How To Gain Lean Muscle
Everyone wants to improve their physique. I could ramble all day about the numerous health and lifestyle benefits of building a healthy, muscular, body. But, since I’ve already rambled about that numerous times, I want to jump straight into a new topic: How to gain lean muscle.
I’ve put together the five crucial elements of gaining – and keeping –lean muscle. Understand that building lean muscle is a two-step process. First, you gave to GAIN muscle. Second, you have to LOSE fat. It’s common amongst bodybuilders to go through various bulking (read: muscle gaining) cycles that are followed by cutting (read: fat loss) cycles. This has been the lifeblood of the bodybuilding world since day one.
However, it is possible to both gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously. This is a very consistent method for the “average joe six pack” to build muscle. So, let’s take a look at the five keys to gaining lean muscle:
Step 1: Lift Heavy-Ass Weights
Bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman said it best when he said: “Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy-Tass weight!”
Thanks, Ronnie. You nailed it. Building muscle starts with lifting heavy weights. The key here is to lift weights that actually challenge you and force your muscles to explode. Otherwise, your results will be minimal at best.
When you lift heavy-ass weights, your body assumes that your body is suffering an attack on your muscles. During a strenuous workout, your muscles will tear which the body sees as a vulnerability. To remove this vulnerability, your muscles rebuild stronger – and larger. Thus, to continue this tear, repair, growth cycle, you must continuously lift heavier weights that challenge your muscles. If you don’t you will plateau and your gains will remain stagnant.
Step 2: Focus on Cardio
Natural weight gain is a constant battle in your body versus how many carbs your body takes in and how many carbs you burn throughout your daily activity. When you consume more calories than you burn, your body stores the excess calories as fat. When you burn more calories than you consume, your body burns your excess fat for energy. Thus, cardio is essential to preventing fat from being stored throughout your body and instead allowing you to gain lean muscle.
Depending on your caloric intake, and muscle growth goals, you have several different methods for burning those excess calories. The key is to control your caloric intake and output to get your body to produce the results you desire. More calories in and fewer calories out while lifting heavy will lead to massive gains. Fewer calories in and more calories out while lifting heavy will lead to leaner gains. Only you can decide which happy medium is right for achieving your bodybuilding goal. When it comes to cardio, HIIT cardio can give you great results in half the time.
Step 3: Body Weight Exercises
Accept the growing phenomenon. Crossfit, Beachbody, and other at-home based workout programs, are revolutionizing the fitness industry. These fitness methods and programs are ideal for those that are looking to gain lean muscle mass.
Why? Because these programs combine the two key components for achieving lean muscle gains – lifting weights and cardio – and perfectly combines them into one intense workout.
But bodyweight exercises are not only beneficial to those that are looking for lean muscle. Adding a quick and basic 10 or 15 minute bodyweight circuit training to the end of your workout regime can explode your gains and create a ‘ripped’ physique.
Step 4: Healthy Eating – Fuel Your Body
As I touched on earlier; muscle building is 50% inside the gym and 50% inside the kitchen. No matter what you do in the gym, you will never reach your potential and/or goals unless you are dedicated in the kitchen.
Your body is the machine, and food is the fuel for that machine. The machine can only work as well as the food that fuels it.
First, understand that the caloric intake/output is what will lead you to gain weight or lose weight. Lifting weights only decides if that weight will be stored as muscle, or stored as fat. This is why there are people who eat 4,000 calories per day that are absolutely shredded. While there are people who eat 4,000 calories per day and are fat.
Second, understand what your body actually needs to generate a lean muscle gain. After all, there’s a big difference in consuming 4,000 calories of protein, carbs, and nutrients instead of 4,000 calories of cookies and cake. Simply put, not all calories are created equal.
Now, I talk about nutrients and fueling your body very, very frequently here (because it’s so damn important). But, I will spare you that discussion now.
Step 5: Let Your Body Recover
When your muscles are pushed to the point of exhaustion in the gym, they need time to recover. The recovery process entails repairing the tissue, becoming stronger, and becoming larger.
So, working out the same muscle groups over and over – without allowing time for recovery and growth – is extremely prohibitive for muscular gains.
The solution to this issue is two-fold. First, workout consistently (4 to 6 days per week), but over-exhausting the same muscle over and over. Always target a different large muscle group each day. For example, if you work your chest and shoulders on Monday, then work your legs and core on Tuesday, and arms and back on Wednesday. This gives you at least 48 hours before you repeat working out the same muscle group(s). That is ample time for your muscles to recover, repair, and return to form to be worked out again.
The second part of the solution is to get plenty of sleep. When your body is at rest, your body is able to completely focus on recovering. Additionally, when you get eight hours of sleep per night, you will be energized to maximize your time and effort in the gym.
Supplement Your Gains as Necessary
Every athlete and bodybuilder has a different idea of their ideal body. But, no matter how you envision yourself, you will be able to achieve that through proper dieting and exercising.
The addition of supplements to your nutrition and fitness routine is what allows you to get an edge, maximize your workouts, and ultimately maximize your gains.
For example, a bodybuilder will always take a mass gainer while bulking. The reason is simple. It’s nearly to naturally consume the large quantities of calories, proteins, carbs, and nutrients from food alone. Mass gainers pack off of those essentials into a quick and easy shake which allows bodybuilders to pack on the pounds of muscle.
On the other hand, someone who is looking to lose weight, or cut, should be using a thermogenic fat burner to assist with their weight loss or cut. A thermogenic fat burner essentially raises the temperature of your body to burn additional calories and generate a weight loss.
Nearly every athlete and bodybuilder will use a pre-workout energy blast and a post-workout recovery blast to maximize their time in the gym, shorten their recovery time, and increase their gains. These are essentials for achieving any goal in the gym.
But, how you reach your goal is up to you. By using these tips, you will definitely maximize your lean muscle gains in the gym. Always remember that if you, lift heavy, fuel your body, and get enough rest, you will be unstoppable.