9 of the Best Tips for Putting On Lean Mass

Tips for Putting on Lean Mass

If you are not already strength training, today should be your first day, after you read this of course. That’s not included in the tips, consider it a freebie! You can train at home but usually there are people at your local gym who have some knowledge they can impart on you to assist your lean mass gaining efforts.

Sometimes putting on lean body mass may seem like an impossible task, especially if you are a hardgainer or you have already plateaued with your current training. This article covers 9 of the best tips to build muscle mass without putting on a high proportion of body fat.

Building lean body mass is easiest in what is called a positive energy balance. Positive energy balance means that you are taking in more calories than you burn. It takes about 2,500-2,800 calories to build one pound of lean muscle. But this number depends highly on individual factors such as level of training, body composition, genetics, and diet. The main reason the excess calories are needed is to support protein turnover and prevent muscles from going catabolic, however training does help increase protein turnover positively if not overdone. The tips here are meant to help you build lean body mass in a quick and efficient manner.

The human body can build at most around 227g of muscle mass per week. This means eating too many extra calories while trying to build muscle will also gain you some extra fat mass. If this is a concern for you try sticking to about 250-500 extra calories per day over maintenance. This approach will support lean muscle gain without the extra body fat. Not sure what your calorie intake should be? Use this calorie calculator to figure it out! Try adjusting your calories based on how easily you gain fat mass and lean body mass. If you find that 250 extra calories isn’t enough, adjust them up. If you find that 500 extra calories gains you too much body fat, adjust them down. It may take a little time and trial to find the right amount of additional calories for you to build muscle mass and stay lean, but it is worth it.

You can also use this app for tracking caloric intake.

Whey protein powder: typical post workout shake option.

Additionally, some research suggests that consuming lean protein 15-20 minutes before, during, and within one hour of training can help build muscle! Your best bet is going to be to consume a high carbohydrate meal before the gym that also has at least 25 grams of complete protein. Then take a shake with you to consume immediately after your workout to take advantage of increased protein synthesis. While this isn’t required to gain muscle, it definitely will help. Especially if you struggle to get enough protein in throughout the day.

While protein is important, it is not the answer to building lean muscle. It’s also important to eat balanced meals. Balanced meals get you the macro and micro nutrients you need to stay healthy and build muscle mass. So, without any further ado, here are 9 tips to help you get that lean mass!

1. Eat Breakfast to Increase Lean Body Mass

food photography of cooked eggs and meat
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on

Breakfast gives you energy to start the day but also sets the trend for the rest of the day. If you eat a healthy breakfast you will tend to eat healthier the rest of the day as well. Some of the best, easy foods for building lean body mass are omelets, smoothies, and cottage cheese. Make sure to include some fiber and greens in your breakfast to provide the nutrients your body needs to grow. If you struggle to get your greens in try Ghillie Greens as a quick, easy, and tasty way to get them in early.

2. Eat Regularly for Lean Body Mass

Eating the right foods at the right time is extremely important for increasing lean body mass. The simplest way to make sure you are getting what you need for muscle growth is to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner as usual but to include meals pre or post workout and right before bed and to include two snacks in between. Try to eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours. This will keep food intake up for muscle growth, decrease hunger, and decrease stomach size. The decrease in stomach size will make you feel full quicker and keep your waist trim, while the regular meals will decrease cravings.

It takes about 2500-2800 calories to build a pound of muscle. However, if you were to eat this many calories above your maintenance you would gain mostly fat weight instead of lean mass. Muscle gain takes time. This calculator will show you about how much you should be eating to reach your lean mass goals.

3. Consume Protein at Every Meal to Increase Lean Body Mass

In order to build and maintain lean muscle your body needs protein to combat protein breakdown from training. You should be getting at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight but I actually recommend 1.2 grams per pound as the extra protein will help you feel fuller for longer and for sure won’t hinder your muscle growth. The easiest way to get this in is by eating complete protein with each meal. Not sure what I’m talking about? Learn more about complete protein. If you are struggling to get enough protein in, here is a great option.

Protein is not the entire answer, don’t stop here if you are trying to put on lean mass!

