How To Lean Bulk: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide 

Learning how to lean bulk is essential if you want to get a physique that you love and are proud of.  

Moreover, despite its simplicity, there are a plethora of common mistakes people make when lean bulking that can hinder results dramatically. 

Let’s dive into a step-by-step guide of how to lean bulk.  

What is Bulking? 

If you are looking into lean bulking, you probably already have somewhat of an idea of what bulking is. 

However, if you have only just begun your fitness journey or are just following your favourite fitness influencer’s recommendation, you may not truly know what bulking is.  

So, what is bulking? 

Bulking simply refers to eating in a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight). 

This is because bulking (or being in a caloric surplus) is essential for gaining size and strength, and without it, you would struggle to make any progress at all. 

However, one problem with bulking is the excess fat gain that can come from eating in a large surplus. 

Most people often eat far too much than they need to put on muscle, leading to excessive fat and weight gain.  

This is where lean bulking comes in. 

Lean bulking simply involves going into a slight caloric surplus rather than a large calorie surplus to maximise muscle gains while minimizing fat gains, and this is exactly why it has become so popular in the modern fitness industry.  

How to Lean Bulk? 

Now we know what a lean bulk is, let’s take a look at how to lean bulk.  

First of all, you need to find out how many calories you need to eat per day to maintain your current bodyweight. 

This can be done by using our free calorie calculator or the thousands of other calculators out there.  

After this, simply add 200-300 calories on top of your maintenance calories to get an estimate of how many calories you need to eat every day to lean bulk. 

This is all there is to it. 

Do not fall for the “perfect lean bulk meal plan” that is going to allow you to gain more muscle in 3 months that you have gained so far after working out for years – this is just predatory and false marketing. 

If you eat in a slight calorie surplus of 200-300, eat enough protein (at least 0.8g per pound of bodyweight per day, and follow a workout routine that focuses on progressive overload, you are doing everything correctly and gaining muscle at the fastest rate possible.  

Why do a Lean Bulk? 

When it comes to transforming your physique, the concept of lean bulking has gained popularity among fitness enthusiasts.  

But why should you consider this approach over traditional bulking methods?  

Well, there are a variety of benefits to lean bulking, so much so that it could change the way you view fitness and staying in shape.  

Let’s explore the reasons why a lean bulk might be the right choice for you. 

Achieve a Lean and Sculpted Look 

One of the main reasons to opt for a lean bulk is to achieve a more defined and sculpted appearance.  

By focusing on gaining muscle while minimizing excessive fat gain, you can develop a leaner physique with visible muscle definition.  

This approach allows you to strike a balance between gaining size and maintaining a chiseled look. 

Minimize Fat Gain 

Traditional bulking often involves consuming a significant surplus of calories, which can lead to substantial fat gain along with muscle growth.  

With a lean bulk, you aim to keep the fat gain in check by following a more controlled caloric surplus.  

This approach helps prevent excessive fat accumulation and allows you to maintain a relatively lower body fat percentage throughout the bulking process. 

Sustainable and Manageable 

Lean bulking is a more sustainable and manageable approach for many individuals.  

It allows you to maintain a healthier body composition while gradually building muscle.  

By avoiding excessive calorie surpluses, you minimize the need for prolonged cutting phases to shed excess fat gained during bulking.  

This approach promotes a more balanced and consistent progress in your fitness journey. 

Enhance Athletic Performance 

Lean bulking not only improves your aesthetic appearance but can also enhance your athletic performance.  

By focusing on gaining lean muscle mass, you increase your strength, power, and overall athletic capabilities.  

This can be particularly beneficial for individuals involved in sports or activities that require physical performance. 

Develop Long-Term Habits 

Lean bulking promotes the development of sustainable and long-term habits. 

It encourages a balanced approach to nutrition, emphasizing the importance of consuming nutrient-dense foods and maintaining a moderate caloric surplus.  

By adopting these habits during a lean bulk, you lay the foundation for a healthier and more balanced lifestyle even beyond your bulking phase. 

Psychological Benefits 

Engaging in a lean bulk can have positive psychological effects.  

Seeing your body transform with visible muscle gains and improved definition can boost your self-confidence and body image.  

This can have a ripple effect, positively impacting various aspects of your life and promoting a healthier relationship with your body. 

Bulking Tips 

1. Pick Your Goal: Bulking Or Cutting 

Before diving into lean bulking, it’s important to determine your primary goal.  

Are you looking to gain muscle mass or lose body fat? Lean bulking is specifically geared towards gaining muscle, so make sure it aligns with your desired outcome. 

2. Track Your Progress 

Tracking your progress is crucial during lean bulking. Keep track of your body measurements, strength gains, and overall physique changes.  

This way, you can make adjustments to your training and nutrition as needed to stay on track towards your goals.  

3. Eat Enough Calories To Grow But Don’t Get Sloppy 

To support muscle growth, you need to consume a caloric surplus.  

However, it’s important to find the right balance and avoid excessive calorie intake, which can lead to unwanted fat gain.  

