By -

Here are five essential tips for people looking to lean out or harden up their bodies.

Whether you’re looking to bulk up or you simply want to lose fat to show off your abs and glutes, there are some rules that will help you achieve your goals faster. The phrase “building muscle” can seem intimidating, especially to those who want to avoid looking “bulky”. But what many people don’t realise is that it takes a lot of hard work, testosterone and surplus calories to make muscles grow larger. You can’t get “bulky” simply from weight training.

Additionally, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism runs and the more fat you burn at rest. You will end up being leaner, with a firmer and more toned body – without sweating through hours of cardio that popular myths might have you believe.

Building muscle is a great way to get stronger, improve posture and lose body fat for men and women of all ages. Here are five things to consider if you’re working towards that goal.

Progressive stimulus

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In order to increase your current muscle mass, you need to make changes to your approach. The key is to progress your training by marginally increasing the load over time. You can do this by adding more weight, reps or sets to your workout each week or two, as this will help stimulate your muscle to grow.

Calorie surplus

This is the part that stumps many people: to build muscle you need to be taking more energy in than you are using for daily activities. The leftover calories are what you build muscle with.

Having said that, it is still important to make sure the additional food you are consuming is healthy and nutritionally rich. You can’t just splurge on Big Macs every day. This will ensure you build muscle and avoid excess fat gain. 

Make sure you are eating protein with every meal, healthy carbs such as sweet potato or quinoa, antioxidants from green vegetables and berries, and healthy fats from sources like avocado, fatty fish or olive oil.

Catching Zs

Your muscles grow when you are resting – not when you are working out. Simply put, if you are not sleeping enough, you are not giving your muscles a chance to grow, repair or recover. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

Working out and lifting weights essentially creates tiny tears in your muscles, aging and inflaming the body. When you sleep, you allow everything to settle down, adapt, and grow back stronger and bigger.

Drink it in

Too many people underestimate the importance of hydration when it comes to muscle growth. Water is needed to transport nutrients to your cells and shuttle waste out of the body, which helps form the structures of protein and glycogen that are essential for muscle growth.

When you are dehydrated, you are depriving your body of electrolytes – the substances that help transport messages between your brain and muscles via the nervous system.
Since nerves control muscles, if you don’t have a good water and electrolyte balance, muscle strength and control will also be impaired.


It’s sad but true: drinking alcohol affects your anabolic hormones and hinders your chance of muscle growth. If you are serious about building muscle, I would suggest limiting or completely cutting out your alcohol intake.