Bulk Up Without Fat: How To Do A Bulking Phase Without Getting Fat

By | November 11, 2013

Lean Cut Male Body

No need to gain fat if gaining muscle is your aim when bulking up. Your bulking phase to put on muscular size does not have to be a free runway for fat gain. Many people think that a bulking phase is all about consuming as much food as possible to gain mass fast. But what kind of mass would you gain?

Some people see bulking up as a process to mindlessly fill their bodies with extra calories to gain weight quickly even though a lot of this weight would be fat. But there is a different approach that you can use to build muscle from a bulking phase and it doesn’t involve gaining a load of fat.

Although bulking up is usually used to refer to the practice of eating as much as you can to build as much muscle as possible from the high caloric intake, the true aim most people have for bulking up is to gain muscle, not fat. However, if you consume excessive amounts of calories beyond a reasonable surplus for building muscle you’ll gain a lot of fat.

What do you have to lose by bulking up to high levels of fat?

Simple answer, a lean body!


Eating as much food as you can fill your stomach with everyday is a sure way to get your required calories for building muscle, but the disadvantages of this approach greatly outweigh that one single benefit.

Getting lean is hard work just like building muscle (may even be harder for some people). If you gain a great deal of fat from a bulking phase it’s possible that a lot of that fat could stick with you up to years after. Some bodybuilders accept a lifetime of having higher than average body fat percentage that prevents good muscle definition, because it’s so hard to get lean when you have a high level of fat cells in your body.

Bulky Muscle Male

It’s really not an impressive look to be muscular and fat. What’s the point trying to become more muscular and at the same time making it harder to keep your midsection looking flat and nice?

Other disadvantages of excessive calorie intake include spending a whole lot more money on food (might affect you if you are not rich). So it really pays to control your calories during the duration of a bulking phase and stick to getting lean muscle mass. And the good thing is it can be done with the right approach. Follow these tips to bulk for lean muscle while minimizing fat.

1. Body Type Check

One of the first things that you’ll want to do before you start your program is becoming clear of which body type that you possess and tweaking your nutrition and training to be optimal for your body type. Your specific body type will determine your optimal calorie intake, macronutrients splits and workout plan for building muscle. A person with an ectomorphic body type (skinny people) will most likely have no reason to worry about gaining fat when trying to bulk up because they usually have problems consuming enough calories to gain weight.

On the other, a person with an endomorphic body type (gains fat easily) will need to pay close attention to nutrition and training details to minimize fat gain as much as possible, because leaving just one end loose can lead to fat gain. A good muscle building program that allows you to get a customized nutrition plan to fit your specific body type for optimal results and lean gains is the best way to go.

2. Calorie Intake

A calorie surplus is a fundamental requirement to build muscle, but when you want to bulk up without gaining fat it’s best to start your calorie intake with a moderate surplus. What is a moderate calorie surplus? It’s a surplus that is not too high and not too low.

Most people would need to consume a daily calorie requirement of 16-20 calories per pound of their body weight to gain muscle. For a daily calorie requirement with a moderate surplus choose the number 18 and multiply it by your bodyweight in pounds. If you weigh 180 pounds, 18 x 180 = 3240. The number 3240 Will be a good starting calorie intake for someone who weighs 180 pounds, and it includes a moderate surplus. You can adjust your calorie intake depending on your results later on to make it more optimal.

3. Other Nutrition Strategies

Apart from keeping the calorie surplus at a controlled level there are a few other nutrition tricks that you can include in your program to make lean gains and minimize fat. One great technique is calorie cycling which means you alternate your calories higher and lower on different days of the week. This helps reduce fat gain tremendously, and you may also lose some fat.

But you must learn how to perform this technique properly and manipulate your carbs the right way to get maximum results.

4. Weight Training

When it comes to weight training to build lean muscle, it’s important to have a good program design that would allow you to maximize the impact of your workout on the muscle and allows enough time for recovery and growth.

Lean Muscle Guy Working Out

Progressive overload is a key element for gaining muscle. You need to optimize your workout and adjust your nutrition to find that sweet spot between making progressive overload happen fast while having your calorie intake at the right level to supply your energy demands without too much excess to be stored as fat.

5. Cardio

You cannot go to hard with cardio when in a bulking phase for muscle gains, but it may need to be included based on your body type. Ectomorphs may benefit from doing none to small amounts of cardio. But for people who need to work on controlling fat, adding cardio moderately based on your body composition results would be helpful. It would be best to perform cardio after your weight training workout or on non-lifting days.

Finally, stick to tracking results, make adjustments accordingly and remain patient. Gaining muscle while staying lean in a bulking phase will take more time than using the “bulking up with fat” approach, but it will worth it greatly in the end.