10 Simple Steps to Efficiently Building Lean Muscle

Weight Training

Building lean muscle isn’t as easy as most think, nor is it necessarily safe. Hitting the gym hard every day, will help you build bulk, but will your muscle and body be lean?

Before thinking about building your muscle mass; what you should first consider is your heart and organ health. Because, without a strong heart and healthy organs, your muscle-building effort may result in a compromised immune system, the risk of falling ill, or even worse, a heart attack! Yes, over-exercising is a real problem, from which one can develop heart disease. Please read more on that subject here

The 10 Simple Steps to Successfully Build Lean Muscle.

Aerobic Exercise.

If you want to build lean muscle and a healthy heart, you have to start with regular aerobic exercises, such as fast-paced walking, hiking, trekking, jogging, biking, or swimming. Keeping your heart rate below your maximum aerobic threshold is the key to building a robust cardiovascular system.

The rule of thumb to remain aerobic is to measure your maximum heart rate of 180 BPM minus your age. Or, as long as you can still talk while exercising, you are within your aerobic zone. Aim for 5 hours/sessions of structured cardio per week.

Move Regularly

Besides your daily structured cardio workouts, it’s imperative to make an effort to keep moving as much as possible throughout the day. Getting a formal exercise session done is excellent, but to then not move all day long is a mistake. Walk to as many places as you can throw in the odd set of planks, squats, or a set or two of push-ups. That will keep you agile, and your body is burning fat all day.

Fat Burning, you see, is the key to eventually developing lean muscle. You cannot be lean, no matter how hard your train, if you are sporting a nice little layer of fat right under your skin. To turn lean and dry, you must burn off that fat, and the more you move all day, the easier that is.

Body-Weight Strength Training.

When it comes to strength training, most folks make the mistake of thinking this must be done in a gym using all kinds of machines and weights. On top of that, most are led to believe going to the gym every day, or even twice a day is the way to go. I can assure you this way will only lead to fatigue, a weakened immune system, injury, and possibly worse.

All you need for successful and safe strength training is your body. Yep, Your Body is Your Gym. Unless you enjoy going to smelly and mostly unclean gyms (especially these days), for social reasons, why bother wasting the money? You can do all you need to build muscle at home or outdoors.

Try one of these three routines, depending on your fitness level, repeated two to maximum three times per week.

Routine 1:

Push-Ups x 20 reps

Plank x 30 to 60 seconds

Squats x 20 to 30 reps

Take only short 15-second breaks in between exercises, repeat this set three times, with a one minute break in between each set.

Routine 2:

Push-Ups x 30 reps

Pull-Ups x 5 reps

Squats x 30 to 40 reps

Plank x 60 to 90 seconds

Handstand (against a wall) x 30 to 60 seconds

Take only short 15-second breaks in between exercises, repeat this set three times, with a one minute break in between each set.

Routine 3:

Push-Ups x 50 reps

Pull-Ups x 10 to 14 reps

Squats x 50 reps or Downhill Ski Postition for 1-minute

Plank x 2 minutes

Handstand (against a wall) x 60 seconds

Headstand x 2 to 3 minutes

Negative (not moving) Push-Up x 30 to 60 seconds

Take only short 15- second breaks in between exercises, repeat this set three times, with a one minute break in between each set.

You can find instructional videos for all of these exercises here.

There is a more natural and enjoyable way to complete these workouts; I call it Primal Trekking. I walk and exercise in between, spacing out the sessions. Walk for 15 minutes, do a set, walk another 15 minutes, do the next set, and so on.

I highly recommend this method, as time passes and the workout part seems far less difficult!

Sprint Training.

Sprinting isn’t just about learning to go as fast as possible. Sprinting is an incredible high-intensity workout that breaks down the fast-twitch muscles. This process, the rebuilding of the fast-twitch muscles, burns fat all day long, rebuilding the muscles stronger and leaner.

Sprinting sessions are short and intense, which also makes them great for our heart health. A sprint workout should be completed within 15 minutes, which trains the heart to maximum capacity for these short 10 to 20-second bursts.

