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wikiHow to Build Muscle Without Fat

Three Methods:Building Muscle through DietUsing Proper Training Techniques to Build MuscleWorking Out to Build MuscleCommunity Q&A

Bulking up typically involves consuming more calories in order to feed the muscles you are building. The problem with eating more is that it can be challenging to avoid also putting on extra fat at the same time. Fortunately, it is possible to build muscle without fat by relying on good nutrition and proper strength training.

Building Muscle through Diet

  1. 1
    Determine your optimal daily calorie intake for building muscle. In order to build more muscle, you need to consume enough calories every day. Extremely active men, such as body builders and other athletes, need at least 3,000 calories per day.[1] Highly active women can need between 2,200 and 2,400 calories daily.[2]
  2. 2
    Get your calorie ratios right. When you want to build muscle without fat, aim for getting 40% of your daily calories from protein, another 40% from quality carbohydrates, and 20% from healthy fats.[3]
    • Calculate the actual number of calories for each food group by multiplying total calories to be consumed in a day by 40% for both protein and carbs or 20% for fats, then divide by 100.
    • For a 175 pound male who is consuming 3,000 calories per day, he would eat 1,200 calories of protein, 1,200 calories of carbs, and 600 calories of healthy fats throughout the day.
    • The calculation to determine protein or carb intake for the above example is as follows: 3,000 x 40% / 100 = 1,200 calories.
    • As another example, an active 130 pound woman might need to consume 2,000 calories per day. That breaks down to 800 calories from protein, 800 calories from carbs, and 400 calories from fats.
  3. 3
    Eat more protein every day. Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue. To build bigger muscles, you need to eat more protein. It is especially important to feed your body protein immediately after strength training.[4]
    • When working to build muscle, aim for eating approximately one gram of protein per pound of body weight every day.[5]
    • Healthy protein sources include lean meats, fish, milk, eggs, soy, and beans.[6]
  4. 4
    Include the right carbohydrates in your diet. Quality carbohydrates, or carbs, that are high in fiber and nutrients are an important part of a balanced diet.[7] They are especially important for building muscle because carbs are the body’s main source of energy. [8] Carbs will give you sustained energy throughout your workout.
    • Quality carbs are those that are unrefined and unprocessed, and contain many nutrients.[9]
    • Examples of quality carbohydrate sources include sweet potatoes, oats, chickpeas, brown rice, blueberries, and bananas.
    • Avoid low quality carbs that are heavily processed, made with bleached white flour, or contain refined sugars, including high-fructose corn syrup.
    • Examples of low quality carbs include boxed cereals, bagels, donuts, most cookies and crackers, and many packaged breads.
    • Failing to consume enough carbs can result in catabolism, in which your body turns to muscle tissue for energy. Your body will burn muscle instead of fat.[10]
  5. 5
    Add healthy fats to your diet. Fats are an excellent way to get bigger when building muscle. You just need to consume healthy fats versus bad ones.
    • Examples of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, natural nut butters, and fish, such as salmon and tuna.[11]
    • Examples of unhealthy fats to exclude from your diet include margarine, fatty cuts of meat, and full-fat dairy products.
    • Fats provide approximately 9 calories per gram versus protein and carbohydrates that provide only 4 calories per gram.[12]
    • Stick to healthy fat sources and limit them to 20% of your overall calorie intake each day.[13]
  6. 6
    Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking water daily is essential to building muscle. One of its functions is to deliver nutrients to your muscle tissue, as well as other parts of the body.[14]
    • When you are working to build muscle, you'll need more water than the average person. You need to replace the fluids your body loses while perspiring when working out.[15] When building muscle, men should drink at least one full gallon of water daily.[16] Women building muscle can drink between 96 ounces (12 cups) and one full gallon daily.
  7. 7
    Use quality supplements, if desired. While supplements are not mandatory when building muscle without fat, many people find that supplements help them increase their muscle mass faster.
    • The most important supplements for building muscle without fat include multivitamin supplements with an amino acid blend, protein powders (avoid mass gainers and low carb powders), and creatine.
    • Additional supplements that can be beneficial when building muscle include L-Carnitine and L-Arginine. These both contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.[17]

