It is not just about building mass. You also want a beautiful, sculpted body. Effective ways to build lean muscle mass need not be complicated. The key is to stick with the basics, to avoid overwhelm and what is known as paralysis by analysis.
First, if you want to build lean muscle mass, you should not be afraid to put on some weight. Yes, this may appear to be going against the grain. But you should know that muscle is heavier than weight, and if you are going to gain muscle then you will gain weight.
This article assumes that you utilize or plan to utilize weight training to achieve your mass gaining goals. Here are some tips to build lean muscle mass, whether your goal is to bulk up and/or lose fat:
1. Use compound exercises. This is a tip you will hear over and over again if you hang out at a gym or around experienced lifters. Compound, multi-joint exercises are what builds quality mass. Compound exercises include bench presses, dead lifts, bent over row, squats, shoulder press, barbell curls, and pull ups among others.
2. Don’t train for a marathon. Don’t spend hours on the treadmill. While women tend to spend too much time and energy on aerobic exercises, men spend too little. Utilize anaerobic techniques while performing aerobic routines. This means, for example, upping the speed of the treadmill to a sprint or near sprint for a few seconds and then taking an active rest (walk) and then repeating. Keep varying the speeds and times to avoid boredom.
3. Doing aerobic routines after weight training. If you do aerobic exercises before weight training you will not have enough energy to put in the intensity required for muscle-building when you get to the weights. Also, weight training speeds up your metabolism. Use aerobic routines to burn off extra calories after weight training. Skinny people, this tip is not for you – you may have to skip aerobics altogether in the beginning.
4. Get the Zs. Yes, sleep is of tremendous importance to fitness and muscle gain. This is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of muscle building. Not getting enough of it will make you generally tired and lacking in energy needed for intensive mass-building workouts. You also need sleep for recovery from intense weight training and recuperation which is vital to the building of lean mass. If you want to build lean mass, you should ensure that you are getting adequate, restful sleep.
5. Use free weights. Machines are best left for adding detail to what you have already built, or going beyond your comfort level. For example, after completing your working sets of barbell or dumbbell shoulder presses, you can finish off with, say, two sets of smith machine shoulder presses to really hammer those shoulders. But the core of you lean mass training routine should be composed of free weights.