Maingaining: The Ultimate Guide to Building Muscle

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Mar 24,2024|15 min| 5630

Maingaining: The Key to Building Muscle

Traditional cutting and bulking routines that leave you feeling drained and unsatisfied. Eating too much, too fast can really do a number on you, and same with cutting calories too fast. Enter maingaining, the key to building muscle mass while maintaining a healthy weight. This was actually something that came up when Michael Liu interviewed Alex Bromley for the Boostcamp Podcast, so let's dissect the science behind maingaining and muscle building, the role of nutrition in maingaining, and how to calculate your caloric surplus for optimum muscle gain. We'll also compare maingaining with the traditional bulk and cut method, identifying who can benefit from maingaining and how to measure your progress while on this journey. Additionally, we'll discuss the importance of balancing calories and metabolism in maingaining, as well as answering the question: can you achieve fat loss and muscle gain simultaneously? By the end of this blog, you'll have all the tools and strategies necessary to incorporate maingaining into your fitness routine.

Understanding the Concept of Maingaining

Maingaining is a concept that combines muscle building and maintenance at a specific calorie maintenance level for long-term results. It offers a sustainable approach to building muscle without the need for excessive bulking and cutting phases. With maingaining, you can achieve a balanced body composition and avoid the common yo-yo effect of traditional bulking and cutting. The key difference lies in focusing on a calorie surplus, where you consume extra calories to support muscle growth, while keeping an eye on the number of calories you intake to avoid gaining too much fat. By following a lean bulk approach and maintaining a slight caloric surplus, you can maximize muscle mass gains while minimizing fat gain. This approach is especially beneficial for beginners who experience rapid progress in muscle gain, also known as newbie gains. Additionally, protein supplements can be incorporated to meet protein requirements and support muscle growth. By practicing maingaining, you can transform your physique and achieve long-term success in building muscle and ideally gaining a little muscle mass as well.

The Science Behind Maingaining and Muscle Building

Maingaining, the careful balance of muscle building and maintenance, involves creating a slight calorie surplus to support maximum muscle mass growth. During this process, your body utilizes the excess calories to build new muscle tissue. To achieve optimum results, maingaining requires proper nutrition and progressive strength training. By following this approach, you can optimize muscle hypertrophy for maximum gains in the shortest time. However, it's crucial to maintain a consistent workout routine for stimulating much muscle growth. Maingaining offers a sustainable alternative to traditional bulking and cutting methods, allowing you to achieve long-term results without the drawbacks of weight fluctuations.

Role of Nutrition in Maingaining

Image courtesy of Instagram (@megafitmeals)

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in maingaining, providing the necessary fuel for muscle growth. A balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is crucial for supporting maingaining. Optimal nutrient timing can enhance muscle recovery and growth during the process, while proper hydration is essential for muscle function and overall performance. Quality nutrition not only supports muscle development but also promotes overall health and well-being while maingaining. By ensuring your body receives the right nutrients in the right amounts, you can maximize your muscle-building results and maintain them in the long term.

Choosing the Right Foods for Maingaining

Choosing the right foods for maingaining is crucial for supporting muscle growth and optimizing your fitness journey. Focus on incorporating whole, nutrient-dense foods into your diet, such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It's important to include a variety of protein sources, like lean poultry, fish, eggs, and plant-based options, to provide your muscles with the necessary building blocks. Additionally, incorporating complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa will provide sustained energy for your workouts. Don't forget to include healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil, as they support hormone production. Lastly, avoid processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive alcohol consumption while maingaining.

Importance of Protein in Building Muscle

When it comes to maingaining, protein plays a crucial role in muscle building. Your body needs protein for growth and repair, especially during intense workouts. To ensure optimal muscle synthesis, it's important to consume enough protein based on your individual needs. Choose lean protein sources like chicken, fish, tofu, and Greek yogurt to incorporate into your diet. If you find it challenging to meet your protein requirements through food alone, consider supplementing with whey protein powder. Remember to distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day to support muscle protein synthesis.

