Jun 16, 2014

How to Gain Sexy Lean Muscle

Some of the pro body builders eat a lot of extra calories to help build mass but what if you do not want to be a body builder and still want lean muscle?  While the body needs more calories to build lean muscle there is a science to it which will help avoid unwanted weight gain in the form of body fat while increasing lean muscle.
2 obvious factors contribute to this goal:  Lifting weights and consuming the proper food.

How to Gain Lean Muscle Through Nutrition

You can still gain lean muscle without the excessive mass of a body builder or the extra fat of a sumo wrestler.  The key is to eat at the right times and the right food.  Increase calories in the form of protein and good carbs, rather than miscellaneous stuff and make the protein lean meats and the carbs complex.  Avoid taking in more calories than your body will use to increase muscle which is how fat accumulates.   The best time to eat the larger number of calories and protein is post-workout, and in the morning for breakfast.  The rest of your meals should be about the same portions as before. 

The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics recommends taking in about .64-.82 grams of protein per pound of your body weight, every day to increase lean muscle.  So if you weigh 170 lbs. you would need 108-139g of protein each day.  You do this by consuming some protein at every meal.  A few suggestions are eggs, turkey, fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.  You probably already know you should have about 5-6 meals per day. (Meals are not supposed to be fast food or some other high fat garbage that probably have butter, mayo or cheese sauce)

Meals should be every 2-3 hours and they are smaller than the typical meal.  This provides continuous fuel to the muscles throughout the day.  Side note:  It also helps stave off hunger so there is less chance of over eating.  I like to have a slice or 2 of deli roast beef before bed to help keep my metabolism going and it fuels the muscles with the protein it provides.  With it being a protein, the body can use it to repair and build muscle while sleeping.  Carbs or other foods are usually not a good choice because the body can convert it to fat instead of use it for muscle. 

Another thing you need to know is that the pre-workout meal should consist of a protein about 60-90 minutes prior to lifting and this ‘meal’ is not actually a full meal (unless you actually want a large amount of mass).  If it is a protein shake it can be taken as early as 30 minutes prior to a workout but, ideally, the body should have enough time to break it down and be delivering the nutrients to the muscle around the time lifting begins.

I have included an Amazon link to one of the brands that I think are pretty delicious.  I use other brands as well but this one is good for being low calorie combined with delicious.

Post workout should be more protein to repair and rebuild the muscles that have just been broken down.  Additionally, you want this sent to your muscles as quickly as possible.  Adding sugar, regular sugar- not artificial sweeteners, to your protein creates a spike in insulin which allows the body to quickly replace the glycogen it just used for your workout.  The purpose for this is that the body uses glycogen and blood sugar when you work out and it is needed for repair as well as progression.  My personal preference is to add honey to my protein shake or Greek yogurt.
Picture Above:  Greek Yogurt, dried cranberries, chia seeds, granola, almonds and a drizzle of honey.

How to gain lean muscle lifting weights

Now about the lifting part.  It is crucial for you to learn how to work out properly so as to avoid injury.  If you are new, I would highly recommend getting a trainer.  Even if you have been working out for about a year there is still a lot to learn so be sure to know your limits and get help when needed.  I cannot see what you are doing and cannot assist with proper form through a blog.  (Proper form will be for another article)  As long as you know how to maintain proper form, then increase your weight.  This sounds obvious but there is a piece of information you need to know which is not really that obvious when you are just learning. 
Men will want to increase your weight so much that you can barely squeeze out 4-6 reps in your set and on that 6th rep you are struggling to get it up.  Push hard and by the 3rd set you will probably only bust out 4 reps!  You will definitely be jello and mush but that is OK and that's what you are going for!

How to gain lean muscle

Women, similar to men but you will want it to be so heavy that the 7th rep is a struggle.  Do 3 sets and if your 3rd set means that you are so fatigued that you can barely get up your 5th and 6th rep then you are doing it right!  Ladies, do not be afraid you will get bulky.  We do not have the levels of Testosterone that men do so we are not going to build muscle like they do.  Even if we had as much in our bodies, it still takes men some SERIOUS lifting over several years to get big & bulky.
It will takes weeks, even months, to build visible muscle so once you get to the desired level of cutness, (I made that word up) you can level it out but there is nothing to be afraid of in reference to getting bulky.  Some guys may be going for that look and be patient, it takes time.

Once lean muscle is achieved the body will have a more toned, sleek appearance.  Plus you will be stronger and healthier.  Did you know that increased muscle mass helps improve bone density?
Now that you know how to gain lean muscle by strategically increasing calories in the form of protein, give it it a try!  The ONLY thing there is to lose is a little triceps jiggle.

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  1. Great post! Very informative.
    With my reset I've increased my protein and am making sure I get more with every meal.
    My workouts feel better... my lifts feel better.. and heck: I FEEL BETTER

  2. Glad to hear it! Amazing how little changes make HUGE improvements!

  3. Good post with lots of good information. :-) I sometimes struggle with my eating because I'm sometimes so active that I know I need more yet want to make sure I'm doing it right.....so this was quite informative!

    1. Hi MaryFran, Thank you! I know it can be a really difficult balance when trying to lose weight vs. trying to gain muscle so it is really hard to know when to do what.

  4. Love this article. This is that magic pill that everyone is always looking for. and I guess for some, it's a hard one to swallow. I, like everyone, struggle to eat well all the time, but I shoot for the 80/20 rule. Even with that 20% I'm conscious about portions and what exactly I'm eating.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by! Yes, there are many many people looking for the magic pill! I LOVE the 80/20 rule and I especially love that you are still aware during the 20% of the time - that is important.

  5. yep, i've been following all of these things for a few years now with amazing results. i have more muscle definition and mass than when i was in my 20s and lived at the gym (but ate whatever because youth!).

    1. Hey Kathy, thanks for stopping by. It sounds you are living proof of what I am talking about here :)