Mistakes to avoid and the steps to follow to gain muscle mass and not fat
The cold comes and the famous bulk phases begin, in which you try to gain as much muscle mass as possible.
The calories increase, and so do McDonalds.
The problem is that in many cases, it is not only the arm that gets bigger, but the belly as well.
It is perfectly normal to gain some fat when you want to gain maximum muscle mass, but getting fat along the way is unnecessary.
The more fat you gain at this stage, the more time you will have to spend on the treadmill before the summer.
More time you will have to go on a diet to lose weight, and ironically, more muscle mass you will lose in this process.
Maybe it's a good idea this winter to approach the bulk phase more calmly, isn't it?
Weigh yourself weekly
It is important to know if you are gaining weight, and if you are, how much weight you are gaining.
If each time you get on the scale you have two more kilos, it means that after 4 weeks you weigh an additional 8 kilos.
This feeds the ego, and of course, it is motivating to see the scale go up, at least in the initial phase. The problem is later.
It is impossible to gain 8 kilos of lean mass in four weeks, and often without realizing it, what you thought was pure muscle mass, is mostly fat.
If you are gaining weight too quickly, it may be a good idea to cut calories.
Always weigh yourself around the same time of day, preferably when waking up fasting. This will avoid the typical swings that happen throughout the day.
Also, don't forget that the more advanced you are, the slower the gains in muscle mass will be, so don't expect to keep the same pace over time, nor use that as an excuse to skyrocket the number of calories.
Attention, do not be guided only by the weight on the scale.
Gradual increase in calories
If you are consuming 2500 kcal per day and the weight is stable, going up to 4000 kcal is not a very good idea.
If at 2500 kcal your weight does not go up or down, you are probably close to your caloric maintenance needs.
If you are already training and your current diet does not change your weight, try adding only 300 kcal.
In the case of 2500 kcal it would be an increase to 2800 kcal.
If you're going to start, or start training again, you can go up a little bit, but never more than 500 kcal in the space of two weeks.
The ideal is to make gradual increases and see how you react.
If you add 300 kcal and do not gain weight, or see results after two weeks, try to increase another 200 kcal.
If on the other hand you add 300kcal and two weeks later you increased 1kg, you are probably on the right track.
Don't you know how many calories you need?
Distribution of macronutrients
If 80% of your calories are in carbohydrates, you will hardly have the best gains in muscle mass possible.
Make a good distribution of macronutrients, adapted to your lifestyle and your training.
In terms of protein, multiply your current body weight by between 1.8 and 2.3 g.
Then, use between 20% and 30% of your calories in fat, and the rest fill with carbohydrates.
The more intense your day, and your training, the higher the percentage of carbohydrates you should use.
Fats, on the other hand, never use less than 10% of your caloric intake.
To find out more about protein intake, check out our article How much protein do I need per day?
For fats, you have our article How much fat do I need per day?
The more feedback you get, the better.
It is easy to let go of weight gain at this stage, and only realize it too late.
In addition to the scale, use other forms of feedback, do not be guided only by the weight on the scale, nor by the mirror.
Take a tape measure and measure your arm, belly, chest and legs every two weeks.
Take pictures regularly, with the same lighting and poses.
Ask someone close to you for a sincere opinion.
The more feedback you have, the easier it will be to know whether or not you are on track, and it will help you to identify weaknesses.
But you also pay attention to the source of that feedback.
That guy from the gym who hates you is probably not the best person to listen to, and neither are your parents who hate being in the gym.
To achieve the greatest gain in lean mass possible, with the least gain in fat mass, you need a good workout, well done.
You need to stimulate the muscle to grow.
There is no point in having the best training plan in the world if you do not make an effort when executing it.
You need to execute that training plan, and you need to execute it well.
You don't need to be the king of the bench press, or write your name in the gym's squat cage, but you need to work hard, increase loads and evolve.
If you are doing sides with one arm, and sending messages with the other, you will hardly have good results.
Most likely you have a smartphone, but if you don't, a notepad will do.
Point out the loads you use, the exercises you do, repetitions, sets, how you felt and what has changed.
This will help you to be aware if you are really evolving or not.
If after a month of training everything is the same, something is wrong.
Of course, you don't need to write a 5-page journal per workout, but the more data you have, the more easily you can see where you can improve, where you are failing and where you are on track.
Cheat meals, garbage meals, garbage days, or whatever you name it.
There are several approaches to this strategy, but it usually involves eating without restrictions, in one meal, or in the case of trash day, for a whole day, without much attention to calories.
These types of meals do not cause a big problem once a week, but they also do not bring much benefit beyond the psychological, especially in phases of muscle mass gain.
If you are having this type of meal every other day, prepare for garbage results.
If your diet to gain muscle mass is costing you so much, and you have dreams during the night with more exotic foods, something is missing in your diet.
Calories are the main factor in gaining weight, and the number one reason for someone to move from a beach body to a michellin body (and vice versa).
If your ideal number of calories to gain weight is approximately 3500 Kcal, using 5000 will not give you extra muscle, just extra fat.
Exaggerating your caloric intake or not is what will make the biggest difference between a good evolution, with good gains in lean mass and minimal fat, or a huge increase in weight, not only in muscle, but also in fat .
It is one of the best investments you can make to have good results in the gym, and it is worth more than any supplement.
It's cheap and shows you that the oats you put in for breakfast are not 100g but 200g.
You don't need to carry it in your backpack, but over time you will start to get a sense of the quantities you use, even without using the scale, and benefit from it.
The most well-known supplements to gain weight are the gainers, or hypercaloric.
Once Mega Mass dominated this category, nowadays there are many supplements of this kind, and fortunately, better.
You can use them, they are easy calories, and if you choose a good gainer, they are good calories.
On the other hand, you get the same results using food, and most of these supplements are of low quality.
Here is an example of a good quality homemade gainer.
If you are really determined to buy supplements to help you gain muscle, take a look at this article.
To gain muscle mass, you need a high-calorie diet, which will also lead you to gain fat.
This does not mean that for every gram of muscle you gain a 1kg of fat will come after.
Your goal in the so-called bulk phase should be to gain maximum muscle mass and minimum fat.
If you control the increase in calories, follow a good training plan and the rest of the tips in this article, you will see that you get the results you are looking for, without excessive fat gains.
To help you with your diet at this stage, see our article What to eat to gain muscle mass.
If you have any questions, use the comment area below.