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Tips on Gaining Lean Muscle Mass

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Kevin was a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer for many years and has always been enamored with the human body.

Lean Muscle Mass

Lean Muscle Mass

Muscle Versus Fat

With all the fitness trends and fads going on like Insanity, cross fit, PBX90, etc. and all the diet fads and plans, it's easy to forget that not everyone wants to or is trying to lose weight. Whether your a current/aspiring body builder/fitness competitor and want to add more muscle, or you've always just been little and want to get buffed out, there are a lot of people that actually want to gain weight.

Gaining weight for some people can be just as difficult and frustrating as losing weight is to others. If you are a true ectomorph like myself, gaining weight can be extremely difficult, and gaining lean muscle mass can be even more challenging. If gaining or losing weight was that simple, everyone would have their idea of the perfect body.

There are so many different variables that will determine whether or not you will reach your goal of gaining/losing such as genetics, age, weight training program, your level of motivation/determination, and your diet/eating habits. The first thing you have to understand is in order for you to get your body to do what it's told to do, you have to understand your body and know what exactly it is you need to tell it.

For some people, such as ectomorphs, weight gains can be very evasive and, more often than not, knowledge is the key. If your are barely beginning your journey to gain weight, it can be a little easier. It's kind of like if you go bowling. Even If you have never bowled before in your life, there's a pretty good chance you can knock down a majority of the pins. But once a big percentage of those pins are knocked down, if you do not know how to bowl, you will have a difficult time knocking down the rest of the pins.

With that being said, there are three major factors that you must know for successful lean weight gain: your weight training program, your diet/eating habits, and your recovery/recuperation period. They all go hand in hand with increasing your lean muscle mass.

Lift Heavy

Lift Heavy

Weight Training Program

Gaining lean muscle is hard. Your saying to yourself, This guy is crazy, because I've taking creatine with some protein and gained 10-15 lbs in just a couple of weeks. No, what you have actually gained is a very small percentage of muscle and a whole lot of extra fat and water. The human body is only capable of gaining approximately 12 - 15 lbs lean muscle per year. You can gain a little muscle that incorporates a lot of fat relatively quickly, but gaining lean muscle will take time. There is a big difference between lean muscle and bulk. When you look in the mirror and you resemble the guy on the bottom of this article instead of the top, your not lean & you need some work, a lot of work in fact. Progression in gaining weight is directly related to overloading and challenging your muscles. If you do not effectively challenge your muscles, they can not and will not get stronger. You have to keep your body guessing/confused and grasping at the goals you have set for it. Depending on the person and how quickly their body adapts to their form of training, your training regime should be changed between every 3 to 5 weeks. Inserting different or heavier weight sets, broader ranges of repetitions, changing up the different types of exercises to stimulant more muscles, more intensity, and changing your days of rest and times in between training sessions are imperative in manipulating the different muscle fibers. Your fast and slow twitch fibers are indicative of how your muscle grows, it's adaptation and they way the look. So you have to pay close attention to your body (muscle fibers) and how it responds to your stimulation and intensity. You actually can increase your muscle mass with more intense work outs over a shorter time span rather than a lot of mediocre sessions every day. Taking your exercise sets to failure is a great way to stimulate mass gains. Keeping your work outs simple and using compound movements (incorporates more muscles and muscle fibers in your work out) are absolutely necessary for your success. Performing a compound movement with a heavy weight for 6 to 8 reps is an easy and good way to start.

Lean with Minimal Fat

Lean with Minimal Fat


Ironically, your body does all of it's growing outside of the gym. Getting sufficient rest after a monster workout is essential for muscle growth. I can't say this any clearer, but the bottom line is if you do not get enough rest, you simply will not grow. The time following your workouts is when the body repairs, builds, and rebuilds itself. Working out like a beast 7 days a week will do a lot more harm than good. It's also more likely that your body will become fatigued and over trained. In fact, when the body gets to a certain point of exhaustion, it can affect you in other ways, such as weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick, alter the release of sex hormones, which is imperative for growth and a healthy sex life and when the body is that tired, this is quite often when injuries occur. A hard, intense workout takes a lot out of your muscles and you have to put everything you used back into it or else, like a car with no gas, your stuck on empty and not going to get anywhere. You must learn your own body and figure out how many intense workouts you can put it through and how much time is needed to recovery and rebuild from each of them. These times of recovery will vary from person to person, everyone is different. You need to know your own body and not look into the latest fitness magazine or follow what a friend is doing for theirs.

Ripped Lean Muscle


Banana Nut Oatmeal


Banana Nut Oatmeal

  • 1/4 cup Oats, Quick cooking
  • 1/2 cup Milk, Skim
  • 1 teaspoon Flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Walnuts, Chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Banana, Peeled


  1. Combine the oats, flax seeds, walnuts, milk, honey and banana in a microwave safe bowl. Cook in microwave on high for 2 minutes. Mash the banana with a fork and stir into mixture.
  2. Serve hot


There are a million different ways/opinions on how you should diet. None of them are really wrong, I'm sure that every diet has someone that it works will for. The question is, is it wrong for you? I was recently asked if it was good to eat before bedtime, in the fear that they may get fat. Eating should never be considered a bad thing, it's not when you eat, it's what you eat. Your body can not tell time. There really isn't a wrong way. Some people can eat excessively regardless of the foods content and not gain any weight while other people with slower metabolisms and weaker genetics that are not so good, have no choice but to eat clean. When it comes to gaining lean mass, it's all about getting those extra calories, and people get them in a different manner. After working out, the body requires calories that are obtained with little effort. When you want to lose weight, your speeding your body up. When your goal is to gain weight/muscle, your doing the opposite, your slowing the body down by eating balanced meals with sufficient amounts of protein, fats, and low glycemic carbohydrates that will be slowly released into the bloodstream. Depending how much size your trying to gain, this will decide the amount of extra calories that must be consumed. On the days you are resting, you should literally be eating constantly and doing nothing. It doesn't matter if you go hard in the gym, you lift heavy, super intense and have perfect form. If you do not feed the machine, the machine is going to break down.

If you focus on these 3 factors and develop them to fit your body's need for growth, you will be well on your way to more lean muscle.

Rating Banana Nut Oatmeal

This is not what Lean muscle looks like


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Maurice Wisdom Bishop from San Tan Valley on July 16, 2013:

Thanks for the recovery tip. That was very informative and I needed to read that. So many times I've train hard a lot and not realizing that I haven't received the proper rest. Again great tip! Much Love and Respect

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 19, 2013:

You've a very good coach. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in your many articles on gaining and losing. We learn from you every time.