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Lean Muscle

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Get Strong, Lean & Ripped

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Most blokes, and many women, who have ever hit the gym are there to add new muscle - not necessarily the scary-huge, vein-popping, guns of dedicated bodybuilders. It’s more the look of a Hollywood actor adding muscle for an action role - well defined, proportional, you know – useful.

There’s nothing wrong with looking ‘Hollywood’ good but adding lean muscle has other benefits too. Lifting weights has been shown in studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning to significantly increase your body’s resting energy expenditure for up to three days post-workout, helping you to burn bodyfat for that lean look.

But before you grab those dumb-bells it’s worth getting the expert view on how to get fast results without injuring yourself. The process of building muscle (hypertrophy) requires enough fatigue into your muscles to generate micro-tears in the fibres, which as they are repaired, grow as a side effect. This causes the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) but overdo it and you’ll end up with JAPM (just a pulled muscle).

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So read this 5-step checklist of advice from some expert personal trainers, including bodybuilding world champ Shaun Stafford, Jason Anderson and Paul Stephen Lubicz (who has trained Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly) - it will help you get that pumped chest and A-list abs without twanging something you might need.

1. PERIODISATION ‘Don't jump straight into lifting heavy weights with no anatomical preparation. Instead correct joint alignment with a 3-4 week stabilisation phase of low-weights and high-reps (15-25) to increase the weight you can lift, with fewer injuries.’ Jason Anderson

2. INTENSITY ‘People often train for too long but without enough intensity. A maximum of 45 minutes on a weights workout, but I’d want it to be at a true 85 per cent of maximum intensity - this also increases the amount of testosterone released.’ (According to an April 2014 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning) Paul Stephen Lubicz

3. TEMPO ‘When you select a weight, make sure that you can control it with proper technique and a good tempo. This way you will be sure to actually work the muscle through a full range, and with the correct time under tension to make it grow (40-60 seconds per set).’ Shaun Stafford

4. NUTRITION ‘Getting enough protein to support hyptertrophy is important but your body needs to be ready for growth so try to reduce the amount of stress your body is under by avoiding lack of sleep, infrequent meals, processed foods and alcohol.’ JA

5. FREQUENCY ‘The other thing to remember about any hypertrophy program is that it will only have a 4-6 week expiry date - so change your workout routine after that.’ JA

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your GP before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.