Gain Lean Muscle

Abstract:  This article is very informative yet long. It’s set in a conversational tone for easy reading. It provides 15 key things that you need to do in order to gain lean muscle. No bullshit. If you get an understanding of what it takes in the gym, in the kitchen and in your mind, then you will pack on hard explosive muscle.


Get reading!

(pictures coming soon!)


Gaining muscle and losing fat is an on going task for man kind. If you were to google fat loss and muscle gain, you will see thousands, if not millions of hits. As you can see there is more than one way to skin a cat and not one type of workout is going to get the results faster than if you use a combination of workouts.


The body is an organism in a huge petri dish we call “Earth.”  Depending on our geographical location, ethnicity and genetic make-up determines how we will grow as an organism. As a person with the desire to grow, you can become a big muscular strong freak athlete, with your biological and environmental influences having little effect on your growth as an athlete.  Meaning if you want something bad enough and you try hard enough, most of the time you will recieve it.


To grow muscle, loss/keep fat off, increase speed and increase strength, there are a few things that you as an athlete need to consider when taking this journey to perfecting your temple. First I will list them in no particular order, then I will go further in depth with what each topic is all about and how you can take advantage of each topic.


  • Focus on strength
  • Body weight movements (beginners)
  • Complex movements (multi joint for advanced athletes)
  • Working Lower Body
  • Perfecting Technique
  • Progressively overloading
  • Full Body Workouts
  • Free weight supersets
  • Strongman
  • Intensity
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrient Dense Foods
  • Increase Calories
  • Protein Consumption
  • Consistency

Focus on Strength


Focusing on strength gains is the first positive step you can take in muscle gain. The mind set of wanting to get big, is the biggest factor in the war on adapting and growing into a powerful all round athlete.


Muscle = Strength or Strength = Muscle


For the beginners it is wise to do body weight exercises in order to learn the proper technique so that when weight loads are introduced, the athlete can correctly perform the movement thus lower the chances of injury and improving the chances of success.


Once form is perfected you could move into lifts, but the lifts in which you need to do to gain huge amounts of muscle are complex in form. Yes, picking a barbell up off the floor is a movement that is hard. Why? Because the weight loads force you to focus on form, the more the weight the more emphasis on form. So, the next step for a beginner is to wear a weighted vest.  A weight vest is just the natural progression to actually having to deal with weight loads.


At this early stage in an athlete’s development there is room to work on power.  They can’t do power cleans or jump squats. This is far too advanced. In conjunction with wearing a weighted vest is medicine balls.  There are many exercises that can be done in order for the body to move in a coordinated pattern for overall power development. When you forcefully put energy into an object, that it leaves your hands and flies off, you are teaching your muscles to explode beyond the walls of “A” & “B” but yet shooting for “m” or “z” (letters being explosive force).


For those athletes that stand around in the gym talking and looking at others lifting weights, may my prayers be for you. This is valuable time to get at it and get strong. The stronger you become the easy your sport and life will be, but you sit there in all, of the athlete going crazy in the weight room pushing the limits of their body and mind.  


The athletes that are going absolutely nuts are the ones doing the Olympic lifts and other multi joint exercises.  The body’s response to these movements is an urgent one. The body will produce more testosterone and human growth hormone in order to repair the body after these intense exercises. Yes, some body builders will tell you that cheat curls are demanding on the body also. They are but not in the way of Olympic lifts. With the singling out of a muscle group only gets targeted results. But you want strength, you want power and the only way to develop this is by doing a complex coordinated movement that involves the entire body.



  • Clean
  • Hang cleans
  • Clean to push press
  • Barbell Push Press
  • Barbell Split Jerks
  • Sand bag- Pick up to press
  • Stone lifts
  • Tire Flips


There are many more lifts that you can utilize in order to grow. I chose these few because they are my favorite and I like them.



Working the Legs


It seems that many young people miss this point. I guess it’s because of society. Woman like a man with nice arms and cut abs, at least that’s what is portrayed in magazines and in television. So, the next time you go into a gym let’s see what the percentages are of men doing upper body lifts to those doing lower body lifts. I guarantee that the majority will be doing upper body. There has been many times that I have gone to a gym to see 6 Olympic platforms/squat racks completely deserted, but all the free weight benches being used. What the hell is that about?


