Best Ways To Build Lean Muscle Mass and Gain Weight


Ever watched top athletes do their stuff. What’s the difference between them and you? Training? Maybe. Talent? Quite possibly. A better diet? Almost certainly. These guys know that exercise and talent will only take you so far. In sport you really are what you eat. If you want to be fitter, faster, stronger and more powerful, then taking nutritional supplements help transform you into the kind of athlete that everyone else is talking about. I am talking from experience.

I play semi-professional and international rugby for the Netherlands. I am a winger by trade and my build was always slightly slim. My coaches told me that if I wanted to compete at the highest level I could no longer rely on my speed alone but needed to build up my power and strength. So, they put me on a strength building program and got me on a diet when I was 18 years old to help build muscle and put on weight. I was advised to stay away from excess weights until I reached the age of 18. Any earlier could be linked to slowing my growth.

With their help I went from a slim 78 kilograms (171 pounds), to a stronger, faster 89 kilograms (195 pounds) in just under a year, and you can too. Here is my advice on how to achieve that goal.

If you do play a sport, your diet should consist of 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 20% fat. If you do not play a sport, you have a bit more leverage and flexibility. Your diet should consist of 40-60% carbohydrate, 20-30% protein and 20-30% fat.

Eat nutrient dense foods. Keep junk food and processed food at a minimum. These contain calories that the body does not use optimally because of their low vitamin and mineral content. Fresh food is the best way to go. I would recommend eating small meals approximately every 3-4 hours to maintain insulin levels and aid in physical and neural recovery.

Eat complex carbohydrates (starches). Starchy foods such as pasta, wheat bread, whole grain cereals, brown rice, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, and vegetables provide a major energy source to fuel your activities. These foods are also a source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – the health protective substances in plant foods.

Choose protein sources from turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, and lean cuts of beef, tofu, and low-fat cottage cheese.

Choose healthy fat sources from nuts, avocados and cold-water fish. Eat 40-100 grams of fat per day. If you do not get enough of these, take an essential fatty acid supplement or fish oil supplement (1-2 tablespoons/day).

6-tips-six-pack-abs-3Keep drinking water or a sport drink to maintain hydration while training. Try to avoid water-like substances such as Kool-Aid, sodas, juice or lemonade. Although these may contain water and some carbohydrates, they also contain a greater amount of the wrong type of carbohydrate source (sucrose and/or fructose), which can ultimately lead to gastrointestinal (GI) distress (i.e. diarrhea) and decreased performance.

Eat a diet that consists of a wide variety of foods by keeping in mind the basic food groups. It is the best insurance for getting needed nutrients.

Consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day among the foods that you eat. High fiber foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and cereals. Read labels and be aware of fiber content in everything you eat.

Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and excessive table sugar, even when trying to gain weight. These include candy, juices, desserts, baked goods, etc.

Use meal replacement shakes, or protein bars whenever necessary. Always keep bars available such as in a book bag, purse, glove compartment, locker, or wherever poor nutrition might be the alternative such as at a competition. Try an assortment of brands to see which you like.

Take a multivitamin/mineral supplement from a reputable brand.

The Muscle Mass Gaining Training Diet
It takes energy to build muscle. You cannot build anything without extra materials, so you must eat at least 300-500 calories above the number of calories needed to maintain your current weight. Logging your food intake may be needed in a food journal and weekly weigh-ins will be needed. If you are not gaining at least 1 pound per week, then you are not eating enough. Increase your calories by 100-200 more.

If you are gaining more than 1 pound per week, then you are eating too much and you are putting on more fat weight than you want. Decrease your calories by 100-200 kcals.

Finally, if you are not already, increase protein intake to 1.5-2g/kg body weight.

During Your Weight Training
According to the research, during this time of muscle bulking, a lot is dependent upon what you do before during and post-exercise. You should do the following before, during and after your training:

Try consuming 20 grams whey protein 30-40 grams carbohydrates 30-40 minutes prior to exercise.
Drink water during weight training. Immediately after, consume a protein shake with at least 20 grams of whey protein and 25-50 grams of carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates.

Eat a whole food meal with the above ratios 1 hour later.

deadlift-exerciseIn terms of supplements, take creatine monohydrate. Load up with 20 grams per day (5 grams taken 4 times per day) for the first 5-7 days and then take 5-10 grams as a maintenance dose. Mix it in with a protein shake or juice for convenience. The micronized version mixes best.

When it comes to gaining lean weight, calories are the bottom line just the same. No matter what you eat and no matter how hard you train, if you’re not eating enough it is physiologically impossible to gain muscle.

