Training

Build Lean Muscle with our Training and Nutrition Tips

Building lean muscle is not what it says on the tin.  There are a number of things to consider when doing this. 

In this article:

Check out our tips and hints on how to build lean muscle efficiently.

Gaining Vs Cutting:

There are a couple of ways you can see lean muscle gain.

You can split your training and diet into muscle gain and weight cutting windows.  Have a period of time concentrating on gaining muscle with a slight calorie surplus, 2-300 calories before taking a small cut in calories to reduce the body fat percentage.

You could stick with maintenance calories and meet in the middle however, there is no guarantee this would work for your body and likely produce slower results.

Calories:

Protein = Muscle.

You need a sufficient amount of protein in order to see muscle growth.  Ensure protein is in each meal throughout the day.  As mentioned earlier, a slight surplus will help with the muscle gain, around 2-300 calories and a similar number as a deficit to reduce body fat.

Hydration:

When it comes to promoting muscle gain, water also plays a key role because it transports the nutrients needed for producing protein and glycogen.  Dehydration will also prevent muscles from properly contracting and increase the chances of cramp.

Rest:

Don’t bother training if you are not going to rest.  Your body needs time to rest and recover and also allow time for the muscle to rebuild and grow. Don’t neglect rest!!

Training:

We are looking at several areas in your training capacity to do this.  Firstly, and most importantly, progressive overload.  You need to ensure you are continuously making your sessions harder.  Whether that be by increasing weight, reps, sets or introducing supersets, you’ll more likely avoid a plateau and continue to build muscle.

Secondly, compound lifting.  Hit the big lifts, squats, bench press, military press, to really hit the gainz.  Supporting with lesser isolation lifts will help but the big lifts will hit the results you need.

Aim for 3-5 sessions a weekend trust the process.  Stick to your plan and results will happen.

Eat breakfast to help build muscle mass:

This gives you an immediate burst of energy and helps you to stay full until your next meal or snack. It also sets the trend: you’ll tend to eat healthier if your day starts with a strong and healthy breakfast. Your best bets if you’re trying to build muscle mass are omelettes, smoothies and cottage cheese. 

 

Workout plan

Below is an example workout plan based on attending the gym 3 days a week.  You need to ensure sufficient rest between sessions and at the most, ensure a rest day after two straight training days; however, Monday, Wednesday and Friday is a good example.

The program contains 3 full-body workouts. It’s a high frequency workout, so you’ll be hitting all of your major body parts 3 times a week, and it has enough volume and intensity for optimal muscle growth. 

 

The workout is suitable for beginners, but here are some of our key points to keep you on track with your training:

  • You should be in a calorie surplus to get the most out of this to build muscle, or a deficit to lose fat
  • Make sure you are able to perform every lift correctly or regress it
  • Once you have hit the higher end of the rep scheme for all the sets, you should then progress your weight
  • Don’t go to failure with any of the reps
  • Progressive overload is done through reps and weight
  • Warm up properly before every workout
  • Perform a de-load week once you have completed the 8 weeks
  • Align your calories to your goal

 

Day 1

Check out our table below, or skip ahead to the individual exercises and techniques.

Order Exercise Sets Reps
Exercise 1 Back Squat 4 6 – 8
Exercise 2 Pull Ups 4 6 – 8
Exercise 3 Romanian Deadlifts 4 8 – 12
Exercise 4 Flat Dumbbell Chest Press 4 8 – 12
Exercise 5 Dumbbell Lateral Raise 4 8 – 12
Exercise 6 Tricep Pushdown 4 8 – 12

Want to go straight to day 2? Click here.

Back Squat

  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart
  • The dumbbell should be resting on your shoulders
  • Keep your back straight and sit back on your hips, driving your knees out
  • Distribute the weight evenly through your feet, with the weight on the front of your heels
  • Continue as far down as you can go
  • Once you’re at the bottom of the squat, drive your hips forward and push up through your heels
  • Return to your starting position

Pull Ups

  • Slide your shoulder blades down and engage your lats throughout
  • Pull through your elbows
  • Use your hands likes grips to get more out of your back
  • Slide your shoulder blades together as you pull up
  • Squeeze your glutes throughout
  • Think about pulling your chest to the bar

Romanian Deadlifts

  • Slide the shoulder blades down and engage your lats throughout
  • Keep your head in line with your spine
  • Keep the bar as close to your body as you can
  • Squeeze the glutes at the end of the movement
  • Sit back into the hips keeping the shins straight

Flat Dumbbell Chest Press

  • Dig your shoulder blades into the bench throughout the movement
  • Engage your lats throughout the movement
  • Allow a slight arch in your lower back
  • Control the movement throughout
  • Slide your shoulder blades together through the eccentric phase
  • Try to avoid any anterior rotation

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  • Hold the dumbbell right at the end
  • Lead the movement with your pinkie finger and your elbows
  • Imagine pouring a glass of water with the dumbbells
  • Control the movement
  • Keep your upper traps relaxed throughout

Tricep Pushdown

  • Slide the shoulder blades down and engage your lats throughout the movement
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine
  • Keep your elbows under your shoulders throughout the movement
  • The upper arm stays static throughout the movement just hinge through the forearms
  • Avoid any anterior rotation   

Day 2

Order Exercise Sets Reps
Exercise 1 Deadlift 4 6 – 8
Exercise 2 Shoulder Press 4 6 – 8
Exercise 3 Walking Lunge 4 8 – 12
Exercise 4 Dumbbell Row 4 8 – 12
Exercise 5 Low Incline Dumbbell Press 4 8 – 12
Exercise 6 Dumbbell Bicep Curl 4 8 – 12

Click here for day 3.

