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.

144 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 03/20/2019 - 07:16
Alexander Ramov...

Nice and simple workout here thanks!
Just wondering - how should i split the sets? 2 days on, a day rest, then 2 days on again?
Also on my rest days is it ok to do cardio or will that affect my muscle growth?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:34

Hi Alex,

That split would be perfect. Yes, you can do cardio on your rest days. It shouldn't affect your muscle growth and may actually promote it depending on the form of cardio you do and your nutrition.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:34

Hi Alex,

That split would be perfect. Yes, you can do cardio on your rest days. It shouldn't affect your muscle growth and may actually promote it depending on the form of cardio you do and your nutrition.

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Posted Fri, 03/15/2019 - 00:30

Hi Josh
I am a bit confused with regard to weight. What weight should be lifted for fat burning should it be low weights or heavy. Appreciate if it could be clarified.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:35

Hi Syed,

Weight selection doesn't really change during fat loss phases. Training and intensity can remain fairly regular regardless of what phase you are in.

What will be different is your nutrition. For fat loss, aim to be in a deficit and consume as much protein necessary to prevent muscle loss.

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Posted Thu, 02/28/2019 - 21:11

Josh. I always thought working a bodypart once a week isn’t sufficient for naturals. And it’s on good for people on Gear. For naturals I thought you should hit each bodypart at least twice a week due to protein synthesis . Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/01/2019 - 11:51

Hi Steve,

Yes, for the goal of building muscle, more frequent training bouts will be beneficial. This is scientifically proven. That's not to say body part splits don't have their place in muscle building.

What a lot of science fails to acknowledge is the enjoyment level of the program. Someone who enjoys body part splits and is more consistent with their training is going to have more success than someone who does full body workouts 3-4 times per week inconsistently over time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 02/28/2019 - 14:33

Can i add one day fullbody workout to this program?
If i want to compose fullbody routine with this routine
What does workout look like?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/01/2019 - 11:55

Hi Taher,

Sure, that should be fine.

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Posted Sat, 02/23/2019 - 07:31

how should i eat on rest days

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/25/2019 - 09:17

Hi Alex,

Similarly to how you eat on your weight training days.

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Posted Sun, 02/10/2019 - 19:39

Ehat about cardioin this 6 week

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:29

Hi Manuel,

You're more than welcome to pair cardio with this program if you wish.

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Posted Sun, 01/27/2019 - 08:40

Hi Josh, i am a beginner and about to start with your program. The information i seek was nowhere to be found in all the different fitness plans, maybe it is something totaly obvious, but i dont know it. I am supposed to do these excersises one after another (like all sets of one excersise and than continue with different excersise) or i do them simultineously (like one set of this then one set of the next one and so on). Thanks for your reaction!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/28/2019 - 09:49

Hi John,

Perform all the sets of one exercise prior to continuing with the next exercise.

Best of luck with the program!

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Posted Fri, 01/04/2019 - 12:40
Trevor Cruce

So with these work outs where it says for example 4x10 would you still get the results of lean muscle/mass if you start at the top of the pyramid with your real 10 rep weight and go down. Since it progressively gets harder,, is it saying in the work out go down in weight from there?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 01/04/2019 - 16:09

Hi Trevor,

Sure, you could do it that way. Personally, I start out programs using the same weight for each set and then as the weeks go on try to move up in weight on at least one set per exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 12/26/2018 - 15:24

I have a question about rear delt training before or after back. Is it okay to train rear delts the day before or after back? It looks like if you did 2 days on 1 day of that is how the program would play out (back then shoulders and triceps the next day).

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 01/02/2019 - 13:52

Hi Ryan,

It should be fine. If you're concerned tho, you can alter this program in whatever way you feel best fits your needs and experience level.

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Posted Sat, 12/15/2018 - 03:07

Can this program help me get lean mass im trying to shape up a bit

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Posted Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:00

Hi Josh,

This plan gave a well built body but has some Tummy abs. Can I add cardio on my upper body training days?
When is the right time to take mass gaining supplements?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:57

Hi Vinod,

Sure, you can add cardio to this program. If your goal is fat loss, I wouldn't recommend mass gaining supplements.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:26

Would i be able to add some more tricpes exircises or do you think that isn¨t needed?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 14:02

Hi Matias,

Sure, you can add in some additional tricep work if you feel it's necessary.

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Posted Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:54

I loved the routine it really helped me build some muscle, for years I've had trouble knowing what to workout & what machines worked out what. Finding this made it so easy & had it laid out perfectly.. I've recomended this plan to all my friends & followers. The videos, instructions, & tips helped out a lot in correcting my form or explaining what to do. I just finished week 6 yesterday & now I'm take the week to relax, but ready to hit the gym again in no time! Thank you very much man)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 12/04/2018 - 09:40

Hi Adam,

That is awesome my friend! Glad you enjoyed the program and thank you for recommending it to others!

