If you regularly go to the gym, you must be familiar with words like leaning and bulking as your gym buddies are either in the cutting or gaining phase. When an individual is leaning, they are looking for a more athletic and defined look, while during bulking, they want to add size to their muscle, looking more hefty and muscular.
Characteristics of a Lean Body
A lean body is an athletic body type featuring lean muscles- muscles with more definition. A lean and toned physique will have relatively low body fat. Having a lean body doesn’t necessarily mean being skinny. It rather indicates low body fat, developing a muscular yet toned physique. Lean muscle is lighter than bulky muscle.
Characteristics of a Bulky Body
The bulky body type is characterised by high muscle mass. An individual with a bulky physique will have larger muscle groups, large body size and frame, and more strength. Individuals with bulk body have aesthetically pleasing big arms and broad shoulders. If you aim to build a bulk body, it requires weight gain rather than loss.
Relation Between Body Type and Muscle Growth
Individuals are born with a hereditary body type based on body composition and skeletal frame. Most are unique combinations of the three body types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. When talking about muscle growth and lean body vs bulk body, it is imperative to know about these body to evaluate and set your training goals.
These are individuals who are naturally lean and slender with less body fat and muscle. They have a high metabolic rate, preventing them from gaining mass easily. Ectomorphs can find it difficult to gain either fat or muscles. Bikini athletes and fashion or runway models are examples of ectomorphs.
Mesomorph is a body type between endomorph and ectomorph. Individuals with this body type are neither underweight nor overweight and can easily switch between a toned and bulky body- example: swimmers and volleyball players.
People with this body type can gain weight as they have a slow metabolic rate. Endomorphs usually have more stored fat and muscles. Though it is easy for them to gain muscle mass and fat, they are not always overweight. Achieving a bulky physique is easy for them while becoming lean is challenging. Example: Football Lineman.
In a nutshell, your body structure and muscle growth can depend on if you are an ectomorph, endomorph or mesomorph. However, despite your body type, you can give it all to achieve the physique of your dream. Lean or bulk muscle depends on your diet and the type of training or exercise you adopt.
Building Lean Muscle Mass
Building lean muscle mass involves a combination of nutrition, resistance training, and muscle recovery. Here are some tips to help you build lean muscle mass:
1. Calorie Maintenance (According to Body Structure):
To build lean muscle, consume less (check) calories than you burn. You can calculate your daily calorie needs using an online calculator and add calories to that number to create a slight calorie surplus or deficit (depending on body weight and body fat).
2. Consume lean protein:
Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair. Aim to consume 0.83-1 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. Good protein sources include lean meats, eggs, soybean, tofu, low-fat dairy, legumes, and protein supplements.
3. Work out regularly:
Resistance training is the most effective way to build muscle mass. Focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups. Aim to lift weights 3-4 times a week. Gradually increase the weight and reps over time. Prioritise repetitions over weight to lose fat.
4. Allow rest and recovery:
Your muscles need time to recover and repair after a workout. It is essential to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. One should never underestimate the power of rest days between workouts. You can also incorporate active recovery, such as stretching or low-intensity exercise on your rest days.
5. Stay consistent:
You can’t build muscles overnight- it takes time, strong willpower, and effort. Stick to your workout and nutrition plan and be patient with the results. It may take several months to see significant changes in lean muscle mass, but the key is to stay consistent and persistent.
Things to avoid when aiming for a lean body
1. Crash or fad diets:
Avoid extreme diets that drastically reduce calorie intake or eliminate entire food groups since they are unhealthy and unsustainable in the long run and can lead to muscle loss.
Avoid over-exercising or pushing your body too hard too soon to avoid injury or burnout.
3. Skipping meals:
Avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast. Doing this on a regular basis can slow down your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight. Include protein-rich foods in your breakfast for balanced energy throughout the day.
4. Solely relying on supplements:
Avoid relying solely on supplements to achieve a lean body- they can be helpful and play a vital role in muscle development but should not replace a healthy diet and regular exercise.
5. Comparing yourself to others:
Avoid comparing yourself to others, especially on social media. Every body is different, and one should focus on their own progress and goals.
Building Bulk Muscle Mass
To build a bulky body, focus on two main things: resistance training and nutrition.
1. Focus on compound exercises:
Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows. They are great for building overall muscle mass.
2. Increase weight gradually:
To build muscle mass, gradually increase the weight you lift over time. Aim to increase 5% weight each week.
3. Lift heavy:
To build muscle it is imperative to challenge your muscles with heavy weights on a regular basis. Aim to lift weights that are heavy enough to cause fatigue within 8-12 reps.
1. Have a caloric surplus:
If you are working out to build enough muscle, consume more calories than you burn. Aim to eat more calories than your maintenance level. You can achieve this by adding calorie-dense foods to your diet, eating more frequently, and increasing the portion size. Choose your carbohydrates- include complex carbohydrates and avoid simple carbohydrates like processed or junk foods in the name of calorie-dense foods.
2. Consume enough protein:
Protein plays a vital role in muscle building. Aim to consume at least 0.83-1 g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. Healthy protein sources include fish, lean meats, eggs, and plant-based sources such as lentils, beans, and tofu.
3. Eat carbohydrates and healthy fats:
Carbohydrates and healthy fats provide energy and support muscle growth. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Foods rich in healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish.
4. Stay hydrated:
It is crucial to drink enough water for muscle growth and recovery. Set a goal to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water everyday.
Remember, building muscle takes time and consistency. Be patient and consistent with your training and nutrition plan. You'll start to see results over time.
Things to avoid while building a bulky body
Avoid consuming too many calories- excess calories are stored as fat. Keep a slight calorie surplus to support muscle growth but be careful not to overdo it.
2. Having less protein:
Avoid a diet lacking in protein since it’s essential for muscle growth and repair. Consume enough high-quality protein sources such as dairy products, chicken, fish, eggs, and beans.
3. Neglecting nutrients:
Avoid neglecting other nutrients, such as carbohydrates and healthy fats since they provide energy and support overall health.
4. Lack of rest:
Avoid overtraining and not giving your body enough rest. It is essential for your body to have enough rest, promoting muscle growth and recovery.
In a Nutshell
In conclusion, whether you strive for a lean or bulk body depends on your personal fitness goals and preferences. A lean body is characterised by low body fat levels and well-defined muscles. Achieving a lean body requires a combination of resistance-training, cardio, and a calorie-controlled diet.A bulk body, on the other hand, is characterised by high muscle mass and a larger body size. Achieving a bulk body requires focus on resistance training and consuming more calories than your body burns to create a caloric surplus.
Ultimately, the decision between a lean and bulk body comes down to your personal preferences and fitness goals. Some people may prefer a lean body for aesthetic reasons or to compete in bodybuilding competitions, while others may prefer a bulk body for strength and power sports or to achieve a larger, more muscular physique.
Regardless of which type of body you choose to strive for, prioritise your health and well-being by practicing safe and effective training and nutrition habits, getting enough rest and recovery, and working with a qualified fitness professional to ensure you're on the right track.