5 Tips for Building Lean Muscle

How do we gain muscle? Muscle is gained when muscle protein synthesis occurs. Muscle protein synthesis is the process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by intense exercise. Muscle growth occurs when the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown (muscle loss). Muscle protein breakdown occurs during strength training & when our protein intake is not high enough. The goal of this article is to give you tips on how to build lean muscle mass.


  1. Eat enough calories & protein per day.
    • In order to promote muscle growth, you need to consume enough calories & proteins every day. If you do not eat enough or get enough proteins, muscle breakdown will occur. For most, eating 100-300 calories per day above the amount of calories that they are burning off, is sufficient for promoting muscle gain at a healthy rate. Of course, while in conjunction with a strength training program.
    • Proteins are the building blocks for your muscles. How much protein do you need to consume? It is different depending on the person, but a good rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight that you are. Some may need slightly less, some may need slightly more than that. The more muscle mass that you currently have, the more your body will need to preserve what mass you currently have & to have continued growth. Consuming enough protein each day is vital to ensure that muscle protein synthesis is occurring at a greater rate than muscle protein breakdown.


2. Consume nutrients at the proper timing.

    • To build on top of the first tip, the timing of consuming those calories & macronutrients are very important. For one, if you are looking to gain muscle, you should be eating every 3-4 hours to maximize the rate of protein synthesis. With each meal you should also have a good source of protein. Eating that often creates more opportunities to make sure that you are consuming enough calories & protein to gain lean muscle.
    • Pre & post workout nutrition are also important for building muscle. Without getting into the science too much, research has shown that consuming carbohydrates prior to working out will provide your body with the energy to maximize your training session. Also, it will prevent your body from eating away at your muscle mass that you currently have. This pre-workout meal can be as little as an apple or banana 30-60min prior to your workout. After your workout, your body is in need of a nutritious meal consisting of carbs, healthy fats, & proteins in order for your body & muscles to properly recover & grow. Aim to get at least 20-30 grams of protein within 1 hour of your workout.


3. Resistance train & lift weights

    • The focus when working out to build muscle should be on training for hypertrophy through lifting weights & resistance training. In order for your muscles to grow, you need to put stress on them. It isn’t necessarily about lifting heavy weights. It is more of a focus on really working your actual muscles & on the quality of the movement rather than the quantity of the weight or the reps. To put it simple, it is about the quality more than the quantity. Performing compound exercises are another thing that should be stressed during resistance training in order to gain muscle. These are multi-joint movements like the squat, deadlift, lunge, push up, & rows. These will target multiple muscle groups at the same time, maximizing muscle growth and your time.

4. Recover properly

    • In order to maximize muscle growth, you need to ensure that you are recovering your muscles after an intense workout. Consuming proper nutrients post-workout will help with muscle recovery & growth as discussed earlier. A nutritious pre-workout meal will not only help fuel your workout, but will aid in the recovery process as well. Another important thing to note is that the individual muscle groups that you worked during a training session need proper time to recover before the next training session involving those same muscle groups. Since muscle protein synthesis occurs after training, how quickly you build muscle depends on how quickly you can properly recover to get another training session in.
    • There are plenty of other recovery methods that can help you get back to another intense training session. This can be doing a good stretching routine, foam rolling, & having an active rest day. You can also set up a weekly training split plan that works different muscle groups each day of the week.
    • All of these recovery methods aside, the most important one of them all, & the one that gets overlooked the most, is something called sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your body. Sleep is when your muscles actually recover & grow. It is essential for your muscle tissues to properly heal after you put stress on them from your training. Aim to get 7-9hrs of quality sleep each night. Without proper rest, your muscles could continue breaking down instead of growing.

5. Tracking what you are doing & your progress

    • In order to really achieve your goals, you need to know what you are doing every day. It is important to track what you do because then you can see what you need to change going forward. In order to build muscle, you have to eat a certain amount of calories & protein per day. In order to know how much, it is vital to track how much you are consuming each day. You should also track other things like how much water you consumed, how much sleep you got, & your body weight. All the little details matter when trying to accomplish something & the more that you track, the better chance you have at achieving your goals.
    • You should also track your workouts & what you are doing if your goal is to build muscle. You should track what exercises you are doing, how many sets you are doing, & for how many reps. This is important to track because week to week you need to be progressing in your workouts. Your muscles need to be stressed & challenged in order to continue to grow. Each week, strive to do just a little bit more than the week prior. This can be done in either increasing the weight, the reps, the amount of time your muscles are under tension, or just improving in the quality of the movement.


Caleb Wohlwend

B.S. Exercise Science

Compound Fitness Trainer, Strength & Conditioning Coach

4 Tips To Help You Get Started

Most of us have no problem once we’re at the gym, on the trail, or biting into a salad. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. But getting to that point. Doing the “healthy thing” or the “hard thing” that we know will benefit us. That can be a bit trickier.

There is a certain amount of activation energy we must muster anytime we want to break out of our normal habit patterns. It’s hard to make will power override the status quo every time we need to make a decision though. If you’re someone who finds themselves frequently running into barriers when it comes to healthy habits then this article is for you!

