Step by Step Guide to Build Lean Muscle
Building lean muscle isn’t a one-dimensional process. If that were the case, then everyone that lifted weights would be walking around looking like Greek Gods.
The concepts of building muscle are simple, but not necessarily easy. In fact, most people know exactly what they need to do to transform their body and increase their energy levels.
Unfortunately, common sense is rarely common practice. The truth of the matter is that the average person watches 36 hours of television per week. When asked about their training, the most common response is “I don’t have the time.”
The status quo of our society will always resort to excuses. The harsh reality is that most people lead dogmatic lives that are dictated by others. They are content with mediocrity, and have no desire to enhance their body and minds.
These are the same people who will encourage you not to pursue your fitness goals. They are threatened by your potential success, and want you to stay “average” just like them.
Am I saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with people who don’t workout?
But there’s also nothing wrong with building a strong body, possessing a warrior mindset, and living a life of autonomy on your terms.
Today, we’re going to talk about building a strong upper body. Before we dive into the workout, there are a couple of important concepts that you need to understand when it comes to building lean muscle.
1.) You Don’t Grow In The Gym
I’m assuming that you’ve probably heard this one before. When you perform any type of resistance training, you tear the acto-myosin and fibers of your muscles. This simply creates the demand for growth. Muscle development only occurs when you backend those workouts with the proper nutritional sources.
To maximize your gains, you should consume roughly .25 grams of protein per body weight within an hour after your workout. So, if you weigh 175bs, you should have around 35 grams of protein following your training.
Whey protein is the best way to fuel your torn muscles after a workout. Although protein rich foods are also effective, it takes your body longer to digest them. There are several whey products on the market. Some are good, while others are basically milkshakes with added protein. Find a brand that’s serving size is high in protein (>20g), low in carbs (<10g), and low in fat (<10g). (Read This: You’re Wasting Your Workouts by Not Eating This Much Protein)
In addition to protein, simple sugars are a great way to repair muscle tissue after a workout. I usually mix my whey protein shake with a packet of powdered Gatorade or a small cup of fruit juice.
2.) Perform Mass Building Exercises
There are hundreds of different workouts that have been proven to be effective. If you want to build lean muscle, then you need to do your due diligence and find a program that’s aligned with your goals.
You wouldn’t let a homeless person manage your stock portfolio, right? Then you shouldn’t take fitness advice from someone who doesn’t have the results you want.
The first step in building lean muscle is to train all your major muscle groups accordingly. If you neglect your chest, shoulders, back, arms, legs, or abdominals, then it’s virtually impossible to build a symmetrical physique.
The second step is to incorporate a series of mass building workouts into your routine. This will usually entail lifting heavier weight for moderate rep counts. If your goal is to increase your strength levels and build lean muscle, you should keep your rep counts between 12-6 per set.
In today’s workout, we are going to perform a series of dumbbell and bodyweight exercises to build the biceps, shoulders, chest, and abdominals. This will be a circuit workout, so you’ll want to minimize the amount of rest in between each set. This will elevate your heart rate and give you a great fat burning workout as well.
10 Minute Upper Body Mass Workout
Over The Knee Dumbbells Curls: this exercise will build long, chiseled biceps that run from the bottom of your shoulder to the top of your forearm. Proper form is absolutely essential with any type of biceps curl. Make sure to start each rep with your arm fully extended. Curl the dumbbell up until it makes contact with your chest, and maintain control of the weight on the negative portion of each rep. Keep your reps between 10-15 per set.
Military Dumbbell Presses: there’s no better way to build the mass of your deltoids. Always capitalize on the full range of motion, and descend the dumbbells below your shoulder level on each rep. If your goal is to build lean muscle, then keep your rep counts between 12-8 per set.
Pushups: when done properly, pushups are probably the best bodyweight exercise to build mass to the upper body. When targeting the chest, you’ll want to place your hands roughly shoulder width apart. Always keep a slight bend in your elbows at the peak point of each rep. This will maximize your results by keeping your chest constantly activated throughout each set. Keep your rep counts between 20-30 per set.
Bicycle Crunches: this is a great exercise because it targets multiple areas of the abdominals. Whenever you break the point of your waistline with your legs, it will activate the lower portion of your abdominals. Make sure to elevate your knee up to your chest level on each rep. As you twist your torso to the side, you’ll be putting a lot of tension on your obliques. If possible, try and make your triceps come in contact with your thigh. Keep your rep counts between 20-25 per set.
In my opinion, these are some of the best workouts you can do to build the mass of your biceps, shoulders, chest, and abdominals. Below are some weighted and bodyweight alternatives you can use to build the mass of your other major muscle groups.
Back: Dumbbell Rows, Wide Grip Pull-ups
Triceps: Rope Pressdowns, Closed Grip Pushups
Legs: Squats, Wall Sits
Building lean muscle is all about consistency and adaptation. If you do the same workout over and over again, using the same resistance, your body will see no reason to grow. This will ultimately result in the dreaded “plateau phase”, which can be extremely frustrating to deal with.
If you want to consistently build on your gains, then you’ll have to produce a new stimulus. Every week, you should aim to push your workouts a bit further by increasing the reps, sets, or even just manipulating your rep tempo.Fortunately, this doesn’t involve as much effort as you may think. Below are some more tips that you can use to progress (add volume) and maximize your results.
• Start using supersets with all bodyweight workouts
• Incorporate drop sets and negative sets with weighted workouts
• Increase your rep counts or intesnity
Most people simply go through the motions of their workout and expect to see massive results. If you want to build lean muscle, then you need to train with a purpose. Success leaves clues, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Find a workout program that will produce the results you want, and then get to work.
Start incorporating mass building exercises into your routine, and keep your rep counts between 12-6 reps per set. Remember that muscle growth occurs when you supplement your workouts with the proper sources of protein. Always switch up your workouts ever few weeks, and continue to monitor your progress.
If you follow these steps, you can start building proportioned muscle mass a lot faster than you think.
About The Author
Kiley Lynch runs an online fitness business at Sculpted Muscle.
He loves training hard and specializes in getting clients shredded, from home, with hardcore bodyweight workouts!
Kiley is also one of the leading experts in at home bodyweight training for anyone who “doesn’t have the time.”