Lean Mass: 6 Week Workout Program to Build Lean Muscle

Workout Program to Build Lean Muscle
The most common goal in the gym is to build lean muscle. Give this 6 week workout program to build lean muscle a try and absolutely crush that goal!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
6 weeks
30-45 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

When it comes to fitness goals, building lean muscle is among the most popular (seriously, 84% of our readers said so in our fitness survey).

And honestly, it should come as no surprise.

As a society, we glorify those who are lean, shredded, and have solid physiques with plenty of muscle mass.

So much so that a lot of us aspire to build lean muscle ourselves.

Well, today you’re in luck. Below is a 6 week workout program that will help you build lean muscle.

Check it out, read its description, and let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below!

The Workout Program to Build Lean Muscle

The following workout is a 4 day split you can follow for the next 6 weeks to build lean muscle. It is written to focus on increasing hypertrophy by performing 2-4 exercises for each muscle group during that muscle’s training day, for 3-5 sets, and 6-12 reps (although we’ll keep everything 8+ here).

The rep tempo should be slow as time under tension plays a huge role in the amount of muscle damage that occurs during each exercise, a factor that is critical to building lean muscle. Aim for a 2/0/2 tempo and really try to focus on the muscle you’re targeting during each lift.

Lastly, rest periods between exercises and sets should be kept fairly short. You’ll want to keep it between 30-60 seconds of rest after each set, with 45 seconds being the sweet spot.

Day 1: Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Squat 4 10
2. Machine Hack Squat 3 12
3. Stiff Legged Deadlift 4 10
4. Leg Curl 3 12
5. Dumbbell Lunge 3 8
6. Leg Press Calf Raises 3 12
7. Seated Calf Raises 3 12
Day 2: Chest & Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Bench Press 4 10
2. Incline Bench Press 3 12
3. Cable Crossover 3 12
4. Hammer Strength Chest Press 3 8
5. Barbell Bicep Curl 4 10
6. Rope Cable Hammer Curl 3 12
7. Preacher Curl 3 10
Day 3: Back
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Deadlift 4 10
2. Barbell Row 3 12
3. Lat Pulldown 5 8
4. Cable Row 3 12
5. Pull up 3 10
6. Hyperextension 3 12
Day 4: Shoulders & Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Seated Military Press 4 10
2. Lateral Raise 3 12
3. Front Raise 3 12
4. Reverse Pec Deck 3 12
5. Barbell Shrugs 4 12
6. Dips 4 10
7. Seated French Press 3 12

The Workout Program to Build Lean Mass FAQs

Below are a couple of the more frequently asked questions when it comes to building lean muscle.

If your question is not listed below, please don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments section following the article.

Q. Can I add exercises to this workout program to build more lean muscle?

You certainly can, but it is not necessary. Each muscle group is targeted with a fair amount of volume within this program.

Adding more exercises to the program probably won’t increase the amount of success you have with it. Building muscle takes time. After 6 weeks of this program, you’ll likely notice a fair amount of muscle growth, but fitness goals should be long term, not short sighted.

Q. What should I do after I finish the 6 week workout program?

After you have finished this 6 week workout program to build lean muscle, I’d recommend taking a week to deload.

Enjoy a little time away from the gym; I promise 1 week won’t be enough to lose all the gains you’ve made. During that time reassess your goals and celebrate the amount of lean muscle you’ve put on in the past 6 weeks.

If you want to continue on with the program after your deload week, you’re more than welcome to. Or your goals might change. In that case, check out our workouts database for a new routine.

Q. How should I eat during this workout program to build lean mass?

This will depend on your starting point. I always recommend people get to a healthy weight range for their body type. If you’re overweight and a beginner to hypertrophy based training, you might benefit from starting off in a calorie deficit.

If you’re underweight, or an otherwise intermediate-advance lifter, you’ll likely need to be in a calorie surplus to add on lean muscle mass.

After you’ve determined which is best for you, find your calorie needs using our bmr calculator.

Then, subtract or add ~250-500 calories from that number to put yourself in a deficit or surplus. Make that your new daily calorie goal and try to get there by eating your calories through whole food, nutrient-rich food sources.

Workout Program to Build Lean Muscle Supplements

Q. What kind of supplements should I take with this workout program to build lean mass?

Supplementation is going to be highly individualized.

If you struggle to meet your daily protein needs, a solid protein supplement will be extremely beneficial to you.

If you struggle to meet your daily calorie needs all together, then a mass gaining supplement could be beneficial to you to help you accomplish your goals.

One supplement that is cheap, effective, and backed by a lot of scientific research is creatine monohydrate.

Q. Can I do some extra workouts on my rest days?

Again, you can, but I wouldn’t recommend anything to strenuous. Recovery is crucial to the muscle building process.

If you’re going to do anything, do something light that you enjoy doing. I highly recommend recovery walks as a form of active recovery. You could also hit the foam roller and work on the mobility that is often lost during muscle building programs.

Q. Where are the abs?

Your abs are hit indirectly quite frequently with this program during all of the compound movements.

Since they are worked indirectly almost every training session, I don’t feel the need to target them with isolation work. If you find it would be beneficial to do so for your training goals, you’re more than welcome to check out our ab workouts database.

Also, it is important to note that compound exercises and lowering your body fat percentage is going to build a better, visible 6-pack over time than any amount of direct isolation work will.

Q. Anything else we should know to build lean muscle?

Building muscle takes a lot of time and effort. Not to mention, what you do outside of the gym is just as important as what you do inside of the gym.

Prioritize your diet. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Eliminate unnecessary stress (meditate). And move every day (lightly on your recovery days).

You’ll get there and this 6 week program is an excellent start.

