Monday, 13 October 2014

How to Gain Muscle Without Getting Fat Part 2: The Training

Whether you want to build muscle to look on the beach or to enhance your sports performance, you want to do it without getting fat in the process. In part 1 of this post, I gave you some tips about how to eat for lean gains. Now, it is time to look at what to do from the training side of things…

Train about 4 days per week
While busy people may be better off with 3 and some people can do more 5-6 days per week, 4 days per week seems to work really well for most people when it comes to building muscle and staying lean.

Bump the volume 
A higher volume of training for most people is helpful for gaining muscle size. It also burns more calories and increases your metabolism post-training which helps keep you lean. Just be careful not to over-do it or you will get yourself burned out or injured. In the sample program below you will notice a range of sets so you can adjust as needed.

Use whole body or upper lower splits
It is hard to stay lean when your entire workout consists of only arm exercises. While this may work for advanced bodybuilders, most people will gain muscle faster and stay leaner doing a whole body or upper lower variation. Click HERE for ideas and more info.

Emphasize big, multi-joint movements 
Multi-joint movements are best for gaining muscle and for burning fat. Since both of these benefits are important here, keep the single joint, isolation-type isolation exercises to a minimum. 

Cycle in a fat-loss phase as needed
No program will work indefinitely. After gaining for a while, spend a month or two on a fat loss phase. This will get rid of any small amount of fat you do gain and it will get you primed for another productive muscle gaining cycle.

Add some loaded carries
Exercises such as farmer’s walks are great for making you strong everywhere and this helps you lift more weight on your other exercises. Sled pulls are a great way to add volume to your session without beating on your joints and they are easier to recover from without the eccentric (lowering) stress. For more info, see my previous post The Magic of Loaded Carries.


Add some sprinting
If you can safely do so, consider adding some sprints to your training. Besides being amazing for stripping fat off your body, sprints can actually help build a bit of muscle. Just be sure not to over-do them. Sprints are especially helpful if you do not have access to loaded carry equipment (e.g. sleds, farmer’s walk bars). Also, hill sprints are a great option here.

Go for a walk
Most days (especially non-training days), try to go for about a 30 min brisk walk – outside if at all possible. This is great for burning a few extra calories, relieving stress, enhancing recovery and improving your health.  Also, because it is low intensity, it will not interfere with you building muscle. Click HERE for more information.

A Sample Clean Bulking Training Plan
Day 1
1) Deadlift variation: 2x5
2) Reverse Lunges: 3-4x8-10
3) Back Extensions: 3-4x8-10
4) Farmer’s Walk: 2-3x30 yards

Day 2
1a) Press: 2-3x5, 1x10-12
1b) Chin-Up: 2-3x5-7, 1xmax reps with body weight
2a) Dips or DB Bench Press: 3-4x8-10
2b) Inverted Rows: 3-4x8-10
3a) Biceps exercise of your choice: 2-3x10-12
3b) Triceps exercise of your choice: 2-3x10-12
4) Sprints or hill sprints: 3-5 sets of 20-40 yards (optional: if you choose this option, use the lower range of sets for the other exercises. You can also do these after lower body training if you are not able to do the loaded carry option) 

Day 3
1) Squat variation: 2-3x5, 1x15-20 (watch form on high rep set, skip if needed)
2) Romanian Deadlift (double or single leg): 3-4x8
3) Sled Pulls: 5x30-40 yards (if no sled, try walking walking lunges for 2-4 sets of 10-20yards)
4) Standing Single Leg Calf Dumbbell Raises: 3-4x8-10

Day 4
1a) Bench Press (flat or incline): 2-3x5-7, 1x10-12
1b) 1-Arm DB Row: 2-3x5-7, 1x10-12
2a) DB Shoulder Press: 3-4x8-10
2b) Pull-Ups: 3-4x8-10
3a) Biceps exercise of your choice: 2-3x10-12
3b) Triceps exercise of your choice: 2-3x10-12 
4) Sprints or hill sprints: 3-5 sets of 20-40 yards (optional: if you choose this option, use the lower range of sets for the other exercises. You can also do these after lower body training if you are not able to do the loaded carry option) 

Note: this a sample program to illustrate the concepts discussed in this post. Always consult your doctor before starting this or any exercise program. Also, be sure to adjust this program to your individual needs.

As I mentioned in part 1, gaining muscle and being lean at the same time is not easy. However, you now have to tools to get the body that few have.

Happy Training!

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