Building Muscle – The Top 7 Secrets of Gaining Lean Muscle Mass

This is probably the most important thing to do in order to build muscle over time – you have to gradually increase the difficulty of your training. You see, if you don’t change things up, if you don’t make things harder, your body won’t have a reason to adapt. Muscle growth is just an adaptation reaction to the external stress caused by the workout.

LL Cool J, on the photo above, works his ass off and consequently looks more than decent. One thing that can be learned about muscle building from the fit celebrities is their work ethic. It simply takes work to achieve anything worthwhile.

Don’t Miss Workouts

I think it goes without saying – if you miss workouts you are shooting yourself in the foot. Many people quit training because of the lack of progress. Well, there is a reason for the absence of results. When you miss a workout, you are back to the baseline levels from 2-3 workouts ago.

Take it Easy Once Every 3 to 4 Weeks

When you train diligently, your body and mind gradually become more and more fatigued. Yup – your mind too. Your will power takes a beating from the burden of having to adhere to a strict schedule and having to blast past previous achievement almost every time you are in the gym.

The tissues of your body – muscles, ligaments, joints, bones, glands, liver, etc. all fatigue too. So what do you do? Once every 3 to 4 weeks train a little bit lighter. Maybe do half the planned sets, pump less weight or, if super tired, take a week off from training.

Go to Bed on Time Before Workouts

Hey, I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay up late once in a while or go out for that matter. Every now and then it’s OK to pull an all-nighter. But if you go to bed after 2 am – your next training day is screwed. Also, while you sleep human growth hormone (HGH) is secreted.

HGH is important for the growth and recovery and you don’t want to mess with it. But if you interrupt your sleep pattern, you are also interrupting HGH release as it works in cycles – it gets secreted once every few hours while you sleep.

Get a Basic Strength Level First

Building a great body is somewhat like carving a statue except it works in reverse – you will be building a rock first and the statue – after that. You need a to follow a beginner strength training routine first because this is the foundation you’ll be working with.

You know, you can’t carve a big statue out of a small rock. Similarly, you need some basic strength and size before you can start worrying about development of the details and the small muscles such as arms, shoulders, chest and calves.

Get Lean First

Just lose the excess fat to begin with. It should be your number one priority when starting to workout. You will look good naked year round.

You can eat more carbs without getting fatter and you will prime your body for muscle building. This is so because the leaner you are, the less estrogen from fat storage you have.

Don’t Get Fat When Gaining Muscle

This goes along the lines of the previous point. Bulking up by eating like a pig sucks. You’ll look fat. OK, you will look big in clothes but this is one huge hypocrisy that many people who workout share. Other people think they are fit and muscular looking at them in clothes, when in fact they have some muscle and quite a bit of fat on top.

Also, bulking up with fat gain cause a permanent increase in the number of fat cells. Those fat cells will be with you forever unless you have a lipo. And from then on it will be always easier to get fat. So just don’t bulk. Rusty Moore has the best all around muscle building course when it comes to following these principles.

14 thoughts on “Building Muscle – The Top 7 Secrets of Gaining Lean Muscle Mass”

  1. I agree that it’s easy to gain too much fat when your focus is on building muscle. Make sure to pay attention to what you eat an when you eat it if you want to gain muscle and not a lot of fat as well. While it’s true that you may need to put on a bit of body fat in order to stimulate lean muscle growth, you shouldn’t use that as an excuse to be sloppy with your nutrition plan.

  2. Gain Muscle Mass

    Thanks for the input! I don’t think any man should ever go above 10-12% body fat. This means never looking worse than at least decent. So yeah, a little bit of fat – from lean to decent is acceptable. Nothing more however. At least I believe fitness training is supposed to make you look better, not worse!


  3. I really liked the analogy that you are building the stone before you sculpt it. I’ve been spending more time on your blog and I have to tell you, this is some great stuff! I started out my health journey concerned about aesthetics, but I came so far in a short amount of time that I blew away my expectations. I have now set them even higher and my goals are now set around strength and athletics. Thats one of the things that I like about your site.

  4. Yash,

    you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for athletics. To start with, training for strength and athleticism (this means having high strength levels for a comparatively light or ‘normal’ weight) will get you along way. Also, as I wrote in another post – probably the best long term strategy is to alternate between strength training and purely bodybuilding style muscle building workouts. This is how Hugh Jackman for example works out. I train like this too.

    Good thing that you’ve set your goals real high buddy!


  5. Hi, nice post but I disagree with taking time off after a month of working out I’ve never gotten tired that fast. After 3 months of training it might be a good time to rest for a week. But not after 1 month..

    And a great point about bulking. I really think it is silly when people just bulk/cut and try to emulate pro bodybuilders and do like they do. I am all for CLEAN bulking which is eating 500 cals more per day then your BMR is!

  6. Adrian,

    if you can train hard and progress – no reason to take it easy. This is kind of an advanced technique.



  7. Hi,
    Great post…
    I was about 46 kilos last year when i started training…
    i am now 70kilos,i got a lean look but i got significant fat gain too…my abs are totally disappearing as it was very visible when i was 46kilo…shall i bulk up a little more or start cutting now i am not big yet…just got a 13 inch bicep

  8. Vijayanand,

    you gained a bit of fat so this means you ate a litle bit too much. I suggest decreasing the food for a few weeks so you can get leaner an d then eat at maintainance and train hard. Muscle gains come slower than weight gains. Have patience and train hard every time.


  9. Thanks for the reply…that was quick 😉
    Life has really changed a lot after i started training…My only regret is i could have started before…Being skinny all my school and college days till i was 21… i never trained until i got interested last year…But things are better now 🙂 Good luck

  10. Well – don’t regret what you cannot change – i.e. the past. You’ve got decades upon decades before you to look better and better and live life to the fullest. Enjoy 🙂

  11. Thanks 🙂
    I am from Madurai,Tamilnadu,INDIA.
    Here,most of the people including friends and family think i am wasting my time and money on my body instead of just focusing on my profession…So its good to get in touch with others with similar goals 🙂 🙂

  12. What they are saying is partially true. But i hope you are not neglecting the other areas of your life.

    First, try to minimize the money/time you invest. There ways to train for free and for less time. And don’t spend money on supplements ever.

    Second, training requires a kind of aggression. I would suggest that you cultivate that aggression and use it to dominate the other areas of your life – money (job) and relationships (friends, family, dating). Be aggressive man.

    Apply the principles of focus and progressive overload (read about the Japanese principle of KAIZEN) in all areas of your life.


  13. Yes i understand what you say…
    I got my first job simply by using the confidence i got from working out,but i got to grow as i am not stable yet.
    I have tried out supplements,but i have been wondering if i have to spend on them again,Thanks for that one.
    hmmm I have read about KAIZEN but i have not taken it seriously so far…
    What takes me a lot of time is that i learnt that i got to eat some protein food every 3 hrs if i have to pack muscle,thats a little difficult but i am managing it somehow…
    Thanks for the Reply 🙂

  14. You don’t need supplements. And, you don’t need to eat protein every 3 hours, etc. Building muscle is all about the exercise.

    For bigger muscles you need to lift heavier weights and/or more reps.

    So eat normal man, don’t stuff yourself (you can see that stuffing yourself only leads to fat gain.)

    I will give you an example with myself. My ideal weight would be around 175lbs. I’ve gone up as high as 195lbs. But I only look bigger in clothes this way. Stuffing yourself like a pig only makes you look bigger with your shirt on. You just get fat.

    So eat normal and train extremely hard and consistent.

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