Making seriously lean gains whilst sculpting or maintaining ripped abs is very appealing if you want the fitness model look without bulk.
Can it be done? Here's some things to consider when it comes to finding the ideal calorie deficit/surplus for lean gains...
CALORIE INTAKE FOR LEAN GAINS
Losing body fat and building muscle is an ideal scenario, but it's worth bearing in mind that they can work against each other, so you need to play smart!
Try the strategy below.....
1. Maintenance calories: Multiply your body weight (kg) by 33 (e.g. 75kg x 33 = 2475kcals). Eat at this calorie level for 2 weeks while training hard, and monitoring your body fat/lean muscle ratios using body fat scales or at a gym. If you're training hard and eating sufficient protein, then your body composition is likely to improve when eating around maintenance – a little less body fat and a little more muscle! If you create a calorie deficit then focus on maintaining your muscle mass, while shedding fat.
2. Lean growth calories: After two weeks, increase your calorie intake by 250kcals daily and maintain this for another two weeks – then reassess your lean gains. Try and find your personal sweet spot where you're making gains but not adding body fat. Be careful not to eat more than 500kcals over maintenance if you're looking for extremely lean growth.
CALORIE QUALITY, MACRONUTRIENTS AND CARB CYCLING
In addition to calorie level, the macro nutrient composition of your diet is crucial for training energy, lean muscle growth and the prevention of fat storage. Focus on consuming at least 2g protein per kg of body mass daily – then consume the remainder of your calories from carbs and fat (typically keeping fat between 50g and 100g daily). Another effective option for lean gains is calorie/carb cycling – experiment eating 500kcals above maintenance on the days you train, then eat at (or around) 250kcals below maintenance on rest days. Go higher carb on training days, and lower carb on rest days – an awesome strategy for building the muscle and burning the fat!
SUPPLEMENTATION FOR LEAN GAINS
Using an all-in-one that contains a calorie load geared towards ultra-lean growth is an excellent option if you want to keep/develop abs while adding muscle. OMNI MX® LEANCORE contains 370kcals, 41g protein and 46g carbs, making it perfect post-training to fuel lean muscle growth. It also contains ZMA with zinc for testosterone support plus creatine and arginine for quality training sessions. Consuming AMINO INTRA RIPPEDCORE™ during training will also support muscle anabolism when trying to gain without a big calorie surplus.
When combined with 3 weight sessions and 2 high intensity interval sessions weekly – the calorie strategies above will see you gain lean muscle and enhance body composition when used consistently for 4-6 weeks.