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Posted Sun, 12/02/2018 - 03:48

How do I know what weights to add on to start this workout with? Seeing how there are multiply ones in this one. Should I go from high to low ex sample 15, 10, 5? or low to high 10, 15, 20?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 12/03/2018 - 12:31

Hi Mike,

You can use the same weight if you'd like. Or you can pyramid up or down based on your personal preference.

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Posted Fri, 11/23/2018 - 12:40
Anish Soman

What about cardio??

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 11/23/2018 - 13:07

Hi Anish,

Sure, you can incorporate cardio into this program if you feel it's necessary to accomplish your goals.

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Posted Wed, 11/07/2018 - 12:38

Hi Josh,
My goal is to loose about 25lbs as well and tone back up becasue I just had a baby ( I have been cleared by my doctor to workout). My issue spot is in fact my stomach and I know I need to add in Cardio and potentially ab work, but I dont know for sure if abs will really help or what type HIIT, interval or 2- 3 miles runs?

Also I have changed me eating habbits to veggies, protien and water only about 3 weeks ago with fasting for 16 hours ( from dinner to lunch the next day) and havent lost much weight as well as I get really fatigued and some times light headed in the gym and outside. Can you explain what im might be doing wrong?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 11/07/2018 - 16:40

Hi Kym,

"Spot reduction" is somewhat of a myth at this point. The best approach is a well-rounded workout program that will help you maintain lean muscle mass and burn calories so you can look leaner.

In terms of your eating habits, the best approach is a balanced approach. Eating nothing but protein and veggies will make you deficient in carbohydrates and fats, as well as a some micronutrients. Not eating enough and not getting enough out of your diet in terms of nutrients might be why you're experiencing these.

Make smaller changes and implement more balanced approaches - and do this consistently and you'll see the results you are hoping for.

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Posted Sun, 11/04/2018 - 01:00

So we just follow the same 4 days for 6 weeks???

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 11/05/2018 - 08:37

Hi Ian,

Yes, that is correct. Track you workouts and try to improve week to week.

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2018 - 13:33
Matt Flores

What about cardio?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:17

Hi Matt,

You can add cardio to this program as desired and depending on your individual goals. Personally, I'd add in hiit variables on workout days and low intensity steady state on rest days.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 10/22/2018 - 17:33
Matt Flores

It does!!! Thank you!!! I plan to 20-30mins of low steady state cardio after each workout.

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Posted Sun, 10/14/2018 - 20:38

Hey Josh, loving this plan so far! I'm in the second week and just had a few questions. First, legs pretty much make doing cardio and abs impossible to complete for two days afterwards, so is it possible to make leg day my last workout of the week? Also wondering what exercise i can do to replace hyperextensions and hack squats as my gym doesn't have these machines. And finally for bent over barbell rows do you mean reverse rows? Thanks very much, loving the program!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:20

Hi Brendan,

Thank you for the kind words!

Sure, you can switch leg days for the end of the week.

Try barbell hack squats: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/barbell-hack-squat.html

Supermans: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/superman

And yes, I did mean barbell rows. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/bent-over-barbell-row.html

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 10/08/2018 - 20:11

Hi Josh, I’m just in the first week of this program and loving it so much, I’ve always struggled sticking to plans but this is lenient enough in terms of working around my schedule that it’s great! You also got me to do legs which is pretty impressive since i almost always leave that to running and stairmaster lol, thanks very much for taking the time to make this and making it free!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 10/09/2018 - 10:02

Hi Sarah,

That makes me so happy that you're getting good use out of the program and it's helping you in someway. That's exactly why I put out this content. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for giving my programs a try!

Best of luck with your goals!

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Posted Sun, 10/07/2018 - 05:14

Hi Josh, I’ve just started your 6 week program. I was wondering, when should I be putting in the rest days? Every other day, or two days workout, one day rest? Or 4 days workout and 3 days rest?
Thanks in advance!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:58

Hi Jesse,

You can add in the 3 rest days whenever it best suits your schedule each week.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 10/02/2018 - 19:07
Guillermo Guzman

For this workout , am I supposed to take breaks or should I keep working out the whole week, without stopping ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 10/05/2018 - 11:13

Hi Guillermo,

3 rest days per week - choose them based on when you need to take them.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 10/02/2018 - 19:04
Guillermo Guzman

What days should I rest ? Can I rotate them?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 10/05/2018 - 11:12

Hi Guillermo,

Whichever days best fit your schedule. They don't necessarily have to be on set days each week.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 09/30/2018 - 18:33
Drew Peterson

Looking to replace fat with muscle. I have about 10 lbs I would like to turn to muscle. How do I mix cardio in with this? Would 20 minutes of jogging before or after each workout be to much?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/01/2018 - 10:21

Hi Drew,

This program can help you with your goals. However, you can't turn fat into muscle. That's not how it works. You can build muscle, you can burn fat, but you can't turn fat into muscle tissue.

You can add in cardio to this workout to increase the amount of calories you burn. I'd recommend performing it after your weight lifting sessions.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 09/24/2018 - 18:31
Gary Hoey

1. Should I do a warm up before starting a workouts for the day ?

Should I do any Cardio during the week ? like 25 mins for a couple days out of the 4 ?