For most people, getting their desired body is more than just going to the gym and lifting weights as hard as you can for as long as you can. Muscle development also entails the journey you put your body through, through diet, to achieve your body goal. After all, abs are made in the kitchen. This article will explain maingaining as a tool to reach your desired body and whether you should try it.
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What is maingaining?
To understand maingaining, we must first understand the traditional approaches to bodybuilding and looking muscular. Traditionally, building prominent muscles involves two phases, bulking and cutting.
The bulk phase involves eating excess calories while working out to use those calories to build muscles. However, because you are bulking, you also gain a layer of fat over all your muscles. This is where the cutting phase comes in.
💡 Quick Tip: You require sufficient resistance training to properly reap the benefits of bulking. I recommend the Rogue AB-3 Adjustable Bench to help you with several exercises and variations, especially if your home gym still needs a bench with this feature.
Rogue AB-3 Adjustable Bench
Maingaining is an alternative approach to building muscles. The basic idea is that your calorie consumption should match your caloric maintenance level while focusing on slowly building muscles without adding fat (as you would while bulking).
The goal is to consume calories around your maintenance level, the general calorie requirement for your body to carry out its tasks, hence the name, maingaining.
How maingaining works
The body primarily stores energy as fat; the body also uses energy to build muscles. Maingaining makes the body use its energy stored as fat to build muscles. As a result, rather than bulking with 500+ calories more than the maintenance level, maingaining only has you eat maintenance-level calories or a little energy surplus of 100 or 200 calories. Your body also requires protein for this to work, and you can up your protein intake with the Premier Protein Shake, Caramel, 11.5 Fl. Oz.
Should you try maingaining?
You should know that maingaining will be more favorable to people with a decent amount of fat storage in their bodies. Your body can only convert the fat to energy if there is fat to begin with. As a result, you should try maingaining if you already have decent fat storage, as it will help you see optimal results. However, the results may be less than optimal if you are already lean, as there will be no energy source.
Maingaining is also suitable for beginners in weightlifting because of newbie gains. Beginners quickly develop muscles with little to no changes in their diet, so it is easier to leverage maingaining as a beginner.
You can also expect good results from maingaining if you are simply trying to recover muscle mass you have recently lost through muscle memory.
Maingaining vs Body Recomposition
Maingaining is an extension of the popular body recomposition. Body recomposition involves losing fat mass while accumulating fat-free mass, such as muscles, over a period. The difference between maingaining and body composition is that while you need a bit of caloric surplus for the former, body recomposition can be effective even with you are in a caloric deficit.
With body recomposition, you are losing fat while developing muscles. Your weight may remain the same or even increase while you get noticeably smaller, albeit stronger. However, it is also challenging or downright impossible to achieve body recomposition if you have low fat levels.
Maingaining vs Bulking
Depending on how you look at it, maingaining is simply a more controlled form of bulking. Bulking requires you to eat way above your maintenance level to have enough calories to facilitate muscle development. However, there is no specific or neat distribution between what excess calories work to build muscles or what gets stored as fat, so you will need to undergo a cutting phase to lose the excess fat over the muscles.
💡 Quick Tip: While cutting, you still need to work out to ensure you do not lose muscle cells as you burn fat. You can get the Hex Dumbbells to incorporate resistance training into your cutting phase.
Because maingaining is more controlled, you eat very slightly over the maintenance level leaving little excess calories that go into building muscles after sufficient resistance training. As a result, you have very little fat storage and may not require a cutting phase after building those muscles.
You should note that while maingaining may not require a cutting phase, it will take longer to develop muscles as your maintenance level or slight surplus calorie intake will not be enough for quick muscle development. On the other hand, excess calories mean you will see gains faster if you apply proper resistance training. As a result, you have to trade-off between faster muscle development and cutting later and slower muscle development without cutting. Whichever route you prefer to take, I recommend the Ohio Bar – Cerakote for your barbell exercises.
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Maingaining vs Lean Bulking
Lean bulking is very similar to maingaining, except that the focus is on what you eat and how much you eat, rather than simply how much you eat. Lean bulking is also called clean bulking and is the opposite of dirty bulking.
With lean bulking, you are conscious of the kinds of meals you eat for your calories to ensure you are in a slight caloric surplus. Saying it this way, lean bulking is more or less maingaining, but with a twist. For example, clean bulking, unlike dirty bulking, emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods as it is easier to supervise your calorie intake. One may say the difference between lean bulking and maingaining is not in the amount of calories you consume, but in the kinds of meals you consume.