Is it Possible to Bulk and Stay Lean?

Ask some people and they’ll tell you that it’s absolutely not possible to both bulk up and stay lean at the same time. Ask others and they’ll say that as long as you’re happy to grow more slowly, there’s no reason that you can’t increase your mass while keeping bodyfat down. What’s the truth? Let’s take a look at the science and the evidence and find out…

Bulking and Cutting

The traditional way for a bodybuilder to get into competition shape is to go through a bulking phase, followed by a cutting phase. During the bulking phase, they will add as much muscle as possible but will also add body fat. Then, shortly before the actual competition, they will begin to ‘cut’ by reducing their caloric intake and thereby stripping away the fat to reveal the muscle underneath.

Bodybuilders do this with the help of a lot of steroids too – and will switch from ‘bulking’ steroids to ‘cutting’ steroids and PEDs to help them through. The bulk that bodybuilders use is a ‘clean bulk’ (meaning they stay as lean as possible) but it is still inevitable that they will add some fat that needs to be removed.

This mentality is something that has bled into regular gym-goers, sans the steroid use (in most cases). Many amateur athletes will still ‘bulk and cut’ because they see it as the best way to achieve the physique they want quickly.

Why Bulking Adds Fat

When bulking, your aim is to eat a lot of protein in order to provide your body with the amino acids it needs to build muscle. Without doing this, it is simply not possible to grow.

But at the same time as consuming more protein, bulking also requires a lot more carbohydrates. Why? For starters, building muscle takes energy. At the same time though, it is crucial to avoid low blood sugar while bulking as much as possible because your body will see that as a signal to go into a ‘catabolic’ (tissue burning) mode. Low blood sugar causes a spike in insulin, cortisol and myostatin which breaks down muscle.

Thus, the vast majority of successful bulks will require you to remain within a caloric surplus while adding the muscle. You’ll also need to reduce cardio and when you combine these factors, you have a recipe for adding at least some fat.

How to Add Lean Muscle

But does that mean it’s not possible to gain lean muscle at all?

No it does not. And in fact, if you’re not going into competition, then it makes more sense to increase your weight Growth Hormone Booster Stacksteadily while managing body fat. Why look great half the year and overweight half the year? Instead, you could look pretty darn great for the whole 12 months – and YouTubers like Jeff Cavalier demonstrate how possible it is to grow and stay lean. Just as long as you’re happy to do it slowly. And keep in mind that you can have great looking abs at 12 or even 14% bodyfat – there’s no need to go to 8%.

Maintain a caloric surplus but time your carbs, use HIIT and don’t go overboard. Get lots of lean protein, sleep plenty and take care of your nutrition.

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