Short duration high-intensity workouts cause far less cortisol release than long weight lifting sessions. Cortisol is our stress hormone, designed to alert us of looming danger. Daily and intense cortisol release, caused by stress or over-exercising, can, over time, cause heart disease and stroke.

Let’s take a look at the science, by the very knowledgable, Mark Sisson:

Brief, explosive all-out sprints are the single best activity to promote rapid reduction of excess body fat, achieve fitness breakthroughs, flood the bloodstream with anti-aging hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone, and boost neuron function in the brain.

Mark Sisson

When you conduct an all-out sprint, you’re asking your body to perform at a level of metabolic function some 30 times greater than your resting output. This is a concept known as Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET)

Mark Sisson

Numerous studies have shown that sprinting skyrockets growth hormone levels quickly and reliably and boosts protein synthesis (muscle building or toning) by 230 percent

Mark Sisson

The Definitive Guide to Sprinting, by Mark Sission.

Whole Body Workout.

Working your whole body or muscle groups in one session is the ONLY way to go. Why? Because we can, and one session takes 40 minutes, and it’s done and dusted. So, why work out every day doing stupid things like leg day, back day, chest day, and so on? All you are doing by focusing on different muscle groups is prolonging the pain, and, once again, harming your heart.

Go with the full-body workout with the above-recommended routines. I guarantee it will pay.


I already mentioned walking in the aerobic section, but walking gets it’s own section because it’s an essential part of a solid health plan. Walking is the most underrated exercise available to us all. We all have legs, yet so many people neglect to use them much. Many people prefer to go anywhere, no matter how short the distance may be, by car, motorbike or bicycle.

Making that extra effort to walk a lot, aiming for 10000 to 15000 steps a day, burns a lot of calories and fat and builds strong bones, joints, and organs. All of this much helps the lean muscle-building process. 

Please read my article about the benefits of walking; “15 Thousand Steps a Day Keeps The Doctor Away.” 


Micro or Mini-Workouts are another fantastic way to pump those muscles in a very short time. If you are pressed for time and tend to skip your workout, don’t throw in a micro-workout when you don’t have time to exercise!

It’s that simple, 10-minutes and bang, done. You will feel great, you’ve given your muscles a flash attack, and you are good to go. No need to change or shower; just use plenty of deodorants, and don’t worry!

Negative-Strength Training.

What’s that? Negative training means going into a position and holding it statically, rather than moving up and down. For example, push-ups; get down and go down into the push-up, then keep it steady for as long as you can. Aim for 30 to 60- seconds. Trust me; it’s super hard to hold all the classic positions for long.

The benefit: Muscles break down more if you hold the negative position long enough, resulting in stronger and leaner muscles.


I don’t know why, but people often dislike stretching. Maybe they find it boring or pointless? But not so fast! Stretching is vital for our muscles and joints. The workout breaks the muscles down and stretching after the exercise lengthens the muscle, which reduces the pain, recovery time, reduces the risk of injury, and supports a faster and stronger rebuild of the muscle.

Stretch every day, after aerobic exercise, strength training, and sprinting!

Training Plan.

Make a weekly training plan, and don’t stick to it! Confused? I’m serious, and this is why.

Your training or movement plan should never be controlled and set in stone. It’s to be integrated into your lifestyle and a pleasure, not a chore. Adopting this mindset to your fitness program will make it far easier to follow.

Make your plan as a guideline, then change it whenever you want, depending on how you feel and the time you have. Only make sure you get at least 80% of it all done every week. Be intuitive, flexible, and enjoy it!

Wrap It Up.

Enjoy the process, make it your happy time, and relax. Above all, take time to rest, relax, and recover. Sunday (or your rest day), is crucial too. Do nothing other than walk, talk, smile, eat, and be HAPPY!

Thank you for reading with love from Bali.

Rob Hourmont

Writer, Former Olympic Athlete & Certified Health Coach

“It is my mission to help people regain control of their health, by building a healthy, strong heart, body, and mind, supporting a longer life.”


IG: robhourmontcrunch

IG: robshealthcrunch

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