Fighter’s like David Haye have been moving up in weight classes for years without gaining the fat that ‘should’ come with it.
It seems to be common knowledge that you have to gain fat while you’re adding lean muscle mass, and it makes sense. If you’re building mass you’re going to be consuming a surplus of calories. The goal is to take in more than you’re expending, so it would make sense if you gain fat at the same time.
Bodybuilder’s have been doing it for decades; they bulk up in the off-season, then cut weight for competitions. And who better to follow for building muscle mass than someone who does it for a living? The thing is, I didn’t gain any lean mass when I was training like a bodybuilder for a number of reasons – most of which had to do with the fact that I have a completely different body-type than most bodybuilders.
Where they have no problem adding mass, I struggle. The majority of them are mesomorphic. That’s their somatotype (body-type), but I – and I’m guessing you – are ectomorphic. We are naturally lankier, skinnier, and find it harder to build muscle mass.
Now I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this. I’m going to get people saying that it’s nonsense, that it’s bullshit, and that it can’t be done, but the thing is I’ve seen it in myself, and I’ve seen other guys do it as well. I gained 32 pounds of muscle while lowering my bodyfat percentage. A good friend of mine, Kyle Leon, did the same thing; he gained muscle mass, but didn’t add fat in the process.
Here are a few of the tips he and I used to gain muscle mass while actually losing fat.
1. Spend less time in the gym, training harder than you ever thought possible.
I’ve recently been going back to the workouts that I enjoyed most during my transformation – and they’re only around 25 minutes! I actually feel guilty when I’m walking out of the gym, feeling like I should have stayed longer or something. Like I’m cheating in a way. But I’m getting some pretty crazy results – I’ve gained 7 pounds in 21 days.
I spend 25 minutes or so putting my muscles through INTENSE pain with a pretty much non-stop challenge workout that hit’s the body-part’s I want to hit. A 4-day split means only an hour or so spent in the gym during the entire week. This allows for a hell of a lot more recovery time than most workouts, plus I’m damaging my muscles a lot more than most other workouts even though I’m spending less time training.
2. Eat according to your Somatotype.
Some of us find it easy as hell to put on lean muscle mass. Other’s find it incredibly tough – like myself – and some guys just put on fat easier than others. Eating according to your specific body type is what helped Kyle go from an ectomorph – skinny as a rake – to having a body that got him a sponsorship with a supplement company.
Take a look at this video where Kyle goes into how to structure your nutrition according to your specific somatotype:
3. The two most important meals of the day.
Insulin is an absorption hormone; having a drink or shake during a workout that is high in sugar, will spike the insulin levels and send the nutrients you need to be absorbing to the right places. The MOST important meal of the day in my mind therefor is your first meal after your workout. You want to pump your body full of what it needs most: lean, fast absorbing protein, good carbs, and nutrients.
You could make this a shake, you could also have fish with veggies and brown rice. I have French Toast (egg whites, oil, vanilla extract, and a bit of all-natural maple syrup). Whatever you have, you ideally want it to be relatively low in fats (I’m all about fats with my other meals), high in protein, and high in good carbs.
The second most important meal of the day is the meal you have before your workout. You need to give your body the energy it needs to have a good workout. Ideally, have this meal an hour or an hour and a half before your workout so your body has enough time to absorb the food you’re taking in. I have a healthy meal that’s high in protein, good carbs, nutrients, and I have some fat in there as well.
4. Dramatically change your sets and reps monthly (at least).
Variation is key to not only breaking plateaus, but building lean muscle mass without gaining fat. You need to consistently progressing in order to stay lean while gaining mass. Remember, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism is going to be. So it makes sense that you’re going to be burning a bit more fat as you’re gaining mass.
The thing is, you don’t want this to slow down in any way. If you hit a plateau, odds are you’re going to see your muscle gains slow, which will be replaced by fat gains. Sometimes this means you’re simply over-worked and you need a week off. Other times it just means your body has adapted to the demands being placed on it and it’s time to make a change in your routine.
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