Everyone wants to gain muscle, but too many end up getting muscular and fat. In other words, most “muscle building” to people is dirty bulking. That’s why it’s preferable to gain lean muscle mass rather than fat and muscle. This rule applies for all lifters- athletes, bodybuilders and even powerlifters. Fat does not improve your performance, and you should never be above 15% bodyfat. 

You can’t be chubby and muscular if you want to look like a Greek God. With that being said, the best way to gain lean muscle without getting fat is to do so without gaining weight. 

It’s important to remember that growing lean muscle takes time. This is because if you’re doing a lean bulk, you won’t be able to consume as much, hence less muscle growth. The major upside to lean bulking however is that you don’t get fat. 

Clean Bulk Rule#1: Eat At A Slight Caloric Surplus

What food does Arnold Schwarzenegger eat? (Celebrity Exclusive)

“Eat until you puke bro” says “the big guy” in the gym when you come up asking for muscle growth tips. 

While this method works for a dirty bulks, you’ll usually wind up getting super fat and looking like a whale by the end. 

Eating in a very slight caloric surplus is the best approach to growing lean muscle without getting fat. 100-500 calories is the ideal number, but you do have to factor in how many calories you burn while lifting. 

So, how do you figure out how much you should eat? Simple- use this calculator to determine your basal metabolic rate, or how many calories you need to eat a day. 

For example, if you’re a 25-year-old man who’s 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is 1,931.8 calories per day.

Clean Bulk Rule#2: No Processed Bullsh*t

What is processed food? | BBC Good Food

Do you remember Americans being obese in the 1950’s and 60’s? I sure as hell don’t, and up until the late 90’s obesity was nowhere near as bad as it is today. Sure, I wasn’t alive 70 years ago, but you can still see movies, advertisements, and even pictures from back then. No one was a fat obese whale, and that’s because processed foods weren’t nearly as rampant as they are today.

Processed foods not only mess up your digestive system (and your overall health in general), they have almost no benefits to eating them. 

Even Medical News Today states “chemically processed foods, also called ultra-processed foods, tend to be high in sugar, artificial ingredients, refined carbohydrates, and trans fats. Because of this, they are a major contributor to obesity and illness around the world.” 

All of these will destroy your health and make you become obese and unhealthy. The funny thing is, processed foods are in more things than you think. You probably don’t even notice them when you see them.

Processed foods are, but not limited to:

  1. Pre made meals
  2. Packaged breads
  3. Baked foods (think cookies)
  4. Cereal
  5. Chips
  6. Candy
  7. Remade meats
  8. Soda

This is just a small list of all the processed foods in our world today. It’s far better to do your shopping from organic sources and cook everything yourself. You’ll need to do this anyways for the next clean bulking rule we have coming up. 

Clean Bulk Rule#3: Track Your Calories

Why Calorie Counting Isn't Enough to Hit Your Weight Loss Goals - Lark  Health

75% of your gains come from the kitchen. The other 25% come from what you do in the weight room. Even if you workout intensely for 6 days a week but have a terrible diet, you won’t get anywhere. 

You personally are in fact wasting your time in the gym if you don’t track calories. That’s 1-2 hours and a ton of effort you won’t see a good ROI on if you don’t track what you eat. 

Personally, I started tracking calories when I was around 16 and I haven’t stopped since. You can do the same thing too if you get into a habit of doing it. 

So how exactly do you track calories? It’s pretty simple, you just get a calorie counting app like macros, myfitness pal, or fitbit. Because you’ve already calculated your BMR, you should know how much to eat. 

Now, all you have to do is plug in what you eat and don’t stop until you’ve hit your goal. Remember, you shouldn’t be eating over 500 calories in surplus for a clean bulk. 

Clean Bulk Rule#4: Lift Hard

Phil Heath's 5 Tips to Turn Resolutions into Reality | Muscle & Fitness

Remember when I said that 75% of your gains come from the kitchen? That’s only true if you spend the other 25% of the time lifting hard. And when I say hard, I mean do every set all out with everything you’ve got. 