Caloric Surplus and Its Implications in Maingaining

To achieve maingaining and promote weight gain effectively, it's important to understand the concept of caloric surplus. A slight caloric surplus is necessary for supporting muscle growth and adding extra muscle slowly. Start by calculating your maintenance calories and add a small surplus to promote muscle synthesis and your weight gain journey. Monitoring your weight and body composition is crucial in determining the effectiveness of your caloric surplus for weight gain. However, be mindful not to exceed a large caloric surplus, as it can lead to excessive fat gain. Adjust your caloric intake as needed based on your progress and goals. By maintaining a balanced caloric surplus, you can maximize muscle gain while minimizing fat accumulation and achieve your desired weight gain.

Calculating Your Caloric Surplus for Optimum Muscle Gain

Determine your maintenance calories by tracking your current food intake and bodyweight. To support muscle gain, add a modest surplus of 250-500 calories per day. Monitor your progress closely and adjust your caloric surplus accordingly. Consistency in tracking your food intake is crucial to staying within your target surplus. If needed, consult with a nutritionist or dietician for personalized guidance on caloric surplus calculation. Remember, calculating and maintaining the right caloric surplus is essential for achieving optimum muscle gain.

Comparison of Maingaining with Traditional Cutting and Bulking

When it comes to building muscle, maingaining offers a more sustainable approach to weight loss compared to traditional cutting and bulking. While traditional methods involve drastic calorie deficits and surpluses, maingaining allows for a gradual body recomposition with minimal fat gain and muscle loss. The idea behind maingaining goes against the traditional bodybuilding wisdom where you alter between bulking and cutting. The focus of maingaining is on maintaining a lean body mass rather than fluctuating between extremes. This balanced approach to bodybuilding ensures long-term success and avoids the pitfalls of traditional cutting and bulking. By choosing maingaining, individuals can achieve their physique goals while prioritizing overall health and well-being.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Cutting and Bulking

Traditional cutting and bulking have their pros and cons. When it comes to traditional cutting, it can lead to fat loss, but it may also result in muscle loss and metabolic slowdown. On the other hand, bulking phases can lead to significant muscle gain, but they can also lead to excessive fat gain. Both approaches require strict dieting and constant adjustments. However, these methods can be mentally and physically challenging, especially for beginners. Rapid weight fluctuations during traditional cutting and bulking can also be discouraging. It's important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding which approach is a great way to get out of yo-yo dieting and stay lean year-round.

Is Maingaining Ideal for Everyone?

Maingaining, the balanced approach to muscle building, is suitable for individuals who want to avoid extreme dieting and weight fluctuations. It can benefit both beginners and experienced individuals in their fitness journey. However, those with specific aesthetic goals or time constraints may opt for traditional cutting and bulking. Consulting with a fitness professional can help determine if maingaining is the right approach for you.

Identifying Who Can Benefit from Maingaining

Maingaining, the approach to building muscle without gaining excess fat, is suitable for various individuals looking to gain muscle, including overweight people. Those who aim to increase muscle mass while maintaining their current body weight can benefit from maingaining. It is particularly ideal for individuals who are already at a healthy body fat level and want to avoid traditional bulking and cutting phases. Athletes and bodybuilders looking to make progress without drastic weight fluctuations can also consider maingaining to gain muscle. Additionally, anyone seeking a balanced body composition can find maingaining to be a viable option for gaining muscle. With maingaining, achieving muscle growth while minimizing fat gain becomes attainable.

How to Measure Your Progress While Maingaining?

Measuring your progress while maingaining is crucial for tracking your muscle growth. Keep an eye on changes in body weight and body fat percentage, assess strength gains from weight training, evaluate body shape and muscle definition, take regular measurements, and record workout performance and energy levels.

Tools and Strategies to Monitor Your Maingaining Journey

To effectively monitor your maingaining journey, there are several tools and strategies you can utilize. Fitness apps and tracking devices can be valuable in tracking the number of calories burned during exercise and daily activity levels. Keeping a food diary or using a calorie-tracking app can help ensure you're consuming enough calories for maingaining. Regularly taking progress photos can visually track changes in body composition, providing an indication of your muscle-building progress. Consulting with a fitness professional or nutritionist can offer valuable guidance and support throughout your maingaining journey. Additionally, using body composition analysis tools, such as bioelectrical impedance scales, can provide detailed information on muscle mass and body fat percentage.

