To start with: Lean gains is defined as the holy grail experience of being able to gain muscle mass AND lose bodyfat, at the same time
This effect CAN be created, but it requires the right conditions. It will not happen randomly.
So how to create this for yourself?
1. The more of a novice you are to training, the more probable you will be successful.
If you have been lifting weights for 3+ years with progressive resistance, you have already achieved the majority of your natural gains. To continue gaining muscle, you will need to follow a more conventional bulking strategy of a calorie surplus for long periods of time, then periodic cuts to control bodyfat.
BUT, If you are a beginner, your muscle gain potential has not been maximized yet. As such, you are much more likely to achieve the lean gains effect.
Now that we established that, lets move onto to the next point.
2. You NEED to be training specifically for hypertrophy
That means moderate to high reps. That means more overall volume in your training. Low rep neuro based training does not burn many calories nor does it stimulate muscle growth very well. Thus, train like a bodybuilder
3. Your diet needs to be at MAINTENANCE Calories
To figure this out, you need to use an online calculator to estimate current metabolic rate
Then you need to eat exactly that number of calories every day for a week
And WEIGH YOURSELF DAILY. This does require MATH. You cannot get around this. As I said, Lean gains requires precision, not guesswork. Here is a calculator you can use: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
You also understand why eating like a BRO is useful. Its far easier to regular calories and macros when you eat the same simple meals with same ingredients every day . Simplicity and regimentation are your friend, embrace them.
4. Your Protein intake MUST be 40% of your total calories
This will be over 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight.
You NEED to do this. Protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient, 20% of calories are lost as heat in digestion. Protein intake DOES in fact “elevate metabolism”.
That protein intake is what supports muscle protein synthesis, mantains positive nitrogen balance, and keeps you full. You are not gaining muscle or losing fat on an insufficient protein diet.
5. You need to be brutally consistent in diet and training, AND take pictures
Why the pictures? Because reality check. You are not going to drop 20lbs of fat and gain 25lbs of muscle in 3 months. Depending on your starting bodycomp, your weight may be relatively static. And it will increase or decrease by only a few pounds. Taking photos allows you to be objective of the changes that are happening week to week.
6. You will KNOW its working because you should become STRONGER, more muscular, and BETTER conditioned.
If you increase your reps & poundages in your big lifts, lower your mile time, lower your rest heart rate, I can guarantee you will be bigger leaner stronger. Objectively.
“Whats a GOOD program?”
This one you don’t need to overthink. Any program that is hypertrophy focused (aka mass gain) will work. What matters is you FOLLOW IT and are consistent in improving your workout performance each week.
That said, I’d recommend my PUSH/PULL/LEGS program