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!

Editor's Note: Make sure you’re doing all the right things you need to be doing to build lean muscle mass. For those looking for a more in-depth resource to teach them how to build muscle, we’ve created a FREE 5 day Muscle Building Email Course.

The course will teach you how your body builds muscle, how to utilize workout plans on our website to maximize muscle growth, how to eat to build muscle, how to supplement to build muscle and how to track your progress.

Sign up below today to learn and ensure you get the most out of this workout program.

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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.

218 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 07/29/2020 - 23:57
Utsav karki

Should I do 4 of the workouts continuously and then rest for 3 days and repeat? Or 1st workout, rest day, 2nd workout, rest day and so on?

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2020 - 09:10

Hey Utsav

The split I'd recommend for these workouts would be Day 1, Day 2, REST, Day 3, Day 4, REST, REST, Repeat.

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Posted Fri, 06/19/2020 - 00:42

hello josh, one thing striking in mind . this 4 days workout have to do regularly from monday to thursday or its also ok if i completed all my workouts within a week . thanks

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2020 - 09:12

Hey Manny

I'd recommend having at least 1 rest day somewhere between the 4 exercises. For example, if you start the program on a Monday, you'll have a rest day Wednesday.

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Posted Sun, 05/24/2020 - 15:09

I just finished all the exercise (leg day) do I repeat them again or just one time ?

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2020 - 09:13

Hey Brandon

Once you've finished all of your sets and reps for the exercise you're done for the day.

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Posted Tue, 02/18/2020 - 13:18
Manny O

Hi Josh,

I have been through multiple workout plans with shredding, cutting and bulking yet I have always found lean bulking was the one for me since I've found more results in lean bulking than any other process. How is this workout program you offer beneficial to the lean bulking process? What kind of supplements do you recommend to take to support the lean bulk process such as greens, protein powder, mass gainer, fat burners, etc..? Also what is the recommended rep method to increase strength and weight on the sets? I saw you preform the pyramid rep method as that goes from 10,8,6,4, to 4, 6,8,10 is that correct?

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Posted Sun, 02/09/2020 - 21:37

Hi I’m doing this program to build lean muscle, I’m also training hit cardio in the morning Followed by weight training in the afternoon will the gym workout prevent me from losing weight or will it assist as I’m burning more calories,. My goal is to lose a lot of fat weight and maintain muscle.

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Posted Mon, 02/10/2020 - 12:06

Hi Steve,

It all depends on how you're recovering. You can still lose body fat without cardio depending on your diet and lifestyle. There's a lot of factors that go into it. But, to answer your questions, you can do all of the things listed so long as you're recovering.

You also don't have to do so much. It takes time to lose weight and doing less could be more efficient if it makes it more sustainable for you.

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Posted Sun, 01/12/2020 - 13:20
Paul Peatroy

Hi Josh.
Been a while since I've been in the gym and this looks like an awesome routine.
Just a quick question and apologies of you've previously answered.
If increasing weight between sets, should we tweak this routine slightly and decrease the reps or keep it to the recommended reps?


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Posted Mon, 01/13/2020 - 10:20

Hi Paul,

That's definitely a strategy you could implement to make this program more intense if you wish.

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Posted Mon, 01/13/2020 - 11:46
Paul Peatroy

Thanks for the reply Josh.

Much appreciated

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Posted Tue, 01/07/2020 - 14:00

Should I do 4 of the workouts continuously and then rest for 3 days and repeat? Or 1st workout, rest day, 2nd workout, rest day and so on?

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Posted Wed, 01/08/2020 - 15:22

Hi Ralph,

As written, it's meant to be a 4 day per week workout. I'd personally set it up M, T, Th, S.

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Posted Thu, 01/09/2020 - 06:46

Alright, thanks Josh!

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Posted Tue, 12/17/2019 - 14:04
Nate daddario

Hi, I am sixteen, and have been doing this for the past three weeks, and I have two questions. 1 how do I know how much to lift and 2 I have anorexia and struggle to eat a lot without working out (pushups, pull-ups squats) constantly afterwards even if I already did the excercise. Do you have any suggestions or advice?

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Posted Sun, 12/01/2019 - 02:45
Kuntal Das

Can i do cardio before starting the workouts...plzz reply me ...

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Posted Mon, 12/02/2019 - 15:14

Hi Kuntal,

You can, but I would recommend doing it post-workout.

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:01

Hey Ifthihan

I recommend 15-30 minutes of cardio post-workout.

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Posted Wed, 08/05/2020 - 00:40

Hi I have been doing workout past 7 weeks
I just want to start this lean muscle program , btw can lose fat during this workout ? How much cardio should I do to lose fat as well ? Please reply me

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Posted Sun, 11/10/2019 - 21:53

Hi Josh,

You mentioned in a comment that you like to pyramid up your weight within an exercise. However, for a 4x10 set, in order to choose a weight that's challenging for 10 reps on my fourth set, I would have to use a weight on my first set that's fairly easy. Would you mind explaining a little further?


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Posted Mon, 11/11/2019 - 10:24

Hi Doug,

That's fair. In instances I do this, my first couple sets are significantly easier. Personally, I slow down tempo and really focus on the eccentric and concentric movement to make it more challenging. It's not a strategy everyone would agree with, especially if maximizing your working sets is your goal due to some sort of competitive aspriations. But for most recreational fitness enthusiasts, it works wonders in helping promote longevity while still getting in some good workouts.

