The Full Approach to Building Lean Muscle: Diet, Workout & Supplements

by Jenny Lee May 13, 2014

Lean muscle workout

As women, we don’t like to bulk up.  We want lean muscles that show the world we are toned and strong, but not bulky.  So how do diet, workout, and supplements all come together to create the lean muscles we want?

Crossfit Trainers and industry professionals hear a lot from women who say, “I don’t’ want to squat to much weight! I don’t want to have big, bulky quads!”or similar statements.  But is this true?  Does this happen?  What kind of workout will reduce bulk but still build muscle?

When it comes to toning the body, the muscles we all care about are the skeletal muscles. These are the ones that reflect “six-pack abs” and help us carry our kids around.  Skeletal muscles require a lot of care and finesse.

To build lean muscle, diet is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle.

Protein diet with eggs

A lean muscle diet should be concentrated with healthy, high in protein foods that your muscles crave.  The slower they are to digest, too, the better.  So plan on eating : Greek yogurt, wheat germ, quinoa, spinach, eggs (which are pretty much the perfect protein), cottage cheese, grass-fed beef, and brown rice.

In fact, during an intense period in which you are working out hard to build lean muscle you need to up your caloric intake with these healthy, high protein foods.  You will want to get 13-15 calories per pound of body weight. (source)

When it comes to working out, to build lean muscle mass you are going to have to workout 4-5 times as week, decreasing your body’s recovery time during this period.

But within those 4-5 workouts a week, your body needs to be constantly challenged.  Change up your routine, a lot!  Consider working with a personal trainer.  If you’re working out from home, use online fitness sites as inspirations for new exercises.  Also, as a general rule, when it comes to building lean muscle mass think low-weight high repetition.  You’ll notice when you find your 1 rep max, it will be different from the weight that you will use in the WOD. You want long, toned muscles with a lot of muscular endurance and this will deliver.

Within that rule, though, make sure to vary your workout between isolated movements and big, compound lifts.

As you are engaged in this intense period of building lean muscle mass (which shouldn’t be more than 4-5 workouts a weeks in length before you spend time recovering and maintaining) consider some supplements as well.

Protein shake

Lean muscle supplements that have shown indications of helping include fish oil, creatine, and a good multi-vitamin.  There are plenty of recipes out there for fitness shakes, just steer clear of any that add a lot of sugars and juices.  Remember when it comes to supplements you want to encourage muscular recovery, not deplete the muscles more.

As always, when changing your diet and routine to try to achieve a new fitness goal, be sure to drink plenty of water and get enough quality sleep!  These two elements can have a surprisingly huge impact on health, especially when it comes to challenging the body to get to the next level.

Jenny Lee
Jenny Lee


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