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
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration6 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

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!

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

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.

Posted on: Mon, 04/11/2022 - 08:48

hello !
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 .
thanks .

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/27/2022 - 21:50

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!

Posted on: Mon, 03/28/2022 - 15:41

Should we decrease 5 lbs for each set throughout the workout? What's the protocol for that? E.g. Curls: 40, 35, 30

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/31/2022 - 09:48

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.

Posted on: Sun, 03/06/2022 - 22:38

Should I add weight to the exercises each week (2.5-5%) to increase strength/get bigger?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/13/2022 - 19:52

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.

Posted on: Thu, 02/03/2022 - 17:53

which program should I choose to build a lean body?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 02/05/2022 - 19:49

This routine would be a good one, Trevor. Run with it for a couple of months to see how you progress.

Joe A
Posted on: Fri, 12/31/2021 - 12:20

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?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 01/03/2022 - 20:11

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.

Posted on: Thu, 11/18/2021 - 19:40

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.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 11/22/2021 - 18:40

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.

Posted on: Sun, 10/03/2021 - 12:27

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?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/15/2021 - 22:04

Hey Aaron, go for single arm pressdowns or neutral grip dumbbell presses with the dumbbells over the chest. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Sun, 09/12/2021 - 09:21

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

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/23/2021 - 18:42
Posted on: Tue, 08/24/2021 - 18:11

Is there a "muscleandstrengh" app I can download to keep track of progress?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/09/2021 - 19:42

Hey Gary, there is not an app at this time, but all of our workouts are downloadable so you keep track of progress.

Posted on: Sun, 08/22/2021 - 18:52

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.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 09/08/2021 - 15:41

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.

Posted on: Tue, 04/26/2022 - 00:07

Should I be going to failure in every set? Will doing so harm my performance in the subsequent exercises?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:29

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.

Posted on: Sat, 07/31/2021 - 05:21

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?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/04/2021 - 20:29

Sandra -

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.

Posted on: Fri, 07/30/2021 - 19:16

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.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/04/2021 - 19:53

Hey Ryan!

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!

Posted on: Tue, 06/29/2021 - 11:16

hi! im new to fitness and im trying not to bulk and I wanna lose fat on my arms and abs. I've heard that you cannot spot reduce fat and that you need to work all parts of the body in order to lose fat in the targeted area too. i don't want to lose weight but I want to build muscle and look lean. so if i eat in a calorie deficit and do this workout, will it help that?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/30/2021 - 10:04

Hey sara - since you're new to training, I'd eat in a very slight caloric deficit or even at your maintenance calories. Doing a 3x per week full body strength workout is ideal for beginners. Once you run through a program like that for 8-12 weeks, you can move to a push/pull/legs or an upper/lower split.

Posted on: Thu, 06/17/2021 - 01:24

Can I start this workout plan even if I am in 19% body fat ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/17/2021 - 08:57

Hey Agni - yes you can

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/21/2021 - 10:00

Hey Agni - reducing body fat, especially being so lean already, is highly dependent on your diet.

Posted on: Thu, 06/17/2021 - 11:25

I have one more doubt is it more difficult to reduce to 13% body fat ?
By just building the lean muscle will I be still able to reduce the fat to 13% ?


Calvin Adams
Posted on: Tue, 06/15/2021 - 08:41

Should I be doing a cardio day with this workout? I want a more toned core and a lot of what I see involves a cardio day.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/15/2021 - 08:59

Hey Calvin - you can add in a cardio day with this program! You can add in 2-3 if you feel necessary.

Posted on: Wed, 05/26/2021 - 09:20

I find myself getting done with this workout in about 30-40min with the short rest period between sets. Should I be taking longer rests in between exercises or slow my sets down with longer and more concentrated reps during the set? Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/26/2021 - 09:28

Hey Sam - this workout should only take you around 45 minutes at the longest. Sounds like you're doing it right!

Posted on: Sun, 05/09/2021 - 18:17

Should I go twice a day for this routine or should I do a small workout at home on the evening ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 05/10/2021 - 10:09

Hey Josh - this program on its own should be sufficient.

Posted on: Wed, 04/28/2021 - 18:08

Should the 4 days of workout be consecutive and then rest for 3 days and repeat?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/29/2021 - 09:24

Hey Dave - you can add in a rest day after day 2 if needed.

Posted on: Wed, 04/21/2021 - 10:58

I see this programme is only hitting one muscle group per week. Ive heard that ideally you need to hit each muscle group twice a week for good results.

Is this true ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 04/23/2021 - 10:44

Hey Lew31 - check out this article for more info:

Posted on: Thu, 03/11/2021 - 17:33

What is the recommended rest time between sets

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/16/2021 - 11:26

Hey DEC - rest can be anywhere from 30-60 seconds.

Posted on: Tue, 02/16/2021 - 06:14

Hi. Im quite lean(abs, v cut,...).
When i do this program should i do HIIT cardio or not?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/16/2021 - 09:51

Hey Nikola - yes you can. Since this is a muscle building program, keep in mind that you will need to be in a caloric surplus.

Posted on: Tue, 02/16/2021 - 10:00

When i do hiitt, should i eat more proteins or more carbs on that day? Ill be in surplus.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/16/2021 - 10:02

Your protein goal shouldn't change from day to day. You should add additional carbs.

Posted on: Tue, 02/16/2021 - 10:04

Well i read that when lean bulking,on training days i should eat 40% carbs,35%proteins and rest fat, and on rest days i eat 40%port, 35% carbs and rest fat. Thats why i am asking

Posted on: Sun, 10/11/2020 - 09:12

Do you repeat the work out every week for 6 weeks for do you increase set/ reps each week??