A goal that needs daily commitment and dedication, especially if you’re an ectomorph. Consequently, this post will teach you the best way to build muscle and lose fat with a bodybuilding 5 day split workout plan and a lean bulk meal plan to enjoy serious muscle growth. Let’s get started.
You must follow the right workout and diet plan to gain 20 pounds of muscle.
Want to transform your physique from skinny to muscular? I’ve got you. I’ve summarized everything I know about muscle growth regarding your training, diet, and lifestyle adjustments. Here it is.
For muscle growth, your muscles need to be trained properly. Subsequently, this is done through lifting weights, providing resistance for your muscles to work against to stimulate the three mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy – the process by which your muscles increase in size.
These mechanisms are:
- Mechanical tension refers to the amount of time your muscles are under tension in an exercise and the amount of force they need to produce to complete the movement. Consequently, your muscles aren’t aware of the size of weights used, only how much tension is being created against resistance.
- Metabolic stress is when there is a buildup of blood and oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) in the muscle, making it look ‘pumped.’ Consequently, this is achieved by working at a high rep range (15-20+ reps) to pump blood into the muscle making your cardiovascular system work harder, creating metabolic stress.
- Muscle damage is achieved by implementing progressive overload. This typically increases the weight in increments as you get stronger and include decreasing rest time, altering the tempo, doing more reps, or longer workouts. Consequently, this makes sure that your muscles are still getting damaged, causing micro-tears in each session to begin the cycle of tear, repair, grow.
Both heavy and lighter loads target these three mechanisms. To generate the maximum amount of force during an exercise, you don’t necessarily need to lift as heavy as possible.
In fact, force generation is maximized when you’re lifting heavy enough to provide some resistance, and the exercise is highly controlled and performed slowly (increasing time under tension). Consequently, this recruits the highest amount of motor units and muscle fibers – maximizing mechanical tension and muscle damage.
So what does it look like to consistently hit all three mechanisms during your training?
- Lifting heavy enough (to activate muscle fibers)
- Using a variety of rep and set ranges (for metabolic stress)
- Increasing the weight over time (for muscle damage)
- Performing exercises slowly (for mechanical tension) is how muscle gain occurs.
When it comes to gaining 20 pounds of muscle, what you eat is essential. Subsequently, you don’t need to eat a 2,000 calorie surplus to gain muscle. Also, it would be best if you ate enough. This is known as a lean bulk.
If you are in a slight surplus (lean bulking), it optimizes muscle building as there are circulating nutrients for maximal muscle protein synthesis. Subsequently, if you are in a caloric deficit, it is hard to build muscle as your body is in a catabolic state – breaking down tissue rather than anabolic – a state of building tissue.
According to a study published in 2004 by Sports Medicine, the optimal macronutrient breakdown should be 55 to 60 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 15 to 20 percent fat. Let’s explore that.
The most important macronutrient to gain 20 pounds of muscle and a staple in any bodybuilder meal plan is protein. Consequently, amino acids are the building blocks of muscle repair and synthesis.
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine assessed the optimal protein intake for muscle gain in 49 studies. This is arguably the most reputable source of analysis, based on the eligibility criteria for each study needing to be a randomized controlled trial lasting for more than six weeks, the gold standard of research.
Subsequently, the researchers found that protein intake was positively correlated with muscle size and strength in every study, but there was a cut-off point. Also, researchers found that a low protein intake did stall muscle hypertrophy in some cases, but we’re talking 0.3 grams per pound.
The upper limit of the benefits of protein capped at 0.7 grams per pound of body weight. Finally, this led the researchers to conclude that 0.8 grams per pound – including a double 95 percent confidence level – was the maximum upper limit of healthy individuals’ protein requirements. The confidence level added two standard deviations to ensure to be ‘safe’ that it’s the upper limit for everyone.
Carbs are also a staple in any bulking meal plan but are best consumed around your workout to avoid excess fat gain during your bulk.
According to a study published in 2004 by Sports Medicine, the optimal macronutrient breakdown should be 55 to 60 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 15 to 20 percent fat.
Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles as glycogen, the preferred fuel source during exercise activity. Consequently, numerous studies have shown that glycogen positively affects anabolism and performance, particularly with individuals partaking with a high training frequency.
But too many refined carbohydrates can negatively alter your hormones and fat oxidation, which is not recommended. So go for complex carbs, as included in the lean bulk meal plan.
Fat is less discussed in terms of its connection to training performance or muscle gain. Subsequently, some believe that it slows down the absorption of protein and carbs. However, this isn’t well-established in the literature.
In reality, healthy fats are important for hormonal regulation and satiety. Consequently, eating a small amount at each mealtime will help keep you full between meals and help to counter blood sugar spikes from your carbohydrate intake.
