“The Lean Bulk” 

Can You Gain Muscle Without Fat?

You hear it a lot, going on a lean bulk but for good reason it’s pretty much what everyone who wants to gain muscle strives for 

“How can I gain as much muscle without gaining any fat”

It is what everyone want’s to do

Unfortunately you can’t do it like the magazines say…

Here is why

To gain muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus so you're eating more than you need you build muscle and inevitably gain a little fat to

To lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit so you're having less food than your body needs so you lose fat


You can tell that they are complete opposites you can do one or the other

If the goal is to gain muscle you need to perfect your calorie surplus, now being in a calorie surplus is pretty easy you just need to eat more so you're gaining weight 

However you can’t turn all that extra food into muscle 

Some will turn into fat

The majority of research suggests that a 500-1000 calorie surplus per day will gain you muscle and a little fat to particularly at the lower end of that

Again unfortunately you're body doesn't build more muscle depending on your calorie surplus, you won’t gain more muscle on a 3000 calorie surplus than a 1000 surplus you will just get really fat 

You don’t need to be in a huge calorie surplus to gain muscle but you do need to be in one

Same as if you where to lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit, no special diet you just need to take in less food than your body needs 

Where does that leave you?

It is completely up to you 

Would you rather lose fat first or gain weight first 

Saying that I would advise to drop your body fat first before you gain muscle for a number of reasons 

One main reason being psychological

Most don’t want to look fat so if you're starting your bulk and you're already thinking you look a bit more round than you want or a bit fluffy it’s only going to get worse if you go straight into a bulk 

You're going to feel fatter and most likely fall away from the bulk because you feel fat

Gaining muscle does take a while so you need to sustain a good calorie surplus for 6+ weeks before considering a deficit or maintenance phase

While fat loss doesn't take too long to see a difference a good calorie deficit you can see in roughly about 3-4 weeks 

Here are you starting points…

If you're unsure where to start with your calories try this

Calorie Surplus 

BW (Pounds) X 16-18 = Calories Per Day

Calorie Deficit

BW (Pounds) X 10-12 = Calories Per Day  

Stick with the callers for 4 weeks then see the difference in body shape


Your macro nutrient balance has a huge impact on your recovery, ability to build muscle etc.

Protein is the macro you want to be most concerned with 

Protein as I'm sure you will know grows and repairs muscle 

Very important when gaining muscle…so you can gain muscle 

very important when losing fat, you want to keep as much muscle on your body while you're in a deficit 

Protein content should roughly be 1g or protein per pound of body weight for example a 160 pound person should take in 160g protein per day 

Hopefully this solves some of the questions regarding the lean bulk 

John CunninghamComment