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Lean Bulking

As we start to lead back into the New Year, many of us start to shift our focus from the post Winter weight gain blues to really get ready for Summer.

Lets be honest after all who doesn't want their pre-Winter, Summer ready Bikini Body back?

One question I'm often asked however is how does one stay relatively Lean AND maximize their Muscle building potential during a bulking season?

In truth we are only able to really do one thing well i.e. Weight Gain or Weight Loss, however there may be a simpler answer to these antiquated methods. Enter Lean Bulking.



Lean Bulking simply put is building as much muscle as possible whilst keeping Body fat gain minimal.

It is every bodybuilder, aspiring Athlete and everyday individual Gym enthusiast's goal, to change their body composition to look and perform a certain way.

Anyone whom has been on a Reverse Diet, or undergone a strategic weight gain program may be familiar with the overall purpose behind Lean bulking.

How we approach Lean Bulking is also relative to how much Protein one is consuming. In general we need to not only be Resistance (Weight) Training but be consuming an disproportionate amount of Protein to initiate MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis).


How to Lean Bulk (Build Muscle)?

Meeting Dietary Protein has been shown to enhance muscular gains provided a proper anabolic environment (Training) is created via MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis) and improved nitrogen balance.[2]

We know from several studies (32+) that show high protein diets result in more fat loss compared to normal or low protein diets when calories are equated.[2]

Further evidence also shows individuals consuming a high protein diet post calorie restriction regains less bodyfat , more muscle gains and overall improved body composition.[3]

Training without sufficient Protein to build muscle yields little to no results. Sufficient protein without Training also wont yield muscle building either.

A good general rule of thumb for Protein ingestion that falls within expert recommendations is about 1g per lb of bodyweight[5]. Meeting Protein also increases metabolic rate response by about 10%-30%[1].

A meal distribution of Protein consumption i.e. every 3-4 hours seems to also further influence MPS[7,8]. Increases in MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis) occurs if individual is meets Dietary Protein requirements i.e. 1g per lb of bodyweight.

Note: 50% (nitrogen balance maintenance) does NOT inhibit MPS.

So what is the maximum amount of Protein turnover that gets deposited into muscle?

According to research if we are doing everything right i.e. Training frequently, consistently meeting Protein requirements etc. Protein turnover can be anywhere from 5g-10g per day[6]. Over a year (including skeletal muscle fluid) can be anywhere from 20lbs (9kg) - 25lbs (11kg).

More Muscle, Less Fat, sounds good right? You bet your ass it does!



During festivities we will generally consume hundreds of more calories than required. This has become both a cultural and traditional following for many years post famine & poverty.

Times were far more harsh for our forefathers in terms of food availability, economics and greater populaces i.e. family offspring. Today however food availability is at an all time high, prices are generally reasonable even in lower demographic areas.

We have also become largely dependent on smart technology and self-monitoring applications i.e. MyFitnessPal.

So how do we use the extra calories?

One approach during festive occasions would be to simply eat more Calories on both your Training and Resting days.


During holiday seasons we are most likely going to be over-consuming extra calories if not already anyway. This is part of the societal norm and popular for the most individuals.

A structured progressive approach to potentially mitigate festive eating may be to slowly increase Calories every 3-5 week cycle at a rate of bf% gain you're most comfortable with: i.e. Conservative approach: 100 more calories on your resting days i.e. Aggressive approach: 500 more calories on your training days ^Lean Body Muscle mass increase can be in the general facility of no more than 1lb (454g) of muscle per month following this method. It's also generally recommended to already be following a well‐structured exercise program.[1]



For those whom are relatively new to building muscle need not worry yet. Those with seasoned training experience under their belt may yet be familiar with this scenario.

And that is the unfortunate process of Losing Muscle. 😭

We all know that building quality muscle and strength takes a long time for the experienced 'un-enhanced' individual.

It's also not uncommon at some stage in an an individual's life to experience further muscle catabolism (muscle loss) than otherwise planned. Whether we've switched from a high > low protein diet, 'fast-tracked' weight loss, stopped training due to an injury or simply lost motivation altogether.

The good news is for those whom have successfully built the muscle prior, there is a way to restore you to your former glory. An in-built mechanism to help you regain the lost muscle and strength. A crazy little thing called 'epigenetic' memory.

Epigenetic 'muscle' memory is the study of genome modifications. Basically these modifications affect when and how genes are expressed, altered & ultimately affect bodily proteins.

You may be wondering why it’s initially hard to build muscle, but much easier to regain muscle after a period of detraining. Epigenetic memory initially aids in subsequent retraining for the experienced individual[9].

How long epigenetic memory lasts for is often thought to range up up to a few weeks or months. However it is also possible epigenetic memory can last from years up to an entire lifespan according to research[10].



How successful you are with Lean Bulking during times of Festivities will largely hinge on: ✔️ Training Frequency each muscle group 3-5 x per week ✔️ Activity level ✔️ Age ✔️ Stress ✔️ Weight ✔️ Gender ✔️ Metabolism ✔️ Available Nutrients etc

✔️ Overall Calories (Energy)

If you know you would benefit from a simpler approach, start with the suggested.

Those seeking a more structured progressive approach along with additional Coaching support. Contact me today to get started. :)


1. Cruz, Franz. Eating For a Purpose: Basic Concepts on Nutritional Value (2015) - Energy Consumption. Energy Requirements - Protein, p12 & p27-28.

2. Layman DK, Evans E, Baum JI, Seyler J, Erickson DJ, Boileau RA. Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr. 2005 Aug;135(8):1903-10.

3. Westerterp-Plantenga MS.The significance of protein in food intake and body weight regulation. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003 Nov;6(6):635-8.

4. J Physiol. 2013 May 1;591(9):2319-31. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.244897. Epub 2013 Mar 4.Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis.

5. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014; 11: 20. Published online 2014 May 12. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-11-20PMCID: PMC4033492PMID: 24864135 Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation.

6. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2012 Sep; 45(10): 875–890. Published online 2012 Jun 8. doi: 10.1590/S0100-879X2012007500096PMCID: PMC3854183PMID: 22666780 Protein turnover, amino acid requirements and recommendations for athletes and active populations.

7. J Nutr. 2017 Feb;147(2):195-201. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.231779. Epub 2016 Nov 30. Meal Distribution of Dietary Protein and Leucine Influences Long-Term Muscle Mass and Body Composition in Adult Rats.

8. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):533S-537S. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise.

9. Seaborne RA, Strauss J, Cocks M, Shepherd S, O’Brien TD, van Someren KA, Bell PG, MurgatroydC, Morton JP, Stewart CE, Sharples AP. Human Skeletal Muscle Possesses an Epigenetic Memoryof Hypertrophy. Scientific Reports. vol. 8, Article number: 1898 (2018)

10. Sharples AP, Stewart CE, Seaborne RA. Does skeletal muscle have an ‘epi’-memory? The role ofepigenetics in nutritional programming, metabolic disease, aging and exercise. Aging Cell. 2016Aug;15(4):603-16.

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