Aim for a moderate surplus of calories to provide the necessary energy for muscle growth without excessive fat accumulation. 

4. Do Some Cardio While Bulking 

While it’s common to associate cardio solely with fat loss, incorporating cardiovascular exercises into your routine during a lean bulk has its benefits.  

It helps improve cardiovascular health, aids in recovery, and allows for better nutrient partitioning.  

Incorporate moderate-intensity cardio sessions a few times a week to support overall health and maintain a leaner physique. 

5. If You Are Getting Stronger You Will Get Bigger 

Strength gains are often a good indicator of muscle growth.  

Focus on progressive overload by gradually increasing the weights you lift or the intensity of your exercises.  

By consistently challenging your muscles, you stimulate growth and encourage lean muscle gains. 

6. Get Adequate Rest And Recovery Time 

Rest and recovery are essential for muscle growth.  

Make sure to prioritize quality sleep and allow your body enough time to recover between workouts.  

Overtraining can hinder progress and increase the risk of injury, so listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. 

7. Eat 1-1.5g Of Protein Per Pound Of Bodyweight Every Day 

Protein is the building block of muscle tissue.  

Aim to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day to support muscle growth and repair.  

Include lean sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, beans, and Greek yogurt in your meals. 

8. Don’t Neglect Your Fat And Carbohydrate Intake 

While protein is important, don’t overlook the significance of fats and carbohydrates in your diet. 

Healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil, provide essential nutrients and support hormone production.  

Carbohydrates, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide energy for your workouts and aid in recovery. 

9. Post-Workout Nutrition Is Vital 

After your workouts, prioritize post-workout nutrition to support muscle repair and growth. Consume a meal or snack containing both protein and carbohydrates within the first hour after training.

This helps replenish glycogen stores and provides your muscles with the necessary nutrients for recovery. 

Are You Having Difficulty Gaining Weight At All? 

If you have tried lean bulking but struggled to put on any weight, don’t worry. 

This is a very common problem. 

The most likely cause behind your issue is simply not eating enough calories. 

You see, calorie calculators can only do so much. For all intents and purposes, the results they give are just rough estimations. 

This means that even if you use a calorie calculator and increase your calories by 300 over your baseline, you could actually be a little off and not eating enough to be in a good calorie surplus. 

If this has happened to you, simply increase your calories by around 150-200 and give it a month or two to see the results. 

If you start to gain a pound or two per month, great! You have solved your problem. 

If not, repeat this process until you do start gaining weight. 

It is also possible that a medical issue could be the root cause of why you are not gaining weight, but this is incredibly unlikely. 

However, if you have been experiencing other strange symptoms on top of struggling to gain weight, you might want to get checked out by your GP just to be safe.  

How To Lean Bulk – FAQs 

How Do You Lean Bulk Properly? 

To lean bulk properly you should aim to be on a slight caloric surplus, usually between 100-300 depending on how quickly you would like to gain weight.  

Is It Possible To Get Leaner On A Bulk? 

Yes, it is possible to get leaner on a bulk.  

As you put on muscle mass, your overall body composition improves if you only eat in a slight caloric surplus and are new to training.  

However, if you have been training for a while, it is not likely that you will be able to put on enough muscle mass per month to offset the fat gain.  

How Long Should I Lean Bulk For? 

You should lean bulk for at least 2-6 months to see a noticeable benefit.  

However, it is worth noting that it is entirely up to you how long you bulk for – you can lean bulk for as long or as short as you want. 

What Makes A Lean Bulk? 

A lean bulk simply refers to being in a slight caloric surplus.  

To most people, lean bulking also refers to eating healthy, but this is not required to put on muscle mass while lean bulking (although it is recommended). 

How To Lean Bulk For Beginners? 

As a beginner, you should eat in a slightly larger calorie surplus when lean bulking (250-400) to maximise your beginner gains.  

How To Lean Bulk without Gaining Fat? 

To lean bulk without gaining fat, you should eat in a small caloric surplus, usually around 200-300 calories over your maintenance per day.  

However, if you have been training for a while and have already built a good base of muscle, you might want to reduce this to 100-200 to account for diminishing returns.  

How To Lean Bulk for Skinny Guys? 

Skinny guys should go into a slightly larger caloric surplus than usual to take advantage of “newbie gains”. 

If you want to get bigger and stronger as fast as you can without putting on too much fat, you might want to eat in 400 calorie surplus.  

What Are The How To Lean Bulk Macros? 

The only macro that only really matters when lean bulking is protein.  

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to try and consume at least 0.8g of protein per bodyweight every day.  

As for carbs and fats, just eat a healthy amount of both to ensure you are not deficient in either.  

We hope we have been able to give you a better idea of how to lean bulk. 

Learning how to lean bulk is one of the most important things you will ever do when it comes to building up your physique, and once you master it, it will allow you to progress for years to come without ever worrying about putting on body fat. 

If you would like more help with lean bulking, don’t be afraid to head over to MovingForwards to view our other articles. 

See you next time! 

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