Let me let you in on a little secret. When you squat your abs get stronger and your arms get thicker! Holy shit! Well, this is nothing new, it’s actually common sense. You have a weighted bar on your back putting stress on the bones and stabilizing muscles. As you drop down (eccentric) your stabilizing muscles and your “lifting” muscles have to take a load in combination with your tendons which are attached to and pulling on the bone; making the bones adapt and become thicker.  The abdominals are the same way. The more you put on your back the more your abs will have to become stronger in order for you to support the weight. The end result is that the body as a whole becomes thicker and stronger.


From personal experience with training clients and myself, I have noticed that squatting in the beginning of a workout is best.


  • More energy
  • Gets your juices’ flowing meaning warming you up


So, if this is the case then you will have an upper body warmed up and ready to rock out on the bench press, giving you a greater workout. The more warmed up you are the better workout you will have.


Note: walking into a gym and picking up a 5 or 10 pound plate and doing arm circles is not warming up for the bench. Grow up, be an athlete and do 5 minutes of cardio.


So what other exercises can you do for the lower body that can have a huge impact on your muscle gains?


Here are a few:

  • Squats
  • Front Squats
  • Zercher Squats
  • Step-ups
  • Over Head Squats (snatch grip)
  • Dead lifts
  • Rack Dead lifts

 Pretty much any leg training where NO muscle group is singled out… use them all!


Perfecting technique


Perfecting technique is a major factor in growing big muscles. Like I mentioned earlier about the essential skills that are taught to beginners, technique is key.  Having proper form when doing a movement limits the chance of injury. If you have ever noticed that when some athletes squat they dip their knees forward and their heels lift off the ground, drawling the stress of the load to the knee. This is how people get hurt doing squats. The proper way of performing any lift will only increase your chances of muscle growth for these two simple reasons.


Proper form prevents injury- Injury will set you back and without working out you will just become a lazy fat piece of shit.


Proper form puts more stress on muscles rather than joints- More stress on the muscle with a clean movement pattern only enhances the potential strength of a muscle.


Progressive Overload


Progressive overload is continuously introducing more stress to your body and muscles in order for them to adapt and grow along with the demands. Being a personal trainer I have noticed that many people do not understand this topic. I have seen individuals workout with the same weight, same exercise routines for months, without changing a thing. There has been many times where I have made them a program and then they scratch out my beautiful workout and replace it with the lifts they were doing previously. So, let’s make some sense of this. Here are some examples of what progressive overload is.


  • The most obvious one is once an exercise becomes relatively easy; you increase the intensity by adding some more weight.
  • Without adding weight add another set to the workout. For instance, if you are doing 3 sets of 8 this week, then next week try to go 4 x 6 the following week.
  • Add in another exercise for a particular body part or take one out and increase the weight on the others.
  • Changing exercises completely but still working the same muscle group is a great way to keep your body from stalling out.
  • Change the rep scheme.
  • Change your range of motion.


Here is an example bench press workout for a six week cycle:


Workout “A”









Flat Bench



225 4×10

235 4×8

235 4×10

245 4×8

255 3×8

265 3×6


Incline Press

60 3×10

70 3×8

70 3×10

80 3×8

90 3×6

100 3×4

Military Press

40 3×10

50 3×8

50 3×10

60 3×8

70 3×6

80 3×4


Push Downs


Etc 3×10









Etc 3×10







This is a basic off season bench workout. As you can see that as the weeks go on the weight and sets/reps fluctuate. Now to go a little more advanced, take a look at workout “B” and compare it to workout “A”

Workout “B”








Flat Bench Press (Barbell) 250 5×5 260 5×4 270 5×3 280 4×3 270 4×5 290 3×3
Incline Bench Press (Barbell) 180 3×6 190 3×4 200 3×2 210 2×2 200 3×3 220 3×2
Alternate Arm Military Press (Standing) 3×8 3×6 3×8 3×6 3×6 3×4
Skull Crushers 3×8 3×6 3×8 3×6 3×8 3×6
Up Right Rows (Barbell) 3×8 3×6 3×8 3×6 3×8 3×6

Are you catching the drift? Workouts need to change in order for your muscles to grow. The more you muscles have to guess the more they will change. A workout that goes for 6-8 weeks is a pretty good use for athletes who are just beginning. The more advanced the athlete the more frequently workouts need to change. For instance, this 6 week template would actually be only 2-4 weeks for a more advanced athlete. The elite athletes actually change their workouts every other week. So, they may do an exercise on Monday of this week but next week on Monday they will do a completely different workout.

