How to Gain Lean Muscle Without Getting Fat: (5 Critical Rules To Know)

how to gain lean muscle without getting fat

Everyone wants to build muscle nowadays, but if you don’t do it right, you’ll end up getting fat. That’s why it’s better to gain lean muscle without getting fat.

If you want to look like a greek god, you can’t be fat and muscular. That’s why the best way to gain lean muscle is done without getting fat.

Keep in mind that gaining lean muscle will take some time. This is because you can’t eat as much if you were doing a dirty bulk.

Lean Muscle Gaining Rule #1: Slight Caloric Surplus

If you ask “the big guy” in the gym how to build muscle, he’s going to say “eat until you puke bro.”

While that works if you’re doing a dirty bulk, you’re going to end up getting a cow gut and we all know that doesn’t look good.

The best way to gain lean muscle without getting fat is to eat at a slight caloric surplus. No more than 500 calories.

So how exactly do you know how much you should eat? Simple-

Go to this basal metabolic rate calculator. Plug in your information (it’s super easy) and remember the number at the bottom.

For example: if you’re a guy who’s 6′ 200 lbs and 20, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is 2,090.4 calories a day.

If you wanted to gain lean muscle without getting fat, you would add 500 calories. Also keep in mind that you can do a decimal equation where you take your BMR and multiply it by 1.7. Only use the decimal method if you find you can’t gain with a 500 calorie surplus.

So in this hypothetical situation, the guy should be eating 2,590 calories a day. If he tracked how many calories he burned, he should eat back the amount of calories he burned with his 500 calorie surplus.

Lean Muscle Gaining Tip #2: Count Your Calories

how to build lean muscle without getting fat

Alright, now that we’ve established what your basal metabolic rate is, you need to actually figure out how much you’re eating.

“What gets measured gets managed”

While I forget who said that quote, there’s a ton of truth to it. What measured gets managed. If you don’t measure your caloric intake, how do you expect to manage your goals of gaining lean muscle?

Counting your calories is a pain, I know. But, it’s 100% worth it when you start to transform your body and get jacked.

How To Count Your Calories

Counting calories requires some items that are luckily super easy to get your hands on.

These items are critical to successfully counting your calories.

  • Food scale
  • Measurement cups
  • Calorie counting app

Without those things, it’s extremely hard to count your calories. Food scales help you measure how many ounces of meat you’re getting, and measurement cups help you calculate how many cups of rice you should eat.

You can get all these on amazon for pretty cheap.

Now, the calorie counting apps are where you plug in what you’re eating.

The best calorie counting apps are:

  • Macros
  • Fitbit
  • Myfitnesspal

All these apps are free, and they do include premium versions but there’s no reason to buy that. You can count your calories easily with the free versions.

Using the best bulking supplements will also help you get in calories and nutrients.

Lean Muscle Building Tip #3: Macronutrient Distribution

how to build lean muscle without getting fat

While calories are the overall most important when it comes to gaining lean muscle without getting fat, macronutrient distribution is pretty important too.

Macronutrients are fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

You should’ve learned about these in high school, but if you didn’t no worries cause I’ve got you covered.


Proteins are what ultimately builds the most muscle in your body. This macronutrient is the building block of muscle, and without it it’s near impossible to build any muscle.

There are 4 calories per 1 gram of protein, so it’s not calorically expensive.

Aim to have 40% of your macronutrients come from protein. You also want to consume one gram of protein per 1 lb of bodyweight you hope to gain. So lets say we have a 180 lb guy who wants to be 200 lbs. He should eat at least 200 grams of protein a day.


Carbohydrates are what fuel your body. Think of them like gas in a car, without it, you won’t do much. There’s a myth around carb intake that if you have too much it turns to fat. While that’s true for processed carbs, the carbs you should be eating will help you build lean muscle.

Aim to have about 40% of your macronutrients be carbohydrates.

Good Carbohydrates:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice

Bad Carbohydrates:

  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Cereal
  • Beer

It’s best to consume carbohydrates before you workout and after you workout. This is what I do to build lean muscle.


Fats are usually your worst enemy when trying to build lean muscle. This isn’t because fats are bad for you- it’s just they’re calorically expensive at 9 calories per 1 gram.

A ton of fats are also poisoned by big food industries making them addictive and hard to digest. Keep your fat intake no more than 20%.

Muscle Building Tip #4: Use Progressive Overload

Most people who lift don’t use progressive overload. Progressive overload is when you increase weight every time you lift. You should aim to increase weight at least once every 1-2 weeks.

For example: if you bench 225 for 5 reps on week ones first set, you should try 230 as a warm up 1-2 weeks after that.

If you don’t increase weight, you won’t get stronger or tear down the muscle as much. Yes, that’s what lifting is, you damage your muscle and build it back bigger and stronger.

Tracking how much you lift for each set/rep is really helpful for successfully doing progressive overload. I use my phone and my head (just cause I’ve got a good memory) but I have a friend who has a little book he writes down how much he lifts each time.

The other upside to documenting how much you lifted is you can see strength progress. There’s nothing more satisfying to know that what you’re committing to is working well.

Muscle Gaining Tip #5: Sleep 8+ Hours

how to build lean muscle without getting fat

Sleeping is pretty underrated in the fitness community. I know some dudes who ask me “why am I not gaining weight I’m eating at a caloric surplus and lifting 6 days a week?” I then ask them how much they sleep.

Turns out they get 5-6 hours of sleep a night. One, I don’t know how anyone can run off of that, and two, you gain more fat and build less muscle the less you sleep.

There’s tons of studies that back up what I’m saying here too, it’s not just bro-science (although following bro science also works).

So, instead of binge watching Netflix until 1 am, turn off the TV, put your phone away, and go get some sleep. Aim for at least 8 hours, although I prefer 9.

How To Gain lean Muscle Without Getting Fat: Conclusion

Gaining lean muscle without getting fat is pretty easy if you follow these 5 principles. Eat at a slight caloric surplus, count your calories and manage your macronutrients. Utilize progressive overload and sleep at least 8 hours a night.

Following these principles to a T will help you build lean muscle, so if that’s your goal, go and do it.

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