Article By: Nachiketh shetty When the entire world around you is trying to shed the final layer of fat despite having visible abs, it is human nature to hesitate to go against general trend and focus on doing just the opposite. Moreover, social media will make it even more difficult to accept the fat gains, no matter how small. All the mechanisms that go into growing muscle mass do not require you to be on a calorie surplus. However, to make the most optimal amount of gains, it is recommended to go beyond your maintenance calories. Eat at your maintenance on the first week of your bulking phase, while keeping the proteins constant (~2gm/kg of bodyweight). If your weekly average weight stays the same, then add another 200-300kcals on top of the current diet. During the initial days, the weight might shoot up drastically due to sudden increase in calories. However, if you stick to the same calories, your bodyweight will come down slightly. Keep adding the calories progressively every time you hit a plateau. Throughout the process, you need to be disciplined with your diet. Eating more food does not necessarily mean more muscle gains. There is a limit to how much muscle you can put on naturally. Eating anything beyond that will result in unwanted fat gains. Just eating over your maintenance will not be sufficient if you want to gain muscle. When trying to put on muscle your workout will be more important than your nutrition. Until and unless you push yourself in the weight room and keep increasing the volume of the workout progressively, you will see little to no progress. Do not be the guy who lifts like he used to lift on a deficit and still expects to grow crazy amount of mass. Program your workout such that you target the high priority muscle groups in the beginning of the workout and then move towards the already well built muscles. If you have a strong lower back and well built traps but lack some size in your lats, then you need to place the lat exercises towards the beginning of your ‘Back-day’. Once your nutrition and workout are on point, then that’s just half the battle won; the real war begins now! As mentioned before, when on a surplus, you need to be meticulous with your nutrition. Track your diet on a daily basis on food tracking apps every day. Similarly, click progress pictures under the same conditions (lighting, location and angle) everyday on an empty stomach after the loo. Also, you can keep a log of your weight on a daily basis on weight manager apps. These apps will give you a general trend of your weight. If the weekly average weight goes up by more than 0.5-1lb every week (half of that for women), then you need to bring down your calories a little. Keep a tab on the total volume (sets*reps*load) of each exercise you do in the gym. These numbers will give you a good idea about the direction you are moving in. The entire game of bulking will result in some fat gain along with the perpetual muscle gains. Understand that that is a part of the process. For every month of being on a surplus, you’ll need around a week of deficit. I would personally recommend being on a surplus for 8 to 12 months straight and then get on a cutting phase of 8 to 12 weeks. Do not go back to a fat loss routine in the second week. This is bodybuilding, so spend some time in “building” your “body”. If you spend the majority of your training life in a deficit, trying to keep them abs, you might make negligible gains which is not why you work so hard every day for.