7 Keys to Building Lean Muscle

The common reason why people often sweat it out in the gym is to lose weight and/or achieve a lean muscle. The former and the latter as mentioned always go hand in hand as you won’t be able to achieve a lean body without losing significant fats especially around the belly. Achieving that lean look though takes time and sweat in order to make it through the struggle. Aside from lifting weights, performing cardio and nutrition, there are still essential and golden rules that you must keep in mind when trying to define your abs or your whole musculature.

1)  Get back to the basics. The basics of lean muscle lies not only with the use of artificial weights such as the barbell and the dumbbells but also in the use of natural, body weights readily available. One common mistake that people do is that they tend to neglect body weight exercises. Body weight exercises such as the push-ups and the pull ups provide the intense training that your muscles need in order to burn fat and at the same time reveal the well defined details of your back muscle and your chest muscles. Another important consideration is that the body weight exercise for the chest such as the push up is healthy for your shoulders. The pull ups on the other hand, develop the totality of your back, your core, the biceps and the shoulders.

      • The push up. To perform the push up, start by getting on all forms and assume the push up position with your arms extended, supporting your body, on the floor and your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Maintain a straight line form the head to your heels and lower your body as a single unit until your nose almost touches the floor. Push back up to the staring position while utilizing the chests muscles. Repeat for as many as you can for three reps. You can perform this exercise as a warm up for your chest session or as a finishing exercise after your workout.
      • The pull ups. Start the pull up exercise by grasping the pull up bar in front of you with your thumbs wrapped around the bar. Hang on to the bar, with your arms fully extended. Then raise yourself by pulling yourself up until your chin almost touches the bar. Lower yourself to the starting position until your arms are almost locked out but fully locked out. Perform for as many reps as you can for two sets. Performing this exercise in the beginning of your workout is advisable as this exercise can be very taxing.

2)  The importance of free weights goes beyond gaining mass to achieving deep muscle cuts. Compound exercises such as the squats, the pull ups, rows, bench press and barbell shoulder presses help develop major muscles in the body because these exercises recruits major and minor muscles in the body when performing these exercises. In addition to that, your core also works harder with these exercises as you get challenged by trying to balance the weights freely, as contrary to lessened muscle recruitment when doing machine assisted exercises.

3)  Another principle when performing exercises is to do supersets. Supersets promote muscular development while adding a bit of cardio that helps burn calories and fats leading to a leaner musculature. Supersets target the muscles significantly due to the difficulty that this principle brings. You can add these supersets to your workout once a week or twice a week. For example, you can perform a superset of flat barbell bench press with flat dumbbell bench presses, followed by your usual chest routine. You may also do the same with your legs, back and shoulder sessions by pairing compound with isolation exercises or barbell with dumbbell exercises.

4)  When undergoing your current workout routine, make sure that you finish the program within 12-16 weeks before changing to another program. The said length of time is enough to keep your muscles on a strict workout without having plateaus and will still help you gain more and induce a leaner physique. Going beyond the said length of time using your current workout may cause plateaus and boredom.

5)  An essential key in promoting a lean physique is to consider an 8 hour sleep every night. Lack of sleep of less than 6 a night triggers some people to binge eat. This is truly a counterproductive act when trying to lose weight when trying to achieve a lean musculature. Having enough rest, allows you lift stronger in the gym and helps maintain focus and concentration during a heated game or a crucial part of your ball game. Sleep also helps your muscles recover and build muscles as this is the crucial time when growth hormones are released.

6)  Heavy weight lifting with a rep range of 8 to 10 is known to give muscle mass, definition and strength gains. However, in order to stay safe, you must have a training partner or an assistant to spot you during your heaviest sets as it is when your forms tend to stagger and lose its balance. This also helps prevent injuries and muscle strains.

7)  Another rare principle used in the gym is when you perform slow negatives of an exercise. Slow negatives can be done by utilizing light weights, while using a slow motion during the lowering or negative phase of an exercise such as the bench press. This technique enables muscle build up and maintains constant tension that helps recruit muscles fibers that help build and define muscles.


These are the principles that you must always include in your fitness principles to achieve  lean muscle. Make sure that a training assistant is always present to watch your form and that you wear the appropriate clothing with each session. Warming up is also a must if you would like to shed premature fatigue and strains during your workout. So go ahead and perform your sessions while applying these simple and essential workout techniques to a leaner physique.

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Jordann Campose is a fitness enthusiast and instructor. He currently works as a health care professional with part time work as a fitness instructor and weight loss teacher for people seeking results that will help boost their confidence and strengthen their whole being. [/stextbox]

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  1. rigorous fitness February 27, 2015

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