Example of how an Elite Athlete changes there workout week to week is seen here:

Monday- Week 1:

LEGS:  Back Squat (1/2 Range of Motion) 3×5

Monday- Week 2:

LEGS:  Front Squat (Full Range of Motion) 3×3

With your body increasingly trying to figure out what the hell you are doing with it will only add more muscle in order for your body to keep up with the workouts. Of course there has to be some planning to this. As an athlete you have small goals and big goals. Maybe they are a strength goal or maybe it’s a competition where you want to perform well at. That is why you must plan towards that time period. What I mean is don’t go into a gym with the intension to max out and then the following day you perform high reps.

The “A” table and the “B” table should show you how this process carries on. Its baby steps to success.

Full Body Workouts

Full body workouts will help you burn fat and increase muscle size, of course that’s if you nutrition is in check. I truly only believe that full body workouts be performed at a time in the week where you will have the following two days completely off. Let me explain how this workout will burn fat and drastically build muscle.

There are so many ways to skin a cat, but I have found that athletes who have done this type of workout have developed more muscle, have had greater strength gains and leaned out. 

This would be a sample Friday, to end the week, followed by two days rest (Sat. OFF and Sunday active recovery):

  1. Warm-up
  2. Dynamic Stretching
  3. Box jumps 1×8
  4. Back squats 1×8
  5. Dumbbell Bench Press (Flat) 1×8
  6. Pull-ups (assisted with bands if need be) 1x failure
  7. Tire Flips (400lbs) 1×5
  8. Hanging Leg Raises 1×10

 Lifts are done with a weight that by the 3rd or 4th time around making all the reps is very difficult but doable. This workout seems pretty simple right? Well, once you finish the box jumps you move to the back squat, then DB Bench Press, then Pull Ups, Then Leg Raises and finishing with Hanging Leg raises. When finished the first round you get a rest time of 3-4 minutes. This is similar to the “300 workout” or the “cross fit” philosophies where after performing an exercise you move to a different muscle group and so on and so on. After a leg exercise you move to a upper body exercise, so now your legs are resting while you perform the upper body movements but the key is that the heart rate is elevated the entire time. There is no rest.

Killing two birds with one stone never seemed any easier than this; working strength while working on the cardiovascular system all in one workout!

This workout is an over all killer. That is why I suggest the following days off.

Now, why can this actually be beneficial for weight gain? Like I mentioned earlier it’s essential to switch up workouts and keep your body guessing. The days prior you are working with weights and taking 2-3 minutes rest in between sets. That is a lot of down time. The “Friday” workout of non stop movement (rest after each cycle) is a day that is fun and quick. The workout can be finished within 20-30 minutes (depending on your work capacity) and then it’s rest time.

Did you like how I put the tire in? That leads me to the next phase of this section, STRONG MAN!


Strongman workouts are great for the simple fact that they are fun. Instead of shooting for weights/reps you can now work with time. How quick can you get a 400lb sled from here to there? Or how many times can you flip the tire in 60 seconds. This brings about a competitive atmosphere unlike the weight lifting where it’s pretty obvious who is stronger than the other. Strongman is about strength, yes, but also athleticism.

Now you can be a meat head and do one event at a time or you can make it real fun and make an obstacle course. Below you will see an example obstacle course that you can do at the end of your training week in order to have some thing to look forward to.

Course #1:

  • 20lbs Med ball under hand throws for height x10
  • 200lb sled run (Forward 40yrds)
  • 200lb sled pull (backwards 40yrds)

How quick can you do this? Or how about this,

Course #2:

  • Car push 25yrds
  • Tire flip 5x
  • Farmers walk 30 yards (100lb dumbbells)

You can be very creative with this and be sure to change it every week or every other week depending on when you do it.

What’s the benefit of doing strongman? Strongman is the transition from weights to sport. It fills in the gaps of your training that you can’t do in the weight room. Let me see if I can come up with a weird thought for this one….

