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Tips on Naturally Building Lean Muscle

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I am a Board-Certified Physical Therapist and National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.

Performing Dumbbell Curls

Performing Dumbbell Curls

Building Lean Muscle Naturally

There are so many temptations in life today that make everything a lot easier. Every time the Powerball lottery hits over 100 million dollars, there's a line all the way from California to Cleveland to buy lottery tickets. There are shortcuts that can be taken in pretty much every aspect of your life.

When it comes to developing big, lean muscle, the usage of anabolic steroids or other types of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) would be the fitness world's version of the shortcut. These PEDs allow your body to reach levels of muscularity, strength and size that would otherwise be simply impossible to acquire naturally. Now don't get the idea that you can just take steroids and you're going to magically transform into the Incredible Hulk. It doesn't work that way.

Even with chemical assistance, it still requires a lot of dedication, hard work and dieting. Of course if you chose to go the chemical route there are possible health and legal risks, but the rewards can be well worth the risk to some people. I personally have never used them myself but understand why many athletes choose to do so. If I had the knowledge that I have now, twenty-some-odd years ago, there's no doubt in my mind I would have experienced them myself.

However, I am well past my prime and I'm in excellent shape and do not feel or have the need to stop being all natural. For those of you that are like me, that chose to stay on the all-natural train, these tips will assist you in successfully developing quality lean, natural muscle mass and strength.

Cookies and Cream Bulking Shake

Cookies and Cream Bulking Shake

Cookies and Cream High Calorie Bulking Shake Recipe

  • 8 ounces Heavy Cream, Topping
  • 2 Oreo Cookie
  • 2 scoops Cookies and Cream Protein Powder
  • 12 ounces Whole Milk
  • 2 ounces Heavy Cream, Shake


  1. Make the whipped topping first. Crumble the Oreo cookie up in a sandwich bag until it reaches your desired texture. Pour 8 ounces of heavy cream into mixing bowl. Whip until blades form peaks. Over whipping will cream into butter. Pour crumbled cookie into whipped cream and mix gently. Store when completed as this is the topping.
  2. Place 12 ounces of whole milk in shaker. Add 2 ounces of heavy cream and 2 scoops of cookies and cream protein powder. Shake well and top with whipped cream.

Eating Clean/Diet Plan

One of the first things you will need to understand is if you want to grow and get bigger, bottom line, you will have to eat a lot more. There is absolutely no other way around it. If you are/stay lean and cut up already and you want to grow, then you need to get used to the fact that you are going to lose some of those cuts. You can not stay ripped and shredded while increasing your daily caloric intake to get bigger and stronger. In order to add inches to your arms, chest and legs, it's imperative to add pounds to the scale. You must be willing to gain at least 20 to 25 additional pounds over the course of a year. That's a lot of extra food that your body will not be acclimated to.

However, the natural athlete has to be careful of his/her protein intake. An athlete's body under chemical assistance (PEDs) will allow them to utilize more protein grams in the food they consume, unlike the normal natural athlete. A performance-enhanced lifter can use anywhere up to 450 to 500 grams of protein a day (depending on the person). While the natural lifter's body will use approximately 225 grams of protein a day, maybe 275 at the maximum (again depending on the person). The body is not capable of storing protein so when you're all natural it's a lost cause to try to force yourself to eat a ridiculous amount of protein grams in each meal because the extra protein that is consumed and your body does not use will be excreted as waste and all the extra calories will just simply be turned into body fat.

Rating Cookies and Cream Bulking Shake

Lift Heavy to Grow

Lift Heavy to Grow

Weight Training Plan

While all the enhanced studs may be able to go through arduously grueling 2 and 3 hour work out sessions, this would simply be a bad idea for the natural lifter. Your workouts should be to the point, intense and very brief. Their chemical assistance allows them to train longer and harder. The idea is to properly stimulate your muscle groups to grow without over training them. Your going to need to put all the cute, isolation movements where your pumping out 175 repetitions on the shelf for awhile. I'm sure you're in love with the pump that it gives you, but your really not building any muscle, your simply just breaking down the muscle that you already have. Your focus should have you parked in the free weight area, performing heavy, compound movements (bench press, squats, dead lifts, military press, etc) that force you to enlist the maximum amount of muscle fibers possible in order to get stronger. For those of you that like the machines, you should be using free weights. Machines put in all the work for you by providing balance and stabilization which isn't going to make you stronger. In actuality, natural lean muscle training is similar to that of a power lifter, it's for strength. With rep ranges between 5 to 8 per set with heavy weight. When you lift heavy, you get stronger which forces your muscles to grow bigger. Unless your injured, sick, or burned out, skipping training days as a natural athlete is definitely frowned upon. The juiced up stud can skip days and still walk around and look awesome, but for us average natural folks, you can quickly look as if you don't even workout if you start slacking on training days. The gym time should be made a priority.

Mr. Natural, Shawn Rey

Mr. Natural, Shawn Rey

Lean Muscle Building Supplements

As far as the sports supplements go, I can tell you which ones I have taken and that have done wonders for me, but I don't know you or how your body will respond/react to the same ones. So it doesn't necessarily mean the ones I take will work in the same manner for you as the do for me. The best advice I can give you is to work the trial and error way. Try everything and anything. Everyone's body is different. Don't just take something simply just because your friend is doing it and got good results, or you saw the commercial, or even because it's the hottest thing on the market right now. Try different supplements for a specified period of time, recording all your results so you know which one actually works better for you and provided the best effect to your body. For the juicers, supplements may prove to be less than effective. If you already have the best stuff on the planet flowing through your body, taking over the counter supplements may really seem mundane and not even have any kind of positive effect on some lifters.

Lean and Natural Muscle

Lean and Natural Muscle

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You can train like a monster possessed on a daily basis but if your are not allowing your body to recover adequately enough, it's all for nothing and your just spinning your wheels. Spending your rest time doing cardio, hiking or anything other than resting is not a good way to go. This might help you mentally but if your in beast mode and trying to grow, you will not want to expend the energy. Recovering and resting means exactly that. Allowing your muscles and joints to rest/heal from your intense workouts in order to build new muscle. Once you have recovered back to full strength then you can hit the ground running again. Following these simple tips can have you well on your way to a naturally awesome, lean, muscular physique.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


michealjholding on September 10, 2013:

Hi AD,

Great blog with effective tips on building lean muscle naturally and your blog will be of great help for those who are new in fitness world and looking for useful tips on building lean muscle naturally.

Kevin W (author) from Texas on September 07, 2013:

Appreciate the read tillsontitan and rajan jolly.

MsDora....Its always safe to get your doctors approval first, especially as we get older and/or have other underlying health issues.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 02, 2013:

Useful tips for those wanting to grow muscle naturally. Thanks, Kevin!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 17, 2013:

Very good and helpful as usual. Bout with the supplements should you "try everything" without a doctor's approval? Just wondering.

Mary Craig from New York on August 16, 2013:

While I am not about to get ripped, I did find this very interesting and educational. Since it looks like 50 people have shared this on FB, I'm not the only one.

Well done.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

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