This question somewhat falls under theory since every body is different, I understand that, but figured I'd ask anyways.

Let's say I've managed to find a diet and exercise routine that fits my everyday lifestyle and I'm happy with my body fat percentage (last time I checked years ago I was at ~12%). I've been working out for around 10 years and I'd say my body has sort of peaked as far as any major body transformation. Now let's say I wanted to add a few lbs of lean muscle mass yet retaining my bodyfat percentage. Is it as simple as increasing my calorie intake (keeping the same protein/fat/carb ratio as before), maybe lifting a few more lbs and running an extra mile or two to keep up with the extra calories?

  • 1
    You need to increase calories to support an increase in mass. If you increase calories too much, the excess that does not go to new muscle will end up as body fat. As you can imagine this is a hard line to walk. Depending on how you want to approach the issue you can either have sub-optimal goals from a small increase in calories, or you can take @Sancho's approach and get optimal results first then working on cutting the BF back separately.
    – Moses
    Jul 10, 2012 at 22:11

3 Answers 3


It is very important to understand that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to generate new muscle. Additionally the type of muscle you build depends on the type of training you do. So the answer to your question is "yes" you need to increase your calories, and your training.

Both by experience, and by anecdotal evidence, if you want to increase the size of your muscles, you need to increase the volume of your training. While there is truth to the hypertrophy ranges (sets of 8-12 reps), you'll need more variation than that. Here are some training related pointers:

  • You can do intensity followed by volume like in Wendler's 5-3-1 program (after your main work sets you do 5 sets of 10 at 40-60%)
  • You can vary sets/reps like Smolov Jr.
  • You can embark on a high volume program like Sheiko

The thing with volume related programs, you will need to eat a lot more just to keep up with them. The good news is that the amount you have to eat will help you clean bulk. Bump up the food by 600 Calories. It might be beneficial to load the bulk of your carbs on training days to leverage the hormone spiking impacts that can help build muscle without increasing fat to the same proportion.


Yes, although you won't necessarily have to add running if you're lifting is heavy enough to demand the extra calories all to itself.

You could also overshoot, eating more than necessary to make sure you hit your strength gains, and then lift to maintain that new strength while cutting back on calories to lose any "excess" fat.


The thing with body fat percentage is it's proportional to the rest of your bodyweight, so if you're increasing your muscle mass 8lbs and gain 1lbs of fat, at 12%, your BF% would stay the same.

Lifting heavy would be the way to go, that's what's necessary to stimulate muscle growth. Rather than eating more, I would suggest increasing the quality of the food you're eating, particularly proteins. Different protein foods have different biological values (BV), with the higher BV giving you better protein absorbtion. Also, especially given you've been holding steady for a while, unless you've been obsessively counting calories for the past 10 years, starting now isn't going to help. Just eat to whatever amount your hunger dictates.

As far as running extra miles goes, I don't think that's really necessary, but if you're already running I'd suggest not increasing your time to match the distance. So if you're running an extra mile each outing, aim to keep it within the same length of time. This is the same principle as increasing the weight that you're lifting rather than increasing the reps.

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