Okay, here we go, picture an offensive line. You have a center a guard on either side of the center, and on the outside shoulder of the guard you have a tackle with a tight end somewhere on either end. Going from lifting without any transitions to the actual sport leaves gaps. Similar to the offensive line without those guards, and what happens? The line is now not able to perform at its best because now they have to take on more than one opponent which can lead to getting your ass kicked from exhaustion, injuries and losing. Yeah, I know it was a weird way to put it but it makes some sense.


If you don’t have intensity in the weight room you don’t have the capacity to gain large amounts of muscle. Not intensity with the amount of weight you have to lift. Intensity as an emotion is what I am referring to. Athletes need to approach a workout with the motivation that they are going to give it there all. That means attempting the last rep when the pain is unbearable. It’s pushing your body to the max when you body is saying “NO!” This is intensity.

There will be days where you just don’t have it. They suck, I mean they really suck. However, you need to welcome these days because for these days of training when you don’t want to train make you the person you are today. It teaches you to never give up and it keeps you consistent. If you wanted to lift when you wanted to then you would never get anything done.

Now if you have to act like a complete fool by yelling and screaming before a lift or during a lift then go for it. If it works then do it. I personally would know when my mind was being too relaxed and I would always scream “WAKE UP” to put myself over the edge. One good reason for this was that if I had the balls to scream “wake up” like an idiot then I better do what I have to do or I would look like a complete moron. No one wants to get super pumped up with everyone looking at you, then you fail, Too embarrassing.

So keep you intensity up and be sure to find it when you are not feeling all together that day.


Do I really need to go into this? Yup, I have to. Nutrition is the building blocks you need to grow. Without nutrition you would die or waste away. This is the way I look at it. Food is energy (it is even rocks are energy, even though they don’t do much) any mass is energy but as athletes we need energy that we can use efficiently. The best things to use as fuel/energy are what come from earth. Man is tainted and everything is loaded with sodium, saturated fats, preservatives and other chemicals.

Nutrient dense foods are the key. So, for you to get an idea of nutrient dense foods I will list my favorites.

  • Steak
  • chicken
  • liver
  • fish
  • buffalo meat
  • deer meat
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • fresh vegetables
  • fresh fruits
  • raw & organic milks
  • grains (as unprocessed as possible) etc.

As you can see these foods are as natural as possible. It’s like living in the wilderness and having to survive. With that type of thinking and eating there is no need for fat storage other than what nature intends. With the luxury of living in the United States, we have fast food restaurants on every block and with our “no need to stop, money to be made mentality” we eat on the run. Eating on the run makes us consume the most low grade products invented leading us to “fad” diets, diet pills and other supplements all leading to wasting money.

If you were to eat nutrient dense foods you will save more money than you could imagine. You will be healthier, so no need for doctors visits, medications, tissues etc. 

Increased Calories

Okay to keep this as simple as possible you need to eat to fuel your workouts. Calories are a unit of measure for the energy in food. Like I mentioned earlier food is fuel and we need this in order to increase muscle mass. If you eat less calories in a given day then you burn in a day then what happens? You begin to use your body as fuel.

What is used as fuel in your body? A simple way to look at it is fuel in your body is glycogen (stored carbohydrates) fats and protein, but we don’t want to use protein as fuel. If we did then our bodies would be eating the muscle. Say, good bye abs, good bye biceps. That is what ticks me off about people.

“I want to build muscle and lose fat…” yet they don’t eat.

In order for you to support the muscles that you do have you have to eat a lot of food. Not to mention that you need to eat enough calories for your body processes. Did you know that your brain, heart, lungs, digestive process etc. all use calories to function? Most people are recommended to eat 2,000-2,500 calories a day. As an athlete you need to eat even more than that if you are looking to put on muscle.

Intense workouts take energy and for an hour to an hour and a half it usually burns off 500 calories (depending on the work you do). Going to a gym and talking most of the time is not an intense workout.

Thus, to keep the muscle you have and increase it’s size is to give it the fuel to perform exercises in the way of calories. The harder you workout on a given day, the more calories you would take in through out the day.

