The 3 Principles to Building Lean Muscle – Earn the Body You Deserve
Do you want to look good? Do you want to feel good? Not sure how to achieve the body you want? Well, you’re in the right place.
Every journey starts with the first few steps and achieving the body you want is no exception.
With over fifty years of fitness expertise, Peak Body has created this beginner’s guide that will explain the fundamentals to building lean muscle.
Reading this will equip you with the knowledge you need to get your journey off to a winning start.
Before you know it, you’ll be seeing results and you’ll be shifting stubborn pounds.
What does lean muscle mean?
The muscle mass content of the body minus fat.
How much lean muscle do I have?
To work this out, use this formula:
Body weight – (body weight – body fat percentage)
Someone who weighs 90kg with a body fat of 10% this formula would look like this:
90 – (90 – (90/100*10)) = 81kg
To work this out for yourself you’ll need to calculate your body fat percentage which is difficult to do yourself. At your gym or usually at doctors you can find weighing scales with an electro-impulse function which will calculate your body fat – if you’re not sure how to use it just ask!
What is lean muscle gain?
So when we’re talking about gaining lean muscle we’re referring to the gain of muscle mass and only muscle mass without any fat, water or weight that isn’t muscle. If you can master this process then you’ll be shedding pounds in no time! We’re going to make this process straightforward and easy to follow.
How to gain lean muscle – the three secrets to success
An understanding of three principles is all it takes to start your journey and by the end of this guide, you’ll know all three.
Nutrition – You Are What You Eat
When it comes to building lean muscle, nutrition plays a vital role. Carbohydrates are the traditional key to gaining weight in order to bulk out and add muscle. This approach typically works best for hard gainers and young adults.
Carbohydrates cause the body to release insulin that in turn pulls available nutrients from the blood. These can then be used for muscle recovery or stored as fat. For somebody that has a fast metabolism taking in carbohydrates up to six times a day will help to prevent muscle wasting. It will also encourage the storage of macronutrients including carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
To gain weight a person must eat more calories than they burn in a day. It is important to not go overboard, though. Eating too much will cause the body to start its fat storing process, whereby the body gains unwanted weight. The key to bulking out is to eat just enough to aid the muscle gaining process rather than the fat storing process.
Gain lean muscle without fat
To prevent unwanted weight loss from occurring, portion control is a must. This ensures that you are eating the right amounts throughout the day. For most of your meals, excluding post workout, you should be consuming at least 40-60 grams of protein and 40-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal (based on four meals a day on training days). On your days recovering, reduce the number of carbs to half and keep protein high. The amount consumed will depend on your size. For somebody that weighs 225 pounds, you would need to aim for the higher end of the spectrum.
It is also important to make sure that fat is kept as low as possible unless it is a healthy fat. Healthy fats come from foods such as nuts, olive oil and oily fish. You should be aiming to get at least 5-10 grams of healthy fat per meal. Healthy fats tend to be liquid at room temperature and contain high levels of omega 3. These are found in things such as olive oil and oily fish including salmon, mackerel and sardines. If you're not sure where to start with healthy snacking, read more about Primal Paleo Bars
The timing of meals can play a role when gaining lean muscle. Eating not only supports mass gains but also plays an important role in controlling body fat levels.
The body craves calories and nutrients the most at two points in the day. These include at breakfast time and after a workout. The reason for this is that in the morning the body is depleted after being without food for a long time. After a workout, the muscles need replenishing in order to recover and therefore crave fuel. To meet the needs of the body at these times of day you should increase the size of your meals. This will allow the body to use the calories and nutrients whilst keeping body fat levels down.
The rest of the day’s food should be portioned and eaten in small quantities throughout the day.
Basically what this means is that the time of day you eat has an impact on whether or not you gain muscle or fat.
Eating on non-training days
It is important when training to make sure that you have rest days. This gives the body the time it needs to rest, recover and grow.
On rest days you should not consume as many carbohydrates as you would on a training day. This is because the body is unable to burn it all and as a result will end up storing it as fat. The body benefits from more carbs when active as the body drives them to the muscles. When inactive, the body doesn’t need as many carbs and will store it.
Eating properly and training properly is vital for gaining lean muscle. Combining this with good pre-workout supplements will enhance your training and help you achieve more from your workout plan.
Supplements help provide you with any nutrition that you may not be getting from the food you eat. When working out you need a lot of nutrients. Even though you’re eating food that provides these there just isn’t enough of it. Protein shakes provide you with these and help improve your strength, performance and recovery.
Protein is the most important nutrient you need when building muscle. It is the building block of muscle and you need lots of it to help them grow, mature and recover. Protein supplements are convenient and great for packing your body with the fuel it desperately needs. Typically whey is perfect for during the day and casein protein at night before bed - read more about the benefits of casein protein here.
If you're wanting to pack a punch when lifting weights you're going to need creatine monohydrate. It helps the body quickly regenerate energy which increases strength and muscular endurance.
