The 5 Best Ways to Gain Muscle Mass and Keep Your Stomach Flat

When you are trying to build muscle mass, you often end up gaining a little bit of fat as well. This is because you need to make changes to your diet that favor bulking up. Gaining muscle while keeping a flat tummy takes a little more work, but as long as you have the discipline, it can be achieved.

Keep a flat tummy while adding muscle mass to other parts of your body. (Image: Pekic/E+/GettyImages)

Eat More to Gain More

Any time you want to bulk up, you need to eat more calories. Being that you want to keep your stomach flat as well, you should not to take this to the extreme. According to the American Council on Exercise, a daily increase of 300 to 500 calories is reasonable. Stick to the lower end of this guideline. For example, if you determine that your current intake is 2,100 calories, make your new intake 2,400.

Choose the foods you already consume but those with more calories. For example, whole-fat yogurt instead of no-fat yogurt is a good choice. A flat-stomach diet means selecting foods that are favorable for muscle growth and that give you energy like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy, beans and whole grains.

Select Multijoint Exercises

Multijoint, or compound, exercises require you to work more than one muscle at a time. This leads to a high amount of overall muscle fiber recruitment and beneficial gains in size. When doing your routines, stick with multijoint exercises for the majority of your lifts.

Bench presses, dips, shoulder presses, bent-over rows, squats and dead lifts are examples. As an added benefit, these exercises cause you to forcefully contract your abs to generate power. This causes you to get an ab workout by default.

Just the Right Amount

Cardiovascular exercise is a catch-22 when it comes to gaining muscle mass. You need to do some to keep your slim stomach, but you don't want to overdo it. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes a week to maintain your health and suggests 300 minutes a week to lose weight as well as receiving other health benefits. Stick to the lower end of these guidelines and work out no more than three days a week. Choose a type of cardio that you like so you will stay motivated to perform it.

Flat Stomach Exercises

Abdominal exercises can keep your stomach tight and toned as you are bulking up. Perform exercises from multiple angles to maximize your muscle recruitment. Situps, for example, only work the rectus abdominis. Include other exercises in your routines, such as hanging knee raises, side crunches, bicycle kicks and v-ups, to work your whole abdominal area.

Schedule Some Downtime

Rest days are equally as important to gaining muscle as training days. To avoid injury and allow your muscles time to heal, take at least one day off before working the same muscle group.

Sleep is another important component of gaining muscle. If you are sleep deprived, you will not have energy to exercise and your muscles will not get needed recovery time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need seven or more hours of sleep a night.

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