Gaining Fat, Not Muscle? 4 Mistakes You’re Making

Gaining Fat, Not Muscle? 4 Mistakes You’re Making

What’s up, guys? Sean Nalewanyj here at Today’s question: What should you do if
you’re trying to bulk up, you want to gain overall lean mass but it seems like you’re
mostly just gaining fat but not muscle. I get this question all the time. The answer is pretty straight forward. So these are the four main mistakes you might
be making. Mistake number one is that your targeted daily
calorie intake is just set too high. Yes, if you’re trying to do a focus bulk
and you want to maximize you gains then you do need to be eating in a calorie surplus
but a lot of guys who are just starting out, especially those who are naturally very thin
and they want to gain size as quickly as possible, they tend to take that whole ‘Eat big to
get big’ idea just a bit too far. Like I’ve said many times before, there’s
a set limit of how much muscle your body can build over any given day or any given week. And just stuffing your face with more and
more food beyond that maximum threshold to try and speed up the process, that’s only
going to make you fat. Your goal, if you want to make lean gains
and minimize body fat increases, is going to be to eat just enough calories to optimize
hypertrophy but nothing more than that. If you’re gaining much more than about half
a pound of bodyweight per week or three pounds per month at the maximum, then you’re most
likely going overboard and you’re going to need to dial things back. You’d still be gaining muscle in a situation
like that, of course assuming that your training program is on point, but the increases in
body fat are going to be coming in so quickly that it might seem like that’s the only
thing you’re gaining. How many calories should you consume? You’ll hear a lot of different recommendations
on this, but a pretty safe bet is around two hundred to three hundred calories above your
maintenance level. You can go a bit higher or a bit lower depending,
but that’s going to be a pretty safe bet for most average lifters. Mistake number two is that you have calculated
your calories properly and you are aiming to it in a moderate surplus, but you’re
actually going over it without realizing it. I’ve been doing fitness coaching for over
a decade now, I’ve worked with a lot of different people, and one thing I’ve learned
for sure is that most people are just not very good at accurately tracking their true
calorie intake. And they’re very often off by a pretty big
margin. This can happen for a few different reasons. Number one: It could be that you’re just
winging your diet and you’re just trying to estimate things. Now, this can work fine for experienced lifters
who know their bodies well and who have a good sense of the nutrition content for different
foods, but if you’re still in the beginning stages then I’d recommend that you through
at least a period of detailed, on point dietary tracking just to learn the road, basically. Because if you don’t then the natural instinct
is going to be to overeat, especially if you’re in that bulking mindset and you want to gain
as much size as possible. The other possibility is that you are attempting
to track things but you’re just making errors in your measurements and your overall tracking
that are adding up throughout the day. So basically, there are little hidden items
that you’re overlooking or you’re just measuring things wrong. For example, if what you think is one tablespoon
of peanut butter is actually two tablespoons, that’s a very common mistake, that’s a
hundred extra calories right there alone. But other things like an extra glass of fruit
juice or a handful of almonds, little high calorie snacks, cooking oils, cream and sugar
in your coffee, all of these things can add up quite a bit for the day as a whole if you
aren’t careful. And the other possibility is that you’re
taking the concept of cheat meals and cheat days a bit too far. There’s nothing wrong at all with including
cheat foods in your plan in moderation. Eighty to ninety percent clean food is a good
guideline and then you can just fill in the rest with whatever you want. But when it all comes down to it, your overall
gains and bodyweight are still ultimately going to come down to your total net energy
balance for the week as a whole. And so everything you consume from day-to-day
counts. So if you ate in a three hundred calories
surplus Monday to Friday but then you just went all out on the weekend and you ate in
a twelve hundred calories surplus on Saturday and Sunday, that would put your total surplus
on average at more like five hundred and fifty calories a day, which is almost double what
you were aiming for. So bottom line, when calculating your daily
calorie intake, all cheat meals and all cheat days count. And they’re not somehow a free-pass just
because you were good with your training and your diet over the previous days. So moving on to mistake number three. For those who feel like they’re gaining
fat but not muscle, third mistake is very simple, and that is that you’re weight training
plan is just not properly laid out and not properly executed. I mean you have to think of the basic logic
of muscle growth. You go to the gym. You place your muscles under stress in order
to stimulate growth response. Then you leave the gym, you eat in a calorie
surplus and your body uses those calories to build your muscles larger and stronger. But if that growth response wasn’t strong
enough to begin with, not only will you not gain very much new muscle because your body
will have no incentive for it, but your body won’t even need all of the extra calories
you’re eating in order to recover it. So those calories won’t have anywhere to
go except to your fat stores. So if it seems like you’re gaining fat but
not muscle, you’ve got to sit down and be honest with yourself. Are you truly training hard in the gym and
truly pushing yourself reasonably close to your limit during each workout? Are you keeping track of your workouts and
applying the law of progressive overload by steadily focusing on getting stronger overtime? Are you being consistent with your planning,
showing up for you workouts on the assign days? Are you using enough total training volume
and leaving the gym knowing that you did enough each time? The simple fact is that a lot of guys in the
gym just don’t train hard enough. And if you’re eating in calorie surplus
but your workout plan is weak then it shouldn’t be any surprise that your body fat is going
up but your muscle mass is not. And mistake number four, another very simple
one, but it’s the possibility that you just have unrealistic expectations about how the
muscle building process works. It’s actually very possible that there’s
nothing wrong to your plan at all and that you’re just expecting too much too soon. Building muscle naturally is a slow and gradual
process for the average lifter. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it takes time, patience and consistent
long term effort to really gain a noteworthy amount of quality muscle. I get a lot of messages from people asking
about this topic. And then when I asked about their program,
it turns out that they’ve only been training for a few weeks and they’ve only gain a
few pounds of extra bodyweight. And some of that initial weight gain probably
isn’t even body fat at all but it’s just additional water retention from the higher
calorie diet that they’re following. So don’t jump the gun on this. You aren’t going to have defined shoulders
and packs popping out after a few weeks of training. It’s a slow process. And it’s a matter of consistent small increases
from week to week. And it’ll take a few months of proper training
and proper nutrition for you to really start seeing significant visual changes. So thanks for watching, guys. If you are struggling with this issue and
you want to get everything properly laid out in step-by-step format. Your workout plan, meal plans, supplements
and one-on-one coaching with me then you can download my Body Transformation Blueprint
by clicking ‘here’ or by heading over to The link is in the description box. Make sure to like the video, leave a comment
and subscribe if you haven’t already. The official blog is And you can follow me on facebook, twitter,
instagram, all that good stuff. The links for that are also in the description
box. Thanks again for watching, guys. And I’ll see you in the next video.

