Building Muscle to Stay Lean Year-Round

Abs are made in the kitchen, right?

Well, yes, but there's a little more to the story. While diet does play a giant impact on our health and how our bodies look, it's not everything. How we train is very important when it comes to strength, endurance, metabolism, and aesthetics. 

Did you know?

Increasing the amount of muscle mass on your body actually increases your metabolic rate and helps you stay lean.

One variable that affects your resting metabolic rate is the amount of lean muscle you have on your body. At any given weight, the more muscle on your body, and the less fat, the higher your metabolic rate. That's because muscle uses a lot more energy than fat while at rest.

So the logic is if you can build up your muscle and reduce your body fat, you'll have a higher resting metabolism and more quickly burn the fuel in your body.

So, what is the best way to add lean muscle to help stay lean?

There is a buzzword used a lot in the fitness community called hypertrophy—pronounced, hy-per-tra-fee.

Hypertrophy means to build muscle by increasing the size of your individual muscle fibers. It is the healing of this trauma that causes the increase in the size of the muscle tissue.

In layman's terms, hypertrophy is a style of training that helps us increase muscle tissue. 

Over the years, I've used several methods to help me build lean mass. These methods have helped me stay lean all year round, nearly regardless of diet. This is honestly my secret to staying shredded all year long, and it works incredibly well for men and women.

1. Train Legs Twice Every Week

One of the most significant factors to gaining muscle and losing fat for me was training legs twice per week. Your legs and glutes are the biggest muscles on your body. And, therefore, can be trained harder, longer, and more often. In 2014, I started training legs twice a week, and my body transformed drastically over the next 6 months. 

Training legs also burns the most calories. And, as we've talked about before, lifting actually causes the body to burn fat for 1-2 days due to the energy it takes to recover the muscle tissue. Build bigger legs and glutes and burn more fat... it's a win, win.

2. Do More Weight and Fewer Sets

When we introduced hypertrophy above, we talked about adding lean muscle to tear down muscle fibers. When we lift heavy, we're actually ripping apart our muscles. And, the rebuilding (recovery) part is where our muscles grow. 

To effectively grow our muscles, we have to create larger tears and more "micro-trauma." Adding weight to your primary lifts will help you achieve this. 

Start your exercises with a weight that you can do for 12-15 reps. Every set, add weight until it's difficult for you to complete 6-8 reps. Then, do 3-4 sets at this weight.

3. Use Compound Lifts

In other words, do exactly the opposite of what you see on Instagram 😏. I'm only partially kidding. The changes you really want to see in your body require you to lift a certain way. The most effective and quickest way to change your body is to incorporate compound lifts into your training routine. 

Compounds are any lift that uses multiple muscle groups. Some of your traditional compound lifts would include bench, squat, deadlift, lunge, overhead press, etc. You get the point. 

Compound lifts build muscle faster and burn more calories. 

4. Be Intentional with Post Workout Recovery

After the work is done, it's equally important to make sure we do the right things after training to ensure our muscles recover. Muscle recovery is the repairing of muscle tissue after it has been broken down. A couple critical key aspects to proper muscle recovery are our nutrition and sleep/rest.


Protein is the building block of the cell and is highly essential for muscle recovery. It is recommended to consume .5g - 1g of protein per lb of body weight. 

Ex. Jessica weighs 140 lbs. She should consume 70-140g of protein per day. For optimal muscle gain, try to consume at least .75g per lb. In this case, Jessica would want to consume 105g of protein per day. 

Your protein intake can come from whole foods (lean meats, high protein veggies) or protein supplements. 

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Additionally, Branched Chain Amino Acids have been shown to improve muscle recovery. I take 2 scoops of our Aminos every day. One scoop before training and one after. 

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Sleep and Rest.

The other key aspect to muscle recovery is sleep and rest. Our muscles recover while we're asleep. It's essential to ensure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. 

Additionally, ensure that each muscle group has adequate time to recover after every training session. Meaning, you should almost always allow 2 days of recovery between the same muscle group training sessions. 

Ex. Work legs on Monday and Friday

Staying lean year-round is the healthiest approach to dieting and training. The constant seasonal influxes in weight and fat creates inconsistencies in our metabolism. The best way to build long-term metabolic health and look good all year round is to slowly add more muscle to your body. This method has helped me remain consistent for 7 years now.

Use these tips to help you start transforming your health and body today.

If you struggle with creating your own programming or would like assistance, sign up for the Transform With SP App. This app provides a personalized diet and training program to help you achieve your specific goals. 

Over the last 5 years, we've helped thousands of people create total body transformations. 

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