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Posted Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:13

Hi! seems to be a nice workout! What's the %rm for each exercise?

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Posted Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:14

Hi Yorgui,

No recommended %rm for each exercise. Instead, go with RPE.

Use a 8-9 RPE on main compound lifts and 9-10 RPE on machine/accessory work.

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Posted Mon, 10/14/2019 - 11:17

so for example.
Day 1: Legs

1. Squat 8-9 RPE
2. Machine Hack Squat 9-10 RPE
3. Stiff Legged Deadlift 8-9 RPE
4. Leg Curl 9-10 RPE
5. Dumbbell Lunge 8-9 RPE
6. Leg Press Calf Raises 9-10 RPE
7. Seated Calf Raises 9-10 RPE

or am i wrong?

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Posted Mon, 10/14/2019 - 13:27

Hi Yorgui,

You nailed it!

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Posted Tue, 09/03/2019 - 20:26
Khalieq Ahamad

Hi I would just like to enquire that after you,v done your workout, how many minutes should you run on treadmill and how many calories should you burn,

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Posted Wed, 09/04/2019 - 10:59

Hi Khalieq,

Depends on your goals and lifestyle outside of the gym. If you're fairly active in your day-to-day life, you may not need additional cardio. If you're fairly sedentary, you might want to do enough to increase your actvity level for the day.

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 11:03

I enjoyed this workout. I gained lean muscle on this program. Even the wife noticed. I am going to do another cycle this week.
Workouts need extreme effort to be beneficial.

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 13:19

That's awesome, Dre! Congrats on your progress!

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Posted Fri, 08/16/2019 - 12:39

I like the look of this workout. I'm currently overweight but with a caloric deficit and this program will it help with fat loss?

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Posted Fri, 08/16/2019 - 16:27

Hi Manny,

Yep! You can utilize this program in a calorie deficit to lose weight.

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Posted Fri, 08/02/2019 - 13:28

Biceps day before back? Will that not affect back performance?

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Posted Fri, 08/02/2019 - 15:36

Hi Ben,

Easy fix. Utilize Wednesday as one of your rest days.

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Posted Mon, 07/22/2019 - 21:40

Great workout! Did it for 8 weeks and pack on 10 lbs. Each week I added 5-10lbs to my sets to push myself a little harder. Highly recommend this workout!

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Posted Wed, 07/10/2019 - 13:47
Azhar qazi

Hi josh..3month ago my body weight 76 i train harder to lose body fat ..now my current weight 64 ..i consume 1800 calories in a day..now i want some muscles building program..which program is for me..give me plz

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Posted Wed, 07/10/2019 - 14:09

Hi Azhar,

The program on this page is a great program for those looking to build muscle.

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Posted Thu, 07/04/2019 - 03:46

Amazing article. Its very important to know about all days exercise plan.

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Posted Fri, 06/21/2019 - 04:24
Fajer Alhamwi

Hey i never went to gym, iam 17, is it okey follow this program??? I am a bit skinny

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Posted Mon, 06/24/2019 - 11:12

Hi Fajer,

I'd recommend one of these instead: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/beginner

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Posted Fri, 06/21/2019 - 01:26

Hi Josh, I'm a beginner. Are the routines per day supposed to be done in the order they're listed? Can I achieve the same results if I don't do them sequentially, esp. since my gym gets crowded usually. Thanks in advance!

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Posted Mon, 06/24/2019 - 11:14

Hi AJ,

Yes, they are meant to be performed in the order listed - however, if equipment is being used, you can bounce around the program as needed.

For beginners, I'd recommend starting with one of these: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/beginner

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Posted Tue, 06/25/2019 - 03:21

Thanks for your response. Appreciate it!

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Posted Fri, 06/07/2019 - 21:03

Hi Josh,
How much weight should I be going up each session and or week? I’m excited to get started! I’m
Trying to get lean and strong, I’m hoping this can help.

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Posted Mon, 06/10/2019 - 10:04

Hi Stephanie,

It depends on the weights you have access to. Some gyms have dumbbells in 1lb increments, 2.5lb increments, and 5lb increments. Barbells, you'll usually have to jump ~5lbs at a time. There's nothing wrong with increasing slowly if able to do so. So long as you are increasing the weight used, you'll see results. Good luck with the program! Hope you enjoy it!

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Posted Thu, 05/30/2019 - 07:38

Hi Josh,

I have 2 questions regarding the program, the weigh will be increasing each set or remains the same? can i do it for 5x/week?

thanks for your help

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Posted Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:52

Hi David,

You can really do either or. I like to pyramid my weight up during my sets, but everyone has their own preferences. So long as you are increasing weight throughout the duration of the program, you'll see results.

Sure! Just cycle through the workouts on training days.

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Posted Sat, 05/25/2019 - 21:18
Servando Garcia Jr.

The gym I go to does not have reverse pec deck machine. What should I do instead?

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 14:42

Hi Servando,

Any chest fly variation will do the trick.

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Posted Fri, 05/17/2019 - 13:37

my goal is build muscle and hit fat plz suggest me