‘I’m not going to take advice from Brad Pitt on how to pick up girls’ – James Altucher
I heard that the other day and it made me chuckle, because it’s the sad (and true) state of the fitness industry.
A lot of the *quote, unquote* advice that’s being dished out to people these days is from drug taking ‘models’ who haven’t got a clue as to what they’re talking about.
Guys who haven’t had to lose a huge amount of weight (naturally) will not understand the struggles that a former fat boy goes through to try and maintain a lean and healthy physique.
If you want advice on how to stay lean and maintain low bf% without wanting to kill yourself, then would it not make sense to take that advice from someone who’s been there and lives that lifestyle now?
In this post I’m going to outline strategies I use when going into a gaining phase without turning back into fatass.
However, before I get into the actual strategies. We need to talk about the biggest key to your success, if staying lean and keeping the fat off is your goal.
I know. Not the sexiest thing but perhaps the most important. Before you think about what programme, or fancy nutrition regimen you are going to employ, you need to get yo’ mind right. If you don’t ; you’re going to end up like every other guy who diets down, gets lean -> rebounds, gets fat and then upon realising he’s gotten fat, decides he needs to cut again. And thus, the insidious circle of no gains ensues where you bounce from one end to the other making no progress.
Here’s a few things you need to understand before going into your gaining phase.
Focus On Strength Goals And Progression
This is the biggest challenge for the majority of people : not having a deadline or goal after finishing the diet which tends to lead to most falling off. The key is to now switch goals from trying to get to a single digit bodyfat percentage, to increasing muscle and strength. This was the biggest change I made this year that helped me have a successful ‘gaining’ phase.
In the past I would end a dieting phase, stick to my ‘diet’ and goal of gaining size, for a month or two but eventually lose motivation and just fall off.
This time I Focussed on gaining strength in all movements, especially the big three (squat, bench and deadlift). This gave me a tangible goal to work towards. It kept me focussed and on track with my training and nutrition so that I hit the strength goals I had set.
Do This :
Aim to gain as much weight as is suitable for you (refer to previous article for this) and the rest of the time, focus on your performance in the weight room and adding weight or increasing reps over a period of time.
Understand That The Scale Will Go Up
Being a former fat boy, I know the struggle of finally achieving your chiselled physique and then the mindfuck of going from your former lean, greek god self to a softer, lesser greek god self.
Most important thing is to understand that this is part of the process, and isn’t all fat gain as long as you approach your gaining phase sensibly.
Do This :
Gain as much or as little as you can while staying sane. Even if that means going with a rate of gain lower than what I outlined.
The most important thing is to do what suits you and can keep you progressing in the long run, not what’s *optimal* on paper.
There Will Be Some Fat Gain
As you’ll know by now, having read the previous posts in the series, Inevitably, if you are trying to grow muscle there has to be some fat gain.
The amount of fat you gain will depend on your genetics and how consistent you are with your diet.
I wish there was some ‘hack’ or special trick I could tell you to help you overcome this ; there isn’t. It’s something you will have to live with for a short period of time if you are wanting to gain muscle.
Think Long term, Not short term
Focussing on the long term will help you stay on track with your gain. If you are constantly worrying about getting a bit ‘fluffy’ then you won’t be successful with trying to add muscle, get bigger and stronger.
Focus on the small victories every day both with your training and nutrition. Focussing on the small, daily tasks will help keep you focussed on your goal and not getting sidetracked.
Do This :
Set weekly, monthly and yearly targets for both weight and strength.
As an example ~
- A weekly goal may be to gain 0.5lbs and beating your lifts from the previous week.
- A monthly goal may be to add 2lbs in bodyweight and have added X amount of weight to your lifts.
- A yearly goal may be to have added 10lbs in bodyweight, and have hit a certain lift for a certain amount of weight and/or reps.
These small goals keep you proactive and working on what you need to do to achieve your long term physique goals. Having clear goals will also work as your ‘GPS’, and help you reassess when you hit stalls or plateaus.
The Lean Gain Strategies
1. Be Aware Of Your Caloric Intake
This is probably the most important aspect of being able to maintain low bf year ‘round.
When a former fat boy drops a lot of weight, their ‘instinctual’ hunger is still at the same level of their previous heavier self. If you don’t continue paying attention to how much you’re eating, it’s extremely easy to eat your way back to your prior body fatness.
How strict you want to be will ultimately come down to your personality and what you can adhere to.
For the most part during a gaining phase I like to take a more relaxed approach by prioritising tracking protein intake and then staying within my total caloric total for the day.
If my daily calorie intake is 2500 and my daily protein intake is 170g. I’ll aim to hit the 170g and then remain within the total of 2500.
I find this to be the sweet spot between being uber neurotic with food intake and totally not giving a f*.
WOAH. ANNOYING RANDOM HEADING.
Hey, internet human. I know you were all up in the article enjoying it and what not. Well, this article has been turned into a complete book and you can download a copy for absolutely free, by clicking the image below.
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So, here’s the link again for your book. And I’ll see you on the flipside.