4 Tips on the Best Way to Build Lean Muscle
Everybody dreams of having a healthy and toned body. However, athletes and bodybuilders are able to achieve these healthy and shredded bodies, seemingly easier than the average man or woman. Why is this? It all comes down two four things:
One: Setting Clearly Defined Goals
Understanding where you are and where you want to be is the first step to actually getting there. There’s an old saying that “the unaimed arrow never misses.” True, but if the arrow isn’t aimed at a target, it will never hit the intended target.
When it comes to building muscle there is no one right way. Everyone’s goal path to muscle gains is slightly different. People that are looking to build muscle can generally be placed into one of three categories: underweight, normal weight, and overweight. Obviously, the path to muscle gains for each of these groups is different.
All three of these groups will gain lean muscle by using the same techniques inside of the gym. The biggest difference between these three groups in what they will have to do outside of the gym to build lean muscle. An underweight person will have to greatly increase their calorie intake. A normally weighted person will have to tweak their diet to perfect their nutritional intake and likely maintain a similar diet. While an overweight person will have to greatly reduce their calorie intake.
With this in mind, a clear goal can be reached no matter which group you find yourself in. For example, a 10 pound gain or loss follows the same exact formula. One pound equates to 3,500 calories. Thus, consuming 3,500 calories more than you burn each week will generate one pound of weight gain. Alternatively, burning 3,500 calories per week more than you consume will generate one pound of weight loss.
Now that you know the math, create your own formula. What is your target weight? When do you want to reach it? How many calories must you consume to reach your target goal on your target date.
Two: What Kind of Exercise Regime Should You Follow?
It’s important to ensure that you have a fitness plan that aligns with your ultimate goal. Most serious athletes and bodybuilders lift weights 5 or 6 days per week. Their average time spent in the gym is around an hour. However, this may or may not be the correct workout regime for you.
When choosing your regime, again, think of your end goal. If you’re looking to gain serious muscle mass, your answer is going to be a workout regime that focuses on lifting heavy, heavy weights. The stress from the heavy weights will put serious strain on the muscles, which forces them to tear and repair. This is how you generate larger, stronger muscles.
On the other hand, if you’re goal is to lose weight and gain muscle, you’ll want to take part in an exercise plan that keeps your heart rate up throughout the workout. Home workouts like p90x and group exercises like Crossfit have come to the forefront of exercises designed to produce great cardio and strength gains simultaneously.
Three: Construct an Appropriate Diet Plan
I alluded to this earlier, but I will drill into it right now. Exercising is only half of the battle when it comes to gaining muscle mass. The other half of the battle is controlling what you put into your body. The quality and the quantity of the foods you consume will play a major role in how quickly and efficiently you can build lean muscle.
One of the more common questions I receive is “how much should I eat?” The answer is, I have no idea! The amount you should eat is unique to you and your goals. I can tell you that there are several calorie intake calculators online that will calculate your caloric requirements by asking for your sex, age, height, weight, and activity level. Each of these calculators will tell you how many calories you should consume. But calories are only half of the battle. The other half of the battle is…
What Should You Eat?
It is a fad that you should avoid fat and carbs to build lean muscles. Make sure your diet includes food from all groups – carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and fiber.
- Carbohydrates are great energy stores that provide fuel to exercise and build muscles. While avoiding carbs is becoming a fad, not all types of carbs are bad for you. It is important to include complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans in your daily diet, and avoid refined grains, white flour, processed foods, and added sugars. These good carbs are a good source of fiber too.
- Lean, low-fat proteins are essential for muscle growth. Make sure that you include animal protein such as eggs, fish and poultry, as well as plant protein in your diet.
- Just like carbs, there are good fats and bad fats. Avoid bad fats (saturated and Trans fat) and include sources of good fats (omega-3 fats, mono saturated fat).
- Whole foods and grains, minimally processed foods, fresh fruits and vegetables should constitute a majority of your diet.
- Supplements are the most convenient and easy way to make sure that your calorie intake has the required amount of all nutrients. Protein powders, fish oils, vitamins/minerals are commonly used supplements. Looking back on the goals can help you determine what type of supplements you need. For example, whey protein can help you build lean muscles and gain weight, while amino-acid supplements can help burn the fat away and lose weight.
When to Eat?
Breakfast, lunch and dinner just don’t cut it when you are working towards building lean muscles. You should eat throughout the day to ensure your body has the proper nutrition it needs to promote lean muscle growth. Commonly, meals are spread out to 5-6 times per day while undergoing a muscle building regime.
When it comes to muscle recovery, eating carbs for breakfast and after your workout greatly helps. By promoting muscle recovery, you ensure that your muscles are coming back stronger and bigger. You’re also enabling your muscles to be able to hit the gym quicker after a shorter recovery period which again promotes muscle growth.
It is also critical to remain sufficiently hydrated throughout the day and especially during the work-out to promote muscle recovery.
Four: Let Your Body Rest!
One thing that we often overlook when building muscle mass is actually giving our body the time it needs to recover before we push it to the limits again. But, we must realize that our muscles go through a lot of strain during our workouts. The muscles break down and tear during exercise and then they rebuild and recover during your rest periods. Thus, adequate rest is essential to allowing the muscles to recover, grow, and rebuild. Remember to rest one or two days per week as well as for eight hours per night. This will ensure that your body has the amount of rest and recovery it needs to promote healthy muscle growth.