TARGET YOUR FAT PERCENTAGE TO MATCH YOUR MUSCLE SIZE
Since fat is distributed all over your body, depending on what you are trying to see and when you want to see it, you can train so that you utilize fat to your advantage. The plan is to let a little more fat join the party as opposed to cutting fat when you are trying to lean out. You do this by cutting out cardio and any intense fat-burning sessions. You also complement your intentional decrease of fat burning with a small increase in your daily carb intake. For those less than 200 pounds add about 100g (or about 400 calories) and those more than 200 pounds add about 150g (about 600 calories). For those on the supersized side of things, you can add even a little more. There is a catch, though. Only add the extras at your morning or lunchtime meals or snacks. You should be shooting for around 12 –16% body fat and not let your fat get above 18% if at all possible. If that sounds high and you are used to normally hanging out at a lower level, then go for it, especially if you have seen results trying to build mass. But for those of you who are perpetually lean and trying to really build some size, you will be glad you can finally eat a few extra calories. If you are one who likes to go even more toward the fat side in the off-season, the excess fat will certainly help your strength but will impede your ability to get those longer-set exercises completed. Oh, and it will become much harder to lose it when you need to, and you will likely lose some of that hard-earned muscle. A way to measure your fat regularly without getting tested is to feel your abs, even possibly see a bump or two. At 12% you should be able to see some bumps. At 16% you may see a ripple here and there or you may not. Hence the range, since everyone carries their fat diferently. Do not let your abs disappear completely.
On the other side, you should not be stage ready, otherwise your diet is probably too strict to allow for good muscle building. Don’t be afraid to eat. Diets less than 2,000 calories per day will not help build mass unless you weigh only 135 pounds. Target 17–20 calories per pound of body weight as your daily goal. For those with faster metabolisms, you may be fine at 25 or even 30 calories per pound, but again, keep an eye on your abs if you want to have a smooth transition to leanness. Finally, make sure you eat good calories for the most part. Remember, you still need to keep your protein intake up at 35–40% of your diet for optimal protein synthesis to push your limits of bigness. For those who use a cheat meal methodology when really cutting, you need to get over it and understand that there is no such thing as a cheat, rather it is essential nutrients for your starved body to maintain muscle. But if you still want to use the word cheat, then it is time to cheat your ass of. You will find some good benefit from this approach for your muscles anyway as the extra fun foods carry important benefits that will enhance your recovery from the heavy loads and will fuel your machine for the next workout. Of course, we are not advocating that you go crazy and forget who you are and why you go to the gym altogether; rather, we’d like to see controlled-frenetic eating where additional calories are not a fear.
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