How to Build Lean Muscle

How to Build Lean Muscle

Not working to build lean muscle will result in a gradual decline in the muscle mass you have every year after the age of thirty. Research has shown that as much as 8% of your current muscle mass could be lost every ten years (1). The great thing about muscle tissue is that no matter what your age or physical condition, it is possible to build lean muscle! To set yourself on the right track for increasing a lean and toned muscular physique, there are a few things you must understand about how the body builds muscle. Resistance training, protein intake, and proper recovery are critical to building lean muscle in the most effective and healthy way long term.

1. Resistance training rules

You might think that pumping iron is the most effective way to build lean muscle. The truth is that lifting barbells and dumbbells is just one of the ways you can use resistance to stimulate muscle growth. Other forms of resistance training like bodyweight training and resistance bands can help as well. Any form of resistance that your muscles have to fight against that is greater than what they normally experience, can help stimulate the muscle growth process. I recommend starting with a resistance training routine you are more comfortable with. If you like doing bodyweight exercises, start there. If you like dumbbells or kettlebells, use those. Consistency is the key to progress with any workout routine. Aim for a minimum of two full body workouts that target all major muscle groups. Check out the workouts below for great lean muscle building workouts that target your whole body. For more muscle building workouts checkout our YouTube channel.

Gym Ball Dumbbell Upper Body Workout

Lower Body Tone and Strengthening Workout

Advanced Core Circuit to Tone & Tighten Abs, Obliques & More!

2. Protein and Carbohydrate consumption

Even if you aren’t trying to gain lean muscle, you need to eat protein to prevent increased muscle loss. The minimum amount of protein required to prevent unwanted muscle loss is to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For those who desire to increase the amount of lean muscle mass should work on consuming 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Without adequate protein intake, you won’t be able to effectively increase your lean muscle mass. While consuming adequate amounts of lean protein is a critical component to building muscle, carbohydrates play a critical role as well. When high glycemic carbs are ingested before, during, and after resistance training workouts, there is an increase in the amount of the powerful anabolic hormone insulin. When this hormone is increased it can help with maintaining and building lean muscle by promoting the synthesis of protein and decreasing protein breakdown.

Muscle Building Nutrition

Introduction to Macronutrients

3. Recovery

Two other important factors for optimal muscle growth long term is to ensure that proper recovery measures are taken. Lean muscle building workouts are strenuous and actually physically damage your muscle fibers. This means that there needs to be a focus on allowing the muscle tissues you have trained to repair and rebuild. A key period of time when muscle repair and growth happens is during sleep. Not getting enough sleep will significantly imped your ability to gain muscle. Another component of an effective resistance training program is muscle flexibility. If you are stiff and tight, then your muscles may not be able to function optimally. Increasing the amount of quality sleep and adding some stretching to your weekly workout routine will significantly help the lean muscle building process and help prevent injury.

How Sleep Affects Your Workout Performance

Stretching Workouts

25 Min Full Body Stretch


10 Min essential stretches

Start here

  • Perform a minimum of 2 full body resistance training workouts per week
  • Increase protein intake to a minimum of 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
  • Get 7+ hours of uninterrupted sleep every night


(1) “Protecting Muscle Mass and Function in Older Adults During Bed Rest”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 2010, Accessed 31 July. 2020.

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  • Nathan

    Thank you for the tips, they are definitely being put to use !