How to Build Lean Body Mass

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Chiseled abs, shapely legs, toned arms - these can be yours when you increase your lean body mass and decrease your body fat percentage. Rev up your metabolism, improve your stamina and create the lean body you want by following these steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Body Fat Analyzers
  • Body Fat Monitors/scales
  • Measure your body fat percentage (using a body-fat analyzer or body-fat scale) before making dietary or exercise changes; this way you'll be able to track your progress.

  • Strength train to build lean body mass. Work the major muscle groups, including the quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings, glutes (rear end), back, chest, shoulders, arms and abdominals. Look into home gyms that work as many different muscle groups as possible. Home gyms are frequently less expensive than a gym membership and more convenient to use.

  • Realize there is no such thing as spot reducing. You can increase the strength of a certain part of your body, but unless you shed the overall excess body fat, you won't be able to see the definition.

  • Expend more calories than you consume. Any activity, from mowing the lawn to vacuuming the carpet, burns calories and helps to create a caloric deficit, resulting in fat loss. Losing fat will help reveal your hidden muscles.

  • Include cardiovascular training in your workout. Aerobic exercise will increase the number of calories you burn and enhance your endurance.

  • Keep in mind that to lose one pound of fat, you have to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. Reducing calorie consumption or increasing activity by 500 calories each day will result in one pound of fat loss per week. Keep an updated food and exercise journal to track your calorie intake and expenditure.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are many ways to measure body fat, including calipers (skin-fold pinching), underwater (hydrostatic) weighing or bioelectrical impedance.
  • Keep in mind the following body fat percentage standards: For women, 15 to 20 percent is considered lean, 20 to 25 percent is normal, 26 to 32 percent is acceptable to overfat and 33 percent or higher is obese. For men, 8 to 12 percent is considered lean, 13 to 19 percent is normal, 20 to 24 percent is acceptable to overfat and 25 percent or higher is obese.
  • Strength training creates an afterburn effect, meaning your metabolism continues to burn calories at a higher rate even after the exercise is over.
  • Consider working with a personal trainer to get yourself started on an exercise regimen.
  • Dieting without strength training can leave you with a high body fat percentage. It's possible to appear thin, but have a high percentage of body fat.
  • If you have any condition that would impair or limit your ability to engage in physical activity, please consult a physician before attempting this activity. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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