My Plan For Maingaining

I finished my diet about a month and a half ago now and have been “maingaining” ever since: eating at maintenance calories and slowly getting bigger and stronger. Today I want to go over how it’s gone.

My Rationale

A good place to start would be why I don’t want to bulk and cut, or even “lean bulk.” I’ve done it before and ended up simply gaining a tonne of weight and becoming fat. One big problem was a psychological one whereby I would act as if all additional calories were good calories. That doesn’t make much of a difference day to day, but once I let my guard down and gave in to some junk, it became an all out binge. That’s not to say that I don’t have those foods now, from time to time, but I’m not including the word “bulk” in any of my thoughts so there is still a layer of inhibition to me bingeing.

Another part of my rationale is simply that it’s possible. I’ve found out that you don’t need to be in a surplus to gain muscle, even beyond the newbie gains stage, and so it means being able to gain muscle without fat. I can say over five years of Daygame that it’s better to be lean with less muscle, than fat with more muscle, and so I have extra motivation to stay lean. If I was to bulk, then sure, I would gain muscle a bit faster, but I would end up putting on way more fat than was worth it.

Calories and Exercise

What’s interesting to me is that my calories are very similar to what I was dieting on: 2850 versus 3000. And the food content is exactly the same; it’s almost unnoticeable to chuck in an extra 150 calories each day. I’m also still weighing myself each morning and tracking my calories to ensure I’m not letting them creep up over time.

The larger difference is that I’m doing less steps per day. At the end of my diet I was doing 12k per day, but a while before that it was around 15k per day. CICO, after all, and that’s an additional 130-325 calories I’m now not burning each day.

Workout Plan

Here’s my weekly schedule:

  • Monday: chest, arms
  • Tuesday: back, shoulders
  • Wednesday/Thursday (whichever is more suitable that week): legs, cardio
  • Friday: chest, arms
  • Saturday: back, shoulders

And the individual workouts:

Chest:

Flat bench press 3*15

Incline DB press: 3*12

Cable flyes: 3*15

Arms:

Rope pushdown: 3*15

Dips machine: 2*15

DB curls: 3*15

Machine curl: 2*15

Back:

Pull-ups: 3*15 (currently assisted and working my way down in support)

Machine row: 3*15

Lat pulldown: 3*15

Shoulders:

Rear delt flye (reverse pec deck): 5*15

Lateral delt raise machine: 5*15

Legs:

Leg press: 4*10

Leg extension: 3*15

Leg curl: 3*15

Cardio:

15% incline treadmill walking

Aims

For progressive overload, I’ll increase the weight on the third set of the main lifts (bench, pull-ups and leg press) and work my way up from 10 to 15 reps, then do the same for the second then first sets, before increasing the weight on the third set and repeating. For the rest of the exercises I focus more on form and will increase them every now and then when I feel like they are becoming easy.

In terms of actual weight gain, my aim is to gain six pounds a year (0.5 pounds per month), and so if I achieve that I think most, if not all of it, will be muscle; I may even lose some fat and so it could be greater than six pounds of muscle. I’m working with the assumption that if I am gaining weight at a slow pace while getting stronger and lifting in the 10-15 rep range that it will be muscle gain.

Results So Far

I started maingaining in July at 192.4 lbs and so my aim for the start of September weigh-in will be 193.4. I’ve overshot that recently and so decreased my calories slightly from 3000 to 2900. It’s a small change but it adds up. A lot of that quick weight gain was from feeling more freedom to eat higher calorie foods and going over the top on weekends. I’m hoping that by eating a little bit less during the week and giving myself those calories to eat on the weekend, that I’ll be able to balance things out.

I think that it’s easier to stick to a plan where there are clearly delineated rules. So rather than eat 3000 calories a day and then have a free for all on the weekend, to instead bank an extra 500 calories during the week and then spend them as I like on the weekend. I’m unsure about pushing that lower, though, as I don’t want to have, say, 2500 calories a day, and then spend the “saved” 2500 calories on the week, because in my opinion that’s just bingeing and restricting. This is all a journey and I’m sure I’ll come to some kind of peace with what to do on weekends; it’s another skill to learn.

Yours unfaithfully,

Thomas Crown

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3 thoughts on “My Plan For Maingaining

  1. I don’t know a thing about weight loss but I looked at the exercise plan and it doesn’t seem optimal for gains:
    – all the exercises are performed in the same 10-15 rep range. There are aesthetic benefits to using a variety of rep ranges*
    – pull up and lat pull down are interchangeable
    – the barbell squat, overhead press, and row are not included. These are perhaps the 3 best mass-gainer exercises. Compound exercises are also better than isolation ones in preventing injuries caused by muscle imbalances
    – from what I can tell, the upper body workouts are repeated twice weekly so there’s a lack of muscle confusion
    – there’s no lower back or ab training
    If I were working with this template, I would:
    – design 2 versions of the upper body workout A/B to hit the muscles in a different manner
    – the shoulders/back workout “B” would include heavy barbell OH press and rows for 3-5 sets of 5
    – the arms/chest workout “B” would require only a loadable dumbbell so that it can be performed at home instead of requiring a friday gym visit
    Of course, there are also other things to consider such as plateaus, periodization and deloads. IMO a trainer or a expert designed routine can help here.
    * “There are three mechanisms of hypertrophy: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage”https://www.t-nation.com/training/the-3-essential-workout-methods-for-muscle/
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/8a/b6/35/8ab63598139f42f6381d0e6c139049b7.jpg

    Liked by 1 person

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