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Home Nutrition Nutritional Advice Q & A How Do I Build Muscle Mass but Stay Lean?

How Do I Build Muscle Mass but Stay Lean?

How Do I Build Muscle Mass but Stay Lean?


Question: Alex from San Francisco asks:

Hey, Muscle Prodigy! I am trying to build lean muscle mass but seem to have a problem. I eat five big meals a day and even workout 6 times a week! I neglect any cardio because I am trying to gain some mass. I went from 170 pounds to 180 pounds in two months.  I also have a protein shake immediately after my workout. I definitely look bigger but I don’t really see definition. I still feel like I should be looking more muscular. Is there anything else I should be doing?


Answer: Muscle Prodigy says:

Well, Alex…five big meals a day isn’t going to cut it. You’re body really can’t digest all those nutrients in one meal. Instead, try eating 7-8 smaller meals a day. Eat every 1.5 to 2 hours in your day. This will speed up your metabolism and allow for your body to utilize all of the nutrients you are providing it without wasting any of it as stored fat. By eating smaller meals, there is a greater opportunity for nutrient absorption. With the goal of building muscle, you need maximum nutrient retention necessary to build lean muscle mass. Make sure you have high protein, moderate healthy low-glycemic carbohydrates and a low fat diet to keep yourself lean.  However, make sure you have some healthy unsaturated fats like olive oil and nuts. You should stick to 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, 20% fat. However, make sure to have most of your carbs in the beginning of the day and around your workout; and have the protein and fats later in the day. Make sure your total calories is in check too. Make sure that you have about 500 calories more than you burn. Look up charts based upon your basal metabolic rate + making sure to account for the amount of calories burned during exercise.

As far as your weight lifting routine goes, six days a week may be too much. Try only working out 4-5 days a week at most. Remember…your body grows when it rests...not in the gym. What most people fail to understand is that your body has to recover from a previous workout and grow to prepare for the next workout. Damaged muscle is not the only thing that needs rest either. Your central nervous system and organs need rest from the stress that you put it through during exercise. This requires ample downtime.

Also, you still should be doing cardio, primarily sprinting. If your goal is to increase muscle mass, then include two or three days of sprint training each week.  Don’t do sprinting everyday as it may overtrain you and put too much stress on your body. Research shows that short, intense sprints are the best method to naturally boost natural growth hormone production by as much as 530%! Think about it like this: why are sprinters so jacked and long distance runners so skinny? It's because you burn fat and build muscle when your body goes through an intense regimen. Steady, slow cardio will provide steady and slow results. You need to do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Remember, your heart is a muscle too. So it needs to be worked as well.

An example of a workout: You should sprint as fast as you can for a hundred yards then leisurely jog another 100 yards. You should repeat this 5-10 times (depending on your cardiovascular levels). If you can’t do this on a track or outdoor surface than try it on a treadmill. Run 85-90% of your max for one minute and then do a slow jog for another minute. Repeat this 5-10 times.

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