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16 Tips for Gaining Clean Muscle Mass : Build Muscle Without Fat

Clean muscle mass

Clean bulking’ is when you sustain your nutritional well-being and you don’t sacrifice your short term health, to achieve your strength goals.

You also monitor on a daily basis the calories and macros that you are eating and ‘clean bulking’ requires a higher frequency of meals.

It also requires that you eat higher quantities of foods and there are few short cuts along the way. Realistically, you will only gain 1 or 2 pounds of muscle mass per month but will gain minimal body fat as opposed to ‘dirty bulking’.

When clean bulking you need to determine whether your goal is cut the fat or bulk up on the muscle.

Just remember, that you will be eating 500 calories more per day from a healthy macro source and this strategy will also minimise you from gaining fat.

You are in charge of the clean foods that you are consuming and preparation of these foods. Although this is time-consuming it is paramount to the success of your strength and muscle gains.

Clean bulking focuses on eating non-processed foods over artificial junk foods.

By eating a well-balanced diet of healthy lean meats, complete plant proteins, complex carbs, Omega 3 fatty acids and a rainbow colour of vegetables will ensure that you are eating all of the necessary micronutrients and energy.

This will stimulate the hormones needed to build muscle effectively.

Some clean bulking foods include tuna steak, chicken breast, quinoa, eggs, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.

When the cutting phase is on the horizon, less time will be required for you to lose the fat after using the clean bulk method.

A clean bulk usually results in a 75% to 25% muscle gain to fat gain ratio, this is compared to a 50:50 split for dirty bulking.

Therefore, the cutting phase it a lot easier when using the clean bulking approach but this is dependent on factors such as genetics and your age.

The Benefit of Clean Bulking

As mentioned previously the biggest benefit is to your health. An added bonus is that you get to hold onto your aesthetics whilst obtaining gains in muscle and strength, without getting fat.

The healthier the foods that you put into your body will translate to a healthier fuel source and better utilisation of your energy.

You will definitely be more mentally alert, have enhanced energy levels, improved sleep patterns, less cloudy thinking and a reduction in sickness levels.

All of these positive benefits of clean bulking will help to form good and healthy eating habits. This can help you drive forward throughout your training regime.

You will see an increase in energy in the gym and will be able to train a lot harder. This is because you have the right fuel to do so.

Tips for Clean Bulking

Here are some tips to help you clean bulk effectively:

#1: Add Protein

Add a protein shake into your pre or post-workout schedule. This will not only help with recovery and replenishing proteins stores but it will also increase your total calorie intake.

Snack on some boiled eggs throughout the day but don’t go overboard with the shakes and egg intake. This could be entering into the ‘dirty bulking’ domain in terms of calories consumed (although they are healthy calories).

Try to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per body weight per day and stick to this guideline!

#2: You Also Need Carbs

If your diet is lacking in carbs then your body will start to use the protein for energy instead. In the worst-case scenario will start to break down muscle too (catabolism).

Your body needs carbs for energy, and for various other important bodily functions.

Unless you want to ‘bulk dirty’, then stick to those carbs that have been minimally processed. Vegetables, oats and quinoa are good options.

#3: Eat Regularly And Often

To ensure your body does not start to metabolise your muscles then you need to eat throughout the day.

A lack of food stored will mean that your body will instead turn to your muscles for energy, rather than its fat reserves.

#4: Eat Enough Calories But Don’t Get Sloppy

Always track your progress using a food diary, training log and body weight assessments.

This will determine if you are gaining at all, gaining too fast and/or gaining body fat. This is a very important element to ‘clean bulking’ because if you get sloppy then your bulking will be limited.

You will gain some fat when clean bulking because, in order to gain muscle, you need to eat surplus calories.

If you prepare your own food and do the food shop yourself, this should keep you on track during this stage of building muscle.

Some people try to stay shredded while gaining muscle by increasing their cardio and/or reducing the number of calories consumed.

This approach is counterproductive and you will not gain adequate muscle but you will stay lean.

The best approach is to monitor your food intake. You need to eat sufficient calories to build mass and still perform some HIIT cardio twice a week.

