There are two main types of people that do strength training exercises: those who want to bulk up and get massive muscles, and those who want to cut fat and look thinner with lean muscles. As different as these two goals are, the exercises needed to reach them are actually the same. However, your approach is significantly different.
Before you really get started with muscle building, you need to recognize which of these two groups you’re in. Are you building muscle because you want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or because you’re going for more of a runner’s lean build? Once you’ve identified your personal goal with muscle building, you’ll know exactly what approach to take.
Here are a few differences between mass building verses lean muscle building:
If you want to build mass, then you need to focus on high-intensity workout routines which means lifting more weight with fewer repetitions. This will help you push your muscles to their limit so they bulk up quickly. For lean muscle building, on the other hand, you’ll want to train at a lower intensity level but with more sets and reps.
The amount of time you rest in between sets will also help determine if you build muscle mass or lean muscle. For building muscle mass, you want longer rests between sets, from 60 to 90 seconds. This gives your muscle plenty of time to relax and be ready for the next set. Lean muscle building will require shorter rests between sets, from 30 to 60 seconds.
How often you work out will also have an impact on what type of muscle you end up with. Those looking to build massive muscles should be hitting the gym 5 to 6 days a week. If you want to stick with lean muscle, then 3 to 4 days will be enough. Either way, it’s important to make sure you’re giving each muscle plenty of time to recover between workout days.
You are what you eat, and it’s no different in the muscle-building world. To really see an increase in muscle mass, you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of calories every day, around 30% of which need to be protein. While the protein percentage will be the same for lean muscle gains, the overall number of calories should be less.
How you prepare your muscles for your main workout will determine if they bulk up or stay lean. For building up impressive muscle mass, you should make sure to take 5 to 10 minutes prior to your main workout to do the same exercises with lower weights to prepare your muscles. Since lean muscle building already uses lower weights, you only need to do a basic warmup with light cardio first.
A great way to get more advice and help to reach your specific goal is to find someone that has the body you want to have and ask them what they do.