How To Build Lean Muscle


If you are spending a good amount of time at the gym and following a training program that includes weightlifting, you expect to build lean muscle.

Photo Credit: PopSugar (Instagram: @chynacho)

Difference between building strength and building muscle

During our consultations we hear, “I want to build my strength” and/or “I want to build lean muscle”. These might sound like the same goal but there is a slight difference.


Strength training focuses on myofibrillar (muscle fiber threads) development while muscle training focuses on sarcoplasmic (cell cytoplasm) enhancement. Strength training aims to increase the functional ability of muscles. Allowing you to lift heavier loads. It targets neuromuscular development in conjunction with the development of type 2a muscle fibers. Training for muscle growth, also known as hypertrophy, aims to increase the fluids inside muscle cells and growing our muscle fibers.


With the training that we do in our group classes, we get great crossover development. Especially if you also do the accessory work


Now how do we get strong and build lean muscle!?


Going to the gym and following a good training program is just one part.


Here are some other factors that are completely in your control that you need to be on top of if you’d like to see progress:


Nutrition

We’ve talked in previous blog post about the importance of nutrition and a balanced meal plan. Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. You need to be eating enough to support activity levels in a balanced manner. This means you should be eating the right ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fat based on a few things such as gender, current physique, age, current physique, current volume of training, activity level outside of the gym and so on.


Like we said, you are going to need a good ratio split for your macros. We can help you determine that. One macro-nutrient that we’ll discuss right now is protein. You will need a high protein diet in order to build lean muscle. Anywhere between .8g to 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight.


Even if you take the “80/20” approach while still following what we said in the previous paragraph, you’ll build muscle while still losing excess body fat.


Prepping your meals or at least planning your meals ahead of time will not only save your time and money but it will make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients and calories on a daily basis.


Keep a daily food journal of what you eat, writing down each ingredient and/or meal that you had in detail. This will help you (and your coach) determine if the amount that you are eating is working or if anything needs to be changed.


Once you have a good handle on your nutrition, you can add in supplements such as BCAA’s, glutamine, Omega-3, 6, 9, creatine, casein protein, regular whey protein and a few others.


Meal timing can also be a huge help to building lean muscle. But supplements and meal timing is only important once you have a good handle on your overall nutrition.


Please feel free to read any of our previous blog post where we talk about nutrition. If you need nutrition counseling, we can help.


Sleep

There’s a reason why high level athletes go to bed early and are sleeping 7-9 hours each night, if not more.


While we sleep, our body is busy. Our body is repairing and replenishing after a long day of work and exercise. Our body is repairing broken muscle fibers (growing lean muscle) as well as adjusting and releasing hormone levels (i.e. human growth hormone, testosterone, cortisol,etc).


Lack of sleep is linked to multiple negative issues. So many that it would consume the entirety of this post. Feel free to read “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker. To keep it relatable to the topic of this blog post, research shows that lack of sleep shrinks our muscles, can lead to poor performance, and slow muscle recovery.


The point is, if you want to build lean muscle and get strong, sleep 7-9 hours consistently!


Water

Water transports nutrients and oxygen, supports proper muscle contraction, improves joint function and fights fatigue. Being even slightly dehydrated can cause decreases in reaction time, mood and focus.


Dehydration can prevent muscles from properly contracting, reducing muscle tone.

Increasing water intake will help prevent muscle cramping, improve the strength of muscle contractions and quicken muscle response. Preventing dehydration will also help prevent sagging skin, since water will fill out the muscles, resulting in clear, healthy, and resilient skin.


The negative effects of not drinking enough water are almost too many to count, particularly for athletes.


A good range is to drink .5 to 1oz of water per pound of body weight, but it also depends on a few other factors such as weather (hot climate), physical activity, pregnancy, type of work (sedentary/active), etc.


Recovery

Recovery is a very broad term. We don’t just mean doing a few minutes of stretching (even though it’s important!). We mean it in a way that allows your body and mind to de-stress. Try swimming, yoga or going for a light hike. Scheduling some form of body-work (massage, chiropractics). Maybe it’s talking to a therapist to discuss things that are weighing on you.

Self-care is extremely important for physical and mental health.


So schedule some “me” time.


Photo Credit: CrossFit Games

Highlights

  • Eat balanced meals (protein, carbs and fat) that support activity levels

  • Keep a food journal of your high protein diet

  • Supplements and meal timing can be helpful as long as you have a good handle on your overall nutrition first

  • Weight training at least 3 days per week if not more (5-6 days)

  • Sleep 7-9 hours

  • Drink plenty of water. Approximately .5 to 1oz of water per pound of weight

  • Take time to de-stress and get bodywork done.

All of these bullet points need to be done consistently for multiple weeks in order to see proper results. Working out is just one small part when it comes to building lean muscle and burning excess body fat.



If you feel like you need some guidance with any of the points, schedule a FREE consultation or if you're already a member, let's sit down and talk.


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