If you’ve been in a local gym before, you generally see two different types of people there. The first are a bunch of people there to feel good about themselves and act like they’re doing something impressive and hard. They’re never sweating or lifting heavy, they simply exist and take up space. 

The second kind of people you see in the gym are people with a mission to get jacked. They’re 100% locked in and focused on lifting, they’re not sitting on a bench playing games on their phone. 

If you struggle with lifting hard it’s usually because you’re not motivated, but this can easily be fixed. Another reason why you might not be lifting hard is because you’re tired. I don’t blame you if you’ve come from a crappy 9-5 office job, or a long school day because those are brutal. 

If you struggle due to a lack of energy, start getting the basics down so you can be energetic. Get 8+ hours of sleep, eat healthy, stop giving yourself cheap dopamine hits, and drink plenty of water. Those will do the most for you, BUT- there are other things like really good pre workouts that give you an insane boost of energy. Personally, Zeus Juice pre workout is one of my favorites from the dozens I’ve tried. 

Clean Bulk Rule#5: Use Supplements For Help

Just eat well – the £250m gym supplements industry isn't working out

When you walk into a GNC, you’re overwhelmed by the amount of supplements they have, you don’t know what to get. The funny thing is, GNC doesn’t even have that many supplements compared to the amount of fitness supplements that exist. I love GNC, but most of what they sell is overpriced and you don’t really need them to make gains. 

Before you use fitness supplements, it’s critical you get the basics of fitness down first. With that being said, there are some really good fitness supplements that will 100% help you make gains when used properly. These are:

  1. Protein powder
  2. Ashwagandha
  3. Tongkat-Ali
  4. Pre-Workout
  5. Creatine
  6. SARMs (not natty)

All these supplements will help you increase your strength, muscle mass, and even endurance in some cases. They help with clean bulks because you don’t have to rely on lots of calories, so think of these as a substitute. 

Protein powder is designed to help you get more protein, simple as that. Most people are protein deficient, and it’s hard to get enough protein to build muscle. That’s where protein powder comes in, it helps you increase your protein intake. 

Ashwagandha is a very underrated but powerful supplement that is known to boost libido, testosterone, and muscle size. This isn’t like taking straight testosterone, so your balls won’t shrink and it’s not a steroid either. Personally, some of my best gains have come from taking ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is very safe to take as well. I recommend taking this in pill form which you can find online for around $15-20. 

Tongkat-Ali is very similar to ashwagandha. They both aren’t known well and do similar things, however tongkat-ali is more powerful. It boosts testosterone and according to bro science is extremely good at building arm muscle. It’s also very safe to take. Another benefit to tongkat-ali is that it’s pretty cheap too at $20 a bottle. You take these in a pill form. 

Creatine is one of the most powerful natural supplements you can take. Creatine improves everything you can think of- it makes you stronger, more muscular, heavier and it even improves your endurance. This supplement can be found at most stores, although I’d buy it online. It’s dirt cheap too, one big pack of creatine can last you a year. 

SARMs are the most powerful on this list, and for good reason. They’re actually not for human consumption, so most people buy them “for their lab rat.” So far, we don’t know the long term side effects of SARMs, however research suggests that they’re pretty safe when taken in the proper dosage and followed up by a post cycle therapy. 

The reason SARMs are so popular is because they have steroid like effects but with far less side effects. A popular SARM by the name of RAD-140 has a 90:1 anabolic to androgenic ratio, meaning that you get 90% of the gains for 1% of the side effects. I highly recommend you read more on SARMs to decide if they’re right for you. 

Editor’s Note: Do not consider SARMs or any other performance enhancing drugs without first consulting your physician. Please ensure that you have had several years of training or are above the age of 28 before considering SARMs or performance enhancing drugs.

By “The Gym Bros”

Don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] for personalized coaching and a client questionnaire if you’d like DEDICATED tailor-made personal training on strength training, building muscle, losing fat, developing athleticism, and more — all to your liking, lifestyle, habits, and taste!

Otherwise, don’t forget to claim your FREE eBook detailing how to lose 20lb of fat while building muscle in 12 weeks! You can claim it here.

Alternatively, you can pick up a FREE eBook on fundamental strength principles offering an introductory workout program.