Understanding the Difference: Lean Muscle vs Muscle Mass

Understanding the Difference: Lean Muscle vs Muscle Mass

Posted by ZOZOFIT TEAM on

When talking about muscles, there's a difference between lean muscle vs muscle mass. Understanding this will help you build muscles and achieve your goals.

When you're working hard to increase the size of your muscles, knowing the difference between lean muscle vs muscle mass is helpful for adjusting your fitness goals and planning a better workout routine. Then you'll be able to accomplish what you want to achieve.

You'll often see fitness ads that say you either need to slim down and get lean or bulk up to increase your muscle mass. If this seems confusing, then it helps understand the difference between lean muscle versus muscle mass. Knowing this will help you plan your workouts so you can reach your overall health and fitness goals.

ZOZOFIT is here break down the differences between lean muscle and muscle mass.

Lean Muscle vs Muscle Mass: What’s the Difference?

To understand how a lean muscle differs from muscle mass, you first need to know what a muscle is. You have over 600 muscles in your body, and all of them are made of soft tissues and fibers that stretch so that they can move your body. There are three main types of muscles that perform various jobs:

  • Skeletal muscles: These are the muscles that support your body weight and help you move.
  • Smooth muscles: Organs such as your stomach and intestines are lined with these to help them function.
  • Cardiac muscles: Found inside your heart, these muscles work hard to keep it pumping.

Out of these main muscle groups, skeletal muscles are the only ones that are voluntary and can be controlled by you. They are also the type of muscles that make up lean muscle and muscle mass.

Lean Muscle

While all muscles are lean, the term "lean muscle" is used to describe muscles that have little to no fat surrounding them. Advertisements often feature pictures of men and women with six-pack stomachs to illustrate this. When it comes to lean muscle vs muscle mass, to achieve a slimmer look, you need to focus on losing extra body fat.

Muscle Mass

The term muscle mass refers to the total weight of your muscles. While this can include all three types, when most people talk about muscle mass in fitness, they are referring to the skeletal muscles. When you start to see an increase in muscle mass, that's a sign that your muscles are getting bigger.

Strength Training for Muscle Growth

To develop and enhance your muscles, you'll need to add strength training to your workout. Not only will it help you develop and enhance your muscles, but you'll get stronger and be less likely to suffer from sickness or disease. There are also two kinds of muscles you can develop while doing strength training exercises:

  • Lean muscles: These are tight, shapely muscles with no fat around them due to weight loss 
  • Bulky muscles: These are big muscles with increased mass even with fat around them

Strength training, also called resistance training, puts stress and tension on your muscles to help build them up. This, along with proper nutrition, rest, and recovery, is the best way to help them grow.

If you're wondering if strength training will work for lean muscle vs muscle mass, the answer is that it works well for both. A fitness coach or personal trainer can show you the best strength training exercises that you can do to meet your goals.

Nutrition for Muscle Growth 

The types of food you eat will affect how well your muscles grow. For example, protein consumption plays a major factor in muscle growth because it contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscles. Your body also uses these acids to build up and repair your damaged muscles.

Calories are also crucial for building muscle mass. To determine the range of calories you need to eat for your body type, take your body weight and multiply it by 16 and 18. This will give you the number of calories you should consume to gain more muscle. Diet and exercise vary from person to person, so you should speak with a fitness coach or a registered dietician to help you with this.

Factors That Affect Muscle Growth

In addition to strength training and nutrition, whether you're trying to build lean muscle vs muscle mass, there are other factors that can affect and limit muscle growth:

  • Genetics: Your genetics may keep you from getting as bulky as you want.
  • Medical conditions: Certain conditions that cause muscle loss can work against your efforts.  
  • Your fitness background: Not knowing which exercises to do can hinder your growth.
  • Sleep: Lack of sleep can slow muscle growth and repair as well as leaving you too tired to exercise.
  • Stress: Chronic stress can lower your metabolism and block the hormones needed to build muscle.

Consider each of these if you've been working out for a few months without any results. You should also follow up with your fitness coach or your healthcare provider for additional information. They will be able to assess you and help you figure out what changes you can make to increase your muscle growth.

Health Benefits of Building Muscle

Regardless of whether your fitness goals are to increase lean muscle vs muscle mass, there are many benefits to building up your muscles.

Manage Your Weight

The more muscle mass you have, the more energy your body requires, even when you are resting. As your muscles grow and your metabolism increases, your body will continue to burn calories even when you’re sitting still or asleep. If you focus on increasing the lean muscle in your body, this can help you to lose any excess fat you don't need.

Prevent Chronic Conditions

When you're trying to stay well, preventive health is important. An increase in lean muscle vs muscle mass can help you by reducing your risk for conditions and diseases such as depression, back pain, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Sharpen Your Thinking Skills

Another surprising benefit of muscle growth is that it can have a positive effect on your mind. If you have a hard time focusing or struggle with your thinking skills, you may start to notice some improvement in these areas as you continue to work out.

