Big Neechi discusses the tactics to build and keep lean muscle throughout the year.

Men’s Open pro bodybuilders’ main goal is to pack on massive amounts of muscle and cut it down to a shredded package on competition day. But outside of the that division – there are those who really want to maintain abs 24/7 and 365 days a year. This is true conditioning. Having lean muscle throughout the year without bulking up and becoming soft and puffy. It’s a goal that many people struggle with – especially those who want to pack on bigger size muscle as well. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Big Neechi breaks down how to maintain lean muscle throughout the year.

So you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You want to have shredded abs year round but you also are trying to pack on muscle. You increase your calorie intake only to find that the more muscle you put on – the harder it is to see those abs. What do you do? It’s a challenge many people face. In fact, even those who don’t try to pack on bigger muscle run into problems bringing in six pack abs.

That’s why we turned to bodybuilding Big Neechi for advice. Neechi is a bodybuilder who always valued his own personal vision of a perfect physique over what Men’s Open competitions are looking for. He values a more lean aesthetic over mass monster size. He’s also really good at keeping his lean physique on point throughout the year.

So what’s the secret? How do you keep a shredded lean physique all year round? You might not be so surprised to learn that it has everything to do with what you’re eating and much less so to do with your training regimen.

Big Neechi starts off by saying that he is genetically lucky. If he stops training – he starts dropping pounds instantly. This kind of genetic predisposition makes it easy for him to shred and sculpt a lean body. He said that even at his heaviest weight of 225 pounds – he kept on a six pack the entire time.

But for those who don’t have the genetic luck of Big Neechi – what can you do? Neechi breaks down how what you eat is extremely important. It’s focusing on your macros and making sure to eat lean clean foods. Even when you’re trying to pack on more muscle by eating more food – it has to be clean food. Not junk. This usually comes in the form of traditional chicken and rice.

Yes – that is part of the challenge. The meals will start to get repetitive and boring. In modern culture, we have turned food into a sort of dopamine bliss that has largely gotten out of hand. It’s what is leading to obesity rising across not only the US but many other countries across the world. Unfortunately, in order to not only stay lean, but also stay healthy, you’ll have to start making your meals a little bit boring.

On top of that, cardio is key. Don’t be afraid of cardio. Many bodybuilders avoid it due to the fact that heavy cardio can cut down on the muscle you’ve built. While that is true – you need to find the right balance of cardio and training to keep your body lean. You won’t be able to have a shredded physique without cardio. That’s just a fact. Unless you have blessed genetics – you’re out of luck.

The trade off between burning muscle and burning fat to stay lean is unfortunate. But instead of fearing it – you need to work through it. Find the proper balance and see what happens and how your body reacts when you start throwing in more serious cardio into your routine. If you’re eating right and training right – you’ll notice some major changes. Yes, you might drop down in size slightly – but perhaps you’ll see that the lean physique you’ve accrued looks better than those 10 extra pounds.

You can watch Big Neechi break down in more detail how to maintain lean muscle throughout the year in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above.

Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.