How To Build Muscle: A Guide To Increase Lean Mass

By | September 9, 2014

build muscle lean physiqueAre you ready to build muscle to get a more muscular physique? Here is a basic guide that anyone can follow to add lean muscle mass to their body.

After putting together the step-by-step guide on How To Get Lean, I thought that it would be necessary to provide a step-by- step guide on how to build lean muscle as well. Because this is the next goal that many people would want to aim for after they successfully drop body fat.

If you use a good program to get lean you should maintain all your muscles and even gain some more muscles in the process. However, some people may not gain the maximum amount of muscle they want from a program primarily designed for losing fat. In such case, it would be necessary to start a well-structured muscle building program for increasing muscle mass on your body.

Putting on some pounds of lean muscle on a lean or skinny body will create a strong, healthy and fit physique. Health professionals stated that gaining healthy weight means gaining lean muscle mass. And keep in mind that increasing muscle will also help your body stay lean because more muscle will help increase your metabolic rate, thus helping your body burn more calories daily.

1. Maintaining A Low Body Fat Level

It’s important to never forget that keeping your body lean is an important part of building a muscular body. Even if you have a good amount of muscle, a high body fat percentage will prevent your muscles from showing up to create impressive muscle definition. If your body fat percentage is higher than average, it is recommend to focus on getting lean first, then start working on building more muscle. Here are the steps on how to build lean muscle that was put together for you.

2. The Caloric Requirement For Gaining Muscle

Building muscle is one way of gaining body weight. Both types of body mass weight gain (muscle or fat) are subjected to the law of energy balance. According to the law of energy balance, burning more calories than you consume daily results in weight gain. Therefore, if you want to gain muscle you have to set your nutrition plan to include a calorie surplus.

In order to find the right amount of calories that will be a surplus for you, it’s necessary to calculate your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) or calorie maintenance level which is the total number of calories your body burns to sustain itself daily. Once you find your calorie maintenance level then any number above that will be a calorie surplus for you.

3. Calorie Surplus For Lean Muscle Gain

Any amount of calories that you consume plus the amount you need for your calorie maintenance level will be a calorie surplus. Let’s say your calorie maintenance level is 2000 calories, then consuming 2500 calories will give you a surplus of 500 calories.

When it comes to creating a calorie surplus to build muscle the ideal amount should be high enough to allow you to gain weight, but not too high to cause excess fat gain. We want to stay as lean as possible when gaining muscle mass to save ourselves additional body fat problems. Most naturally skinny people may not have to worry about fat gain when aiming to build muscle because they usually have difficulties getting enough calories to gain weight.

The right number of calories for each person to gain muscle without fat will vary based on individual circumstances. However, a general rule to find your required calorie intake for building muscle is 18 calories per pound of your body weight (18 x your bodyweight). This may not always be ideal but it’s a good start.

The total that you get will include an average surplus above your TDEE. Or if you prefer to use your TDEE as the primary guideline for creating your calorie surplus to gain muscle, then you can start with 500 calories above TDEE. An ectomorph (skinny person) may need to add a lot more calories than 500 to their TDEE to gain weight. But you can adjust your calorie intake later on while remaining above your TDEE based on your results after starting out with your program.

4. Balance Macronutrients For Muscle Building

Gaining muscle also requires a careful balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat – these are known as macronutrients and they will also be your source of  calories for building muscle. There are different ways by which these macronutrients could be divided up within your total calories to be optimal for each individual based on your specific goals and body type. But it is generally agreed that protein intake should be around 1-1.5 grams per pound of your body weight when trying to gain muscle. You can start with making protein to be around 30% of your total calorie intake, carb 50%, and fat 20%.

build muscle calories and macronutrientsYou may have to test different macronutrient splits to find what works best for you. It would be good for you to learn about macronutrients and how they affect body composition in details to be better able to balance them in a way that will fit your individual needs and goals.

5. Meal Frequency For Building Muscle

The number of meals that you need to eat per day to build muscle is a debatable subject. However, real world evidence has shown that 5-6 meals per day is a good meal schedule that works well for muscle building success. Bodybuilders and fitness models have been using this meal schedule in their nutrition plan for years. As you know, the bodies that they have is enough proof this meal frequency works.

Nonetheless, it would be necessary to customize your meal plan to fit your personal preferences and circumstances. If you cannot afford to eat 5-6 meals per day for personal reasons, then sticking with the meal schedule that is reasonable or preferable to you could work as long as you are getting the required amount of calories and macronutrients for gaining muscle.

meal frequency to build muscle

6. Foods To Eat To Build Muscle

When it comes to muscle building foods there are a wide variety to choose from to include in your diet for building muscle. The first thing is to ensure that you get the required amount of calories and macronutrients that you need.

Then you may also want to eat foods that would address your individual situation. For example, some people would need to focus on minimizing fat gain with their muscle building diet plan. While other people would have a fast metabolism and find it difficult to gain weight. So they must eat the right foods that would help them address any issues that may prevent good results.

Any foods that contain the nutrients you need for lean muscle building could be included in your muscle building diet, but there are certain foods that stand out and are very popular for including in muscle building diet plans.

These are some of the popular foods for building lean muscle:

  • Proteins: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk
  • Carbs: Brown rice, oats, whole grain pasta, quinoa
  • Fats: Olive oil, fish oil, real butter, nuts, flax seeds
  • Fruits and Veggies: Banana, orange, apple, pineapple, pears spinach, broccoli, tomato, salad, carrot

To learn the nutritional properties of different foods to plan your fitness diet join a food database website such as Myfitnesspal and CalorieKing.

7. Lifting Weights To Build Muscle

The law of energy balance says that you will gain weight as long as you eat in a calorie surplus. But unless you do proper and consistent resistance training while in a calorie surplus most of the weight that you gain will be fat.

You need to do weight training or bodyweight training to get stronger and make progressive overload happen, which will result in lean muscle building. Progressive overload means consistently increasing the workload and resistance needed to stress the muscle for it to grow bigger.

The concept is when you train hard in a workout session and it damages the muscle, you’ll then need to give that muscle rest time to heal and recover. When the muscle heals, it grows slightly bigger in size than the way it was before. Therefore, it requires lifting heavier weights or adding more workload the next time to break down the muscle again for further growth. This is progressive overload which you must maintain through your program to keep growing bigger muscle.

lifting weights to build muscle

All weight training programs to build muscle must be designed to adhere to the fundamental principle of progressive overload. However, there are endless ways to structure a muscle building workout program in terms of scheduling, exercises, reps, sets etc. And it’s important to know that the structure of these different variables would affect the type of results that you get from the workout program. The structure of these variables could affect things such as rate of muscle gain, strength to mass ratio, body symmetry etc.

With so many different muscle building programs out that come with different structure and focus, it’s important to choose a workout program to build muscle that will work well for your specific goals. If you don’t have access to a gym or weight training equipment you can use a bodyweight training program like Bar Brothers System build good muscle.

To Conclude

There are a lot more to learn about building muscle besides the info provided here, but this guide gave you the basic information that you can use to start building lean muscle today.

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