86 Replies to “Gaining Fat, Not Muscle? 4 Mistakes You’re Making”

  1. Thanks man. This is complicated. Wish you could just eat right, excercise, and look good. Nothing is easy. Personally, I pay attention to the mirror instead of the scale.

  2. I had a weird thought after I had been working out for about a year. I never really ate as many calories as people were saying to eat and I was still gaining a lot of fat, so I had a weird thought. Could you gain a lot of excess fat by not eating enough when you work out? Sort of like you body deciding that it doesn't have enough nutrients to build muscle, so it just tried to sore everything as fat for later use. I think I figured out my problem and have started to drop some weight, but I was wondering if this was really possible.

  3. Perfect timing. I haven't lost any weight since taking up lifting again 2 months ago. While I have gotten slightly leaner, I feel like I could be leaner. Thanks for the perspective!

  4. Awesome video, Sean. My problem is mainly with tracking calories. Can you give an advice on how to track meals that have lots of ingredients? My only option now is eating these food prepared for the family. Thanks.

  5. Hi Sean. I am very overweight. Is it possible to engage in your fat loss program and not only lose weight but also to gain some muscle and strength during the process? Also in your fat loss program you talk about progressive overload and compound exercises so I think this question is appropriate.

  6. Not exactly following this advice these days. But I appreciate the good info as always Sean. Thank you. I'll put it into practise when i get my shit together.

