I have always been an active kind of guy and I like to workout, but I never really had any lean body mass, and always had some extra weight to carry around. Getting a bit older and having a quite demanding office job doesn’t exactly help either. However, a more personalized meal and a lean body workout routine makes a huge difference.
You always hear about how many calories you should or should not eat to get muscles but not gain any fat, based on some generic calculation that does not really apply to anyone in particular. I tried to read guide after guide but it could never find anything that suited me and it all just felt like a lot of fuzz. We are all different. There is no such thing as a plan that will work for everyone.
You can be either ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph. And each one has its own metabolism. So, to get that lean body mass, you need to know your somatotype.
For me, this is what made the whole difference. Knowing when I am in a anabolic state, when to workout and when to eat.
A while ago I suddenly found myself a few years older than I used to be and without the lean body mass that I once had. I had a few dark days and I wanted to get back on my feet again. Eventually it felt great getting back to the gym and working out again. However, the results I got was nowhere close to what I wanted. I did loose some weight, and I did get a bit stronger. But after a while it just did not matter how much I exercised. I just did not get any real results.
In my search I read a lot about nutrition and different exercises. And even if I read a lot of articles about the one master plan that would solve the problem for everyone, in the end I almost always ended up reading about how important it was with a customised plan. I read about different body types having different metabolism. Different somatotypes. And how all fitness people have their own personal trainer who is doing all the planing for them. Now, I am nowhere close to being a serious fitness person. But my conclusion was that if I would keep doing what I was doing I would not gain any lean body mass in the nearby future at all, no matter how many sets or reps I was doing.
To gain lean body mass and get more muscles you have to eat. A scenario that you frequently hear about is to go on a bulk mass diet and then you cut calories out to get that lean body workout. You need more protein and food then what you burn on a daily basis without exercising to build muscle. If you do not ingest enough nutrients you will not gain any muscle or body mass and you might even lose some, even if you are working out. So while it is true that you need a certain amount of protein and amino acids to build muscles, there are still a few things to consider before bulking up.
The more you eat, the more you grow is true. However, it wont be all muscle mass. Everyone got a limit of how much food that can get synthesised to muscle mass. You can eat loads of food, but you can not change the limit to synthesis proteins. Adding more food will help until you reach your physical limit of how fast you can turn nutrition into lean body mass, after that it will just add fat.
When you gain fat the fat cells in your body grows and fills up. If you continue to eat and bulk you will produce more of those cells to fill up. However, going into a cutting diet and losing the weight will only make you lose the fat inside the cells. The cells will never go away. Another fact is that its easier for the body to put fat into already existing cells than to produce new once. So while bulking will make you gain body mass you will mostly improve the capacity for you to gain fat in the future.
The conclusion, bulking will not get you any lean body mass. Yes, you have to eat more calories then you burn per day to add muscle. But eating to much will only get you over the limit of what your body can process and will make you fat.
This is something that you hear a lot. Low reps with heavy weights to gain muscle mass, and low reps with light weights to get definition. Yes, low reps with heavy weights is the way to go for building pure muscle mass. Many reps with light weights to get definition however is something to think about. There are two pros when doing low reps with heavy weights.
Most muscles are made of fast contracting fibers. And by doing low reps with heavy weights you will target those fibers. Also, by doing a low amount of reps you will not build up as much lactic acid in your muscles as if you were doing a high amount of reps. Even if getting your body used to a higher amount of lactic acid can be a good thing for endurance workouts, this is counter productive for gaining muscle. If you want to gain lean body mass, this is not something you want to do.
So, are there any exception?
There are a few muscles in your body that are made up of a bit more long slow muscle fibers. This includes abs, forearms, calves, and upper traps. If any of your exercises should be higher reps, this is the muscles you want to target. Other than that, try not to build up to much lactic acid, and do not hunt too much for the “pump” that the acid gives you.
This is also something that is included in many workout routines. After a couple of weeks they change to higher amount of reps, or completely change to different exercises. While this can be good for someone that has been working out frequently for quite some time I strongly recommend getting a correct lean body workout routine and using that one until you actually hit a plateau. If the routine works, stick to it. If you want to put on muscle mass don’t change to higher amount of reps. Keep doing heavy weights and low amount of reps to make sure your not building up lactic acid.
Alternating exercises can be useful to avoid adaptation and target a slightly different part of the muscle. But again, if the exercise works and you are getting results then stick to that exercise. Adaptation depends a bit on your age and genes, but if you haven’t been working out for many years chances are that it will take up to a year of frequent workout before you don’t get the results you could have because of adaptation.
In short, The grass is Not always greener on the other side of the fence. If it works, why alternate?
There are many factors to gain lean body mass. And there are many common mistakes made in the process off getting the results you want.
Only using cardio to burn fat
This one is a very common mistake. People easily connect burning fat with cardio exercising only. It is correct that while doing cardio exercising you are burning fat. Even for an hour or two after finishing. While this sounds good at first, comparing this to weight training puts into a whole different position. After finishing a good weight training exercise your body will rebuild muscles and burn fat for up to 48 hours. So while cardio training is good to get lean, do not stop the weight training.
Not enough weights
This is probably more common by women, but also apply to men. You sometimes hear people saying that they don’t want to get too big or too bulky. A few things to think about here is that the bodybuilders you see on the telly are genetic phenomenons. There is only a handful of people in the world that can get even close to that. Another thing to consider is for how long they have been working out, and how much during that amount of time.
So, the fact here is.. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. You just will not gain loads of lean body mass or get bulky over a night!
Not having a plan
This is more common than you would think. Taking a look at the people in the gym you will always see at least a couple of people that clearly got no plan. They are doing a little of that and some of this not really getting very much out of their workout. Where are you going if you have no goal set? You don’t know.
Decide what you want from your training. Make a plan on how you are going to get there. And Follow that plan every single time you go into the gym. Write down your routine, which exercises to do on what day and take it with you when you workout. Then you wont look like those couple of guys that don’t know what they are doing in the gym!
Creatine is a supplement that you often hear of in the bodybuilding world, but is sometimes also used by people exercising more casually. And for good reasons. Creatine is a natural nutrition that is both produced in your body and found in lots of different foods, such as meat and fish. There were a lot of discussions earlier if creatine had any negative effects or was unsafe, but as this supplement is made of one of the most natural substances out there, results of every study and test shows only positives. And not only can it help you get a lean body, in later days they have even found positive effects like anti ageing and lowing of cholesterol.