Maingaining – Everything You Need to Know

What is maingaining?

Maingaining is the process of holding your current body fat percentage and gaining muscle at the same time. It is neither bulking nor cutting but slowly gaining muscle whilst reducing or maintaining your body fat percentage. It is best suited towards those happy with their current weight.

Who is maingaining for?

Maingaining is suitable for people who are happy with their current physique and trying to maintain it, skinny fat shaped bodies and people who are happy with their current fat percentage and want to gain muscle mass without sacrificing their abs.

If you are skinny fat, you will gain muscle and reduce body fat if you’re consuming calories at your body’s maintenance level.

If you’re obese, it’s best not to maingain and cut your calories. Reduce what’s needed to maintain your weight as it’s harder to maintain a heavy weight on a clean diet. And reduce your body fat at the same time.

Maingaining VS bulking & cutting

If you’re 6,2feet and 140lbs, using the maingaining method will work. You will gradually increase in muscle mass and start to fill yourself out. However, if you go on a bulk and allow yourself a few hundred calories more than you need in order to maintain, you will gain more fat and water weight. However, you’ll be able to build a bit more muscle and progress higher in the weights you lift.

When it comes to bulking and cutting, if you’re constantly going from one extreme to another, it’s unhealthy and inefficient. When bulking, you’re putting on a lot of weight only to cut later. And when you cut, you will inevitably lose muscle. So it’s best to go with the maingain method if you’re at a moderate weight for your height.

Even if you’re maintaining, you will inevitably hit a wall and find it very difficult to build more muscle mass without eating at a surplus. But with maingaining you don’t eat any more than 300 – 400 calories what your body needs to maintain itself. People differ on the amount of calories needed.

It comes down to trial and error and your day-to-day activities.

After all, building muscle is a very, very slow process so there’s no need to have a massive surplus, it will just be more fat and water on your body. Also, it’s unhealthy because you’re always eating and it gets expensive too.

If you’re a big muscular guy that wants to reduce body fat and get shredded, don’t just drop a bunch of weight. This is an easy way to lose lots of muscle and have mood swings. Make it a slow process, to minimize muscle loss.

If you’re a really skinny dude, maingaining is a great option to slowly put on size. Personally, I would do a traditional bulk to speed up the process. But again, most of the weight will be fat and water. The reason why I’d still do it is to get stronger quicker and not look like a twig.

Then I’ll maingain when I’m at a weight I’m happy with. That’s just my opinion, you can do it slower if you’d like.

Can you put on muscle without a caloric surplus?


Yes, you can put on muscle without being in a caloric surplus. Imagine being 2020lbs and not a person who exercises. If that person started going to the gym and losing weight, he would definitely put on muscle.

Eventually he would hit a wall and need to eat at a caloric surplus in order to gain muscle mass. But this surplus does not need to be huge.

How do I know how many calories I need to maingain?

It’s impossible to figure out the exact amount of calories needed to be consumed on a daily basis in order to maintain your current body weight.


Because your activities vary each day. You’ll change up the number of steps you take and general movements.

You may have a good workout one day and not so intense workout the next day. So the calories consumed would be different.

Also, if you’re reading labels and using tools like My Fitness Pal to track calories, it varies. In fact, when I was 18 I was working in a food warehouse and packing chicken and rice.

That’s right, chicken and rice meals of all things and we were told to weigh it but I just grabbed some chicken and threw it in the box and called it a day. I did not care about weighing it, just as long as it looked right.

It’s what everyone else was doing as well because there were supervisors watching to make sure you were going fast enough. This is something that’s common practice.

So the calories you track are never going to be 100% accurate. It’s a rough estimate everytime.


Maingaining challenges the traditional bulking and cutting methods we’ve all been taught and have spent years doing. It’s an incredible way to put on muscle whilst staying ripped.

The only downside is if you’re one of those people who want to eat a bunch of food and quickly increase your bench, this diet won’t do it for you.

But if you’re looking for a method that will help you stay lean all your round and won’t make you feel bloated or starved, maingaining is awesome.