What Is Lean Muscle?

What is Lean Muscle

What is lean muscle? This is one question that most fitness enthusiasts ask, and that has a lot to do with the fact that we can’t seem to come to a concrete definition of the term. We all know it’s good, and most of us want a little more of it. But what exactly is it, and is it different from regular muscle?

What is Lean MuscleMost commonly, the term lean muscle is used when talking about body composition. With fitness, the goal is to build enough (but not too much) lean muscle while keeping body fat on the low end. This creates a lean and hard body, which is a much preferred visual appeal as opposed to the overbuilt, muscle head look.

What Is The Difference Between Lean and Bulky Muscle?

At its core, strength training is incredibly beneficial for us. But, depending on how we go about it, we can build lean muscle or bulky muscle. And there is a big difference in how they look, and how they impact your life.

Some folks prefer large and bulky muscles, while others go for the lean and athletic look.

In the most basic of explanations, bulky refers to a more ‘loose’ appearance and having more muscle and fat on your frame. Power lifters, particularly those over 220-250 pounds, are an excellent example of such athletes. It is generally a bulky, overdone look not preferred by most fitness enthusiasts.

But what is lean muscle?

Overbuilt PhysiqueIt refers to trim, hard, and ‘compact’ appearances that best bring out the aesthetics for most people. In such a case, the person has a bit less muscle on their frame (in terms of mass), but they are also leaner and much more defined. Models are a good example.

It’s a good balance to strike in terms of health and visual appeal. It is a healthy state to have solid lean muscle and lower body fat, and also a really great look from a visual standpoint.

A List of the Best Foods to Build Lean Muscle Mass

Now that we know what lean muscle is, it’s time to talk about how to fuel your body correctly for optimal development. Here’s a short list:

  1. Lean meats – this includes chicken, turkey, veal, lean pork, lamb, and beef, ham, and lean sausages.
  2. Healthy fats – some great examples include nuts (most varieties), healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and unprocessed canola oil), avocado, and fatty fish.
  3. Leafy and green veggies – nutritious examples include broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, arugula, and asparagus.
  4. Strategic protein intake – for example, a protein shake consisting of protein powder, a banana, milk, and a bit of peanut butter, right after your workout.

What Is The Best Way to Build Lean Muscle?

Early on, we answered the question of what it is. But how does one train for it?

Granted, there are many ways to train for muscle gain, but the best, most effective, and most convenient way is to do resistance training with weights two to three days per week.

Building Lean Muscle

What you need to remember is that your training frequency will largely impact your results. The more often you train, the more training volume you accumulate, and the more muscle growth you can expect. So, training often (say, four to five days per week) will result in bulky muscle growth, especially if you are operating at a calorie excess most days of the week.

Two to three days is all you need to build a great looking physique. Focus your efforts, make small progress, and you will achieve a hard, lean, and toned physique in no time. Plus, you should also do cardio every day to keep the fat away, so your lean muscle appears more pronounced.

How often should I do cardio is a frequent question many people ask. The answer: do it every day. If you have cardio as part of your daily regimen, you will look better, feel better, and simply have a better life.

Take Daily Action to Build Lean Muscle Mass

Now that we’ve covered the age-old question of, “What is lean muscle?” and went over actionable ways to go about building it, all that is left for you is to take action. (1)

Hopefully, this article has given you all the tools you need to get started. Onward to a lean and athletic physique!

Learn more about building lean muscle.

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David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. Tallmadge, K. (2013, September 14). What – and when – to eat to build muscle (op-ed). LiveScience. https://www.livescience.com/39648-what-and-when-to-eat-to-build-muscle.html

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