Muscle growth actually occurs when you’re asleep. If you’re not sleeping properly, you are unknowingly activating specific pathways that activate muscle degradation. Studies show sleep deprivation causes a spike in cortisol (a stress hormone) and a reduction of testosterone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), two hormones integral to muscle and strength building.
The reduction of these hormones puts us in a catabolic state, meaning we break down muscle, no matter how heavy you’re lifting. So make sure you get high-quality sleep, ideally 8 hours per night.
To build muscle fast, you can follow a diet that builds muscle and lose fat at the same time.
We aim to gain 20 pounds of muscle and cut fat simultaneously. Subsequently, it might be more difficult, but it’s possible, and there is a solid amount of evidence to support it.
A 12-week study put a group of participants in a caloric deficit, high protein, and resistance training schedule. Consequently, the group lost, on average, 9.3 pounds of fat and gained 8.8 pounds of muscle mass.
Another similarly laid out study saw the participants lose fat mass and increase muscle mass, again consuming a high protein diet.
A study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition studied a group of elite gymnasts put on a hypocaloric ketogenic diet for 30 days whilst also continuing professional physical training. Also, participants lost, on average, 2.6 percent body fat and gained 0.9 pounds of muscle mass. Subsequently, these elite athletes were training more than four hours per day, only consuming 22 grams of carbs, and were still able to lose fat and gain muscle mass.
As you can see, total body recomposition is possible, helping you get from skinny to muscular and achieve your dream physique. So now you understand the science, let’s get to the bodybuilding meal and workout plan.
Lean bulk meal plan
Depending on your macros, your portion sizes may be different. Feel free to double or triple the serving size depending on your macronutrient requirements.
Bulking breakfast ideas
- Eggs on toast
- 3 eggs
- 2 toast
Protein: 31g Carbs: 30g Fats: 17g Calories: 400
- Protein oatmeal
- ½ cup oats
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- ½ cup low-fat milk
Protein: 32g Carbs: 35g Fats: 12g Calories: 300
- Veggie, egg, and cheese scramble
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup shredded cheese
- ½ cup veggies
Protein: 26g Carbs: ~12g Fats: 16g Calories: 290
Bulking lunch and dinner ideas
- Salmon and sweet potato
- 1 medium baked sweet potato
- 1 baked salmon fillet
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- Handful of spinach
Protein: 45g Carbs: 53g Fats: 25g Calories: 550
- Chicken, veggies, and rice
- 1 chicken breast
- 1/2 cooked onion
- 1/2 cooked bell pepper
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 4 tbsp salsa
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 can mixed beans
Protein: 45g Carbs: 109g Fats: 10g Calories: 725
- Steak, potato, veggies
- 8 oz steak
- 1 medium potato
- 4 cup shredded cheese
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 5 cup shredded lettuce
- 1 cup broccoli
Protein: 70g Carbs: 51g Fats: 23g Calories: 700
Lean bulk snack ideas
- Protein shake
- 1 scoop whey protein
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
Protein: 34g Carbs: 128g Fats: 15g Calories: 320
- Greek yogurt mix
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 scoop Impact Whey Protein
- 1 banana
- 8 whole almonds
Protein: 38g Carbs: 109g Fats: 10g Calories: 430
You can use a muscle-building workout plan – a 5-day bodybuilder split to gain 20 pounds of muscle.
Chest Post – Exhaustion Workout
- Barbell Bench Press – five sets; ten reps; cues: pull your shoulders back and down, pull the bar out of the rack, pull the bar down to you, Finally, pull the elbows in, and pushup following a straight line with the butt, head, back, and feet pressing down.
- Incline dumbbell press – five sets; ten reps; Cues: Lie back on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand atop your thighs. The palms of your hands will be facing each other.
Then, using your thighs to help push the dumbbells up, lift the dumbbells one at a time so that you can hold them at shoulder width.
- Seated Chest Press – five sets; ten reps; Cues: Sit comfortably on the machine with your feet placed firmly on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Grasp the handles and push the bars outward to full extension but without locking out the elbow. Also, try to keep your head steady against the upright pad and the neck still.
- Cable Flyes – five sets; ten reps; Cues: Position two cables at chest height and attach a handle. Reach across your body and grab one handle with a neutral grip. Position the arms straight ahead, holding onto each handle, and keep a soft bend in the knees. Finally, pull inwards, flexing the chest.
- Pec-dec machine – five sets; ten reps; Cues: Sit on the equipment, your back flat on the pad. Take hold of the handles. Push the handles together slowly as you squeeze your chest in the middle. Finally, return to the starting position slowly as you inhale until your chest muscles are fully stretched.
- Barbell Deadlift – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Stand with your mid-foot under the barbell. Bend over and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar. Lift your chest and straighten your lower back. Then stand up with the weight while pressing the feet into the ground.
