10 Tips for Building Lean Muscle Mass

Lean Muscle

Having a healthy proportion of lean muscle to body fat is essential for good health. Our genes and metabolism limit the eventual amount of muscle mass that anyone can achieve, but if you decide to increase your lean muscle mass there are certain things you can do to assist your body at every step of the way, both through nutrition and careful management of external stimuli.

Follow these tips to start increasing your lean muscle mass immediately.


Have a plan and stick to it

Building lean muscle should be seen as a long-term aim. It takes hard work and dedication and certainly doesn't happen overnight. You will need a firm plan and you need to set yourself goals.

Make sure they are achievable goals, otherwise you will get disheartened. Track your workouts so you can see where you are doing well and where you may need some improvement.

Consider hiring a personal trainer, if you can afford it, at least for a few sessions. They will be able to help you get a firm training plan in place, as well as explain all the basics.


Eat Plenty of Calories

Lean muscle needs more calories, per pound, than body fat just to sustain itself; as you increase your lean muscle mass, you will also increase your resting metabolism (the amount of calories your body burns when you're not doing anything).

Your body also burns more calories in the hours and days after you work out, as it supplies your muscles with increased amounts of oxygen. This means you need to ensure your body has all the calories it needs to keep those processes going and keep you in an anabolic (muscle building) state.


Eat Lots of Protein

Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth by ensuring that our muscles have a constant supply of nitrogen. When you start on a regular regimen of weightlifting, you will need a lot more protein on a daily basis.

The recommended daily amount for an adult in the US, undertaking a heavy program of weights is double the amount recommended for a sedentary adult - around 0.72 grams per pound of body weight.


Know You Good Fats...And Eat Enough of Them

Good fats have their place in everyone's diet, but when you start undertaking a regimen of heavy lifting they are more important than ever. They reduce inflammation, not only in your joints, but also in your cells as well.

This has the benefit of reducing aches and pains after you work out and also helping your muscles and soft tissue to start healing immediately. Good fats are usually a liquid at room temperature - for example, olive oil.


Understand How Carbohydrates Work and Why They Are Important

Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of fuel, which is stored within the muscle as glycogen. You need to ensure you are eating enough so that your body does not run low and dip into your protein stores for energy.

Carbohydrates also play an essential role in regulating your body's release of insulin, a muscle building hormone.


Eat Smaller Meals at Regular Intervals

Adjusting you eating habits can be difficult at first, and you simply may not feel like eating huge meals to hit your calorie requirements for the day. This is where eating smaller meals can help - aim to eat at least 6 small meals per day.

This also has the benefit of ensuring your body has a steady stream of nutrients to keep it in an anabolic state.


Ensure You Are Lifting Enough Weight to Stimulate Muscle Growth

In order to stimulate lean muscle growth, you must ensure that your muscles are constantly challenged. Once you are used to lifting a certain weight your muscles are no longer challenged and stop growing.

This is known as the principle of progressive overload and it's an important one to understand and apply. There are a number of ways you can challenge your muscles and keep them growing:

  • Increase the amount of weight you are lifting
  • Increase the number of sets/reps
  • Increase the intensity (i.e. the amount of effort you put into the exercise)
  • Decrease rest time

Be Sensible With Supplements

Supplements are a billion-dollar industry and you will no doubt see some advertisements making some very wild claims. Don't be fooled; if the results they promise seem too good to be true, then they are probably just that.

Yes, this is a small list but there are only a few basic supplements that you need to consider when you are starting out in bodybuilding:

  • Multi-vitamin - a generic brand is fine, as long as it has 100% RDA of everything in it
  • Fish oil supplement - protects joints and soft tissue
  • Whey powder - fast-acting protein, for use with casein throughout the day
  • Casein powder - slow-acting protein, ideal before bed

Eat the Right Foods Before and After Your Workout

It's important to understand different nutrients, and how they go to work on your body, to get the maximum benefit from them. Giving your body the right nutrients at these vital times can make all the difference.

Just before you work out, your body needs a source of energy that will last throughout your time in the gym; the last thing you want is an energy slump halfway through your routine. Choose a protein that is digested slowly, such as casein powder with added carbohydrates, to ensure your energy levels remain steady throughout.

Just after you work out, you need a fast-acting source of protein with. Post-workout your body needs a mixture of slow and fast digesting protein to replenish glycogen in your muscles and keep your body anabolic. A casein and whey blend is ideal to promote recovery as quickly as possible.



Recovery is essential to muscle growth - when the stimuli (i.e. the weights you have been lifting) are removed, your body starts to repair and build itself back up. Without proper rest and recovery time, you are likely to see the effects of over-training. Catabolism is the body breaking down as it has not had enough time to recover, and means that your hard work is going to waste.

Start applying these tips today and you will immediately notice the difference they make to how you look and feel. Remember, everyone has different genes and a slightly different metabolism so what works for other people may not work as well for you (and vice-versa). Building lean muscle starts with finding the correct routine, with just the right amount of nutrients and rest.

Stephen Ralph
Stephen Ralph
Stephen is the Founder of Health Haxor, an active duty USAF service member, online entrepreneur and fitness buff. In between a busy schedule Stephen is an active contributor to Health Haxor and regularly posts articles related to men's health, fitness and nutrition.
Stephen Ralph
- 8 years ago
Stephen Ralph