How To Gain Lean Bodyweight
Click Here for "How To Gain Lean Bodyweight, Part 2:"
(meal ratios, meal frequency & food choices)
Click Here for "How to gain lean bodyweight, Part 3:"
(How To Train To Gain)
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get asked:
"How can I bulk up and still get leaner?"
"How can I get ripped six pack abs and get bigger?"
The answer to this is you can't get lean (lose weight)
and bulk up (gain weight) at the same time. To get lean
you need to eat less calories, do more cardio, in addition
to weight training. To bulk up you need to eat more calories,
do less cardio, and of course weight training. These are
two contradictory goals. You will make much better progress
in the long run if you focus on one thing at a time. That
is why competitive bodybuilders have phases in their training
where they focus on bulking up. And phases where they focus
on getting lean and ripped for a contest.
During the fall and winter months is a great time to focus
on putting on some quality muscle size and strength. During
the spring and summer months most people would rather focus
on training for a lean tight "beach body".
The next few newsletters are going to be a 3 part weight
gain plan that will cover all the basics for adding good
solid muscular bodyweight over the next several months.
How To Gain Lean Bodyweight, Part 1 – Calories
Author: Tom Venuto - is a lifetime natural bodybuilder,
personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer, and author
of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets
of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models.
The secret to gaining lean bodyweight is calories. Most people
who want to gain weight and are having a difficult time doing
so just aren't eating enough. Simple isn't it? Of course there's
more to it than just calories; like the nutrient density,
calorie density, meal frequency and the ratio of calories
from carbohydrate, protein and fat. There's also proper
training, recuperation and sleep to factor in too. But when
it comes to gaining lean weight, calories are the bottom line
just the same. No matter what you eat and no matter how hard
you train, if you're not eating enough it is physiologically
impossible to gain muscle.
There are many factors involved in gaining lean bodyweight,
but the starting point is to calculate your total daily
energy expenditure (TDEE), which is the number of calories
you require to maintain your bodyweight. According to
exercise physiologists William McArdle and Frank Katch in
their excellent textbook, Exercise Physiology, the average
TDEE for women in the United States is 2000-2100 calories
per day and the average TDEE for men is 2700-2900 per day.
To calculate TDEE you must first determine your basal
metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is defined as the minimum
level of energy required to sustain the body's vital functions
in the waking state.
Here's a simple formula developed by Dr. Fred Hatfield of
the International Sports Sciences Association that you can
use to estimate your BMR based on your bodyweight in kilograms.
(One kilogram is 2.2 lbs.)
Men's BMR = 1 X body weight (kg) X 24
Women's BMR = .9 X body weight (kg) X 24
You are male
You weigh 172 lbs. (78 kilos)
Your BMR = 1 X 78 X 24 = 1872 calories
The formula above is based on total body weight, not lean body
mass, therefore it will be fairly accurate provided your body
fat levels are not above the average ranges
(14-19% for men, 20-25% for women). If your body fat is
substantially higher than average, then basing caloric
needs on total bodyweight alone will overestimate
If you know your lean body mass, then you can get an even
more accurate estimation of your BMR. This formula from
Katch & McArdle takes into account lean mass and therefore
is more accurate. The difference in calorie expenditure between
men and women is due to the fact that men generally have a
higher lean body mass and a larger total body surface area.
Since this formula accounts for lean body mass, it applies
equally to men and women.
BMR (men and women) = 370 + (21.6 X lean mass in kg)
You are male
You weigh 172 lbs (78 kilos)
Your body fat percentage is 14% (24.1 lbs fat, 147.9 lbs lean)
Your lean mass is 147.9 lbs (67.2 kilos)
Your BMR = 370 + (21.6 X 67.2) = 1821 calories
Now that you know your BMR, you can calculate TDEE by
multiplying your BMR by the following activity factor.
Sedentary =BMR X 1.2
Lightly active = BMR X 1.375
Moderately active = BMR X 1.55
Very active = BMR X 1. 725
Extremely active =BMR X 1.9
Continuing with the previous example:
You are a 172 lb. male with 14% body fat and a BMR of 1821
Your activity level is moderately active (work out 3-4 times per week)
Your activity factor is 1.55
Your TDEE = 1.55 X 1821 = 2822 calories
Once you've determined your TDEE, the second step is to increase
your calories high enough above your TDEE that you can gain
weight. It is a basic law of energy balance that you must be
on a positive calorie balance diet to gain muscular bodyweight.
If you consume the exact amount of your TDEE you will simply
maintain your weight. Generally speaking, you'll need to add
another 300-500 calories per day onto your TDEE in order to
gain weight. To be more specific, add a minimum of two calories
per pound of bodyweight on top of your TDEE to determine your
optimal caloric intake to gain weight.
Continuing with our example:
Your weight is 172 lbs.
Your TDEE is 2822 calories
Your additional calorie requirement for weight gain is 2 X 172 = 344
Your optimal caloric intake for weight gain is 2822 + 344 = 3166
Using the formulas above, we have determined that our
"typical" 172 lb. moderately active male will need 3166
calories to gain weight. Keep in mind that this is merely
an estimate: All calorie expenditure formulas are estimations.
Due to genetic factors, there may be a 20% variance of BMR
either way. Age is another factor that you may want to take
into consideration. According to Dr. William Evans, PhD.,
one of the world's leading authorities on exercise and aging,
we may need as much as 100 calories less per day per decade
to maintain our body weight. Also consider that certain
athletes train so frequently and so intensely that their
TDEE can be off the normal activity scale limit of 1.9.
Daily energy expenditure can be much higher for competitive
athletes or extremely active individuals. Some triathletes
and marathon runners have been reported to require as many
as 5000-6000 calories per day or more just to maintain their
Don't just focus on gaining weight. It doesn't do you any good
to gain weight if most of it is fat. The goal of a weight
gain program is to gain lean muscle mass with little or no
increase in body fat. If you have access to body fat testing,
get it done every 1 -2 weeks. If you find yourself gaining fat,
first add in 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-4 days per week. If,
after adding cardio you still gain fat and the quality and
quantity of calories is correct, then you will need to begin
cycling your calories up and down in a "zig-zag" fashion.
Three high calorie days at your optimum calorie intake for
weight gain, followed by three lower calorie days at or
slightly below your maintenance level (TDEE) will allow you
to add solid weight while keeping your body fat in check.
Using these calorie guidelines, you can expect to gain
muscular bodyweight at a rate of 1/2 to 1 lb. per week,
or slightly slower if you are female. If two weeks go by
and you haven't gained any weight, you're doing something
wrong; most likely, you're not eating enough and you should
increase your calories. After 3 - 4 months, the rate of
muscle gain tends to slow down closer to 1/2 pound per
week. Eventually, as you get closer and closer to your
genetic limit for carrying muscle mass, the rate of muscle
gain will slow down to 1/4 lb per week. Even at this rate,
that's still 13 pounds of solid muscle per year.
In Part Two of "How to Gain Lean Bodyweight" will discuss
meal frequency, meal ratios, caloric density and proper food
choices for packing on the muscle.
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