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How to gain muscle mass but not fat

Zach Bashore explains how to gain muscle mass while losing body fat as well

Very few people possess the knowledge needed to successfully gain muscle or lose fat. A person may know how to lose weight but most of you do not know how to keep all of your hard-earned muscle in the process. On the flip side, you may know how to gain muscle, but you need to learn how to gain this muscle without the fear of fat gain. I am going to discuss the basics of bulking and cutting and hopefully give you the knowledge needed to complete your next bulking or cutting diet.


Bulking is eating more calories than what you are used to eating, but it is not as simple as it seems. Your calories need to be from healthy bodybuilding foods and not from junk foods like pizza, chips, and cookies. The other hard part of bulking is determining your BMR or basal metabolic rate. (Your BMR is the number of calories you would burn if you stayed in bed all day.) See this month's "Did you know" to find out how to determine your BMR.

To start, you should eat 500 Calories over BMR every day. If you are gaining too much fat after a week reduce that number to 300. If you seem to not be getting any bigger then you should increase that number to 700 Calories.


While cutting, your prime concern should be keeping muscle loss to a minimum. That is why you do not want to crash diet and try losing weight too fast or you are going to lose most of your hard-earned muscle. To start, you should lower your calories from your BMR to 300 fewer calories a day. You can change that number according to the results but 300 is a good number to start at. You can either eat less food or do more cardiovascular exercise to burn these calories. How you do it will depend on the individual.

Some bodybuilders like to bulk up to the size of elephants before they decide that they have gained too much fat, and then they go on a cutting diet. Others seem to always be sporting a low body fat percentage year-round and slowly gain muscle as time goes on. Again, how you go about it will depend on personal preference. I always try to stay lean even during the offseason because I cannot stand the thought of gaining fat.

So can I gain muscle while losing body fat as well? Some bodybuilder's genetics allow for this while most of us sit in awe wondering how they did it. You need to decide what you want to do with your body right now. Do you carry around too much fat; are you too skinny, too small in the upper body? All of these factors determine what you decide to do with yourself. You are the only one responsible for the results you receive

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • BASHORE, Z. (2006) How to gain muscle mass but not fat. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 32 / May), p. 10-11

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • BASHORE, Z. (2006) How to gain muscle mass but not fat [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Zach Bashore is a bodybuilder and writer for various bodybuilding publications in the USA.