As the New Year approaches, people all over the world will begin to blow up search engines everywhere with questions like “How can I put on muscle?”

“How can I get jacked? What exercises are good for building lean muscle?” And the list of inquiries will go on for miles and miles. As a gym owner, I get asked these questions on a daily basis. But what if I told you, after all these years I’ve been being asked the wrong questions by clients, friends, and family members the whole time? Yes, of course, the lifts you do in the gym have extraordinary carry-over to how much muscle you will put on. Doing calf raises every day isn’t going to get you shredded for beach season. However contrary to popular belief, even after narrowing it down to “the right exercises” or finding “the perfect workout routine” most people will still find minimal success in getting the beach body they want. Why is that?

To answer this fully I will take you down an experience from a few years back with one of my clients. It was around this time a few years ago. The holiday season had just passed and with the start of the new year, everyone’s guilt from all the cookies, cakes, and junk food had set in and were ready for a change. My client for the sake of this story’s name was Mike. Mike was a college student home for Winter break and wanted to put on some lean muscle and get ripped up for the summer. Mike had told me through the forums he’s read on the internet and speaking with kids in the weight room at school that the way to pack on muscle and get ripped was through heavy lifting with low reps! I am here to tell you the same thing that I told Mike all those years ago, aside from exercise choice, aside from daily nutrition (macro and calorie counting), the next piece to the puzzle is in the SETS & REPS!

If I’ve heard this once from a client I’ve heard it 100 times! Lifting maximally in the rep ranges of 1-3 does NOT get you ripped! Lifting sub-maximal loads for reps specifically between the rep ranges of 8-12 show the greatest returns for building muscle size and muscle definition. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to lift heavy just as much as the next guy, but if we are talking about building lean muscle then those rep ranges and efforts utilized just don’t add up to the common goal. Now, with that being said there is more to getting ripped than just lifting weights in increments of 8-12 reps. As I said earlier, that is just a piece of the puzzle. If you really want to burn fat and gain lean muscle it is a compilation of multiple factors.

In an effort to keep this a light yet educational read, I will summarize my theory on lifting to gain lean muscle with these main points.

Specificity What muscle groups are you trying to build lean muscle in? Specifically, target the areas you want to see improvement in.

Sets & Reps Lift weights with good form in the correct set and rep ranges for muscle growth, 1 rep maxes are fun but maxing out every day is taxing on your Central Nervous System & isn’t going to get you sauced out for the summer.

Diet & Nutrition If you’re eating fatty foods and drinking like a fish you’re just delaying the process. I’m not saying you have to eat and drink like a saint but moderate your cheat meals. Lifting mixed with poor eating/drinking habits will make you gain muscle but you will also gain some not-so-great weight as well.

Active Lifestyle This one is more of a bonus for your long-term health. Lifting at the gym a few times a week and eating properly are two HUGE steps in the right direction. But make sure you are staying active for more than just an hour a day. Get out and move regularly. I can’t stress enough the importance of movement. Walks, bike rides, hikes, or really just electing to stand a little more throughout the day are simple yet great ways to stay healthy and burn some extra calories.

Now lastly, some other factors will also come into play. The human body is smart and adapts quickly. So following the same routines or plans for repeated months on end will eventually show fewer and fewer results as time passes. You need to be consistent in the gym but you equally need to be able to switch up the approach of how you go about it to keep your body on its toes and constantly changing to get you the results you want. Approach your training in this simple order, “Introduce, Adapt, Change, Repeat.” If you can follow these steps you are on the right path to building the lean muscle you’re after!

I hope these principles can help you out and get you to where you want to be, if you are interested in learning more of the details as opposed to just a basic how-to, feel free to contact us for a deeper dive into building lean muscle and developing the body you want today! Check out our Apex Beach Ready program along with several different Nutrition advice programs solely built to burn fat and build lean muscle!