Lean mass: what is the importance? See the ideal percentage


What is the difference between lean mass and muscle mass?

Muscle mass is lean mass itself (which is characterized by muscles). It has a weight equivalent to fat, that is, 1 kg of muscle mass is equal to 1 kg of fat. However, the difference lies in the fact that the lean mass takes up less space than the fat mass, considering that the muscles are more compact.

Therefore, when we talk about increasing muscle mass, we are talking directly about strengthening muscles.

That is why, when a person is dieting in conjunction with physical exercise, it may be that after some time he / she stops losing weight – including, it is common that the weight increases a little.

This does not mean that it is not working, but it is an indication that the person is gaining muscle mass – that is, exchanging fat for muscle. In general, for an expressive result, it takes 3 months of training and correct nutrition.

Remembering that it is only possible to be sure of these results from a body assessment with a (a) professional.

What does lean mass mean?

The increase in lean mass indexes, as we saw in a previous topic, are linked to the reduction of body fat levels in exchange for the increase in muscles.

So, in a simple way, it means that the higher your lean mass index, the greater your muscle strengthening and the lower your fat mass level.

It is worth mentioning that, for good health, it is important to maintain a balance . This is because we also need body fat, since it is from there that we have energy. Thus, it is essential to follow up with a nutritionist, in order to be within the ideal levels for our body and structure.

What is the ideal percentage of lean mass?

In order to know more assertively the ideal amount of lean mass according to your body, you should seek doctors (as) specialized in nutrology or nutritionists.

But, in general, adult women should have approximately 25% to 30% of lean mass – usually, the higher the value, the healthier the body is and the easier it will be to maintain the ideal weight.

As for adult men, it is considered healthy to have an average of 33% lean mass.

It is worth noting that, with increasing age, it is normal for lean mass indexes to decrease, consequently the ideal values ​​can also decrease a little.

Exercises to gain muscle mass

In general, weight training is the best alternative for those who want to gain lean mass, investing in workouts with many repetitions and high levels of resistance – which should preferably be monitored by a professional.

But aerobic exercises can also be done in conjunction with weight training, considering that they accelerate the loss of body fat.

Check out some examples of exercises that can help you gain muscle mass:


As the name suggests, this exercise consists of doing squats. It is ideal to strengthen the lower body, as it works thighs and glutes.

In addition, it also helps in the muscles of the back and definition of the belly – considering that one must maintain an upright posture and contract the abdomen. It is worth mentioning that it can be done with the help of weights and equipment or only with body weight.

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There are several ways to do this exercise, so you can alternate the series to diversify. Some types are:

  • Simple;
  • I sink;
  • Juice.


To do this exercise, all you need is a mat to support yourself on the floor and follow the steps below:

  1. Lie on your stomach, leaning on your forearms;
  2. Push your body from the floor upwards (as if in the bending movement);
  3. Support your toes on the floor and rest your elbows;
  4. Keep your back straight, straight from your head to your heels.
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Considering that it is a complete exercise (it works several parts of the body at the same time), it strengthens the body musculature in general. But, in addition, it also helps to maintain good posture, increase flexibility, improve balance and decrease the risk of spinal injuries.

To perform this activity, the ideal is to do a series of repetitions, but always trying to maintain the position for at least 30 seconds.


Burpees are a very complete exercise that can be done anywhere during your day, as all you need is a little space. This is because, in this case, no equipment is needed, what will boost the exercise is your own body weight.

It is, basically, a sequence of squats. To make it easier, you can follow the following steps:

  1. Stretch your legs backwards (staying in a flexed position);
  2. Come back in squatting;
  3. Jump up, keeping your arms up.
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The ideal is to perform a series of repetitions according to the recommendations of a professional.


Skipping rope is an easy exercise that can even be fun, in addition to helping a lot to lose body fat, considering the high caloric expenditure.

