Having a lean, well-defined physique can complement your favorite swimwear, sleeveless shirts, shorts or dresses. Getting lean involves increasing muscle mass while losing body fat so your muscles are more visible. Building muscle requires intense strength-training workouts that stimulate growth. Losing fat takes a combination of cardiovascular exercise and a low-fat diet. Modifying your diet while strength training regularly and engaging in cardiovascular workouts will help you gain muscle and increase definition.
Train with weights four days per week. Keep your repetitions low and resistance high; you shouldn’t be able to perform more than 15 repetitions of each exercise.
Plan your strength-training workouts by muscle group. Work chest and triceps Monday; quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves Tuesday; abs and core Thursday; and biceps, triceps and shoulders Friday. Include compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time in each workout, such as bench presses, lunges, squats, shoulder presses, triceps dips and pushups. Perform each exercise for four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Engage in low-intensity cardiovascular exercise five or six days per week first thing in the morning before breakfast, so your body uses stored body fat as fuel. Walk on the treadmill at a slow pace with a high incline, pedal on the stationary bike at a slow pace with high resistance or step on the stair mill at a slow pace for 30 to 40 minutes.
Adjust your diet to encourage fat loss. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat lean protein sources such as cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, skinless chicken, whitefish, lean beef, nuts and eggs. Instead of refined foods, choose whole-grain starches such as whole-grain pastas, breads, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and rice cakes.
Increase your protein intake to facilitate muscle development. The College of the Canyons recommends getting 0.73 to 0.82 g of protein per pound of body weight per day for strength athletes looking to build muscle. Measure your proteins with a food scale to make sure you are getting the right amount of protein for your body weight.
Items you will need
- ✓ Weights, various sizes
- ✓ Treadmill, stepper or other gym machine for cardio
- ✓ Healthy foods
- "Personal Fitness Trainer Manual: Fundamentals"; National Federation of Professional Trainers; 2008
- College of the Canyons: Nutrition Coach — Protein; Sheri Barke, MPH, R.D.; 2005
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.