How to Build Lean Muscle in 7 Easy Steps

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

CLoseup portrait of a man workout on bars
Are you ready to stop making excuses and start getting to work on the body you really want? Great! I'm here to get you underway with everything you need to get started and succeed.

Whether you've tried to build muscle before, or if you're new to the weight room, I want to help you get in the best shape you've been in for years.

As you'll see from the information I'm going to share with you below, 2 of the most important steps to building muscle are nutrition and exercise.

To start you off on the right foot, our team here at the Fit Father Project has produced some free resources that you can download and use.

To get you building lean muscle safely & effectively, our team put together a new video training on “The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises” that shows you 5 “must do” exercises you need to build muscle – and some pro tips on how to do them safely.

Also, if you're looking for a completely laid out, 9-week strength training plan, you may be interested in our Old School Muscle Workout & Nutrition Program.

Old School Muscle lays out all the time-tested principles – to pack on lean mass – NOT fat.


I really hope you enjoy those guides, but for now let's crack on and get you to the 7 steps that will teach you how to build lean muscle properly:

STEP #1: Realize that consistency is key – Building lean muscle won't happen overnight.

When you first get started, a question that often comes up, is ‘How long does it take to build muscle?’
The answer can be frustrating, but it really is ‘As long as it takes'.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula or one size fits all. There are just too many variables to answer it directly.

Every person is different, so the rate of muscle growth will depend on your current fitness, how long you have lifted weights for, your diet, your metabolism, and even your genes.

Realizing that you may not see immediate success will help you to keep pushing and stay consistent at the start of your program.

It's important to focus on the plan regarding how to build lean muscle and not the day by day results.

A good plan is one that you can stick to for the long term. Consistency is the key to building an excellent physique.

STEP #2: Get your diet in check

Step two involves looking at your choices of food. While many muscle building guides will advocate eating eight or nine times a day; this is simply not practical.

Instead, focus on five meals. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner + 2 Snacks.

These should all contain a good balance of Protein, Fat, and Carbs, ultimately splitting out to the ratio of around:

  • 40% Carbs
  • 35% Protein
  • 25% Fat

The free 1-day meal plan guide can show you a few delicious and easy to make recipes which will allow you to fulfil your daily nutritional needs.

So you can create more dishes with great foods that you enjoy, you can follow these guidelines of what to eat:

  • Carbs: Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Wholemeal Pasta
  • Proteins: Chicken, Eggs, Sardines, Lean Beef
  • Healthy Fats: Avocado, MCT or Coconut Oil, Cold Pressed Olive Oil
  • Vegetables: Kale, Spinach, Rocket, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus

Your snacks can easily be a Protein shake or a Protein Bar. If you have the time however, real food is preferable.

STEP #3: Start a resistance training program

As I mentioned at the start of this article, we have a complete muscle building program here at the FFP, called ‘Old School Muscle'.

Old School Muscle shows you how to build lean muscle by breaking down all the training, nutrition and supplementation you need to build a great physique, no matter what level you're currently at.

Alternatively, you can focus on developing your own routine with the advice we offer you in this and other articles at our site

build muscle for men over 40The important part of this step is that you start completing a muscle building workout; you should be looking to complete this routine at least three times a week.

Here at the Fit Father Project, we recommend full body workouts 3 x per week. This has been proven to be a successful and safe way to build lean muscle, especially for guys in their 40's, 50's and over.

However, it's important to note that it's not just the act of lifting weights that helps you build muscle.

It's the repetition which causes micro-tears in your muscles. It's then rest and recovery that makes your muscle size grow.

Larger groups of muscles can work harder but will take longer to recover and it's important that you allow them all time to recover before you complete the next workout.

STEP #4: Start off by working out at home

Not everyone wants to hit the gym. After all, if you're a beginner, you might not know what exercises to do, or how to do them.

If you want to see the 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises and exactly how to do them, you can check out our free video by clicking this link.

In fact, there are several things you can be doing at home with just a set of dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell and just 6ft of floor space.

In fact, that is all the weight lifting equipment you really need to build some great lean muscle!

Simple dumbbells or kettlebells will allow you to complete any exercises you need to get you working hard. You just need to know which moves to make:

A simple routine will involve a set of leg exercises (Squats & Deadlifts), push exercises (Dumbbell Bench Press and Overhead Press) and pull exercises (Bent over Row).

These will work all the different muscles in your body and, providing you complete the right number of reps, push your muscles to grow stronger.

Step #5 – Free-weights over machines

If you want to advance to the gym, I would recommend avoiding the weight machines. These will remove the need for your body to support itself and reduce your core body strength.

The important part of these routines is that you perfect the technique for each of your exercises. You can do this by using a mirror, filming yourself or getting a friend to watch.

This will enable you to correct your exercise and get the maximum benefit and workout safely and efficiently.

You can then add additional weights to your routines as the week’s progress; each time you need to push your muscles to their limits through the right number of reps.

STEP #6: Find a workout buddy to keep you accountable

Many people will tell you about the importance of working out with a friend.

While this is not obligatory it can make a huge difference to your motivation and your ability to stick to your exercise and diet plan.

Your companion can be a partner or a friend. Research has shown that people will generally perform better and improve faster when they have active support.

This is what can drive you to get out of bed at five in the morning; even when you want to stay snuggled under the covers!

STEP #7: Focus on the small things that make a big difference!

As well as reading our other Muscle Building articles, like ‘How long does it take to build muscle?', you can try these simple hacks to see immediate improvements in your lean muscle mass:

    • Squeeze the weights harder – This simple technique will enable you to lift more and push yourself harder; while burning additional calories.
    • Lift more each time – Lean muscle is gained by pushing your muscles just past their limit and allowing them to recover. Lifting just a little more each workout will make a rapid difference in your lean muscle mass. (Think about Milo and the Bull)
    • Get enough Protein – This is essential for replenishing and repairing your muscles. You can eat protein rich foods and even use protein powder to ensure your diet has enough of this valuable nutrient.
    • Move more generally – Moving in general will use your muscles. It will burn calories to help remove fat and improve muscle definition. By moving as much of the time as possible, you will improve your metabolic rate; this will increase the number of calories you can burn and ensure you have all the energy you need to push your work out harder each time.
    • Timing & heart rate – It is beneficial to monitor your heart rate when exercising. This will ensure your heart is beating at around 75% of the recommended maximum heart rate for your age. This will ensure you are building muscle and burning fat.
    • Sleep & Recovery – Many people underestimate the importance of sleep and recovery time. This is essential to allow your muscles to heal. Healing is the process that makes them stronger and allows you to push them harder next time. If you fail to allow them to recover properly, you can do more damage and end up unable to exercise for an extended period of time.

I hope this guide helped! Here are your next action steps:

Remember: the answer to how to build lean muscle is to take small steps and remain consistent. Perfect each stage of your workout, balance your diet and allow yourself recovery time.

The guides referred to in this article will help you to reach your goals, but patience is essential.
You want to build a lifetime commitment to health and fitness, not fall victim to the latest fad.

I really hope this article has encouraged you to get started and given you the information on how to build lean muscle you had hoped for.

If you have any questions about our “Old School Muscle” program, or about muscle building, weight loss or health & fitness in general, you can drop a comment below or send me an email at [email protected].

Here's to your muscle building success!

Your new friend & health coach,

Stuart Carter Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

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Small note about research cited in this article: 

*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results/outcomes. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply well-researched information. Thanks for reading!


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Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project


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