The muscle itself isn’t actually lean. Being lean comes from having low body fat. One of the problems is that when trying to put on muscle you need to be in a surplus. The key to losing fat is to be in a deficit.

So the problem is how do you put on muscle and lose fat. Not going to focus too much on how to do that, since we’re focused on the key exercises that will help beginners put on muscle. The basics of nutrition are to do mini cuts and mini bulks. You can put on about 0.5lbs of muscle when in a 200 calorie surplus from maintenance. You can find how many calories you need to bulk here Super Hero Jacked. The idea is to confuse the body so that you have enough nutrients to build muscle without too much fat. Then shift to a cutting phase. Then back to a bulking phase. This is really effective. Now for the exercises.

I would focus on the compound movements to grow the muscle. You must first understand how muscle is built The Truth About How Muscles Grow. Basically, you need more stimulus week after week. So this can be achieved with progressive overload. Which essentially means one week lift x weight. The week after lift x + 2.5lbs–5lbs more. Alternatively, do x reps one week then the week after do x + 1 or more reps more.

Incline Bench Press

An incline bench press is an effective movement that really develops the upper chest and chest overall. This is a compound movement which essentially means it works multiple body parts. In this case, it also works the triceps.

Weighted Pull-Ups

Weighted pull ups develop an insane back and also work your biceps really well. The weighted pullups might take a bit of time to get to if you’re a beginner. Starting with assisted pull-ups, working your way towards body weight then eventually weighted would be a good progression.

This creates a solid full back. Giving you a strong look that is desirable.

Squats

Squats are a super effective workout that works multiple muscles at once. Get in there once a week and lift heavy. You will see major boosts in testosterone from squats since they work out a large muscle group.

Shoulder Press

When lifting heavy on the shoulder press you develop thick wide shoulders that create an attractive shape that women crave. Broad shoulders on a man is the equivalent to a big butt on a girl. Build this workout up to one 45lbs plate on each side and you will see some strong healthy shoulders.

There are more workouts and different rep schemes. These are the most effective workouts I find that has helped develop my physique into what it is today.

Summary

These are the 4 key exercises to focus on getting stronger if you want to develop a killer physique. Sure there are other exercises that are effective. However, building these up to 1.5 – 2 times your body weight will yield some amazing results.