10 Best Exercises for Building Lean Muscle Mass

10 Best Exercises for Building Lean Muscle Mass

Dead lifts

No other exercise inflicts as much stress to the body as the dead lift. Significant gains in back thickness and lower body strength are a common result of dead lifts. The core is also strengthened through dead lifts, which improves the performance of other heavy lifts such as squats.

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To get the most from dead lifting, I like to keep the set moving rather than pausing on the floor after each rep. This sustains a higher state of intensity throughout the set. At the top portion of the rep, “locking out” is crucial to fully engage all the muscles of the upper back. To concisely summarize the dead lift, it’s the ultimate posterior chain builder.

Bent Over Rows

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Although bent over rows are a compound exercise, they are far more isolated than dead lifts, as they predominately work the lats, rhomboids, and lower trap region. Due to the posture required to perform bent over rows, they also engage the spinal erectors and the muscles of the core.

Related: 3 Row Variations You’re Doing Wrong (And How to Fix Them)

Driving my elbows back, keeping them tight against my sides, provides more direct stimulation across the lower portion of the lats. Pulling through this angle also allows for more power, enabling me to lift heavier weight.

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It’s important to avoid excessive torso movement on bent over rows because it can shorten the range of motion, reducing the impact of the exercise.

 T-Bar Rows

T-bar rows are similar to bent over rows. While the posture is very much the same, the differentiating factor comes from the grip. With T-bar rows, the wrist is in a semi position with the palms facing each other. This grip allows you to lift heavier weight, making it the perfect mass building exercise.

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To make T-bar rows even more effective, I like to pause at the top of every rep to make the lats and rhomboids work harder in their contracted position.

Leg Press

Leg pressing is actually my all-time favorite exercise for legs. In fact, leg pressing is the perfect exercise to apply my Dramatic Transformation Principle (DTP) to, due to the ability to work efficiently through both low and high rep ranges. It’s more isolated than squatting as there is less stress on the core muscles, but is still a compound exercise.

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The leg press enables you to target every muscle of the quads with a few simple variations. Altering your foot placement will change the muscle focus – moving from narrow to wide, or from the middle of the plate to the top – will load the work in a different area of the leg.


10 Best Exercises for Building Lean Muscle Mass