In the previous article, we discussed some nutritional strategies to help you guys with fat loss while being stuck at home. Also, how to use these unfortunate times to progress and move forward rather than falling off the wagon.
Today we will talk about people on the other end of the spectrum, the people who are trying to gain muscle.
Well, you guys are the lucky ones! Seriously, taking some time off the gym is not a big concern and it can actually be a good thing. You can use it as a time to deload and give some rest to your body and joints. That will help you to recover from all the hardcore heavy weight lifting you hopefully have been doing lately in the gym.
Now, I will not be one of those guys to tell you that Bodyweight training is as effective as lifting heavy weights to build slubs of muscles. However, I can guarantee that it will help you at least maintain it. Actually, for beginners, it is very possible to even gain some muscle switching to bodyweight training.
For sample workouts, check my ultimate at home muscle building plan. Nowt, let’s look at the other half of the equation and the most important one: Nutrition.
Eating To Build Muscles During Quarantine
Nutrition will dictate your results during this quarantine. If you think just because you don’t get to go to the gym and lift heavy stuff you can eat pizza and binge-watch the last season of the Mandalorian, you are wrong. Our goal during these times should be to perfect our Nutrition plan as much as possible especially that we can’t do much regarding training. So, let’s go on how you should eat depending on your current shape.
Again, similar to fat loss, your approach to nutrition will depend on your starting point. Usually, people trying to build muscle will fall into one of these categories: a hard gainer looking to pack on as much mass as possible or people trying to lean bulk(skinny fat is also included in this category).
Both categories require a different approach to nutrition to increase the efficiency of their gaining phase and avoid unessential fat gain.
Category 1: Skinny Guys/Hard Gainers
Basically, you fall under this category if you are a naturally skinny guy who usually face a hard time adding weight and usually you don’t gain much bodyfat. I mean we all know that friend that never seem to gain weight besides eating a jar of peanut butter and a box of cereal every morning.
For you guys it is very important to keep an eye on your calorie intake. Usually, skinny people don’t have a big appetite and naturally, they tend to eat less and skip meals. When they are regularly going to the gym, it is easier for skinnier dudes to stick to a routine of having several high protein high carbs meals in addition to the appetite stimulation they might get from lifting heavy weights and grinding in the gym. But now with the gym closed, your first priority as a skinny guy starving to gain muscle and avoid muscle loss (it can happen if you undereat) is to monitor your caloric intake and make sure you are eating in a deficit.
Now, how much of a surplus?
Since fat gain is usually not common among people under this category, a surplus of up to 20-25% is recommended.Also, your protein intake should be a minimum of 0.8g/lb of bodyweight or even higher if possible. You can fill out the rest of the calories from both carbs and fats as you wish while making sure that at least 20% of your overall calories are from fat.
I personally like to consume most of my fats earlier in the day with minimum carbs and saving the carbs for later meals and the post workout meal. That way you avoid eating high amounts of fats and high amounts of carbs at the same time which may cause you to gain unwanted bodyfat.
So to set up your calorie target simply multiply your bodyweight(not lean bodyweight) by 15 and add 20-25% to it. So let’s say you weigh 160 lbs :
So in this situation, your goal will be to consume 2880-3000 calories every single day to keep growing muscles.
Also, even if you don’t gain fat easily, now more than ever before, it is crucial to eat whole healthy food with a lot of fruit and vegetable. That will not only enhance your muscle building efforts but also boost your immune system. That will increase your chances of staying alive and in turn to show off your gains when it’s time to go outside again. which hopefully will be soon.
Category 2: Intermediate Lifters or Those Who Gain Fat Easily
Now, unless you are a genetic freak who keeps packing on slabs of muscles with minimal fat after 2 or more years of training, then good for you lucky bastards. You can follow the same guidelines as skinnier guys and don’t worry much about potential fat gain.
For the rest of us, average joes, we need to be more cautious. After the newbie gains are gone, building muscle becomes a very slow process. Gaining fat, on the other hand, is very fast. That’s why we should no put ourselves in a very large surplus. Otherwise, we will end up gaining so much fat and looking a water buffalo.
So, we have two options here. The first one is eating at maintenance and maintain our physiques for a month or two. This will be beneficial for our body composition in the long run. The second option is to eat on a slight calorie surplus. This is about 5-10% surplus at most to try to possibly build some muscles.
Honestly, if you are an intermediate lifter and you have been lifting regularly for more than 2 years unless you have access to some dumbbells or barbell, it is going to be very difficult to build muscle. So, I would suggest eating at maintenance and doing some challenging bodyweight workouts to maintain your muscle mass.
Skinny fat individuals also fall under this category. For them, they can eat on a surplus since they have a higher chance of gaining some muscle mass doing bodyweight workouts.
So definitely there is no need to go overboard and eat at a large surplus.
And that’s it for muscle building nutrition while in quarantine. Hopefully, this will be over soon and we can all go back to the gym and maximize our results.