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What is Maingaining, and Should You Give it a Shot to Build Muscle?

Let's dive right in: Maingaining is the new buzz in the fitness and nutrition world. It's all about maintaining your body fat while slowly building muscle. When someone talks about gaining muscle and losing weight at the same time, they're talking about body recomposition or maingaining.

Forget the rollercoaster of bulking and cutting. Instead of stuffing yourself during a bulk and then starving through a cut, maingaining lets you enjoy a healthy diet year-round, keeping you lean.

Understanding Body Composition

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's clarify body composition. It's the balance between your lean mass (everything except fat) and fat mass. Don't mix it up with body fat percentage; it's just one part of the big picture.

The Deal with Body Recomposition

Body recomposition is the name of the game. It's about gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously. No more bulking up with muscle and then slashing calories to shed the fat. Body recomposition is all about shedding fat, not just weight.

Now, let's be clear, this isn't a quick fix. You're in it for the long haul, but the results are sustainable. Keep up the good work, and you'll enjoy your new physique for the long run.

Traditional Fitness Nutrition

Bodybuilders and gym buffs often stick to the old-school approach, cycling through bulking, cutting, and maintenance phases. Each phase serves a purpose: building muscle, trimming fat, or maintaining gains. But here's the twist - maingaining offers a fourth option.

Let's break down the classic trio first.

Bulking: It's all about eating more than you burn to gain muscle. Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), then add some extra calories on top of it. Combined with strength training, this approach fuels muscle growth.

Cutting: This phase flips the script. You go back to your TDEE but subtract calories this time. Keep hitting the weights, and your body will burn the excess fat from your bulking phase.

Maintenance: Once you're content with your gains, it's maintenance mode. You continue tracking your calorie intake to match your TDEE. This way, you maintain what you've worked so hard for.

How Does Body Recomposition Roll?

No strict rules here. Body recomposition is about reaching your unique fitness goals. It's not about extreme diets or intense cardio. Here's the basic game plan:

  • Reduce calorie intake to shed fat.
  • Mix in some cardio to torch calories.
  • Pump iron to build muscle.
  • Up your protein game for muscle growth.

Losing Fat 101

Fat loss boils down to calorie control. You've got to eat fewer calories than your body burns. A balanced approach with cardio, resistance training, and a healthy diet is the way to go.

Don't go overboard with unrealistic goals or deprive yourself. Extreme diets can harm your health. Challenge your muscles through strength training while nourishing them with the right nutrients.

Calorie Cycling

Healthy nutrition concept

It might sound counterintuitive, but here's the deal: cut calories to lose fat, but bump them up for muscle growth. On your weight training days, feast on protein and calories to fuel muscle repair. On cardio and rest days, cut calories to tap into stored body fat.

Master this calorie cycling dance, and you're on your way to successful body recomposition.

Why Choose Maingaining?

Bulking and cutting can feel like a rollercoaster ride, and not everyone's up for it. Maingaining is the steady path to building muscle while staying lean. Sure, it takes longer, but it's worth it if you value a lean physique.

Why opt for maingaining?

  • You already have the muscle you want and aim to stay lean.
  • Bulking and cutting isn't your jam.
  • Consistent high performance is your goal.
  • Hormone balance and overall health matter to you.
  • Gradual strength and muscle gains are all you need.
  • Women and skinny-fat enthusiasts often opt for maingaining.

Who Benefits Most?

While there are no hard rules, maingaining suits some situations better:

  • Beginners and intermediates can make the most of newbie gains.
  • Returning to lifting after a break? Maingaining helps you regain muscle.

If you have moderate body fat, you can gain muscle without a calorie surplus.

Who Should Skip Maingaining?

Maingaining isn't for everyone:

  • Hard-gainers need a surplus to build muscle.
  • Very low body fat levels won't work for maingaining.
  • If you're significantly overweight, maingaining isn't the ticket.
  • If you want rapid muscle gains, the traditional route might suit you better.

What About Supplements?

Supplements can boost your muscle-building journey, but they won't replace proper diet and exercise. Creatine, protein, and rehydration supplements are popular choices for muscle gains.

In a Nutshell

So, which path is right for you? Bulking, cutting, or maingaining? It boils down to your goals and preferences. If you're in for quick muscle mass, the classic route might be your gig. But if you prefer to stay lean and gain muscle gradually, maingaining is the way forward. The choice is yours, champ!

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!