Building lean muscle is important for overall health – not just the aesthetic appeal of good looks.
Muscle mass is also vital for our metabolic fitness and everyday life.
Activities such as walking, running, standing, carrying grocery bags and so on all require the use of muscle.
Why is muscle mass important?
Burn more calories. More muscle mass helps to burn more calories at rest.
With aging, you lose muscle mass and strength training helps after the age of 3, you lose muscles between 3 and 5 percent per decade.
And men will lose up to 3% of their muscles during their lifetime.
Improve mobility. Muscle loss means less mobility.
And that also means a low level of physical activeness which is closely related to a sedentary lifestyle.
Mobility or activeness is one of the ways our bodies use up the energies stored in fats.
Prevent chronic disease. Muscles help to prevent chronic diseases.
For example, studies have shown that cardiac failure and cancer linked to fast and extensive loss of muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function.
How to build lean muscle
Lean muscle is essentially the healthy kind of muscle mass you want. It’s the type that is built of muscle and not fat.
If you don’t have an active lifestyle and poor diet, you’re more likely to lose muscle at a faster rate.
But the good news is that regardless of how old you are, you can always strengthen your muscles and gain more mass with the right changes.
One of these changes it the way you approach your workout.
If you want to build lean muscle, here are some changes you should consider right away:
a) Stop doing isolation workouts
It seems logical to think that if you want to increase muscle for a certain body part, then targeted isolated workout makes sense.
But that doesn’t help at all.
All you get with isolated high rep workouts (e.g. dumbbell curls) is a blood pump and sore muscles.
Because you are unable to lift heavy in isolated workouts, your body is not able to recruit as many muscles as possible.
And if you’re not able to recruit and trigger more muscles in your workout, you’re not going to build muscle.
b) Do more compound exercises
Unlike isolated workouts, compound exercises recruit multiple muscles in your body in a single session.
This helps you to engage more muscles at the same time, which improves a balanced physique and muscle symmetry.
If you want to build lean muscle, it’s important to build your workout routines around compound exercises.
The three best workouts we’ll talk about in a moment, are compound exercises.
c) Use barbells
There are few benefits of using barbells in a workout that is aimed at helping you build lean muscle.
- Helps you to increase the weights you lift
- Enables you to improve and balance better compared to other machines
- Helps you to engage more muscles at a time
If you’re starting out with barbell exercises, the key is to start with lighter weights. And only move to heavier ones, once you are comfortable.
3 best workouts to build lean muscle
Squats are the golden highway to building lean muscle.
No other workout engages more muscle, requires more balance, and results in a complete full-body workout than squats.
Not only does it works on your legs and thighs, but also a good squat workout also works your hamstrings, lower and upper body.
If done properly, you avoid back pain.
How to do squat workouts
To begin, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and stand comfortably on them. Place the bar on the back shoulders and press the body up.
Push the back backward and squat taking the position as if you are sitting with your buttocks back.
Focus the pressure exerting on the heels and not the toes. Pause midway for about two seconds and get back up.
Deadlifts are famous for a reason! Here’s one of the reasons: deadlifts is one workout that fully works on all the muscles that make up your posterior chain.
How to do deadlift workouts
Place your feet slightly wider than hip-width and your hands on the bar just outside the legs. Your shoulders should be directly over the bar and the bar directly above the foot.
As you lift, keep your chest high and your lower back straight. Make sure your hips are in position at the level of your head and your knees.
Ensure the bar is directly beneath your scapulae. Your head should remain inclined with your back and hips.
3. Bench press
This workout routine focuses mainly on the upper body including the chest, front shoulders and triceps.
It increases the strength in this region, and when done right can helps avoid back pain and injury.
You cannot work on your upper body with any other routine like the way the Bench press does.
How to do it:
Lie on the bench with your eyes under the bar. With the thumbs around the bar, grab the bar with medium pressure.
Remove the bar by straightening your arms.
Lower the bar to the mid-chest and press the bar back upwards until your arms are straight.
Keep the buttocks pressed on the bench as you push back. Hold in that position for a few more seconds.
Take in a deep breath and lower the bar again. Repeat this process until you are satisfied.
If you’re looking to build lean muscle, don’t be swayed by the gym “bros” and “gals” you see at the gym who only do isolated workouts.
The key is to focus on full-body workouts that allow you to engage more muscles at the same time, and also keep your full balance.
One trainer who has trained several top athletes once told me, the best workouts are often the ones where you stand on your two feet.
Keep this in mind as you create a workout routine that helps you.
Also as a final word, while we’ve been discussing only workouts, keep in mind that having a good night’s sleep and eating healthy when you’re not working out will be important to help you build lean muscle.