Lean muscle is a pillar of health, no matter who you are. While the media may focus on beefed-up bodybuilders and fitness models, the truth is that everyone needs a healthy amount of muscle to remain mobile, active, and happy at any age.
Still, the process of muscle building remains a mystery to many, and what we all want to know is how long it actually takes to put on lean muscle mass, without resorting to strange supplements and unorthodox techniques.
Here is a guide to answering this age-old question, and some tips to maintaining a strong, lean physique for years to come.
Why You Want Lean Muscle
Ask 100 people about their health and fitness goals, and you’ll get as many distinct answers. But upon closer inspection, you’ll see that everyone is basically on the same page. A trim, functional, and attractive physique is desired by all, at the end of the day.
While weight loss is considered the most universal fitness goal, it’s actually lean muscle that creates a good-looking body, regardless of gender or age range.
Think about it. If you were to achieve your ideal body fat percentage through diet, not much would be left but skin and bones! Muscles give our bodies that full and complete look, and are the basis for the expression “being in shape.”
On top of looking good, muscle is key to feeling good and performing well in your daily activities, whether on the job or in your hobbies and family life.
Strong legs allow you to traverse trails, explore cities, and keep up with your dogs in the park, while a strong back, core, and arms allow you to move objects around your home and run errands without assistance.
These may seem like obvious things to younger folks out there, but just look around to see how strength can help you enjoy a better quality of life into advanced age. It’s smart to start now and develop a muscular frame and make the habit stick.
Get rid of the old idea that muscles are for meatheads only. Everyone needs strength to lead a healthy and happy life, so make it a priority in your fitness game plan moving forward.
How is Muscle Built?
Now that you know why muscle matters, let’s talk about how to get some.
As you might have guessed, exercise and diet play a central role here, but not in the way you might expect. When mapping out a muscle-building blueprint, strength training, protein intake, and great sleep are going to be your three pillars, no matter your experience level or ability.
You don’t need to immediately hit the squat rack or bench press. Instead, you have one simple goal: progressive overload. That means starting with a small amount of weight for each movement and gradually ramping things up over time.
There are many paths to success with progressive overload. You can increase the intensity by adding more weight or more repetitions, depending on the physique you want to obtain.
Trainers generally agree that lower weights at higher reps will give you a lean, toned look, while heavy weights and low reps will add more mass to your frame. It’s up to you to experiment with different ratios to see what gives you the best results for your genetics and goals.
Be sure to mix things up when strength training, as well. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, doing the same presses, curls, and extensions for every workout. The body responds to new stimuli, so always try new movements with different weights and rep ranges for the best results.
If you are unsure about how to perform a new type of exercise or need some tips on perfecting your form, don’t hesitate to do some more research online or ask someone at the gym for help. You may be surprised how helpful folks will be to give you advice.
With plenty of protein and more than enough sleep each night, you will quickly start to see your training efforts pay off, especially if you are new to the game and have a lean physique already.
Follow the strategy laid out above, and the average person can expect to gain around a pound or two of lean muscle mass per month. It will take dedication and some small sacrifices, but this can lead to a total body transformation in under a year.
For folks with weight to lose, muscle can still be obtained, and it can actually help boost metabolism to burn some of that excess fat. The key here is to add some extra cardio or high-intensity group workouts to the mix, in order to keep the weight off.
This process is called body recomposition, and it’s a great goal for anyone new to the world of fitness. Gaining strength and burning fat at the same time will accelerate your progress and make you feel fantastic in a matter of weeks.
Once you do hit your ideal weight or get that beach body, don’t let up on the strength training and diet. You’ll need to keep working to maintain that physique, although it won’t be as strenuous as when you first started out.
It’s time to make muscle-building a priority for fitness warriors across the board. Everyone needs functional strength and the metabolic boost that comes with a healthy amount of muscle.
With countless videos, social media accounts, and articles like this across the web, you have all the resources you need to get strong.
Incorporate these pointers and craft your own routine to start gaining strength ASAP, and remember to take those before-and-after photos! A transformation can happen faster than you think, so no more hesitation.