Building Lean Muscle for a Lean, Hard Physique

Building Lean MuscleBuilding lean muscle is the foundation for creating an attractive, sharp, muscular build. Yes…it takes work, but it is not a complicated process. Anyone can do it with a little discipline and solid dose of motivation.

After the first 6 to 8 weeks, your motivation will likely become self-perpetuating. There’s a lot to be said for the old saying…success breeds success. As you start to see improvements in your physique and your old clothes start to fit again, that will fuel your motivation.

And forget the myth that you are either losing fat or gaining muscle, but not both at the same time. You can build lean muscle, while at the same time losing that unwanted fat. And the simple way to transform your physique is throught effective workouts, along with a clean diet.

Building Muscle WorkoutsThe physique that we like at A Lean Life is not the overbuilt, musclehead look. That is not the preferred look for the average person.  Why?

  1. You probably don’t have 2 hours a day to spend in the gym
  2. More importantly, you recognize that the most attractive build is lean and hard, not huge and overdone.

Start a journey, step by step, to a new you. All of the tools (and more) are here for you to help you build lean muscle and lose fat.

Lean Muscle Loss With Age

Muscle Loss With AgeYour efforts in building lean muscle become doubly important as you age. After the age of 30, the average person loses 3% to 5% of their lean muscle mass each decade. This is known as sarcopenia, and it can have a devastating effect on your physique.

You just need to take simple action to reverse the natural process, but it can be reversed.

Much of the science also says that even if you exercise and workout, you will still lose muscle mass each decade after 30 or 40. Not true. Many have proven that you can build lean muscle in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond with solid workouts, and a muscle building diet. You have likely seen the guy in the gym who looks mid-50’s or even mid-60’s and is hard as a rock. Just takes some focus and motivation, and you will feel vigor and renewal as you progress down this road.

Resistance Training to Build Lean Muscle

Resistance training is different for everyone…pick the flavor that works best for you – gym equipment, free weights, dumbbells, barbells, body weight, or some combination of all.  They can all be effective when done correctly.

The key is to understand required intensity, rep ranges, and rest times between sets.

We have 2 Phases for developing a lean and muscular physique in just a few months. You just have to commit to putting your health first for a few months – diet and exercise. After that, you’ll be a believer and lifestyle changes will become part of your life!

Here are the 2 Phases:

  1. Phase 1 – Muscle Building
  2. Phase 2 – Muscle Hardening

Phase 1 | Muscle Building [2-4 months]

Phase 1 Workouts

During Phase 1, which should last 2 to 4 months, your goal is to add muscle mass while starting to lean out. The way to add lean muscle mass is to perform 6 to 12 reps in each set, generally to muscle failure, and only rest 30 seconds between sets. This will completely fatigue and break down your muscles, which will then rebuild and grow during rest.

You need to lift heavy, but not so heavy that your form suffers or that you risk injury.

This phase can last anywhere from 2 months to 4 months, depending on your experience, personal goals, and current muscle mass.

  • 6 to 12 reps per set
  • 3 to 4 sets per muscle group
  • 30 seconds rest between sets
  • Muscle failure (or close to it) each set

Phase 1 Diet & Calories (2 mild cheat days per week)

Your calories are built around your weekends, so we are assuming a normal Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend.

Target your resistance training days to be Friday and Saturday, so that your resistance training days coincide with your higher calorie days to properly feed your muscles during the hard work:

Sunday to Thursday (lower calories – weekdays):
(Target Weight) x 10
If weight goal is 200 pounds, 200 x 10 = 2,000 cal/day

Friday and Saturday (higher calories – weekends):
(Target Weight) X 15
If weight goal is 200 pounds, 200 x 15 = 3,000 cal/day

Phase 2 | Muscle Hardening [1-2 months]

Phase 2 Workouts

During Phase 2, your goal is to increase muscle density and therefore hardness. This will give you the lean and cut look. Increase the weight slightly and only perform 4 to 6 reps in each set. This increases the density of the muscle fiber.

Depending on your body fat % and your personal goals, this phase should last 1 to 2 months. It’s how you lean out for summer. Remember, abs start to show at 10% body fat:

  • 4 to 6 reps per set (lower reps – heavier weight)
  • 3 sets per muscle group
  • 90 seconds rest between sets
  • 1 rep short of failure for each set

Phase 2 Calories & Diet (1 mild cheat day per week)

Your calories are built around your weekends, so that your resistance training days coincide with your high calorie day, which is just 1 day during Phase 2:

Saturday to Thursday (lower calories – weekdays):
(Target Weight) x 8
If your goal is 200 pounds, 200 x 8 = 1,600

Friday (higher calories – weekend):
(Target Weight) x 12
If your goal is 200 pounds, 200 x 12 = 2,400

Diet for Building Lean Muscle

Foods to eat for building lean muscle:

Lean Meats for Building Lean Muscle

Muscle Building DietChicken (skinless, white meat)
Turkey (skinless)
Lean Steak (Top Sirloin, Filet)
Lean Ground Beef (90% to 96% Lean)
Lean Pork (Loin Chops, Tenderloins)
Rainbow Trout

Vegetables for Building Lean Muscle

Muscle Bulding VegetablesBroccoli
Green Beans


Milk – Fat-free (great for protein shakes)
Egg Whites

Grains and Nuts

Grains for Building Lean MuscleWhole-wheat Bread
Brown Rice
Pistachio Nuts
Flaxseed (very healthy – I eat it every day)

Healthy Oils for Lean Muscle Development

Healthy Oils for Building Lean MuscleOlive Oil
Udo’s Oil
(1 tbspn each day for wellness)

Eat a steady combination of all of these foods, keep your calories in check, and you simply can’t go wrong. You will look and feel great, and with a good workout routine you will definitely be building lean muscle.

Aim for 1 to 2 pounds a week of fat loss. Any more than that is not healthy, and is detrimental to your fitness goals.

This is really just scratching the surface…here is a lot more detail about Muscle Building Diet to include a simple chart to track your calories.

Carb Cycling

A key part of the schedule shown above in Phase 1 and Phase 2 is “carb cycling.”

Make sure to have your 2 or 3 workout days (weights) on Friday and Saturday, which are your cheat days. You want your muscles to be well-fed on your 2 or 3 workout days, and you do that by doing your resistance training on Friday and Saturday…very key to building lean muscle.

You might have your other workout day on one of your lean calorie days, and that’s OK too!

Muscle Group Workouts

Here lies the “meat and potatoes” – the process of building lean muscle:

Top 5 Best Chest Exercises
Top 5 Exercises for your Tricep Workout
Top 5 Exercises for your Bicep Workout
Top 5 Exercises for your Back Workout Routine
Top 5 Exercises for your Shoulder Workout
Top 5 Exercises for your Ab Workout

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