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The Lean Muscle Making Workout

16th Dec 19

Increasing lean muscle mass and toning up can form one workout style. However, it can be one of the most difficult things you can do in your training. It’s far from impossible, but it can be complicated. The main problem is that it is made up of two different areas. Keep reading to find out more, and check out our lean muscle-making workout plan.

Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

  • Basics
  • The Principle
  • The Lean Muscle Workout
  • Finally…


    The first area that comes from toning up, in particular, is that you might not have much muscle mass. That doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy; you just may not have as much muscle as you’d like. That means you need to build some. Makes sense.

    On the other hand, you may need to cut fat. That’s most of what getting lean muscle and toning up is all about. If that’s what you’re going to do, then you need to burn some calories and create a deficit. That makes sense too. To get leaner and tone up, you need to cut fat and build muscle with your workout and diet plan — all good.

    The problem that this tiny bit of info causes is that the two are completely opposite. To build lean muscle, you need to give your body the nutrients it needs to do that, with a little surplus. To burn fat, you need to cut calories to an extent, at least. So where does that leave you? With a workout like this.

    The Principle

    Getting lean in 2 pictures

    So to get all of this done, you need a miracle, right? Wrong. You need the right kind of lean muscle workout and the right kind of fuel (we’ll get onto fuel soon). The most important thing to do is use big calorie-burning exercises like compound exercises, as well as good fat-burning exercises where you need them.

    Using cardio like LISS means you’re burning the most fat per calorie burned. That stops wasting too many calories and really maximises the fat burn rather than the weight loss. If you have a lot of muscle mass already, that part is vital. If not, it’s still a great fat burner. Win-win. (Read more about LISS and fat burning here).

    After that, you need to be using a lot of muscles at the same time to maximise muscle use but still burn calories while you’re doing it. That’s what all of this is about. The more muscles you use, the better things should be, in theory.

    The Lean Muscle Workout

    LISS 20 minutes

    Close up of cross trainer

    To get things started, we’ll hit LISS training. As we said, this burns the most fat per calorie. To make things as easy as possible for you to stick to, you can choose any cardio you like. The easiest things to do for LISS are:

    • Walking
    • Stepping
    • Stair/ladder climbing
    • Cycling
    • Swimming

    Take your pick and get to work!

    Squat 5×8

    Person squatting a barbell

    Moving on, we’ll hit the squats. They’re one of the best possible exercises you can do for your lower body, hitting pretty much every muscle beneath (and a little above) the waist. Perfect for what we need here. Keep the weight pretty high, and do what you can!

    Bench Press 5×8

    Person bench pressing dumbbells

    Bench presses are another excellent weight training exercise. That’s one of the biggest reasons they’re so famous. They hit most of your upper body or the front of it at least. For building lean muscle in your workout, that’s what you need.

    Shoulder Press 4 x 12

    Person shoulder pressing dumbbells

    On the same kind of level but moving things up rather than out, you have the shoulder press. This is one you can do to really hit your shoulders which are huge, as well as your arms and chest a little too. Keep it controlled!

    Pull Down 4 x12

    Person doing lat pull downs for lean muscle

    Moving things to the other side, you have pulldowns. These are awesome back builders and work on your lats most of all. Do them right, and you’ll hit your whole back. They need to be done well!

    Mountain Climbers 3 x 20

    Person doing mountain climbers

    Abs. You can’t forget about abs. They’re one of the biggest signs that you have lean muscle mass since you need such a low-fat percentage to see them (that’s why they’re made in the kitchen). Mountain climbers have a little twist to them too. Do them fast enough, and you’re getting good cardio too. Give it your best shot!

    Burpees x 20

    Class doing burpees

    The last big exercise we’ve got is burpees. It’s a plyometric calorie-burning superstar here. It does everything you could ever need from any exercise, and that makes it a great choice to tick multiple boxes in your lean muscle workout. Keep consistent and really push the jump.

    LISS – 15 Minutes

    Person doing LISS on a treadmill

    Finally, we’ll take it back down a notch with LISS. This is for the fat burn again, after all, and you may as well make the most of the cooling-off and warming-up periods, right? The same applies as above, but it might be a good call to pick something slightly different from the first time. The choice is yours on that one.


    That’s the whole thing tied up. It’s an incredible workout, and it’ll really push you to your limit, but it’s an awesome one to do. Make sure you’re ready for it, and only do it 3 times per week, max. Give it a 48-hour break between each workout, but don’t be afraid to take active rest days to make the most of it!

    Just before you go, we do need to mention the whole fuel thing. Your workout alone isn’t enough to get truly lean muscle building after all. We’ll do it as quickly as we can:

    You need to be eating around your maintenance calories (which you need to work out). From there, you need to take a maximum of 200 off per day. That’ll maximise the fat burn without muscle loss. Take it easy and do what you can. As a general rule:

    East more carbs 24-0 hours before training, healthy protein and a little carb intake 0-16 hours after, and protein and healthy fats 16-36 hours after (then back to the beginning). It’s a rough outline, but it should work. Make all your food as nutritious as possible, and cut out bad fats (see here) and sugar where you can! Good luck!

    Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

    If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.