There are a number of, often conflicting, theories surrounding the best ways to gain lean muscle consistently and start moving towards that ever desirable ‘competition body’. Some will tell you that it’s all about how you eat, others that real gains are made in the gym, and some people will even claim that you just cannot do it naturally. The truth, of course, is that lasting results are created by a balanced mix of nutrition and lifting and that you can get the results you want naturally (though supplements do make it easier).
9 Effective Ways to Gain Lean Muscle Mass
Eating right, lifting heavy, and resting periodically might sound easy but as you get closer to your goal, results are often slow to present themselves. When all is said and done, it’s about how consistently and effectively you apply the knowledge and resources available to you, not just your drive (though it pays to be motivated). So, here are 9 tips that will give you the edge you need to push yourself to the next level.
1) Eat Frequently
For newbies, the biggest hurdle tends to be eating the right amount of food at the right times. Some studies have shown, of course, that meal frequency and thermogenesis doesn’t have an effect, but remember that most of these studies were performed with sedentary office workers or other ‘regular’ people. The lived experience of thousands of successful body-builders has shown that you need to be eating 5 to 8 times per day to get competition level results (especially if you want to place well). To start seeing good results an average five-meal day should look something like this;
Broccoli (or any other dark green vegetable)
A meal replacement or protein shake.
You should be fueling that fire regularly to see great results consistently!
2) Track Your Intake
You can’t simply eat a lot and expect to get precise results; you need to track your intake to make sure that you’re staying anabolic rather that burning your hard-won muscle or gaining fat. However, the truth is that the majority of people who want to gain lean muscle but are failing to are not eating enough and are in a caloric deficit. This means that you need to start eating more of the right things, not just more in general. For example, getting 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight is the minimum you should be aiming for in order to grow muscle. However, this does change from person to person, so invest in figuring out what your macro nutrient requirements are to really step it up a notch.
3) Don’t Eliminate Carbs
Dropping your carb intake is the go-to option for anyone who wants to lose fat, and while it is effective for most people it will work against you when you’re trying to bulk. Your body will always burn carbs first when you work out, and if you don’t have enough it likely to start taking energy from your muscles (especially if your body fat percentage is already low). So, rather that cutting out carbs, try instead to eat them strategically. You should eat carbs just before your workouts to provide yourself with the fuel you need to go hard and build mass.
4) Weight Train Regularly
This one may seem obvious, but you should be lifting between 3 and 6 times per week, but make sure that you have rest days in between to allow your body to actually build and repair your muscles. It may seem like a great idea to train heavy day after day, but rest is just as important as your actual sessions so be kind to your body.
5) Slow Your Rep Speed
Muscles are affected differently by the speed at which you lift; if you want to see competition worthy results you need to lift slow and steady. Keep your form and control of the weights to put your muscles under the ideal level of tension and get the best possible results from every session. Trust us, you’ll really feel the difference.
6) Don’t Neglect Cardio
Cardio is not your enemy, and it won’t kill your gains! In fact, it could help them; cardio increases blood flow and keeps your heart healthy. This increased circulation helps your body to grow and repair more effectively, but also helps your body to burn fuel more efficiently. So cardio is really a win-win!
7) Prioritize Your Sleep Schedule
Getting enough sleep is absolutely essential to getting the right results. First and foremost, being sleep deprived makes it more likely that you’ll skip a workout or two. More that this, however, being sleep-deprived for even a day has been shown to reduce the rate at which your body repairs itself and that is very bad for building muscle mass.
8) Use Supplements Smartly
Supplements often receive mixed reviews, but if you use them effectively they can give you the edge that you need. Your needs will not be the same as everyone else’s, however, so it’s best to spend some time researching and trying a few different combinations to see which suit you best. With that said, whey proteins are found useful by most and so represent a good place to start.
9) Be Consistent
Here it is, the best advice you’ll ever receive; be consistent. Trite as it may seem, this really is fundamental because all the work you put in, all the meal plans, macro nutrient research, and workouts you undertake will amount to very little if you’re inconsistent in your application. Competition winners, even competition runners-up, all work consistently to improve and meet their goals.
1% Better Every Day
In summing up once you implement all of these tips, you will start to see real, tangible results pretty quickly. Nonetheless, these are not silver bullets to vanquish all your problems and obstacles. You will need to continually update your meal plans, your regimes, and your supplements to ensure that you are always improving and growing. Staying at the top of your game is tough, but we can help you to do it in style.