Using Proper Training Techniques to Build Muscle

  1. 1
    Train with weights. If you want to build muscle, you must include strength training in your workout plan. Lifting heavy weights 3-4 days per week should be sufficient to build muscle.[18] There is no need to strength train every day. Your muscles need time to rest and recover, anyhow.
    • Some key exercises to include in your weight lifting regimen are bench press, overhead press, deadlifts, and squats.
    • When lifting weights, focus on 1-2 areas at a time. For instance, work on chest and back one day, legs and glutes another day, and triceps, biceps, and shoulders on yet another day.
  2. 2
    Limit cardio workouts. Doing some cardio can be beneficial for preventing fat gain while building muscle, but too much cardio can actually hinder muscle development.[19]
    • Limit cardio workouts to just once or twice a week when working to build muscle.[20]
    • It’s also a good idea to schedule your cardio workouts for a separate day when you are not strength training. Combining cardio and weight training can put your body into a catabolic state in which muscle tissue is burned for energy instead of fat.[21]
  3. 3
    Avoid overtraining and allow your muscles to rest between workouts. Always give your muscles time to recover after each workout. So, for instance, if you worked on the chest and back one day, then you’ll want to wait a few days before working those muscle groups again. Muscles need time to recover and repair so that they can continue to grow.[22]
    • Overtraining can hinder your muscles’ ability to recover, which can prevent them from growing.[23] This will not help you build muscle.
  4. 4
    Sleep for eight hours every night. Getting enough sleep each night is essential to building muscle without fat. Muscle tissue grows and repairs itself while you are sleeping.[24] A lack of sleep, on the other hand, can lead to weight gain.[25] Not getting enough sleep is counterproductive to building muscle without fat.

Working Out to Build Muscle

  1. 1
    Lift free weights to build bigger arm muscles. There are many different exercises that can help build the biceps and triceps for bigger arms. Free weights are preferred over machine weights because each arm is forced to do the work itself. With machines, the stronger arm can have a tendency to compensate for the weaker one.
    • Bicep exercises include the preacher curl with bar, bicep curls with dumbbells, and hammer curls with dumbbells.[26]
    • Tricep exercises include the seated tricep press, overhead tricep extension lying on a flat bench, and tricep kickbacks. These exercises are all done with dumbbells.[27]
    • Choose at least three exercises each for the biceps and triceps and do three sets of each exercise with 10-15 reps each set.
  2. 2
    Bulk up the chest with targeted moves one day per week. You can build up the pectoral muscles both with weights and without.
    • Push-ups are an excellent body weight exercise for building the chest without weights.
    • The standard bench press with a barbell and weights is a classic chest building exercise. Aim for three sets of 10-20 reps, depending on the amount of weight on the bar.
    • Chest flies with dumbbells on a flat bench is a great exercise for working the chest muscles. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each.
    • The incline dumbbell press works the upper chest area. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for this exercise.[28]
  3. 3
    Strengthen the back muscles once a week. When building up your chest muscles, you don’t want to neglect the back. Having a strong back will keep your body balanced. Three exercises for building a stronger back are lat pull downs, rack pulls, and the seated one-arm cable row. Do three sets of each exercise. For the lat pull downs and one-arm cable rows, perform 12-15 reps for each set. Do 8-10 reps for each set of the rack pulls.[29]
  4. 4
    Build thicker legs and glutes with a mix of machine and free weights. There are plenty of exercises that target the glutes and the different muscle groups of the legs.
    • Squats, the leg press, and even walking lunges are classic exercises for building up the butt muscles.
    • Some excellent exercises for building bigger quadricep muscles include leg extensions, dumbbell step-ups, and lunges.
    • Build bigger and stronger hamstrings with standing or seated leg curls, lunges, and Romanian deadlifts.[30]
    • Perform calf raises with dumbbells or on a machine to pump up the calves.
  5. 5
    Strengthen your abs and core without weights. A strong core will help keep you stable while lifting heavy weights for the other muscle groups of the body. You can easily strengthen your abdominal muscles and entire core area with body weight exercises. Try planks, side planks, crunches, and alternating V-ups to work the abs and core.[31]

Community Q&A

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  • Can I build muscle as a vegetarian?
    User Contributor
    Being a vegetarian, you can eat lot of protein rich foods including all types of fruits and veggies. You can also supplement with protein bars or shakes.
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    • Maintain a healthy diet comprised of quality proteins, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
    • Strength training is essential for building muscle, but you might need to limit cardio to 1-2 days per week for a while.
    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
    • Get around 8 hours of sleep every night.

    Sources and Citations

    1. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/many-calories-average-male-need-day-5165.html
    2. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/recommended-calorie-intake-active-women-4287.html
    3. https://www.gymaholic.co/articles/fitness/how-to-build-muscle-without-fat
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    Categories: Building Muscle & Strength

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