because insulin sensitivity is optimal after a long fast (after a night’s sleep) and when glycogen has been forcefully pulled from muscles (post training), which helps partition extra calories toward muscle cells and away from fat cells.

So, if you’re craving Dunkin’ Donuts, mix a protein shake and head over there after you push out your last rep.

Tip #4 – Low Carb It

One great way to help keep body fat under control, even when bulking, is to incorporate a low-carb day into your schedule at least once per week. If your normal carbohydrate intake is 400g, for example, take one day per week (best done on days after a cheat meal) to drop it to about 100 or so grams. To ensure your calories are not lowered too much, it’s best to compensate by adding in some extra protein and healthy fats spread throughout your low-carb day.

Tip #5 – Build Muscle and Burn Fat With Your Workouts

While it’s tradition to grab bigger dumbbells and add plates to the bar when in a muscle-building phase, this isn’t the only way to stimulate hypertrophy. Intensity techniques like supersets, dropsets, and rest-pause are extremely effective at igniting muscle growth, while also forcing you to keep overall reps higher, workout pace faster, and your fat-burning machinery optimally amplified. Try a workout such as the one on the next slide every few days to stay a lean, mean, mass-building machine.

Quad Killer Workout

  • Rest-Pause: Squats - 2 sets, 10-12 reps, rest for 20 seconds, then max reps, rest for 40 seconds, then max reps
  • Superset: Walking Barbell Lunge/Leg Extensions - 2 sets, 13-15 steps per leg, 10-12 steps per leg
  • Dropset: Single Leg Press - 2 sets, 10-12 reps per leg, drop, 6-8 more reps per leg
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Men's Magazine: 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fat While Bulking
5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fat While Bulking
Avoid the bulk bloat.
Men's Magazine
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