Some examples of meal plans you can easily replicate
It doesn’t matter what you are trying to achieve whether it be losing weight or gaining lean muscle, you must have the right attitude. Thinking positively, remaining enthusiastic and staying determined will push you through the hard times and keep you on track. A slip in attitude could cost you everything and push you back rather than forwards.
Training – Starting Off Slow & Pick Up The Tempo
Increase the frequency of your training
It’s easy to maintain the muscle that you already have by continuing to hit the gym at your usual rate. When looking to increase muscle size you will need to increase the frequency you work out. For example: if you currently go to the gym twice a week consider going at least four or five times instead. When increasing the number of times you attend the gym in a week, it is likely that the duration of time you are there will decrease (per session). This is fine as it allows the body to recover. The added exposure to training also helps a person to pack on more mass.
Mix up your strength sessions
Reps are an important part of building muscle. An 8 to 12 rep range is very effective but mixing it up is of importance. The body likes a challenge and keeping your reps the same for long periods of time allows the body to get used to it. Try and carry out a mixture of both lower and higher reps for four-week blocks. This will help stimulate the muscles and encourage them to grow.
Big lifts are essential for building muscle. They use a lot of muscle benefiting various parts of the body. Make sure that you carry out a range of lifts including squats, deadlifts, overhead presses and pull-ups. Adding more weight to the bar as you progress will also increase your chances of bulking out.
Make room for isolation movements
Big lifts may be your priority but isolation lifts shouldn’t be forgotten. Biceps, curls and calf raise expand your fitness program and help improve forgotten muscles. These lifts are also far less taxing than big lifts meaning the body can recover much faster.
Allowing the body to repair itself after a session in the gym helps your muscles grow and makes your workouts so much better. By resting properly after the gym, reducing your stress levels and getting 8-9 hours’ sleep each night you will have a better chance of improving your body composition.
Follow a program
We mentioned earlier that it is important to mix up your routine every so often to challenge the body. It is however just as important to ensure that you stick to a training program long enough to reap the benefits. Doing this will increase your strength and efficiency allowing you to build lean muscle.
Choose your environment carefully
It is important to make sure that when you are training you are in the right environment. This means finding a gym that is appropriately equipped for the goals you want to achieve. Finding a gym that is visited by other hardworking and like-minded individuals is also beneficial. This way you can form friendships with others in the same boat, train together and encourage each other to keep going.
If you take anything away from this article, this is what you need to remember
- Eating smart is the most effective way to reduce fat percentage – what’s easier, not eating a Mars Bar (other chocolate is available…) or running 2.79km?
- Make each calorie count! Think of it this way, you get a calorie allowance each day and sticking to it will help you achieve your goals. Your body needs fuel to exercise and recover. With a set number of calories to work with, you need to make sure you don’t go over that threshold while fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to build lean muscle.
- Supplements are a great way to meet targets. I usually use sweet protein powders like the Diet Whey powder. With a sweet tasting protein shake, it satisfies that craving for sugary snacks without any of the guilt! But remember there are calories in everything you consume, drinking protein shake after protein shake won’t do you any good especially if you’re having more calories than you need.
- Perception plays a vital role. Trying to change how you perceive food and nutrition will pay off massively. Remember, you are what you eat! Start to look at that muffin as a ball of squishy fat rather than a delicious treat.
- Be mindful and you’ll appreciate how many calories you consume. Use apps like MyFitnessPal to calculate a days’ worth of calories and log everything. You’ll soon start to appreciate how many calories you’re consuming. If like me, you lack willpower on a weekend, take it one step further by strictly logging seven days’ worth of calorie intake and work out the average per day for that week – you will be shocked.
Training, recovering and enjoying yourself
- Training doesn’t need to be complicated. Start simple, familiarise yourself with the most common compound movements; squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press and build up your strength over a couple of months then start adding movements that compliment these lifts.
- Don’t rush your training or you’ll risk injury, take things nice and slow – it’s a journey. Rocky didn’t suddenly become the champion, he committed and suffered but eventually triumphed. How bad would the story be if he trained for a day and suddenly starting knocking people out in the ring? Don’t kid yourself into thinking there are short cuts.
- If you struggle to enjoy something, try something else! Certain types of exercise aren't for everyone and it’s easier to exercise when you enjoy it. My dad is a keen runner and tried for years to get me into it, he’d keep selling me the benefits and I’d keep trying. I trained for a few months and hated every single moment – I just couldn’t appreciate it in the same way. However, rugby, weight lifting, squash and cycling I enjoyed so I stuck to those and suddenly I found myself losing twice as much weight while having a better quality of life.
When you take small steps to kerbing your calorie intake and incrementally increasing the intensity of your training you’ll realise that it doesn’t take much willpower at all. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve using this method and it won’t be until you look back that you’ll appreciate what you’ve managed to do. One minute you’ll be declining that urge to eat that one extra chocolate biscuit and the next you’ll have a fortifying diet of supreme greens and lean proteins.
Peak Body challenge you to surprise yourself and start living the life the way you want to. With a wide range of supplements to build lean muscle to buy online, we’ll be with you every step of your journey.