10 Tips for Gaining Lean Mass

Whether you are trying to look like Arnold, just want to improve blood lipid profiles, or draw stares at the beach this summer, your focus needs to be on building lean mass. Whether you want to add 5 lbs or 25 lbs to your frame the formula will be the same. There are a number of different ways to build muscle in the gym, so here I will focus on the things you can do outside of the gym. So without further ado, here are my 10 tips for adding lean mass.


            Protein is the building block for muscle, without it, you won’t grow. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, it is hard to eat too much protein. Everyone who wants to add lean mass and improve body composition should aim to get one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. This will not be easy. You should try to keep track of nutritional content labels so it’s easier to keep track of how many grams you are getting per day. For most, this will be much more protein than you are currently getting, therefore you will need to make the effort to eat much more.


            Eating for fat loss and eating for muscle growth can be very similar in one respect. You need to be eating every 2-3 hours. The only difference between the two philosophies is volume. Building requires excess calories, while cutting requires a caloric deficit. When trying to add lean mass, it is important to keep fuelling your body every few hours even if you don’t feel hungry. When our body tells us we are hungry, it is often too late. Set a 3 hour timer if necessary to make sure you are following your plan.


            In order to make sure you are adding protein without excess saturated fats, focus on eating as many lean meats as possible. Choices include turkey, chicken, fish, extra lean ground beef, eggs, and most cuts of steak. You should have a lean source of protein at every one of your 3 hour feedings. Having a good quality protein powder on hand, with a shaker cup, gives you a quick and effective option for a feeding that is a clean source of protein. Relying on a purely liquid diet is not always a great idea, but having a protein shake for 1 or 2 of your feedings can be a great option.


            You don’t need to be Wolfgang Puck to make a big difference in the kitchen. Get some Tupperware and learn how to cook up big portions of meat and vegetables to last for a few days. Get used to packing up plenty of meals so that you aren’t at the mercy of the closest restaurant when your 3 hour timer goes off.


            The human body has a 45 minute window after a workout, where it is extremely responsive with the nutrients you take in. Having a shake that includes both carbohydrate and protein right after your lift will turn on your body’s muscle building machinery. Good options for this are ‘weight gainers’ as they include a good ratio of carbohydrates and protein, or a combination of carbohydrate powder and branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs).


            While the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) are usually the biggest focus with nutritional intake, attention must still be paid to the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). While they do not provide much in the form of energy, and nothing in terms of calories, vitamins and minerals are extremely important for many of your body’s chemical reactions. This includes muscle growth. A nutrient deficiency is one of the easiest ways to put your muscle building engine in neutral. To cover your micronutrient demands, make sure to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and/or take a multivitamin. Ingesting fruit and vegetables with a variety of colours, and at every feeding will give your body the foundation it needs to build.


            In the past, the general public has feared fat in the diet like the plague. However, the good fats, especially omega 3’s, are extremely helpful for both increasing your calorie intake, as well as reducing body fat, and keeping your body in an anabolic state (anabolic = building). Take fish oil capsules with food at least 3 times a day to make a positive change to your body composition.


            No supplement has ever been tested and researched more than creatine monohydrate. A relatively inexpensive supplement, creatine has been shown to have statistically significant increases in work capacity, lean body mass, and body composition in more than 80% of the peer-reviewed studies conducted on the product. This is an extremely high number, given the variability in research design and testing protocols. Adding 5-10g’s a day of creatine monohydrate to protein shakes or a cup of tea, increases your body’s natural stores of creatine. In turn, this increases the amount of work you can do in the gym, and helps ensure you are building clean muscle.


            Following tips 1 thru 8 is only effective as long as you are matching this effort with hard work. Pushing yourself with your lifting program will give your body the impetus it needs to get bigger. Lift weights at least 3 days a week, and considering adding extra pushups and squats before bed on off-days.

10- REST

            This includes sleep and days off. As for sleep, make sure you get at least 7 hours a night, and go to bed at a decent hour. Not all sleep is considered equal, with sleep before midnight being much more valuable than sleep after. Most of your body’s muscle building efforts come when you are sleeping, and your body is releasing growth hormone. Getting into a deep sleep is important to maximize growth hormone production. As for days off, it is important to try getting a day of rest after every 2 or 3 days of working out. Never go 4 or 5 days in a row of hard work. Your body uses exercise to ‘break down to build’, but will not build if you are constantly breaking down. Get in a couple of intense workouts, and then give your body a break.

For more help with planning your meals, or to purchase nutritional supplements, contact Cory Kennedy at info@razorsedgeperformance.ca


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