- Main GoalBuild Muscle
- Workout TypeSplit
- Training LevelIntermediate
- Program Duration6 weeks
- Days Per Week4
- Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
- Equipment RequiredBarbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
- Target Gender Male & Female
- Recommended Supps
- Workout PDF Download Workout
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!
Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course
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
|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
|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
|2. Barbell Row||3||12|
|3. Lat Pulldown||5||8|
|4. Cable Row||3||12|
|5. Pull up||3||10|
Day 4: Shoulders & Triceps
|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|
|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.
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.
Sometimes I am unable to do the exercises on the given because the machines are occupied. I also don’t like lingering around the machine and staying idle in the gym.
Is it necessary to follow the same sequence as you’ve provided ? Any recommended sequence if I have to mix them ?
Do what you gotta do to get the job done. If you need to change the order or swap a similar exercise in, go for it.
Hi Josh. Just completed the 6 wek program. Very happy with the results. Just wondering if I continue on could I change some exercises up. Say do dumbell curls instead of rope cable hammer curls. Maybe cable triceps press instead of seated french press? Look forward to your advise.
Hey Andrew, answering for Josh here. You can change them up, and it's actually a good idea to. I like both of your suggestions. Give them a full go.
What cable row should u do upper back with bar close grip grip etc ? Also should u complete the exercise in that order top to bottom
Use any attachment and grip you like. I prefer to use a rope attachment so I can spread the ends apart during the pull and get a greater contraction.
Also, in the future, you only need to submit your question once. It has to be approved before it is answered. Sending it multiple times won't help.
On the 4th day is it better to do overhead tricep extensions
Then Seated French press
They are very similar. I prefer to do the dumbbell overhead extension myself, and there is also the cable option. Do the version you feel is best for you.
Josh Hi I thought naturals should hit each body part 2-3 times a week . Here your only hitting a bodypart once a week. What’s your take and also is there a way to turn this program into a upper lower split. Thanks
Hi, Steve. There are several upper and lower splits available here on M&s if that would be your preference. I can't speak for Josh on this, but I can tell you from my experience that training each muscle group once a week is plenty if you train hard enough and recover properly.
Why the triceps only get 2 exercises on their own day, I get that doing chest activates the triceps as secondary muscle group but it seems not enough triceps activation on its own day
If you feel you need another one or two, feel free to add them. Some people may need more volume than others.
Hi, how heavy would you suggest going for these workouts? Should they be on the heavier side or more comfortable? And should I be increasing weight week on week?
The last sets should be heavy for sure. If you're able to increase weight from week to week, go for it. Just don't beat yourself up if you need the same week. As long as you're giving your best effort, you'll be fine.
Hi, how many days will i hiit cardio in a week? in order to obtain the lean muscle mass?
Keep cardio to twice a week, and do those on days you don't train. You should have one complete day off a week.
Hi, I would like to ask, do i need to add the weight heavy and decrease the reps in each set?
No, Osep. Use the same weight for all sets on the exercise you're doing.
I really want to try this workout but I want to be clear what it means by 2/0/2? I'm guessing that means 2 sec up 2 sec hold and 2 sec release. Just want to be sure.
2/0/2 = 2 second lower, no pause, two second lift.
Hi can I do this workout routine in the evening if I have a active day of 8000 to 10000 steps on average day time or is it too much?
You can still do it. Give it all you got! Thanks for reading M&S!
Does it matter which 4 days of the week I workout; 4 days straight or 2 one rest and then another 2;
Doing all four in a row isn't recommended. Your body can use a day in between to recover. Two on, one off is best, but if you need to do three in a row, that would be ok. Just definitely give yourself a day off after three in a row.
I'm overweight and need to be leaned , this program would help beside diet or should I try another program like ppl, upper/lower or full body .
Give this one a solid go, Ibrahim. If you have questions along the way, come on back. This combined with the guidance of this guide, and you will be well on your way!
Should we decrease 5 lbs for each set throughout the workout? What's the protocol for that? E.g. Curls: 40, 35, 30
Try to use the same weight for all sets, Thomas. If you need to reduce weight because you can't complete a set, that is okay and you should.
Should I add weight to the exercises each week (2.5-5%) to increase strength/get bigger?
What's good, Frank? If you can complete the set without compromising form, then jump 2.5% at a time. Slow and gradual jumps will help you make consistent strength gains as opposed to jumping 5% at a time and possibly hitting a plateau sooner.
which program should I choose to build a lean body?
This routine would be a good one, Trevor. Run with it for a couple of months to see how you progress.
I just finished week one of this set. Thanks for posting, it's been great so far.
I'm having a hard time keeping my back against the chair when doing the seated french press. I kept the weight lower than I'd normally go for. It may be a mobility issue. Any tips on getting better mobility in my back + shoulders? Any suggestions on replacement exercises?
Hi, Joe. Try placing your feet closer to yourself and planting them firmly before you start the set. Having the feet forward can lead to you driving your upper shoulders back, which would lead to your back becoming disconnected. Also, focus on sticking your chest out more. This could also be a cue that helps.
Hey, Do these workouts have to be perform in order? I ask because the squat racks for squats and deadlifts at my gym are hard to come by.
Hey, Charles. They should be performed in order, but yeah, sometimes things don't work out like that. (See what I did there.)
Change the order when necessary, but keep in mind the weights you use could be different.
I have a problem with a tendon or ligament on the upper, back of my elbow (not lower, like tennis elbow), that prevents me from being able to do dips. Dips are the only triceps exercise that I can't do. Is there something I can do instead of dips?
Hey Aaron, go for single arm pressdowns or neutral grip dumbbell presses with the dumbbells over the chest. Hope this helps.
i only hv pair of dumbell and bench at home. which workout i can follow to get down my 25% body fat and get a lean body
Hi, Shahrul. Give this program a try.
Is there a "muscleandstrengh" app I can download to keep track of progress?
Hey Gary, there is not an app at this time, but all of our workouts are downloadable so you keep track of progress.
How do I pick a weight that is appropriate for the rep ranges that are specified for each exercise? And how far should I push myself in each exercise? For example, if I am able to complete the first exercise of a day successfully but that tires me out and I am unable to complete the rest of the exercises, that would be bad, but also if the weights are too light it would end up being ineffective. I’m just wondering how I would go about finding that balance.
Hi, Hamza. Thanks for the comment. This is a matter of simple trial and error. Choose weights that you're confident that you can handle for the reps required. Then take notes of how easy or difficult it was. The next time you do that workout, adjust the weights accordingly. If 50 pounds was very easy, go up to 60. If 50 was hard and you didn't finish, go back to 40. Hope this helps you out.
Should I be going to failure in every set? Will doing so harm my performance in the subsequent exercises?
I wouldn't recommend going to failure on more than the last set on each exercise, Hamza. Going all out on each set will affect you later on in the workout.
Hi ! I have skinny legs and wanted to know if I want to bulk them more, should i work them twice a week instead using one of the rest days? Or will that not make much of a difference?
The program 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 8+ reps. You can certainly add extra exercises, but it is not necessary. Each muscle group is targeted with a fair amount of volume within this program. So we recommend following the workout as written.
This may be a dumb question but, is this 4 days a week training or continuous 7 days a week training just split up into 4 splits/categories. Thank you - I am new to training.
NOT a dumb question at all! Thanks for writing in. This program is 4 days a week. Please let us know if you have anymore questions about this program!