There are many factors involved in gaining lean body weight, but the starting point is to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which is the number of calories you require to maintain your body weight. According to exercise physiologists William McArdle and Frank Katch, the average TDEE for women in the United States is 2000-2100 calories per day and the average TDEE for men is 2700-2900 per day. To calculate TDEE you must first determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is defined as the minimum level of energy required to sustain the body’s vital functions in the waking state.

Here’s a simple formula developed by Dr. Fred Hatfield, that you can use to estimate your BMR based on your body weight in kilograms. (One kilogram is 2.2 lbs.)

  • Men’s BMR = 1 X body weight (kg) X 24 Women’s BMR = .9 X body weight (kg) X 24
    Example: You are male you weigh 172 lbs. (78 kilos) Your BMR = 1 X 78 X 24 = 1872 calories

The formula above is based on total body weight, not lean body mass, therefore it will be fairly accurate provided your body fat levels are not above the average ranges (14-19% for men, 20-25% for women). If your body fat is substantially higher than average, then basing caloric needs on total body weight alone will overestimate calorie expenditure.

Now in terms of how to workout in order to build leans muscle mass I advise you exercise intensively. When your body comes to repair the damage caused by training, it overcompensates, making your muscles stronger than before, so you’re able to do the same amount of exercise with less effort. This is known as the training effect. As you train, your strength increases, thanks to the increased stimulation of muscle fibers and an increase in muscle size. The use of sports nutrition products will allow you to train harder for longer by supplying your body with more energy. You’ll recover more quickly and gain strength faster.

Build strength first, power second. To build the power that you need to be successful in many sports, maximum strength is vital. In other words, you have to work on strength first, then power, and that should be cycled over and over. To get stronger, focus on using heavy weights and low repetitions (4-6 reps) in your training sessions.

Consume Enough Protein
A lack of quality protein will result in a loss of muscle tissue and tone, a weaker immune system, slower recovery and a lack of energy. Protein drinks and bars are great to supplement your protein intake, which you get from foods such as fish, chicken and steak.

Provision of Calories & Energy
If your aim is to increase your strength and power without increasing muscle bulk, then you only need enough calories to maintain your weight. If you’re aiming for an increase in muscle size as well as developing strength, it’s important to have a higher calorie intake than that needed to simply maintain weight. Ensure that you consume calories – a combination of carbohydrates and protein – directly after training in order to maximize recovery.

Creatine For Strength and Explosive Power
I know there are people out there who are reluctant to put things into their body that they are unsure about, so I will ease their worries.

6-tips-six-pack-abs-2Creatine is naturally produced in the human body from amino acids primarily in the kidney and liver. It is transported in the blood for use by muscles. Approximately 95% of the human body’s total creatine is located in skeletal muscle. The rest is located in the brain or heart.

Creatine is not an essential nutrient as it is manufactured in the human body from L-arginine, glycin, and L-methionine.

In humans and animals, approximately half of stored creatine originates from food (mainly from fresh meat). Since vegetables do not contain creatine, vegetarians show lower levels of muscle creatine, but show the same levels after using supplements. He first published report of creatine having bodybuilding effects was The Journal of Biological Chemistry in, 1926! Although we’ve known about creatine for quite some time, the first real use of it to enhance performance was the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, Spain.

Creatine is 100% natural and occurs naturally in many foods; therefore, it can never be banned from any sports or international competitions (unless they banned eating meat). Many foods especially herring, salmon, tuna, and beef contain some creatine. However, the very best source of creatine by far is creatine monohydrate because it contains more creatine per weight of material than any other source.

Creatine is bodybuilding’s ultimate supplement, and for good reason. For one thing, creatine can significantly increase lean muscle mass in just two weeks. It is also responsible for improving performance in high-intensity exercise, increasing energy levels, and speeding up recovery rates. Creatine’s ability to enhance energy reserves in muscles comes from its muscle protein synthesizing action, while minimizing protein breakdown. This occurs because creatine has the awesome effect of super-hydrating muscle cells with water. It enhances muscles’ growth too-making muscle fibers bigger and stronger.

Help Reduce Muscle Breakdown
By minimizing muscle breakdown after training you can support your muscle and strength goals further. Consume a high-protein diet and weight-training regime for best results.

Introduce Additional Products To Aid Your Results
Hard training requires adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. A good multivitamin and mineral supplement can all support your immune function, physical and mental performance.

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About Author


I'm a certified personal trainer specializing in circuit training, nutrition and weight management, training in different environments, sports conditioning along with lifestyle and fitness assessments. I'm also a group studio cycling instructor. See my profile page for more information!

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Fast And Train on

    Actually, there is one natural way to build lean muscle mass, without fat gain, and pretty fast. That’s why bodybuilders use the period after competitions to pack on serious muscle mass. That’s the time when our body is primed to build muscle fast.

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