Building Lean Muscle: Everything from Exercises to Nutrition

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Strength training can be very intimidating for beginners. Looking past the hurdles that come with getting the motivation, building a routine, figuring out reps and sets, and determining how much weight you need to lift; there’s a fear of bulking up instead of building lean muscle.

Luckily, you don’t need to worry about looking like a bodybuilder because that amount of muscle mass is achieved purposely. Instead of worrying about bulking up, here’s some reliable information from Visual Impact Fitness on building lean muscle.

Strength Training

Resistance or strength training is a fundamental part of building lean muscle that you can’t ignore. Resistance training forces your muscles to contract against an outside resistance, as it expects an increase in endurance, strength, or tone.

Compound exercises are highly recommended for lean muscle because they work various muscle groups simultaneously. As a bonus, compound exercises burn more calories and fat. Below is a list of a few of the compound exercises that get used in strength training.

Strength Training

When you start, it’s suggested that you perform each move for only 30 seconds, and allow yourself 10 seconds of rest between each set. Always remember to switch up your training exercises occasionally, so you can keep your body from adjusting to the workouts.

  • Squats
  • Overhead Presses
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Push-ups
  • Tricep Dips
  • Chest Presses


One of the most significant mistakes that people make when attempting to build leaner muscles is applying too much cardio into their routine. It’s a simple mistake because, in most circumstances, cardio is what you know.

Cardio does work up a sweat, and it does burn calories, which helps you lose fat, but it isn’t an effective method in the long run. The truth is that you aren’t actually changing your body once it gets used to cardio.

Keeping all of that in mind, it doesn’t mean that you need to avoid it altogether. Cardio is still a significant part of burning both calories and fat, and it can help to reduce muscle soreness by circulating the blood; cardio causes your heart rate to accelerate, which pumps more blood through your body.

The only thing truly wrong with cardio is it can’t be the only type of exercise that you use; especially if you want to create some definition while maintaining a healthy weight. The quickest and most successful way to build lean muscle is combining both strength and resistance training with cardio. This type of method is called high-intensity interval training (HIIT.)

High-intensity interval training makes it so that you can burn calories and fat, even after your session is complete. The afterburn effect is what helps to lean you out and build definition. Many gym and fitness centers offer HIIT classes in the form of 15-, 20-, and 30-minute intervals.


Ensuring that you are always eating well-balanced meals is critical, but when defining your muscles, getting post-workout fuel is almost mandatory because it helps you with recovery and soreness.

You want to make sure that you are incorporating lean protein, minimally processed carbs, and healthy fats into your post-workout meals. Healthy carbs help boost your energy, protein helps with repairing your muscles, and healthy fats help to burn fat and keep your joints lubricated.

If you workout in the morning, you can try having a few hard-boiled eggs with a protein shake and some overnight oats as your recovery meal. If you are working out in the middle of the day or the evening, you can go with lean chicken and fish, grass-fed beef, and an all-around anti-inflammatory diet.

Nutrition and Diet

Here are some additional foods recommended by Visual Impact Fitness that you can add to your meals:

  • Beets: Known to support liver and joint health, as well as increase muscle strength
  • Oranges: Helps with muscle strength, growth, and endurance
  • Cantaloupe: A fast-digesting, healthy carb
  • Quinoa: Rich protein source
  • Apples: Aids with muscle strength
  • Wheat Germ: Slow-digesting carb and quality protein

Mistakes to Avoid

There are so many ways that you can apply different workouts to define your muscles, and because of that, there are just as many mistakes that you need to avoid. Turning to only cardio isn’t the only one.

Here are a handful of errors to avoid as you practice strength training:

  • Not Resting: You need to get at least eight hours of sleep each night to ensure that your muscles are healing correctly. Proper rest also gives you energy for your next session.
  • Constant Lifting Heavy: Consistently training with heavy weights is going to cause you to bulk up rather than to create lean muscles. Combining both, but incorporating more resistance into your regimen, is going to get you the results that you want.
  • Too Much Protein: Adding protein to your diet is a great way to get additional fuel when meals aren’t readily available. However, studies show that many people have turned to powders, bars, and gels instead of eating a well-balanced meal. You need to eat a proper mix of nutrients to see results.
  • Not Enough Water: Dehydration causes a lot of issues with the body, and it’s going to make it exceptionally difficult for your muscles and body to heal from the workouts you put it through. Additionally, you are going to have headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and more.
  • Being Impatient: Results take time; it’s as simple as that. You might notice more results in the beginning as your body adjusts, but those results are going to slow down. Just remember that slow and steady wins the race.


There are a lot of fundamentals involved with leaning out your muscles, but as long as you keep yourself informed and stick with a variety of exercises, it is attainable. Visual Impact Fitness can offer techniques required to define your body. Have patience, combine cardio and resistance training, and eat nutritiously—these are the three main fundamentals of getting leaner muscles.