33 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:18
Bryant Ozeigbe

Hey Josh. Great workout sir. Question. Will doing cardio on the rest days have a negative effect on the gains I'll see when the 6 weeks are up, or would it be better to just do this exercise and not do any running. And by cardio, I mean nothing more than 2 miles in under 20 minutes.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 12/04/2017 - 08:57

Hi Bryant!

Thank you for your kind words! Cardio is always recommended in my opinion. From personal experience, I have a dog, and we go on long walks every morning and longer hikes every weekend. I've found this activity to be very beneficial for my recovery (active recovery).

When it comes to building muscle, just be sure you are in a caloric surplus and you'll be golden.

Best of luck and keep us posted on your progress!

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Posted Wed, 11/29/2017 - 10:52
Peter Nguyen

is there a certain percentage of my 1RM I should be using for this program?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:30

Hi Peter,

I would recommend using 75-85% of your max for these exercises.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:04

sir please tell me leg exercise for running purpose

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 11/27/2017 - 16:01

Hi Divesh,

Most leg exercise will help you improve your running. I would begin with a squat variation, deadlift variation, and lunge variation and build upon your strength and mechanics from there.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 10/31/2017 - 11:31

Hi coach , would it br ok if i changed the biceps exercises ?! And There's no exercises for the lower part of the chest ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 10/31/2017 - 13:30

Hi Mitz,

This program is simply a template. You're more than welcome to alter it in whatever way you see fit to better meet your individual fitness goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 10/23/2017 - 17:06

Josh would it be ok to do rack pulls instead of deadlifts? Thanks great routine

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/30/2017 - 10:08

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your kind words! Glad you're enjoying the program! Sure that would be a fine substitution.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 01:33
Daniel aldgate

Where do u have your rest days un it im used to training 5 days staight then weekend off

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:33

Hi Daniel,

Personally, I'd set this program up for Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat and take my rest days on Wed, Fri, and Sunday. But you can set your week up however works best for you.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 08:45
Daniel aldgate

Ok or am i best staying on 5 day split hard ro say lol

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:38

Hi Daniel,

Tough to say. Are you enjoying the program you are current on? Seeing results from it? If so, keep at it!

But, if you're bored with your current program and want to try something new, or need to work out less frequently, this program is an excellent option.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:59
Daniel aldgate

Not too bad only get sore with legs lol

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Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:06
Daniel aldgatecool

Might try it but make it into 5 days lol might get too bored with 3 days off

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:11

Hi Daniel,

That'll work! This is only a template, modify it to best fit your needs! I'd recommend training your weak areas with that extra day in the gym.

Best of luck and let us know how everything goes!

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Posted Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:54
Daniel aldgatecool

I will try the whole program but 5th day lagging parts only

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Posted Sat, 09/23/2017 - 00:07
Daniel aldgatecool

What about the full body 3 times a week is that better

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:36

Hi Daniel,

It depends haha. I'm a huge fan of both training styles: body part splits and full body workout 3xs a week.

Both can work. Ultimately it boils down to which you enjoy performing more and can consistently do over a long period of time. Honestly, I switch back and forth between the styles every half a year or so, depending on my work and social schedule. (usually body part splits in the winter, full body in the summer).

Neither is necessarily better than the other. It just depends on your time commitments and preferences.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 04:51

Thanks for such a good workout plan. Can I know the alternative for Hammer strength chest press?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 09/18/2017 - 08:56

Hi Chetan,

You're welcome! Glad you enjoy it! Go with either a chest press using the cables or a dumbbell flat bench to replace the hammer strength chest press.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 09/06/2017 - 11:59

Should i increase the weight between series or not? Fir expo. First with 10 kg-2 15-, 3 with 20?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:32

Hi Sase,

You can do that or you can perform them with the same weight and attempt to go up in weight each week or every other week.

Experiment a little and find which you prefer and are comfortable with. So long as you are achieving progressive overload over time, you'll see the results you want.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:45
Fabian Rovella

It always starts from the bottom up

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Posted Tue, 08/29/2017 - 08:44
Fabian Rovella

I currently do upper lower split, but I might give this a try next time to switch it up a bit, I'm currently just switched to a ketogenic diet from high protein diet, hope it works with this program??

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:54

Hi Fabian,

Sure you can do this program while on a ketogenic diet. If your goal is to build mass, just make sure you're in a slight calorie surplus (eating more than you burn).

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 08/18/2017 - 23:12

Looks like a good workout. However, why would you train biceps with chest a day before you hit back? Biceps will be sore and fatigued and will hinder lat exercises. I would do chest with triceps and shoulders with biceps.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/21/2017 - 08:49

Hi Dan,

Thank you for your feedback! Glad you liked the workout. As I mentioned in a comment below, I'd set this program up for Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat and take my rest days on Wed, Fri, and Sunday. This would eliminate that issue while also allowing you to target the arm muscle groups twice a week (once directly, once indirectly).

That said, you're more than welcome to alter this template however you see fit to better meet your individual goals.

Thanks again!!

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Posted Fri, 08/18/2017 - 10:51
Fouad Hamdy

Hello, I've been going to the gym for 2 and half months now, i saw gains in the first month only and my body isn't changing after that, I eat above 120g protein and 300g carbs a day and I am on calorie surplus, 67kgs and 171cm, will this program help me building muscle? I am really unmotivated

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 08/18/2017 - 15:55

Hi Fouad,

Yes it can help. Just be sure you are, in fact, in a calorie surplus and are getting enough sleep each night.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

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Posted Thu, 08/17/2017 - 03:11

What about rest days

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 08/17/2017 - 08:30

Hi Mustafa,

Personally, I'd set this program up for Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat and take my rest days on Wed, Fri, and Sunday. But you can set your week up however works best for you.

On rest days, take things light. If you want to do anything a brief LISS cardio session followed by some foam rolling ought to do it.

Hope this helps!