If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that I am a big advocate of building lean mass and improving strength as the foundation for metabolic health and enhancing your quality of life.
The idea that we shouldn’t focus on losing fat is foreign to many. Awareness and education of how to build lean mass are non-existent.
In the blog “Stop trying to lose fat” I go over why it’s a better process and mindset to build muscle and get strong as the priority. The process is simple but it can be challenging to actually follow through.
When you stop focusing on fat loss a couple of things change.
You need to stop looking at the scale. Your weight means nothing. Muscle takes up less space than fat. Your weight may not change a single digit as you increase your lean mass. In fact, you may even gain weight at first.
Shocking I know. The more important factor in attaining health is the % of fat to lean mass. As you gain muscle, you get healthier. That’s what you want. Your clothes will get bigger, you will shrink in size. The scale may not move. That’s OK.
Guess what else is going to happen?
It’s likely you’ll need to consume more food. Seriously. Most people don’t eat enough in general. Many people are very low on how much protein they eat. You’ll need to get used to eating a higher quantity of food, particularly, protein.
How to build lean mass in 2 easy steps.
Your body only needs two things to get start the building process and change everything for you.
- Adequate protein
- Adequate physical activity
Adequate protein starts at 1g per pound of lean mass. If you don’t know your lean mass you can substitute your goal body weight. This is generally higher than your lean mass which isn’t a bad thing. When it comes to protein, more is almost always better.
If your lean mass is 150 pounds then you should start your plan targeting 150g of protein per day. NOTE: Many people end up having more success around 1.25g-1.5g per. As a point of reference, I average 1.5g-2g per.
Use this as the starting point and go up as you become more accustomed to the quantity of protein each day.
What exactly is “adequate physical activity? Well, it’s moving weight, a lot.
Resistance training is critical in telling your body what to do with all the protein you’re going to start taking in. If you’re not currently active, you will see an increase in lean mass just off the protein intake. That won’t last forever though. You will need to stimulate muscle growth by moving your body and moving weight.
Here are some simple guidelines for what weight training should look like for you.
NOTE: This is a rabbit hole you could get very lost in. The absolute best way for you to do this correctly and safely is to follow a program and work with someone who can guide you through the process. This is what I do. My program is designed to give you the best all-around solution to fitness and quality of life improvement. https://theapextrainingsystem.com
The key to weight training is to find a balance between “oh my goodness that was hard” and “oh crap, I hurt myself”. You can do this by keeping the intensity of your training with weights around a 7-8 out of 10. If you consistently hit this level of challenge you will see improvement and you’re less likely to get hurt.
You should shoot for at least 3 days a week moving weights. The exercises you need to do should be things like squatting, lunging, pull, pushing, hinging (bending over), twisting, and walking.
People often ask how heavy and how many reps they should do. You should go as heavy as that 7-8 out of 10 lets you go. If you finish a set of 8 reps and you feel like you could have done 1 maybe 2 more at the most, then you hit the mark. If you feel like it wasn’t that hard and you had 3 or more reps left in you, then you need to go heavier.
The ideal rep range for a beginner to get the safest bang for the buck is 3-10 reps. You really don’t need more and less than 3 would mean the weight will be heavier than is safe.
These are just some very high-level guidelines that you can use if you’re doing this on your own.
I highly recommend, following a program and making it way, way, easier on yourself by letting a professional do the planning and programming part for you.
Building lean mass and completely flipping conventional wisdom on its head is no easy task It will take some resetting of your belief systems and a daily shift in your mindset. It’s 100% worth it.
Eat more protein. Move more weight.