Deadlift

  • Feet should be shoulder width apart, arms just either side gripping the bar
  • Sit as far back as you can into the hips then soften the knees
  • The back should be straight throughout the movement with the lats engaged and the shoulder blades down
  • Keep the neck in line with the spine throughout
  • Distribute the weight evenly through your feet
  • Keep the bar close to your body as you pick it up using your lower body
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement

Shoulder Press

  • Feet should be shoulder width and hands a little wider gripping the bar
  • Squeeze the glutes throughout the movement
  • Slide your shoulder blades down the back and keep them there, engaging the lats
  • Your neck should be in line with your spine throughout the movement. Give yourself a double chin
  • As you press overhead the bar should be directly over the middle of your head
  • Bring the bar back down to the top of your chest. Control the movement throughout

Walking Lunge

  • Stay upright throughout the movement Keeping the lats engaged and the shoulder blades down
  • As you take each step your back knee should be directly in line with your shoulder and your front with the heel of the front foot
  • Distribute the weight evenly between the leading foot

Dumbbell Row

  • Hold the dumbbells by your thighs, at arm’s length.
  • Your palms shoudl be facing towards you.
  • Keep the lats engaged throughout
  • Row into the hip
  • Slide the shoulder blade across
  • Keep your trunk strong
  • Use the hands like hooks to get the most out of your back

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Dig your shoulder blades into the bench throughout the movement
  • Engage your lats
  • Allow a slight arch in your lower back
  • Control the movement throughout
  • Slide your shoulder blades together through the eccentric phase
  • Try to avoid any anterior rotation

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

  • Elbows should stay under the shoulders throughout the movement
  • Try to relax the wrist as this will get more out of your biceps
  • No swinging, keep the trunk strong
  • Control the movement throughout

Day 3

Order Exercise Sets Reps
Exercise 1 Leg Extension 4 10 – 12
Exercise 2 Lat Pulldown 4 10 – 12
Exercise 3 Hamstring Curl 4 10 – 12
Exercise 4 Incline Dumbbell Chest Press 4 10 – 12
Exercise 5 Dumbbell Front Raise 4 10 – 12
Exercise 6 Rope Tricep Pushdown 4 10 – 12
Exercise 7 Dumbbell Hammer Curl 4 10 – 12

Leg Extension

[Please check with lauren.dawes@thehutgroup.com whether we have a video for this, as I can’t find one]

  • The pads should be over the top of your ankles and your back pressed into the back pad
  • Your knees should be even with the pivoting cam of the machine
  • Extend your legs and squeeze your quads at the top
  • As you bring the weight down don’t go past 90 degrees to avoid stress in the knees

Lat Pulldown

  • Keep the lats engaged throughout
  • Squeeze the lats at the bottom of the rep
  • Slide the shoulder blades together
  • Control the whole rep and keep the tension

Hamstring Curl

  • Place the back of the lower leg on top of the padded lever and secure the lap pad against your thighs
  • Then grasp the side handles on the machine as you point your toes straight and ensure that the legs are fully straight right in front of you
  • As you exhale, pull the machine lever as far as possible to the back of your thighs by flexing at the knees. Keep your torso stationary at all times. Hold the contracted position for a second
  • Slowly return to the starting position

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

  • Dig your shoulder blades into the bench throughout the movement
  • Engage your lats throughout the movement
  • Allow a slight arch in your lower back
  • Control the movement throughout
  • Slide your shoulder blades together through the eccentric phase
  • Try to avoid any anterior rotation

Dumbbell Front Raise

  • Hold the dumbbells in a hammer grip
  • Keep your shoulder blades down and your upper traps relaxed
  • Soften the elbows but don’t stay fully extended throughout
  • Lift no higher than shoulder height
  • Maintain control throughout

Rope Tricep Pushdown

  • Slide the shoulder blades down and engage your lats throughout the movement
  • Keep your neck in line with your spine
  • Keep your elbows under your shoulders throughout the movement
  • The upper arm stays static throughout the movement just hinge through the forearms
  • Avoid any anterior rotation  

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

  • Elbows should stay under the shoulders throughout the movement
  • Try to relax the wrist as this will get more out of your biceps
  • No swinging – keep the trunk strong
  • Control the movement throughout

Build Lean Muscle with these Supplements

Supplement Benefits We Recommend
Protein
  • Highest Biological Value of any protein
  • Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass
Impact Whey Protein
Creatine
  • Increases physical performance
  • Can help improve strength, power and size
Creapure Creatine
Amino Acids
  • Fast amino acid absorption rate
  • Helps maintain muscle mass
Impact EAA

Take Home Message

Hit the gym, ensure rest, stay hydrated, track your calories and stick with the plan.  Trust the process and get ripped but, it does not happen overnight so be patient.

 

 

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Chris Appleton

Chris Appleton

Writer and expert

Chris is an editor and a level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, with a BA honours degree in Sports Coaching and Development, and a level 3 qualification in Sports Nutrition. He has experience providing fitness classes and programs for beginners and advanced levels of clients and sports athletes. Chris is also a qualified football coach, delivering high-level goalkeeping and fitness training at a semi-professional level, with nutritional advice to help maintain optimal performance. His experience in the sports and fitness industry spans 15 years and is continuously looking to improve. In his spare time, Chris likes to dedicate it to his family while training in the gym.


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