  7. When you're talking about calories at maintenance level does that include or exclude calories you burn during a workout?

  8. Hey all just a question for you dudes. So I've been cutting weight and I'm currently 63kg however I don't have a six pack despite having a flatter stomach. I don't have much muscle mass either so when is it a good time to say enough with the losing weight and I want to look to gain lean mass with minimal fat?? Just curious as some say get ripped first then do it or just start now

  9. Muscle growth depends on diet, sleep, hormones, and genetics. I think sleep and genetics are the most important factors. Genetics decide everything in life from your testosterone levels to your intelligence levels, life span, height.

  10. hey Sean.. another no bs vid from you.. thanks.. question for you:: would you be able to point out weak body part if we send you vid?? take care.. Peace

  11. Maca root powder? What do you think as far as what it's claiming to boost libido and balancing hormones building muscle ect. ? Can you answer me Sean ? I'm kinda skeptical.

  12. Hey Shaun, you should consider making a short video on how to properly measure rice. Correctly measuring rice is really confusing and can cause negatively drastic results if not measured correctly. I'm pretty sure many people have had or still have this problem. I sure did.

  13. Quick question Sean.. Due to my lifestyle i want to workout in the
    morning on an empty stomach.. Is this a good idea? what can i do to
    maximise my potential in the workout ?


  14. HI Sean, I want to know about my case, I always watch my caloric content and always go to gym 5x a week for 3 months, I lost my fat on my body but my weight is still the same, 94kg.. what seems to be the problem? thanks

  15. Do some. Lifestyle blogs there's only sonmuch exercise n nutrition shit we can see .

    Everyone done a video on it these get boring

  16. Awesome Videos. Very useful and helpful info from a natural lifter that understands what being natural is. Thank you

  17. Hey Sean is tofu good source of protein? This is my primary source of protein I get 54g from each pack for $1. It seems to be working fine for me so far.

  18. Hello. Very informative video. I have a question. After 2-3 years of training, I obviously can't build 1,5 pound muscle mass every month. So, my surplus should be around 100 calories? Aiming for around 0,8 pound per month ?

  19. I have a question. I'm a bit overweight and do have lots of fat on my body and barely any muscles. I started working out recently and been reading about diet stuff.
    For my height, the average weight is 71-76KG but for people with good muscle bulk it's around 86KG. I'm
    currently 83KG, what I don't know is whether I should maintain my TDEE, get a deficit or a surplus?

  20. Would taking bile supplementation cause a noticeable difference in fat loss for people that already produce the normal ranges of bile? I know people with lactose intolerances can supplement with bile for potential fat loss, but I cannot find any info for "normal" people. Would love your thoughts on this!

  21. Hi Sean, I recently started watching your videos and I have to say that you have really informative and helpful content! I've been following a strength training program consistently for about 6 months now and I have made some progress in terms of body composition, but a problem that I had at first was being able to consistently gain .5 lb per week due to my required intake increasing over time. At this point I feel that I have gotten that part down as I have learned to adjust and increase my caloric intake when necessary. The main problem that I am having currently is form. This is the second time that I have had to go back and bring down the weights to fix my form and this is not so much because I don't care about form before as it is that I keep finding and learning more information about proper form that I did not know before such as what you provide with your content. My concern with this is that I will not be building muscle and that the weight that I gain will be mostly fat. I'm still pushing myself to lift as heavy as possible but at the same time I am making sure to use proper form so let me know if you think I could still be gaining muscle even if I'm not lifting as much as I used to. Thanks!

  22. hiii … i do cardio for 2 hours in morning which includes running crunches plank and skipping … and in afternoon i go to gym for nearly three hours i mostly do all the exercises only i do legs twice in a week .. i mainly do arms everyday ?? so am i going right or in a wrong way ?? and if wrong than why ??

  23. Does caloric surplus also helps with abs muscle growth like other muscle groups? Is there a risk of adding even more belly fat on a surplus to make abs less visible than they already were? If my main goal is to make abs muscles more pronounced should I only focus on cutting down & always be in a caloric deficit? Thank you.

