How do I Build Lean Muscle?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Building lean muscle within the body can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. People who wish to build lean muscle may desire to gain weight, maintain a healthy body, or to increase their physical strength. For whichever reason, there are many ways to increase the body's lean muscle, from engaging in specific workouts to eating a low-fat diet.

Some people use free weights to build up muscle.
Some people use free weights to build up muscle.

People who wish to build muscle without bulking up should eat a sensible diet with plenty of calories from healthy food sources. Many bodybuilders opt to use mean replacement supplements to guarantee optimal nutrition content and calories. People wishing to embark on a lean muscle diet should consider adding lots of protein to their daily meals.

Lean protein sources, like white meat chicken, are important to incorporate into the diet of anyone looking to build muscle.
Lean protein sources, like white meat chicken, are important to incorporate into the diet of anyone looking to build muscle.

Workouts that build lean muscle often include a focus on multi-joint exercises rather than isolation exercises. The compound movements in these routines, combined with different repetition amounts and different repetition speeds, help to tone muscle. Weight should be continually added while doing these workouts as well. Once a person can comfortably finish a set with a certain amount of weight, he or she should consider adding more weight to build lean muscle.

Bench presses are a very popular way to build lean muscle.
Bench presses are a very popular way to build lean muscle.

While many people know that lifting weights can build muscle, they may not know which types of movements combined with the weights are optimal for their goals. Physical trainers recommend a variety of strength training workouts to help build lean muscle. Deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts, and chin ups are considered good ways to build lean muscle.

A person looking to build lean muscle may want to gain weight.
A person looking to build lean muscle may want to gain weight.

Squats, bench presses, and barbell curls are all very popular ways to build muscle. Other workouts for this purpose may include lat pull downs, bent-over rows, and close grip bench presses. Major muscle groups, such as the back, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, arms, and quadriceps, should be worked out during a compound exercise. To build lean muscle, work toward engaging as many muscles as can be active at once. Isolation exercises such as leg extensions and concentration curls should be avoided, as they will not aid the athlete in building lean muscle.

Exercises such as heavy squats use many muscles at once and help develop muscle growth and power.
Exercises such as heavy squats use many muscles at once and help develop muscle growth and power.

Athletes should also consider the amount of time they spend working out when attempting to build muscle mass. Lengthy workouts for hours will not provide the results desired; instead, it is recommended that they focus on shorter, consistent numbers of exercises and sets while adding weight whenever possible. Athletes should also be sure to get plenty of sleep so their bodies can work on muscle repair and development while at rest.

It is also recommended to keep the term heavy weights in perspective. Though athletes may be advised to use heavy weights, the phrase is relative to each athlete; weights should be heavy in respect to the athlete's own weight and power, not to all people in general. People should avoid weights that are too heavy for their own statures. These can cause physical harm as well as a lack of progress toward their lean muscle mass goal.

Barbell curls are a very popular way to build muscle.
Barbell curls are a very popular way to build muscle.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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