Balancing Calories and Metabolism in Maingaining

Balancing calories and metabolism is essential in maingaining. While maingaining requires maintaining a caloric surplus, it shouldn't be to the extent of traditional bulking. It's important to consume enough calories to support muscle growth without excessive fat gain. Understanding your maintenance calories and adjusting your intake accordingly is crucial for achieving the right balance. Monitoring your body weight and making necessary adjustments to your caloric intake can help you strike a balance between muscle gain and fat control. It's also important to take into account individual differences in metabolism and adjust your caloric intake as needed to ensure a small calorie surplus is maintained. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a calorie surplus is not always necessary to gain muscle.

Why is Maintaining Metabolic Health Crucial in Maingaining?

Maintaining metabolic health is essential for efficient energy utilization during maingaining. It optimizes nutrient absorption and utilization, supporting muscle growth and overall energy levels. A healthy metabolism aids in maintaining a balanced body composition and long-term success in achieving muscle gain without excessive fat accumulation.

Can You Achieve Fat Loss and Muscle Gain Simultaneously?

Achieving simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain is challenging but possible. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods and protein intake to support muscle growth while promoting fat loss. Combine resistance training and cardiovascular exercise for desired body composition changes. Balance caloric intake and expenditure for success. Consult with professionals for personalized strategies.

What Happens if You Don't Meet Your Protein Requirements in Maingaining?

Insufficient protein intake during maingaining can hinder muscle growth and recovery. Meeting protein requirements is crucial for preserving lean body mass while in a caloric surplus. Inadequate protein intake may slow down progress and impede muscle hypertrophy. Proper protein consumption, around 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue. Consulting a nutritionist or dietitian can help determine the right protein intake for individual maingaining goals.

Alex Bromley's Take on Maingaining

Renowned powerlifter and strongman, Alex Bromley, gave his input on maingaining during the Boostcamp Podcast with Michael Liu. Alex said he had no idea what the controversy of maingaining was, because he had never watched a video or read anything about it. Michael explained it, and Alex said that it is possible if people are eating and training right, but genetics play a huge factor in things like body fat, and the question is how long can you make gains before plateauing. Something like this would require extreme focus, obsession, and attention to detail for things like diet, training, and recovery.

You can check out the rest of the episode here!

Finding Workout Programs

When looking for a program to use while you are maingaining, you can surely get a cookie cutter program that a regular trainer will charge you a crazy amount for. But keep in mind that there are plenty of good programs available on Boostcamp to help you make progress with your maingaining. A good program will keep you on track, making sure that you are making the most gains and maximizing your time in the gym. If you are looking to stay on track and continue with linear progression with your barbell squat, then finding a good workout program is the key. 

Boostcamp is home to over 50 FREE workout programs that consist of strength, hypertrophy, or functional fitness, or both, from the push pull legs program all the way to upper lower, there are so many programs to choose from that can help fit your needs. However, with Boostcamp, you don’t have to just follow a pre-written program (although each program is written by a professional), you also can create your own program as well, and track your progress to make sure you are on the right track. That being said, when you are looking to incorporate some serious training to further your progress on your squat by bodyweight, then check out Boostcamp.


In conclusion, maingaining is a balanced approach to building muscle and maintaining a healthy body composition. It focuses on gaining muscle mass while minimizing fat gain by carefully managing your caloric intake and nutrition. By choosing the right foods and ensuring an adequate protein intake, you can support muscle growth and recovery. It's important to monitor your progress and make adjustments as necessary to optimize your results. Maingaining may not be suitable for everyone, so it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert before starting any new program. With a consistent effort, proper nutrition, and smart training, maingaining can help you achieve your muscle-building goals while maintaining overall health and well-being.

Boostcamp has plenty of free programs that help with both strength and hypertrophy, be sure to check them out and follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!