The Best 5 Exercises for Building Lean Muscle

Gaining lean muscle is like the holy grail. It seems elusive and hard to come by. But for those determined to conquer the quest this January, we’re here to help!

The answer to building lean muscle in the gym is compound lifts - exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Why? By working more muscles you’ll build more strength, burn more calories and gain more overall muscle mass. It’ll spike the fat-burning, muscle-building hormones that will give you the body you want.

Incorporate these exercises into your next workouts to boost your size whilst gaining total-body fat loss…

5 Exercises For Building Lean Muscle | Neat Nutrition. Active Nutrition, Reimagined For You.


Barbell Deadlift

Essentially just lifting up something heavy… and putting in back down. Yet it’s one of the best muscle-building exercises around.

Main Muscle groups worked: Back, Glutes, Legs.  

How to:

  • Feet flat on the floor. Bend at the knees and grab the bar will hands shoulder length apart. Grip the bar with a double overhand grip or a reverse grip.

  • Keep your head in a neutral position.

  • Keep your back straight and your head facing forward throughout, and lift the bar using your legs and driving your hips forward.

  • Retract your shoulder blades and keep your core tight, aiming to avoid any rounding of your back.

  • Keep the bar close to your legs as you lower the bar back down under control to the start position.



Barbell Walking Lunge

Similar in benefits to a squat, yet utilising a greater range of motion to allow for more glute and hamstring development.

Main muscle groups worked: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings

How to:

  • Lift a bar over your head, either by cleaning and pressing it, or picking it up from a squat rack. It should rest on the top of your shoulders. Hold on to the bar at each side.

  • Step away from the rack and step forward with one leg, sinking into a lunge, so both legs are bent, and your back knee is as close to the floor as possible. Keep your core tight and torso upright.

  • Push up using the heel of your front foot and squeeze your glutes, bringing your behind leg back up.

  • Repeat on the other side.



Bent Over Row

Your back makes up about a third of the body’s muscle mass, so hitting all its major muscle groups is crucial for increasing your muscle mass and building lean muscle.

Main muscle groups worked: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings 

How to:

  • Grab an appropriate barbell with an underhand grip, with your hands just wider than shoulder width.

  • With a bend in your legs, keep your back perfectly straight and bend your upper body forward until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Keep your torso stationary and row the lift into the lower part of your chest, breathing out as you do so. Squeeze your upper back and keep your elbows in close to your body.

  • Under control, return the bar to the start position and repeat. 



Clean and Press

The exercise for total body strength and power. It’s full-body, functional and will spike your heart rate during a strength session to increase your burn.

Main muscle groups worked: Predominately shoulders. But also, your traps, triceps, abs, glutes, quads and hamstrings!

How to:

  • Pull the barbell from the floor in a deadlift style pull

  • As the bar passes the knees and thighs, open the hips explosively and shrug, pulling yourself under the bar in a squatted position. The weight will be supported in front on the shoulders.

  • From there, press the weight upwards into an overhead position.



Back Squat

There’s a reason this is a die-hard exercise in most people’s lower body repertoire. Done correctly, it’ll not only increase your lower body strength but will also help you work on your range of motion and flexibility, as well as burning fat.

Main muscle groups worked: Glutes, Quads.

How to:

  • Put the bar on your upper back, with your feet shoulder width apart

  • Push your knees out and your glutes back as you squat down. Squeeze your shoulder blades and keep your chest upright.

  • Squat down until your hips are at least parallel or lower than your knees.

  • Pause for a second before pushing yourself back up as you breathe out, making sure to keep your knees pushed outwards and squeezing your glutes.

  • Lock out your hips and knees at the top before repeating.


A Note on Your Diet:Diet For Building Lean Muscle | Neat Nutrition. Active Nutrition, Reimagined For You.

Building lean muscle isn’t just about what you do in the gym – a wholefoods based, high-protein diet that suits your individual needs is key.

Luckily, our all-natural protein plans have been designed to make this easier, with our single serve sachets of Whey or Vegan Protein making refuelling a breeze. Get your personalized plan here.

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