4. Eat Fruit and Veggies to Keep Leaner Body Composition

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate
Photo by Ella Olsson on

Most fruits and vegetables are low calorie, especially veggies. This means you can eat until you are full without gaining extra bodyfat. In fact if you are not use to eating this way, or you have high bodyfat, you may even experience some weight loss while increasing your lean mass. Fruits and veggies are also full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which will help with digestion. Just be careful to check the sugar content of the fruits you intend to eat. This will help you stay in your calorie goals. If your goal is a combination of low body fat and high amount of lean mass this is a must. Plus, its important for overall health!

If you struggle to get in enough fruits and veggies try this!

The micronutrients in these foods will make more of a difference than you think, and with how slow gaining lean mass is, every little bit counts!

5. Use Carbs To Your Advantage

Try to consume any rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, or other simple carbs pre or immediately post workout. This will help provide energy for increasing weight in strength training and will refill depleted glycogen stores from training. Keeping these carbs to the whole grain variety will also help you get your fiber in! The increase in carbs will add to your energy levels in the gym, increase pumps, and restore glycogen stores post workout. All of these factors will help gain body weight that is more lean mass without as much fat.

If you have room in your calorie budget sip on Gatorade during your workout this is also a great way to support muscle gain. This will provide endurance and energy, supporting a more intense training session AND more lean mass. For additional intra-workout benefits try Charlie Mike. It has been shown to increase endurance and recovery as well as decreasing muscle fatigue!

For your other meals try to get your carbs in with lower calorie fruit and veggies. These are more filling.

6. Healthy Fats Support Healthy Body Composition

Healthy fats such as those found in whole foods support overall health as well as healthy body composition. This is because they digest slowly. Balance your fat intake by eating some healthy fats at every meal such as avocado, cheese, egg, nuts, or fish. Try to avoid trans-fats and margarine as these do little to support lean mass and can cause additional health problems.

You can also consume an omega supplement like this one.

7. Drink Water To Build Lean Body Mass

Water increases recovery from strength training to help add lean mass
Water increases recovery from strength training

Strength training causes water loss through sweating which can impair muscle recovery if that water is not replenished. Failing to replenish it will harshly impact your muscle building efforts as water is also needed to carry the nutrients you consume throughout your body. Beyond that, drinking enough water prevents dehydration and also decreases hunger as it keeps your stomach from feeling empty.

These water bottles are fantastic for making sure you hit your goal!

8. Whole Foods Support Lean Body Mass Goals

To get the most out of your food and to increase lean body mass efficiently 90% of your food intake should be whole foods. This means they are unprocessed and unrefined foods, they are as close to their naturally occurring state as possible. For example, fresh meat, eggs, veggies, fruits, and grains.

9. Sleep To Put On Lean Body Mass

Recovery is crucial when trying to build muscle mass. Without enough sleep your body will not rebuild and it won’t produce the hormones needed to support lean muscle. In fact, without enough sleep you may experience muscle loss or have terrible body composition even with the right diet.

Sleep supplements like this can help a ton!

Tips to Put on Lean Mass- There is Even More

Muscle mass takes time and effort to acquire. There is not a quick fix, but there are simple things you can do to increase lean muscle mass. The best thing you can do is stay consistent with your diet, sleep, and training. Do these and you will see muscle gain over time. If you are doing all these things and are still wanting to maximize your efforts try supplementation to support your muscle building goals. 

Realistically, there are probably thousands of lean mass hacks and tips. You might look at these and feel they are not the most popular method, but the reality is that any one with a decent amount of lean mass is taking advantage of this knowledge. Don’t believe it? Just ask the next crazy jacked local gym rat you see if they DON’T do these.

Oh yeah and if you REALLY want to start gaining lean muscle follow doug.grows on Instagram and Facebook and subscribe to the blog 😉

In 2013 I attended TVCC with my studies focusing on nutrition and biology. After leaving TVCC I pursued a career in inbound marketing and have worked in many different industries including health and fitness, firearms, coaching, and many more. I spent 6 years training for powerlifting and 6 years after training for a bodybuilding show in Idaho, which sadly did not come to fruition.

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