A lot of you have asked me about how to bulk up without gaining a lot of body fat in the process. As you can see in my transformation video, I have stayed lean during the past year while gaining a significant amount of muscle and strength.
Most techniques that I have read about to bulk up without getting fat are quite complicated as they require:
- Counting protein intake and calories
- Cycling fat and carbs
- Training on pre-determined days where you eat a high carb intake
At Skinny-Fat Transformation we want none of that. I want to teach you how to change your body without becoming obsessed about training and food. The method that I’m going to teach you here has enabled me to add 13 lbs of bodyweight and 12 reps to my chin up max this year while gaining no more than 1 inch around my waist and hips. It’s by far the most effective way of bulking I have tried.
In this article I will teach you exactly how to bulk without getting fat.
The only requirement for this bulk is to be lean. You can read more about how lean you should be and why you should get lean first HERE. Everything in this article only works if you are lean, so don’t waste your time reading this if you aren’t lean yet.
Step 1: Figure Out Your Lean Base Measurements
The first thing you want to do is figure out your measurements while you are lean. Here are the 3 measurements you need to take:
- Waist circumference
- Hip circumference
All measurements must be taken on an empty stomach in the morning. Once you have taken them, note them down somewhere and start taking those 3 measurements once a week.
You want to take the waist measurement around the navel since that’s simple and you want to take the hip measurement at the widest point.
Step 2: Train Hard for 2-3 weeks and Increase Calories
To bulk up and gain muscle you need to overtrain on a regular basis, because your muscles grow when you do something that they aren’t used to. You want to increase you training frequency to 6-7 times a week and you want to implement high intensity techniques on a regular basis:
- Going to failure
- Time Under Tension
The goal of this bulk is to train extremely hard for 2-3 weeks while increasing your calories. To increase my calories I like to make this shake:
- 5 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
- 2 bananas
- 2 handfuls of strawberries
- 100 ml water
This shake can be consumed at the end of your post workout meal.
You should stop your bulk once your abs stop being visible:
In the picture above, I’m at the end of a summer bulk where I gained +10 lbs and roughly 2 inches around my waist and 1 inch around my hips. At this point I knew it was time to stop bulking because 1) I had trained hard for 2-3 weeks and my body was telling me to take it easier now and 2) I had very little ab definition left.
Step 3: Cut Down to Your Base Level Measurements
Once you have bulked for 2-3 weeks, you should cut back to the measurements you took at the beginning. This should take maximum 2 weeks, and during those 2 weeks you want to train 4-5 times a week while training at a lower intensity to give your body rest.
The picture above is taken recently, and it’s me in the process of getting lean after my last bulk. I have only been in a deficit for a week or so, and I’m already close to being at my base level measurements (however at a higher bodyweight because of more muscle mass).
It’s important that you cut back to your lean measurements and not further. If you cut further you may lower your testosterone levels and thereby lose some hard earned muscle mass. This is especially critical if you’re naturally skinny-fat because your body has a difficult time holding onto muscle in a lean state. Get lean, but don’t take it to the extreme unless you have more than enough muscle mass on your frame.
Step 4: Evaluate Progress
So now you have done a bulking and a cutting cycle, but what are the results? If you followed my advice from my Skinny-Fat Beginner series, you are already taking monthly progress pictures.
Do you look better now than you did last time you took a picture? You most likely added muscle to your frame while staying lean.
Also, how have your measurements changed?
Did your waist and hip measurement stay the same while you increased your bodyweight? Great, then you made progress.
In contrast, you may not have made progress, and then you can choose to either give it one more shot and try to eat or train in a different way OR you can try a completely different method – both choices are good if you put 100 % into it the first time.
Step 5: Repeat Until You Are Satisfied
After cutting down to your initial measurements and evaluating your progress you want to repeat the cycle and bulk for 2-3 weeks, then cut again and so on.
I used this method for a long time because it’s simple and it works.
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Next time I will publish an interview with Skinny-Fat Transformation reader Ron who has trained his way up to 17 chin ups at the age of 61.
Be proud but stay hungry,