Can you bulk up without getting fat? Is a question most bodybuilders have been seeking an answer to for decades, is it an impossible dream? Yes, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

While you are gaining that hard-core muscle you can certainly limit the amount of body fat that you gain.

Consume More Calories Than You Burn Each Day

As many of you already know or you are about to learn, in order to gain muscle mass, one of the things you must do is consume more calories than you burn each day.

Of course, one of the side effects of burning fewer calories than you consume each day is that there is a good chance that you will also have a tendency to gain some body fat.

What you must do, obviously, is get to a point where you maximize muscle gain while minimizing fat gain at the same time.

Unfortunately, if you are going to be a serious bodybuilder you will have to go through periods where you add a little excess body fat. That is why if you have been around the gym for a while, you may have heard the competitors talking about bulking and cutting phases.

The less fat you accumulate over the bulking phase the less fat you will have to reduce during the cutting phase. This means you will not have to diet as hard and you will spare more muscle when it comes to getting ready for your shows.

So although some fat gain will be necessary when pounding on the muscle, let’s talk about keeping it as low as possible.

We need to keep as much muscle as possible for showtime.

Maximize Anabolic Capacity

One of the things that you need to do first is to maximize your anabolic capacity.

Anabolism is when your body is in an environment that promotes muscle building, whereas being in what is known as a catabolic state means that your body is in a state that promotes the degradation of muscle tissue.

As a bodybuilder, you definitely need to keep your body in an anabolic state as much as you can.

Now, luckily for us bodybuilders, weightlifting alone is an anabolic process, but you will also need to keep up the other important actions such as getting proper nutrition and enough rest in order to help the body maintain an anabolic state.

Therefore, weightlifting, eating well, and sleeping will favor developing muscle over breaking it down.

Ying & Yang

Everything in nature normally has its opposite, and if you do a lot of cardiovascular exercise then you will be more likely to put your body in a catabolic state that promotes muscle tissue breakdown. That is why you will notice that although marathon runners are muscular in nature, they do not carry large and powerful muscles.

Marathon runners tend to carry smaller and very lean muscles. That is why many bodybuilders cutting fat for contests will add cardiovascular training to their program.

In order to remain anabolic, you need to take full advantage of doing whatever you can to maximize all the cellula processes that need to happen so you can get back in the gym as soon as possible to kick off the anabolic state with some good weightlifting.

Once again, that means adding enough rest and good nutrition to your regime.

Start With A Heavy Workout

The first thing you need to start with is a heavy workout. Right away, your body will already be in an anabolic state since it will need to transport any calories you consume to the muscle cells right after they are trained.

This makes it a lot less likely that any of those calories will add up as unwanted body fat. You must challenge your body with heavy lifting in order to begin the process where you maximize fat. If you do not force your body to work harder than it is accustomed to, then it will not have the incentive to change.

Our bodies enjoy equilibrium – staying in a constant state – so you need to use heavyweight to make them grow.

Proper Rest Promotes Growth

Once you have put your body on a weightlifting program that forces it to work hard, then the next step to growing is, believe it or not, resting, you could have the best liting program there is and even follow a great diet, but if you do not get enough rest, then everything else is a waste of time.

For example, if you are eating a bunch of nutrients that are really good for promoting growth, but you are not getting enough sleep and the body cannot utilize your metabolic processes to digest them efficiently, there is no way that you will use them properly for growth.

The nutrients will get excreted or stored as body fat,

Now…what just happened is that you changed a perfectly good anabolic environment into a catabolic one. That is most likely not what you were aiming for. So you need to get plenty of rest so your body can effectively utilize nutrition.


Next up is the nutrition part of the game. like the old saying goes ” You are what you eat”, so choosing your foods wisely will have a major effect on how big you get. And it will also have just as much of an impact on how much body fat you carry.

The key is to eat so you maintain an anabolic environment and avoid a catabolic one. Right off the bat, you may be thinking that the key to staying anabolic is your protein intake.

However, our main concentration will be on carbohydrates, and especially those that are consumed immediately after training.

When you work out your body burns up its reserves of glycogen (broken down sugars). If you allow glycogen to remain too low, then your body will go into a catabolic state and break down muscle mass and other proteins in order to replenish the glycogen.

This is a bad thing, This means those proteins are not available to build new muscle or allow current muscle to recuperate.

You need a way to transport as many carbohydrates into the muscle as you can immediately after a workout.

You are going to this in two ways: 1) Immediately following your workout you increase the number of carbohydrates you normally consume, and 2) Changing to a new type of carbohydrate that will get into your system faster than usual and thus keep you anabolic. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds.

During the day a bodybuilder will consume at least five meals per day but more often six.

Those six meals will have the number of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats divided up evenly between them, except for one meal, and this will be the meal that directly follows the workout.

Double Carbs After The Workout

Suppose that you normally eat 40 grams of carbohydrates per meal and that you are eating six meals per day.

Well…in the meal following your workout you need to double the carbohydrates that a normal meal has, so you will need to reduce some carbohydrates from a couple of other meals in order to double up after the workout and still not take in too many for the whole day.

The meals for this would be the pre-workout meal and the last meal you eat in the evening before bedtime. If you cut 20 grams of carbohydrates for each of those meals, then you have now found yourself the extra 40 grams you need so the meal following your workout can now have 80 grams of carbohydrates instead of usual 40.

All the while you keep the same caloric intake of carbohydrates that you had before.


Part 2 To Follow Soon 🙂


References & Acknowledgments

Excerpts taken from the excellent article ‘Minimizing Fat Gain While Bulking Up’, Author – Xavier Fox

Picture source: ‘ bodybuilder Josh the giant’ top right –