- Wide Grip Pull-Ups – five sets; max reps; Cues: Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from your body and your hands shoulder-width apart. Allow your arms to hang in a fully extended position. Keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears, pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.
- Standing T-bar Row – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Place the end of an empty barbell into the corner of a room. Rest a heavy dumbbell or some weight plates on it to hold it down. Load the opposite end of the bar with plates and straddle it. Bend over at the hips until your torso is about a 45-degree angle to the floor with arms extended.
- Wide Grip Seated Cable Row – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Bend your knees and hold the bar with an overhand grip, wider than shoulder-width apart. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight, then use your back muscle to pull the bar towards your belly button. Slowly return the bar to the starting position and repeat.
- Close Grip Pull-Down – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Pull the bar down to your lower chest, leaning slightly and smoothly backward as you pull. Gently release, allowing the bar to return to its original position while maintaining the stress on the back and arms.
Arm – German Volume Training Workout
- Tricep Pull-Down – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Pause when arms are straight to activate your tricep. Bend at the elbow but keep arms straight. Gently return the bar to the starting position, maintain the arm’s stress, and then repeat.
- Curl to Press – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Bicep curl – only move elbows to bring weight towards your chest. Finally, go straight into a press.
- Cable Face Pulls – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Put the cable around head height. Finally, pull the rope towards your face and squeeze elbows back to activate your back.
- 1a) Front Raise – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Keep the body still, lift the barbell from the shoulders. Stop when you get parallel to the chest and lower. Also, choose a weight light enough to keep your body still.
- 1b) Side Lateral Raises – ten sets; ten reps; Cues: Use a lower weight to ensure you can complete the exercise in a full range of motion. Keep the body still. Bend elbows slightly. Lift weights from the shoulder. Also, don’t go above parallel to your shoulder.
Leg – Post-Exhaustion Training Workout
- Barbell squat – three sets; ten reps; Cues: Perform slowly, increasing time under tension. Go to as close as 90 degrees as your flexibility allows. Keep the spine neutral. Finally, push through your heels when coming up.
- Romanian Deadlift – three sets; ten reps; Cues: Feet hip-distance apart and hands parallel on the bar. Let your knees naturally bend. Go just below your knees with the weight. Keep the spine and upper body straight and pull up from the lower body. Finally, hinge at the hip to lower the bar to the floor.
- Leg Press – three sets; ten reps; Cues: Squat movement. Keep feet fairly high. Toes pointed outwards. Finally, push through heels.
- Leg Extension – three sets: ten reps: Cues: Using your quadriceps, extend your legs to the maximum as you exhale. Slowly lower the weight back to the original position as you inhale, ensuring that you do not go past the 90-degree angle limit.
- Dumbbell Step-Up – three sets; twenty reps; Cues: Perform slowly, increasing time under tension. Also, go to as close as 90 degrees as your flexibility allows. Keep the spine neutral. Finally, push through your heels when coming up.
Shoulder – Post-Exhaustion Training Workout
Narrow Grip Smith Machine Press – 5 sets; ten reps; Cues: Sit on a bench with back support directly underneath the barbell of a Smith machine. Also, grip the bar with a double overhand grip, shoulder-width apart at just above shoulder height. Finally, gripping the bar as tight as possible, press it overhead until your arms are completely locked out.
Upright Row – five sets; ten reps; Cues: Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip and hands slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Also, pick the bar up, bending at the knees, and keeping your back straight. Finally, drag the bar upwards.
Cable Seated Rear Lateral Raise – five sets; ten reps; Cues: The pulleys should run under your knees, and your arms will be extended with palms facing each other and a slight bend at the elbows. Finally, while keeping the arms stationary, raise the upper arms to the sides until they are parallel to the floor and shoulder height.
Side Lateral Raises – five sets; 15 reps; Cues: Use a lower weight to ensure you can complete the exercise in a full range of motion. Keep the body still. Also, bend elbows slightly. Lift weights from the shoulder. Finally, don’t go above parallel to your shoulder.
Rear Delt Dumbbell Fly – five sets: 15 reps; Cues: Place a couple of dumbbells looking forward in front of a flat bench. Also, sit on the end of the bench with your legs together and the dumbbells behind your calves. Bend at the waist while keeping the back straight to pick up the dumbbells. Finally, keep elbows slightly bent and back straight as you raise the weight.
Follow this meal and workout plan to gain 20 pounds of muscle and enjoy muscle growth guaranteed. Subsequently, muscle hypertrophy happens at 6 to 12 reps, 2 to 6 sets, 30 to 60 second rest time, and 75% of one-rep max for 10 rep sets. Finally, for most tips and tricks on muscle building and fat loss, subscribe to our blog.