Improve Your Quality of Life

As you age, strength training exercises can help you fight muscle loss and build up your muscles. This provides you with a better quality of life as your balance improves, your risk of falls and injuries decreases, and you are able to continue with your daily activities.

Weight Loss and Muscle Growth

You may be interested in building muscle because you've heard it's a good way to lose weight. While this is true, when done incorrectly, strength-building can actually cause you to lose both fat and muscle. To avoid this, you should work with a personal trainer to develop a workout routine that will help you achieve your personal goals. They will know the best strength training routines that you can do for lean muscle vs muscle mass, so you can build muscle and lose weight at the same time.

Another thing to be mindful of is the pitfall of weighing yourself. As you build muscle, there may be times when you step on a scale and it shows that you weigh the same or even more than you did before. If this happens to you, don't be discouraged, and keep in mind that this could be due to a decrease in fat and an increase in muscle, which weighs more.

For a more accurate picture of your weight loss, rely on the results of your monthly body measurements with ZOZOFIT along with any changes you notice when you look at yourself in the mirror.

Aging and Muscle Growth

Muscle loss is something that occurs naturally to everyone as they age. Thankfully, there is no age limit to building muscle, so you can begin or continue doing strength training even as you get older. Whether your age is 25 or 75, if you want to increase lean muscle vs muscle mass, strength training can help you do this so you can stay strong and healthy.

Body Composition

The topic of lean muscle comes up often when discussing body composition. Your body composition is the total percentage of fat, muscle, bone, water, and other tissues in your body. Whenever there's a change in one of these areas, your body composition changes, too. To gain or lose weight, the main areas of body composition you should focus on are fat and muscle.

If you're a woman concerned about building up too much muscle, you'll be glad to know that women don’t typically bulk up as much as men. To achieve muscles like a body-builder, you would need to follow a specific fitness plan that modifies many factors such as your eating and strength training routines.

Ways To Measure Muscle Growth

As you work towards your health and fitness goals, especially if it's to gain more lean muscle vs muscle mass, you'll want to track your progress to see how you're doing and adjust your routine if needed.

Body Measurements

Monthly body measurements are the traditional way of tracking your progress toward various health and fitness goals. In the past, you would use a tape measure and measure the circumference of different parts of your body such as your chest, biceps, and upper thighs. But accuracy can be a concern, which is what sets the ZOZOFIT app apart. Our 3D body measurement scans are designed to help make things easier as you track changes to your body over time.

Skinfold Thickness 

Another outdated approach to tracking your body fat is having a personal trainer measure you with an instrument called a skinfold caliper. Once you have that number, you can subtract it from your total body weight to calculate your lean body mass. Your lean body mass consists of your skin, bone, organs, and muscles. The caliper method doesn't give you a full understanding of your health and progress though, and it can be difficult to get precise readings if the instrument isn't used properly.

Body Scans

The best way to measure the amount of lean muscle vs muscle mass that you have in your body is by getting a body scan. In the past, it was difficult to get this type of scan unless you belonged to a wellness center that had access to the equipment for it. Your healthcare provider could also write a prescription for you to take the test at a health or medical facility.

A modern alternative is the ZOZOFIT app, which allows you to measure your muscles at home and track your progress digitally.

Ways To Track Your Progress

Gaining muscle doesn't happen overnight, so at times it can get a little discouraging. A good way to help you to stay focused and encouraged is to track your progress in one of the following ways:

Record Measurements Online

There are plenty of fitness apps online that you can use to track your measurements and fitness goals. If you want to see an improvement in the percentage of lean muscle vs muscle mass that you have, it will be easier to document and compare using a fitness app. Since you will be able to access this information on a mobile device such as a smartphone, it's a convenient and productive way to track your results.

Keep a Fitness Journal

If you like to write things down, you may prefer to use a fitness journal. In addition to recording your progress, you can use a journal to plan your workouts and write down your thoughts as you grow. On days when you're feeling discouraged or stuck, you may need to look over your notes to remind yourself of just how much you've grown. This is a great way to keep yourself motivated.

Take Pictures

For an added boost of encouragement, take pictures of yourself each time you take your measurements. This will give you a better idea of how your body is changing visually. There's something powerful about seeing the results you have been working towards. Pictures are one of the most inspiring and effective tools to keep you focused and on target to reach your goals.

Getting Help With Lean Muscle vs Muscle Mass

Your muscles are a critical part of your life. Now that you know the difference between lean muscle vs muscle mass, you can design or adjust your fitness plans so that you can reach your goals. If you're ready to start tracking your progress or have questions about 3D body measurement, check out ZOZOFIT today and see how our technology can help you take your fitness to the next level.

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