One of the FAQs in the fitness world relates to how to build muscle mass without getting fat. In the industry this is generally referred to as a “lean bulk”.
To build muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn on a daily basis) and working out with progressive overload (gradually increasing volume at the gym). However, when eating in a surplus it is inevitable that you will put on some body fat along the way.
The extent of the calorie surplus (conservative vs aggressive) should depend on the individual (current body fat levels, metabolic rate, typical daily activity), training goals and the time set to reach those goals.
When it comes to determining calorie requirements it is important to be aware that one size does not fit all. Everyone has different bodies with unique characteristics and genetics. What works for one individual might not work for another. Some individuals may struggle to put on weight and accordingly their calorie surplus may need to be far more aggressive than someone who puts on weight easily.
Having said so, if you want to minimise body fat accumulation on a lean bulk your calorie surplus should be conservative and closer to what you generally consume on maintenance. Therefore, I would suggest starting off by adding 200/300 calories to your maintenance (mostly in carbs) and track progress by taking weight and girth measurements accordingly at the same time of the day. Weight can be measured daily upon waking up, girth measurements every week. The goal is obviously increasing muscle measurements while minimising the waist and hip ones. When progress stalls for 5/7 days, add a further 200/300 calories and repeat the process.
Taking this conservative approach may mean your rate of muscle growth would be smaller than if you were to commit to a more aggressive surplus but at least you would stay within touching distance of lean condition. There’s always going to be a trade-off between muscle and fat gain and it ultimately depends on what your priorities are.
You do however have to keep in mind that the more fat you gain, the longer you will need to be on a shredding phase when you decide to go for top condition again,
To fitness with love,