Here are 4 Tips to help you get started on your healthy habits!

1. Define your task.
2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.

1.Define your task.
Specificity is your friend when it comes to taking action. The more focused and detailed your pursuit is, the more likely you will be to get it done. Just think about the following 3 statements:

  • “I’m going to eat healthy today.”
  • “I’m going to have a salad for lunch.”
  • “I’m going to eat a vegetable and lean protein with each meal and avoid eating sugar today.”

Which person do you think is going to have the most success with their healthy eating today?

Ding ding ding! If you said person number three you are absolutely correct. This person took an approach that set them up for success in their meal choices for the day. Notice that they didn’t have to do anything special to make this happen. The short amount of time it takes to plan how you will attack your healthy habit will pay tremendous dividends in the end!

2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
As we talked about before, there is always a certain amount of activation energy required to start a new habit or task. If we can reduce the amount of activation energy it will be easier to get started.

That’s science right? Boom!

So how do we actually apply this concept? There are a ton of ways. Let’s say the habit is to go to the gym at 6am tomorrow morning. What are all the things that could make your trip to the gym happen successfully? You could:

  • Set your alarm so that you have enough time to wake up, get ready, and drive to the gym with 10-15 minutes to spare.
  • Set up your morning coffee and a simple breakfast so it’s ready to go.
  • Set a bedtime alarm reminding you to shut down the tech and get ready for bed at a desirable time.
  • Pick out your gym clothes and anything else you need to start your day off as a success.
  • RSVP/Sign up for the class.
  • Coordinate with a friend to carpool together to class. (This is a great way to stay accountable!)

The less you have to do in any given moment the easier it will be to take action. Try to eliminate as many barriers as possible that would present as an obstacle to your goal.

3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
If you struggle to prepare healthy meals or don’t really like to exercise maybe you just haven’t found the approach that works for you. Trying a group fitness class, small group session, or personal training appointment might help you figure out the right environment and type of support you need to make going to the gym “not so bad” 🙂

If cooking and eating healthy is a struggle try to come up with a ritual that makes meal prep more fun. Invite a friend over, crank up some tunes, or binge watch one of your favorite shows while you chop veggies and cook up your meals for the week!

4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.
Studies have shown that people who publicly announce their goals or intentions are actually less likely to follow through on them. When you tell someone “I’m going to lose 10 lbs” or “I’m going to hit the gym 5 days a week” it feels good at the moment. According to the study, that sense of completeness you feel will make you less effective than if you were to keep the goals to yourself.

So what should you do instead? Write down the goals you have or some of the changes you want to make. Discuss a plan of action with an experienced coach who can tell you what it takes to get there. Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Get it done.

There you have it, 4 tips to help you get started towards your wellness goals.

When you hear that alarm go off in the morning and your first instinct is to hit that snooze button remember this maxim from Marcus Aurelius, “Is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” Remember it is human nature to seek comfort. But it is our most basic desire that we are satisfied in the process. Hold yourself to that higher standard. The delayed gratification of getting out of bed for a walk or to hit the gym will improve your life and fulfillment in the long run. The warm bed feels good in the moment, but you’ll sleep easier knowing your actions are aligned with your words.

Run For Your Life

Depending on your sport you may or may not have dedicated time to your running technique. Even if your goals are focused on lifting heavy, knowing the proper way to run is beneficial and can be incorporated into any training routine. Adjusting the volumes and time domains around running is up to you and your coach but learning this skill is essential.

As humans our bodies have developed both the anatomy and energy systems to make us highly capable runners. It can be a great way to break up your training, provides you a chance to get into nature, and can be a great form of meditation.

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine

Running and Genetics
In the early evolution of humans we developed several characteristics that lead us to be exceptional long distance runners. The muscles of the legs and glutes grew stronger, our feet got bigger, our ability to cool down via sweating improved, and our brains improved at maintaining homeostasis during rigorous endurance activities. This allowed us to become “persistence hunters,” tracking animals for long distances until they were too worn out to put up a fight.

Recreational Running
Fast forward to today. Long distance running and other feats of endurance are primarily recreational as we rarely need to hunt in order to eat. Running now optional, it has become a skill that some use and others lose. Running however, is part of what makes us human. It can only be assumed that having evolved and adapted as runners to optimize our physical health, running would play an important role.

Mental Health Benefits
Not only does running keep our body healthy but it also stimulates brain growth and function as well. Findings at the University of Liverpool found that “Aerobic exercise increases anterior hippocampus size. This expansion is linked to the improvement of memory, which reflects the improvement of learning as a function of running activity in animal studies.” Aerobic activity like running actually helps our brain improve function. Not only that but it can be a great way to sort out thoughts and clear your head when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Plus the release of endorphins provides an instant mood boost!

If you care about squatting, nutrition, and mobility but can’t remember the last time you ran more than a mile it might be time to lace up. If you have questions or you are not sure where to start, talk to one of our trainers that can teach you the proper mechanics for running, sprinting, and other essential skills.

Join us on October 31st for a Ghost in the Graveyard 5K race.

Sign up here- https://runsignup.com/Race/OH/Strongsville/GhostintheGraveyard5kRunWalk