Getting stronger and improving your stature is a big goal to strive for when you are actively committed to exercising. The hardest part about adding strength and size is doing it without compromising on your body fat levels. Body fat is a good indicator of your lean mass, which is size without fat. Everyone from professional athletes to fitness fanatics at the local gym is trying to find ways to increase their size, but not pack on too many pounds while doing it.

This sounds like a contradictory goal because it usually means more strength, but gaining size means eating more to put on the weight. Fortunately, with our advancements in nutrition research and kinesiology, we have a better understanding of how those genetic marvels are able to improve their strength, put on mass, but still look shredded while doing it. Here are some simple steps that anyone can integrate into their daily routine to help increase lean body mass and achieve great results.

1. Drink More Water

This step should be #1 because it is also a general piece of advice. Drinking more water keep your body hydrated, which allows it to function better, particularly your metabolism. You might want to drop every unnecessary pound, but water weight is a perfectly healthy and natural aspect of life. Drinking more water is good for you and your body, but it helps reduce appetite and come in handy when you are craving some snacks late at night. It is also very important for the body to consume enough water to flush out unwanted toxins and ensure that the kidneys and liver are healthy.

2. Consider Adding Supplements

Supplements are not everyone’s go-to but they can be useful if you use them right. There are plenty of ways to help add mass without gaining too much unnecessary fat in the process. Using protein powder is a staple for many avid gym-goers because it can offset any protein lost from eating without the fat associated with things like nuts or meats. If you look at, you can see that people looking to add mass have options that go beyond just the nutritional portion. Pre-workout is another good choice to help with energy levels and help push through a difficult workout on your way to your lean mass goals. It has never been a better time to look for supplements to aid your fitness goals.

3. Track Your Progress

This one is less about the actual work put in and more about documenting it. If you do not track your daily meals and your workouts, you could be losing out on valuable information that helps you understand where you are lagging and where you are excelling. Understanding your weight fluctuations could be the key to figuring out if you need to eat more or less, and what kinds of variables are impacting your progress. Keeping a detailed journal to track this will make it easier to figure out how to best improve your strategy.

4. Avoid Overworking Out 

Losing fat but maintaining mass is not about hitting the gym for 4 hours a day non-stop. This is going to do you more harm than good. As the saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym, so do not overexert yourself. Working out too much is just going to exhaust you or worse, cause an injury. Working out 3-5 times a week is a typical load as it allows for at minimum two days of rest per week. Of course, working out 5 times a week could still be on the upper end of a schedule, but if your body recovers well because of good sleep habits and a dedication to proper eating, it is entirely doable. Regardless, you want to avoid the problematic thinking that working out more means better results, because it is not always true.

5. Reduce Caloric Intake In Smaller Amounts

In a similar fashion, dramatically reducing how much you eat will not result in lean mass gains, it is only going to result in losing mass overall. The purpose of gaining lean mass is carefully regulating what you eat so that you are still gaining size or strength, but you are not shedding pound after pound. It is impossible to only lose the weight you want to lose, the body is not hardwired like that. Instead, reducing your caloric intake by as little as 200-300 a day can help. This could be cutting out foods with refined sugars, saturated fats, or empty calories from things like soda or alcohol. Small caloric deficit changes can add up to big progress over time with the right commitment.

6. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Adding on the caloric deficit advice, you want to avoid gorging on food. The general way of eating has always centered around 3 meals a day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These are fine on their own, but when you want to add mass but reduce how much of it is fat, then smaller, more frequent meals help. Fasting actually harms the metabolism and can cause you to gain more weight quickly, so can eating big portioned meals in one sitting, but by turning your big meals that cause bloat into smaller, more manageable ones that are like larger snacks, you can change this problem. Smaller meals, around 4-5 a day, that are spaced out in smaller increments helps you remain energetic throughout the day without causing huge insulin spikes or crashes.

Getting a leaner, but bigger physique seems like an oxymoron, but it is entirely possible with the right steps, hard work, and dedication. If you have always wanted to look like those shredded athletes on TV or an Olympic gold medalist, or just to improve your health, then there are plenty of ways to achieve this dream. The simple steps listed above are doable by anyone and will help you get started on your fitness goal of a lean body mass.