How to Put on Lean Muscle Mass: The Ultimate Guide
Striving to accumulate the most muscle mass your genetics will possibly allow has led many with the best of intentions down a less than satisfying road.
Achieving a state in which hypertrophy trumps every other bodily function can be one of two things: a successful endeavor in which mounds of muscle pile on top of each other at alarming rates and even the thought of lifting a weight adds new muscularity –or- a slow descend into mediocrity which includes a substantial amount of fat and water gain followed by a plethora of unwanted side effects. Whichever course you choose to follow is up to you and only you. One will be a longer, drawn out process yielding small but significant gains which will accumulate over time and the other will give immediate results on the scale, will fill out your clothes quicker (not just your sleeves but also your gut) and will leave you looking less like a bodybuilder and more like an old school strongman who topped off their workout with a bubbly pint of beer.
Here then is your Ultimate Guide to putting on lean muscle mass.
Stay lean (year around)
There used to be monotony amongst bodybuilders both amateur and pro alike that had everyone blowing up like balloons in the offseason only to have to cut down fifty plus pounds to get back to their stage weight.
The process to get back in shape was grueling and dangerous with the end result being only a few added pounds of muscle when under the lights. Not only was this practice very difficult with no one ever looking forward to going through the hell it would take to get in contest shape, but metabolically speaking it wreaked havoc on the body and this undue stress caused many to prematurely drop out the game altogether. The more intelligent approach to adding quality lean mass during your offseason is to stay relatively lean, which means following a calorie rich, clean diet and allow for slow but steady gains.
If you are looking to add quality, lean muscle mass on a regular basis then your diet is going to need to be on point. That means you follow the same structure for your meal plan as you would during a contest phase, the portion sizes are just a little more and the variety of the foods you eat are better. Stick with lean cuts of grass fed, organic red meats, poultry, naturally caught fish and eggs from free range hens. For your carb sources, you’ll want to include sources such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole wheat pastas. You may even want to go the gluten free route and keep your carb sources rice based and focus on consuming a ton of vegetables. Finally focus on taking in a lot of healthy fat sources such as avocados, walnuts and almonds, coconut oils and whole eggs.
One practice that was commonly used to add quality muscle was slowing down your metabolism so it wasn’t burning like crazy making it difficult to gain any size or weight.
So what was done was a shift to eating the same quantity of food you would over the course of six or seven meals, down to eating that in only four meals.
The infrequent timing of meals coupled with the large quantities of food that was consumed was just enough to slow the metabolism down so that you could hold on to the calories and give them time to do their magic. What ended up happening was the bigger you got, the food you thought you needed at each meal increased and the more you slowed down your metabolism which ultimately led to unwanted fat gain. The better approach here is to keep the standard six meal a day protocol many bodybuilders abide by and gradually increase the calories at each meal. This way your metabolism will still be running at a good speed, you’ll be getting all the calories you need to support anabolism and the chances of gaining fat will be minimal.
Keep training heavy
In no way shape or form should you ever let up on pushing the most weight you can each and every workout.
You should always be striving to improve upon the weight you use for key lifts each session as this will be a great indicator that you are in fact putting on quality muscle. Stick with basic lifts such as the bench press, military press, dead lift, squat, barbell curl, stiff legged deadlift, close grip bench press and throw in complimentary exercises to fill out your program. The goal is to get stronger in the gym; the byproduct of this is muscle growth so always keep this in mind.
Sticking with the same program week in and week out does have its benefits. It gives you a standard by which you can compare your previous weeks to and evaluate the effectiveness of the program by determining if any growth has occurred. That being said, the body is very good at adapting to a training stimulus and will eventually need something else to shock it into new growth. It is for this reason that cycling your training may be a great idea for you. Develop a program in which you will follow for eight to twelve weeks then give your body a completely new training stimulus in the form of new exercises, new training principles, a new order of exercises or a complete and total different approach.
The new stimulus will catch your body off guard and it will start playing catch up to keep up with the new approach and that game of catch up will turn into new muscle growth for you.
Get your sleep
You will never maximize lean muscle gains if you are not sleeping and getting the rest your body needs.
This means shutting down all the extra activities that are taunting you, getting to bed at a good time and getting quality, uninterrupted sleep. Six to eight hours is what you should be striving for and more is always better. If you can, throw in a nap during the day to really ramp up this process. Naturally occurring growth hormone levels are at their highest when you are in a deep sleep and this will go a long way towards healing your body and allowing it to grow.
Throw in a cheat day
Eating a bunch of garbage food is never going to get you to where you want to be in the muscle game, but a well-planned, well thought out cheat meal here and there will prove to be very beneficial in your quest to attaining lean muscle mass. The influx of calories every now and then will be just enough to kick a slowing metabolism back into gear, will give you added calories which you can think of as bonus energy, will psychologically give you a break and satisfy any cravings you may have and will also support the production of some very important, muscle supporting hormones that slowly teeter off when you are always eating clean sources of food. The key here is to strategically plan for your cheat meal and give yourself a limit at which you have pre-determined is enough. No need to get crazy here but definitely enjoy yourself.
Use your Supplements
All that is needed to say here is to stick with your favorite supplement company, make use of the products that are offered to support muscle growth and intelligently and effectively employ the support they provide your training and recovery efforts.
The supplement industry is there for a reason; the products work when used correctly and when timed correctly and can certainly aid you and speed up the muscle gaining process.
If gaining lean muscle mass is your priority, and it should be, then following the above mentioned strategies may prove to be very useful to you. It is important to remember that each person is unique and the process by which muscle is attained will be different from individual to individual. It is up to you to experiment and track your own progress, go back to the drawing board, reinvent your approach and then above all else be consistent. None of these strategies will ever work if you don’t allow for them to by way of consistency. Be patient, be smart and work your ass off each and every day to gain even the smallest morsel of muscle. Eventually it will all add up and you will be a leaner, bigger and better you.
Author: Dana Bushell