You can do repetitions of 30 seconds by jumping and 30 seconds at rest, until you reach approximately 1 hour of training – ideal time to perform aerobic activities.

In general, you should only be careful to keep both feet together and to always contract your abdomen.

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In addition, it is important to keep in mind that this is an impact exercise. In other words, for people with joint problems, the need to seek a specialist is further reinforced – in order to verify a safe way to perform it.


The abdominals are the best exercises to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen. They can be done with or without the aid of weights and equipment.

To do a complete workout, the ideal is to do a series of repetitions. You can also switch between the different variations of the exercise:

  • Traditional;
  • Oblique;
  • High hip;
  • With ball.


Spinning is an aerobic activity present in many gyms. It is equivalent to pedaling, which can be done on the streets or in parks. It is a very complete and functional movement, which greatly helps fat loss.

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In this activity, in addition to the body losing calories, it is also toning the muscles of the legs and butt. In addition, it can be done with more or less intensity, as it is possible to adjust the speed and weight of the march (either in the gym or on the street).

Read more: What is Calisthenics?

What to eat to gain lean mass fast?

More than training, food plays an essential role in gaining lean mass . There are several foods that can assist in this process, but in general the ideal is to have a balanced diet. However, increasing the consumption of proteins (meat, milk, egg, etc.) can be a driving factor.

That’s because proteins help repair and grow muscles. It is important to keep in mind that they are not only present in products of animal origin, but can also be found in items of plant origin: peas, beans , broccoli, etc.

Avoiding the consumption of foods such as white flour, sugars and processed products is also very important for those who want to strengthen their muscles and lose weight.

In addition, it is common to associate exercises with the diet. In this sense, some people have doubts as to what food should be like before and after training, in order to accelerate this process and gain muscle mass faster. Here are some tips:

Before the training

As much as proteins are of paramount importance, carbohydrates have a fundamental role in our body, because it is from them that we have energy. Therefore, before training the ideal is to consume foods that are a source of complex carbohydrates, such as:

  • Sweet potato;
  • Banana;
  • Carbohydrate supplements;
  • Whole grains and their by-products – whole breads and pastas, for example;
  • Cassava.

But, you can also choose foods rich in protein, such as eggs or natural yogurts – these are good options because they are light and will not make you feel heavy or feel ill during training.

In addition, it is also common to use protein bars or supplements. Some examples are:

  • Best Whey Atlhetica Nutrition Double Chocolate ;
  • Whey Protein Gold Standard Optimum Nutrition Strawberry ;
  • Protein Bar Nutry NProtein ;
  • Essential Nutrition Vanilla Whey ;
  • Protein Complex Premium .

In that case, you can choose between different brands that have many flavor options. There are also different packages and sizes.

It is worth mentioning that, in order to know the ideal supplementation dose for your case, it is very important to seek the help of a nutritionist.

After the training

After training it is the ideal time to focus on protein consumption. Some experts talk about the so-called “anabolic window”, which would be the idea that there is a greater use of nutrients by the body right after training.

However, regardless of that, one should opt for proteins that are quickly absorbed by the body, considering that they will directly assist in muscle repair. With this, avoiding the wear of the muscle and strengthening it.

At this time you can choose foods like:

  • Meat (preferably chicken);
  • Skimmed milk;
  • Egg ;
  • Tuna fish;
  • White cheese.

In addition, you can bet on some refined carbohydrates (with high glycemic index), which will be quickly absorbed by the body.

In this way, it will be used for energy supply, preserving lean mass. Here are some examples:

  • Banana;
  • Papaya;
  • Broccoli;
  • Orange;
  • Wholegrain breads and cakes;
  • Tapioca – preferably with lean fillings, such as chicken, white cheese or turkey breast.
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Any process that involves changes in eating habits must be carried out with the help of trained professionals – mainly a nutritionist. That way, it will be possible to do everything with health in mind.

If you want to gain lean mass, seek help from experts and always care for your well-being, doing everything within your limits and with responsibility.