“Get Lean”: The Truth Behind the Most Popular Fitness Catch Phrase


Ever wondered, “How do I get lean”?  Well, it’s time to figure out exactly what it is you’re asking and how you can realistically achieve “leaness”.  Today’s article takes a look at one of the most popular catch phrases in fitness and show you what it truly means to get lean.

Do a quick Google search of “How do I get lean?” and you’ll return 395 million matches.  Talk to 20 personal trainers around town and they’ll use the phrase “get lean” or “add lean muscle” no less than 9 times.  The “get lean” catch phrase is everywhere…but have you ever wondered what it really means?  Since lean is such a scientific term (I hope you catch the sarcasm here) it should have a pretty standard definition, right?  Well guess what, it doesn’t.  Lean often means different things to different people.  Today, we’re going to take a look at what “get lean” implies, show you how to maybe achieve it, and hopefully break whatever distorted image you have in your mind of what the image of “lean” truly is.

For many people (read: women) they think getting lean is all about getting skinny. It’s about dropping to a size zero, being able to slide that bracelet up around their bicep, and generally doing their best to imitate a refugee camp victim. There are of course a bunch of blogs and people out there who perpetuate this version of lean.  I’m not saying their version is necessarily incorrect, because that would imply there is a correct version, for which their isnt.  What I am saying though, is their version is unhealthy, unrealistic, and absolutely not the version of lean you should be after.  Looking at the posted pictures of super skinny girls with body types that are largely unobtainable for the masses, no matter how much they diet and exercise, is a great way to kill your own self-confidence, burn yourself out, and feel all-around bad about yourself.  Stop putting this version of lean in your head.

On the other end of the spectrum we’ve got the people talking about adding lean muscle mass.  These people are all about muscle gains, and lots of them.  They’ll tell you to complete a bunch of advanced lifts, stuff yourself with protein until you’re ready to burst, and generally assume the predisposition of your run-of-the-mill bro meathead.  First and foremost, these people (read: guys) typically put the addition of muscle ahead of anything else.  For most women this just isn’t a realistic option.  You want to look good, right?  You want to be defined, yet still retain a feminine shape?  Of course you do.  Blindly following a body building plan, or other bro-science workout routine won’t necessarily make you bulky, but it won’t help accentuate the specific areas you’re looking to improve.  You need a more refined approach.  So on we go…

So let’s get clear on one thing, when we’re talking about getting lean, leaning out, adding lean muscle, whatever version du jour we’re on, we’re really talking about lowering body fat to a comfortable range, adding muscle, and building an athletic appearance.  That’s all lean (to me) really is.  It’s about becoming more athletic.  It’s about improving your resting heart rate.  It’s about developing your endurance so running 5 miles straight doesn’t seem like an impossibility.  It’s about getting stronger.  And if we’re going to put a cosmetic label on it, it’s about getting as close as possible to the golden ratio.  Don’t know what the golden ratio is? Check it out and get up to speed on what the “perfect” body looks like.

But there’s one important thing to keep in mind.  Lean is not the be all, end all.  Just because you don’t have perfect proportions, a specific body fat percentage as someone else, or the ability to deadlift 3 times your body weight, it doesn’t really mean anything.  By and large, those are all cosmetic assets.  Your goal should be to improve your health.  By doing so, you’re going to improve your physique.  When you begin placing importance on improving your endurance, improving your strength gains, and boosting the intensity of your cardio sessions, the aesthetic benefits are going to follow suit. 

Do keep in mind though, a lot of how you ultimately look, even at the pinnacle of your potential training, is based on genetics.  There are some people who will simply never be able to lose that excess body fat that’s clinging to their hips. Some people WILL look bulky if they lift heavy legs because they are genetically predisposed to accumulate a LOT of muscle. Get this through your head – no matter what you do, you may never be as “lean” as that fitness model.  Or maybe you will be.  The point is, you don’t know until you push yourself to your max.  So get out there, figure out what your max potential truly is, and let things fall as they should.

I promise you, if you’re giving it your all, each and every workout, you’re going to achieve great things and seriously change your body.  Just don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations and allow yourself to feel discouraged.

Achieving the Ultimate Lean Body

Alright, so how are we going to help you get there?  Well, for starter’s, I’ve always felt training to improve metabolism was the key to unlocking your true body potential.  Everything I do is gauged at improving my metabolism.  This is what allows me to burn more fat, slash through more calories, and generally achieve and lean and defined appearance.   This is the same method I’ve been using with my own clients for over 10 years now, so I can confidently say, it works.

I want you to start focusing on metabolic conditioning when you workout.  If you’re not sure the best way to go about doing this, I can help.  Check out FitPlan and see if it’s something that could work for you.  If you want to give it a shot, sign up, fill out your health assessment, and we’ll build you a personal training plan, emphasizing all of the things I mentioned in this article.

No matter what you decide to do though, do something.  Don’t sit around on the sidelines because you’re afraid of failure.  Get out there, get moving, and start heading towards your own personal version of lean.


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