Myth: “The more you eat the fatter you will get”

Fact: The more frequently you eat (every 3-4 hours) nutrient dense foods the more fat you will burn and the more nutrients you will supply a growing body. Look at it this way. A steam driven train can not move unless the conductor feeds the furnace coal. The more frequently the furnace receives coal (food) the more consistent the fire will burn (metabolism/burning unwanted fat), thus propelling the train forward along its tracks. Now, if the furnace was fed coal every once in a while (3meal/day breakfast, lunch, dinner) then the train would move, slow down then stop and so on. Now, if the conductor were to supply the furnace with wet coal (saturated fats, refined sugars aka candy, burgers, French fries etc) the fire would smother and take more time to burn and slow down the train (your metabolism). If you were to feed the train’s furnace high quality coal (nutrient dense foods) consistently then the train would move steadily.

This train analogy is the best way that I can put it. This is the relation amongst food (coal) and your body (train). The more frequently you eat good foods the greater result of:

  • Increased energy
  • Increased mental processing
  • Increased muscle gains
  • Increased fat loss
  • Better feeling of self worth.

Protein consumption

Of course you know muscle is protein. The more you eat the more muscle you can put on. That is the gist of it. However, most athletes are misinformed on the amounts and when to consume proteins. Every meal must consist of a protein product. If you weigh 200lbs then you need to have at least 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of muscle. Some people say per kilo (2.2lbs) but that may be too low. It all depends on the intensity of your workout. Those athletes that are working out for 2+ hours a day, it is essential for them to consume more protein. On none workout days you can take in lower amounts of protein, but I feel if you are going to do it right and want to see muscle gains then be consistent every day of the week, that’s 5-6 meals a day for 7 days a week. Don’t fall off course and go 5-6 meals a day for the weekdays and then only eat 3-4 meals on the weekends. You will feel the difference on Monday believe me.

Directly after a workout a liquid protein is the best way to go, 15-30minutes after a workout. This can be a protein shake, but I like to see my clients consume 20-30 oz. of Fat Free Organic Milk. This is as natural as you can get here in NJ, but places that have access to cows, then raw milk would be the way to go.

Drinking organic milk after a workout supplies your muscles with a quick source of protein that is easily digestible. The easy digestion is crucial 15-30minutes after a workout because most of the blood is still within your muscles and very little is located at the stomach and intestines for digestion. A liquid protein drink after a workout will not make you feel bloated like having a solid food in your stomach. So, to recap that info:

protein drink 15-30 minutes following a workout.

solid foods 45-1hour after the workout.

This will give your body the nutrients it needs to grow ASAP and waiting 45 + minutes after a workout to eat solid foods will give your body enough time to relocate the blood from within the muscles back to the organs for the digestion process.


This is the top of the pillar for success. Consistency of training tells your body,

Your Body if it were speaking- “Shit, if I don’t start growing and he keeps working me like this then something is going to give!”

What is consistency? Consistency is getting up and training on a schedule. There are no days off unless they are days pre scheduled for recovery. If you wake up and tell yourself, “I will workout tomorrow,” this does no good for you in achieving muscle gains and especially does no good for improving your performance. Your body is made to be used, hundreds or even thousands of years ago humans had to run down their food. They needed food to live and if they were not out hunting then they would die. No food and no physical activity. Now, have you ever seen a movie where they portray a caveman or African tribesman as an overweight fat ass? Hell no, because they were active daily, Which kept their bodies in tip top shape in order for them to chase down and kill food.

The consistency of weight training is similar but there is no other necessity other than looking good or increasing performance. Without constant stimulation/stresses to the muscles, bones etc. there would be degeneration (decreasing in size and strength). The more frequently you train (smartly), the more growth you will notice. So, when you are being lazy or feeling sluggish slap yourself in the face and get to the gym. There is no excuse for being overweight and out of shape…NONE!


I can not organize this anymore then what I have done, unless I was working with an individual. However, these are the steps to muscle gain, increased performance and a new found perception of one’s self.

To sum it up:

  1. Eat-good foods consistently to fuel your body/workouts
  2. Train (smart) and consistently to stimulate your body to grow
  3. Use different training schemes to keep your body guessing
  4. Sleep- consistent bed time/get up times to keep your body on a schedule
  5. Be intense

Understand that results don’t happen over night, keep positive and work towards who you know you can be!

Enjoy the new found muscle!