  24. Ectomorph 60.7 kg working out for 1 month
    Gained 200gms of muscles
    And 1.5 kg body fat what to do ?
    Workout plan – 2 sets each
    Bench press machine
    Pec fly
    Lateral raise
    Lat pull down
    Seated row
    Leg press
    Leg curl

  25. This was a good one, liked it a lot. Innaccuracy in tracking is alwways going to be a thing because its hard to weigh out every single little thing, not to mention as soon as you eat out somewhere, you're completely screwed. Another reason is hormone levels, or thyroid troubles but thats a video for another time.

  26. Not having enough water is a big reason for constant bloating… High salt consumption is close second.'s surprising how many folks find loads of salt in food as normal..

  27. In my opinion, truly one of the very few on YouTube that gets to the point without all the bullshit, very helpful and informative 👍🏼

  28. I absolutely hate my naked body when I’m bulking due to the spill over fat and glycogen gainz but everyone comments on how massive I got and how great I look in t-shirts etc during this phase , we are obsessed with being lean all year and it’s just not normal to put all your effort into growing AND to stay lean so just enjoy the dad bod for a while and then focus on getting shredded after the spring is over I say !! I managed to add 11kg in 20 weeks and I will be perfectly happy to shred off 50% of my gainz before summer and get back to 15% bf and enjoy the extra muscle , it’s all worth it in the end

  29. he got me when he said “you’re probably putting too much cream and sugar in your coffee”

    guilty 😩 i need a skinny fat diet so i can finally see abs 😒

  30. Muscle takes time, so stop rushing it people, and if you do rush and make gains, when it's time to cut you'll probably lose all the muscle, that's if your not training hard enough

  31. Stop eating a lot guys, when your natural and lean bulking you won’t gain muscle, meaning muscle is a long process, it takes time, and you won’t really gain fat.

  32. So I have been working out for about 4 months the first 3 months I gained significant muscle mass and loss body fat at the same time. However I strated dropping weight too fast so increased my caloric intake. I am still dropping weight however now I am gaining body fat and loosing muscle mass. What are some possible problems? I want to gain weight but I keep dropping weight. I am consistent with my workout and track my calories daily…

  33. If you wanna cheat then take a diet break, 1 week only if you can't seem to lose fat or weight anymore. Even if your doing things right

  34. Well overload doesn't mean putting a lot of weight cause if you do, you'll struggle more and won't do to many reps. And not even that one rep will count even if you lift it up. Overload mostly means going slow up and down of course add about 5 to 10 in two weeks

  35. 400gram white rice 400gram broccoli 3boiled eggs divided over 2 meals at 5pm and 8pm
    Shake banana after gym 3pm i train fasted 6 days a week mainly muscle end cardio
    Shake banana 2 hour before sleep 1999calories nothing happens 7 years now just get bulky muscular but shitsack remains same, macros fine as well…
    Im like Fuck this shit sean might as well just eat brown sauce and steaks saves me the headaces mental breakdowns and pain everywhere im fucking useless outside gym.

  36. I think I'm in category 3. Listening to my bones and joints, I'd say I lift enough but I don't think I actually do. What you didn't address is the macro ratio. What would you suggest a skinny-fat 155lbs, 5'11" guy eat? I tried high/low protein and high/low fat. I'm reluctant about cutting down on carbs because our muscles need glycogen.

  37. My problem is when I started gym my weight was 55-56 kg and after 4 months,it is 61-62 kg..but I look skinny still…Where is it going?Perhaps it is going into belly fat..not even overall fat…I do understand I am not consistent in the gym…but still..?

  38. shit i didnt know about mistake no1 lol ive been eating 4000 calories a day and i started at 3000 what should i do then btw im 16 and been bulking a year gone from 55 kg to 81 kg but iam concerned some of that or alot could be fat

  39. So if I’m actually eating 250 extra calories per day, but as I gain 1-2 lbs per month but my Body Fat % is going up on my scale AND I’m getting stronger weekly, what am I doing wrong?

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