One of the things that I get asked a lot is how to deal with a building phase.
You know you need to take some time away from dieting, or you know that in order to really change your physique you are going to have to get away from being lean all of the time and take a phase to build muscle.
But there is a mental block from you actually doing it.
If you are unfamiliar with a building phase I suggest you read this blog HERE.
This phase is challenging for a few reasons:
- For one person getting away from fat loss dieting is a problem, so eating more food scares them.
- Another type of person doesnt fat loss diet often, but the thought of putting on any amount of fat scares them. (Warning: if done right you will put on very small amounts of body fat).
While both situations are slightly different, they both come from a fear of putting on body fat and thinking you need to look your best 100% of the time.
Building muscle also takes time, whereas fat loss is quicker and you get more immediate feedback in terms of progress.
Both of these things make building phases just as if not more mental than fat loss phases.
But the rewards for building muscle and taking time to do a building phase are going to pay off long term.
So In this blog, I want to go over how to mentally deal with a building phase so you can build the physique you have always wanted.
Not only will your physique improve, but this is a great phase to help with overall health as well.
These goals can be strength goals, weight goals, etc. But it can also be things like improving energy levels, sleep, relationship with food, etc. These last few are a little tougher to quantify so having a coach or someone to help you with these goals can be super helpful.
One goal that I would recommend is a weight gain per week amount (although in building phases it’s better to zoom out and look at rate of gain on a monthly basis).
The biggest reason for this is so you can minimize how much fat you gain. Since that is the biggest reason why people won’t do building phases.
By setting a weight gain goal, it ensures you are tracking things like body weight, which has been shown to keep people on track.
Also if you see the scale go up, you’re ok with it because you set this goal and know you are minimizing fat gain but MAXIMIZING muscle gain.
The science-based recommendation for weight gain per week to minimize fat gain and maximize muscle growth is .25 to .5% of body weight per week.
Earlier I said to zoom out and do a monthly rate of gain so you could do something like this:
Based on the .25 to .5% of body weight per week recommendation, a 170lb person would aim for about .4-.8lbs per week.
.4 x 4 weeks = around 2lbs per month, .8 x 4 weeks = 3.5lbs per month.
So for this person, you would aim for about 2-4lbs of weight gain per month.
The biggest mistake people make during building phases is blindly going at them with no rate of gain amount and nothing else to shoot for. This is how you add excess body fat.
You need goals to aim for. Make sure you set them up for a successful build.
Pay attention to biofeedback
When you diet for fat loss your biofeedback tends to get worse over time.
Things like sleep suffer, hunger increases, libido decreases, stress increases, digestion sucks, training sucks etc.
Stop just focusing on the negative (like the small amount of fat gain) and instead focus on how your overall health is improving.
We have online clients track these things on a daily and weekly basis.
Your energy is going to improve, your libido will improve, hunger will decrease, stress is lowered, and your training is amazing.
Really focus on the training side of things too. When you are fat loss dieting youre not maxmiziming your training because your body has other things it needs to take care of first.
But since you are eating more you’re really going to be able to push your training.
Enjoy the improvement in your biofeedback and training.
Remember losing fat is easier to do than muscle is to gain.
As I said earlier fat loss is quicker and in most cases easier to do. Building muscle is a much tougher process and you really have to set your body up in the right state to build muscle past a certain point.
Once you go through a building phase and a fat loss phase you realize how much easier fat loss is.
Keep this in mind as you go through your building phase.
You probably have done a fat loss phase before so you can do it again. Plus you are going to be aiming for other goals and weight gain goals per week so you will have minimized fat gain as well.
I think too many people think that once they gain any amount of fat they won’t ever be able to get it off again. Again you have done it before and you can do it again.
Also realize that as you build more muscle, fat loss becomes even easier.
Enjoy the time of being able to enjoy more food.
One of the downsides of fat loss dieting is that you are typically on somewhat low calories (going to be different from person to person) so you have to be a bit more restrictive with your food and drink choices.
When you are building you will have more flexibility because your calories will be higher.
This means you can incorporate more tasty foods in.
This is a nice break from worrying about every little thing you put into your body.
Now dont get this twisted, you probably dont want to eat anything and everything, but you for sure will get more flexibility.
Still track things
Make sure you are still tracking things.
- Biofeedback etc.
The biggest mistake people make when they are done with fat loss is that they just stop tracking everything.
This is how you gain excess body fat in a build.
You dont have to track every macro, but you still want to have something to track nutrition-wise.
HERE is a post on what to track besides just calories/macros.
Find others going through the same process/accountability
One of the things long-term weight loss maintainers do is have accountability and support following their weight loss.
We can take this and use this for those who are going to go through a building phase.
Having others going through the same process can help you work through the tough times.
This can be others who are doing it, who have done it before, or just having a coach in your corner to help you navigate the challenging times when you want to give up and go back to a fat loss phase.
You can find people on social media, Facebook groups etc.
This too shall pass
Lastly, you need to realize this phase will pass at some point.
You can keep doing the same thing and hitting your head against the wall and be mad at yourself for not taking a very short period of time (in the grand scheme of things) to gain a little bit of weight to improve your physique.
Or you can take this short period of time and be ok with not having your best look so you can have a better look in the future.
The choice is yours.
Either way, it’s a short period of time, and just like anything in life this will pass.
I hope this helps you in your current or future building phases.
Sometimes having an extra set of eyes can help you work through this time.
If you are scared of doing a building phase and need that extra set of eyes or guidance fill out the link HERE to see if you would be a good fit for our 1:1 online coaching program.