Some get into body building to get healthier, others to gain a toned, attractive body. Whichever group you belong to, you will want to know what kind of lean muscle workout will help you achieve the best results.
Increase your lean muscle mass by even a small amount, and you will look, feel and perform a whole lot better in every way.
Why Does Building Lean Muscle Make Such A Difference?
- Muscle burns calories — the more lean muscle you have, the more calories are burned. More muscle strength means stronger ligaments and bones, and also better joint stability.
- Losing weight without strength training results in a feeble, flabby appearance, as weight loss causes muscle loss.
- Building muscle helps you look toned and fit.
Lean Muscle — What Is It?
So, what exactly do we mean by lean muscle? Of course, muscle is muscle, so it is a mistake to think there are different types. However, some people have a higher percentage of body fat than others.
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So what makes you appear lean or toned depends on the amount of muscle you build, and the amount of body fat that may or may not be covering the muscle. Then, as you build more muscle on a regular basis, it will burn your body fat, and so you build even more muscle.
Of course, we have all seen pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger and others — mostly men — with huge, bulging muscle mass. Most of us do not want to look like that. The kind of muscle building workout you will be looking for is the kind that will help you develop enough muscle to be healthy, fit and well toned — and, of course, to look good, too.
A Two-Pronged Approach
There are two elements to your lean muscle program, and they are both equally essential — neither will be effective without the other.
- Strengthen muscles by means of a regular lean muscle workout, either at the gym or at home.
- Eat a proper diet — without the correct eating habits, most of your efforts in working out will be in vain.
The right approach to building muscle is to remember that, while working out, you are putting stress on your muscles — actually causing the fibers to tear.
Outside the gym, or in your non-workout periods, you are helping them recover and grow through diet, hydration and — importantly — rest. Therefore, both sides of your two-part lean muscle-building plan are equally important.
Plan Your Workouts
When planning your bodybuilding workout, your emphasis should be on strength training, with a limited amount of cardiovascular exercise.
- Do strength exercises that use multiple joints, such as lunges, squats or dead lifts. Single-joint exercises, like bicep curls, will not build muscle quickly — multi-joint exercises build more muscle in less time. In addition, those involving weights enable you to lift heavier weights than single-joint moves.
- Don’t be afraid of heavier weights. Your body produces extra testosterone to adapt to the extra stress of lifting heavier weights (whether you’re male or female), and this also helps build muscle.
- Try to complete your repetitions (reps) faster — a good speed is one rep every two seconds. This puts more stress on your muscles.
- Don’t overdo the cardiovascular (cardio) training. It should be light and low impact, otherwise it burns calories your body needs for muscle building. However, some light cardio gets your blood flowing, sending more oxygen to the muscles.
- Aim to complete three strength-training sessions a week, with one day a week for low-impact cardio. The other days are for resting.
- Remember that the muscle building is not taking place during training — it happens during rest, and especially during sleep. Sleep also boosts your metabolism, testosterone and human growth hormone, so the more sleep you get, the better.
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Muscle Building Foods
However important your body building workout is for increasing your lean muscle strength, it’s only half the battle — the other half takes place at the meal table. Without the proper nutrients, you won’t get the results you want, however well you do at your working out.
The main components of a healthy muscle-building diet are protein, the right kind of carbohydrates (carbs), and water.
- Most people know that you need protein for muscle building, but it’s a dangerous myth that the more protein you eat, the better. In fact, too much protein is as bad for you as too little. The average protein requirement is about 0.37 grams per pound of body weight, though this can vary according to levels of activity and other factors. Good sources of protein include lean meat like beef or chicken, fish, especially salmon, eggs, yogurt, dairy products and soy products.
- Carbs are also important, but the right kind. Avoid sugar-refined carbs, and stick to complex carbs, like those in brown rice, yams and sweet potatoes. These actually help to repair muscle tissue, and speed metabolism.
- You also need good fats, such as those found in avocados and flax seeds — these are Omega 3 fatty acids that keep your heart healthy.
- Take in lots of fruit, especially apples, and green vegetables like spinach.
- Eat little and often. Never miss meals — this actually causes the breakdown of muscle tissue.
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate your muscles.
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Customize Your Diet
The biggest problem with getting the correct nutrition is in knowing exactly how much of each nutrient you are supposed to eat, to ensure a properly balanced diet. The optimum quantities vary with the size, weight and gender of each individual, but even with the time of day and the timing of your workouts.
Your best plan is to find help in customizing your diet to your precise nutritional requirements, based on your body type and levels of activity.
Perhaps you thought a lean athletic-looking physique was for other people, but not for you. In fact, although it certainly takes time and requires discipline, it is an attainable goal for anyone.
By combining the right type of lean muscle workout with the proper nutritional regime, you can sculpt your body the way you want it, and find yourself with a toned appearance you had only previously dreamed of having.