#5: Eat Regularly And Often

To ensure your body does not start to metabolise your muscles then you need to eat throughout the day.

A lack of food stored will mean that your body will instead turn to your muscles for energy, rather than its fat reserves.

#6: You Need To Sleep

Hormones such as testosterone are released when you sleep, which will help your body to recover and grow after training.

Aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, although more is preferable.

A lack of sleep can sabotage your muscle-building efforts.

#7: Work The Core

The stabiliser muscles around your shoulders, hips and midsection will provide a good foundation for bigger lifts so make sure you work these as well.

Work on your stability and mobility of these key muscles by using medicine balls and mini bands.

#8: Mix Up Your Workout

After a while, your muscles will adapt to the workout and your results will start to plateau.

To avoid this then you should mix up your routine every now and then. Add a few different movements, and always push yourself each workout.

#9: Build Those Glutes

Much of the nation now lead sedentary lives, where we spend the majority of our days hunched over a screen.

This can lead to bad backs and tight hips that can affect your ability to build muscle.

By working on your glutes (butt) then you will learn how to effectively move through your hips, which will reduce your risk of injury.

#10: Get Those Nutrients At The Right Time

If you want to see those muscles grow then you will need to feed them to aid the recovery.

Therefore it makes sense to consume your post-workout shake immediately after the workout.

#11: Get Plenty Of Water

Water is essential for muscle growth, but many of us do not consume enough of it on a daily basis.

You should be drinking 1/2 an ounce to an ounce of water for every pound you weigh to ensure you are hydrated.

#12: Use Everyday Movements Too

Lifting weights obviously will help your muscle building, but everyday movements can also help too.

Carrying logs, flipping tires or using the monkey bars are good for building muscle, plus can add a little fun into your workouts.

#13: Use More Muscles

Instead of focussing your attention on isolation exercises try to focus more time on compound movements that incorporate more muscles.

Doing so will help you make the most of your time, plus will help release those all-important growth hormones that your body needs for muscle growth.

#14: You Need Intensity

If you are just going through the motions and not really putting much effort in then your results will show this, or rather the lack of results will show.

To build muscle you need to work intensely.

A simple trick to get good results is to try working the opposing muscles while the others rest.

#15: Using Tabata

Tabata is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) method that is taking the fitness industry by storm.

The main reason why this training method is revolutionizing the way that we work out is quite simple; it takes a lot less time to get amazing results!

In fact, the workouts may only take 4 minutes from start to finish, and the maximal results that are being achieved after this time period are truly remarkable.

You will still need to put 101% effort into the 4 minutes or longer, to optimize your fitness goals and sweating will undoubtedly be on the agenda.

The following is a basic outline of the Tabata training design:

  • 4 minutes in duration
  • 20 seconds of high intensity exercise e.g. sprinting on a treadmill
  • Followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Total of 8 rounds per session

Tabata training enhances the ‘after burn’ or EPOC up to 24 hours post-exercise.

This increase in fat burning potential is not evident in steady-state conventional cardio and has the following key benefits for burning fat and building muscle:

  • It increases the fat stores being used as fuel via the release of free fatty acids in the blood
  • Enhances muscle and liver uptake of the glucose instead of stored as fat
  • Heightened catecholamine levels which are required for breaking down fat
  • PFK (phosphofructokinase) increases post work out and this is required to breakdown glucose efficiently
  • Helps to preserve lean muscle mass via its anabolic effect e.g. increase in testosterone and HGH
  • Stimulates the mTOR pathway which is required to produce new skeletal muscle

#16: You Need Rest

Your body will need rest occasionally in order to recover and grow, otherwise, you may find that overtraining could become an issue, which can affect your growth.

While complete rest is sometimes a good idea, you could also use a little active rest too.

During active rest, you could use a foam roller to massage your muscles. This can help relax and loosen them while getting the blood flowing to the muscles, which will help your body to recover quicker.

In Conclusion

One of the best ways to determine if you are gaining muscle; is if you are getting stronger.

You can improve strength without gaining muscle but for the main part strength equals size.

If you are bulking and not gaining strength or losing strength, then something needs tweaking.

Remember to add in your rest days into your training plan and don’t over-train any major muscle groups.


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