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
Split
Intermediate
6 weeks
4
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.

70 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:15
Ryan

Can I put leg day second instead of first. If so how can I re-order? Chest biceps first?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:43
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

Yes, that is fine to do. Simply swap the 1st 2 days.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 06/04/2018 - 16:29
richard xavier

how do I put on mass as oppose to lean muscles?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 06/05/2018 - 08:44
JoshEngland

Hi Richard,

Give this a read: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 06/02/2018 - 11:53
John

Hi Josh, I want to know if i can also lose weight and get lean while doing this lean 6 program program? because im playing basketball and i dont want to get huge and decrease my quickness and mobility.. thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/04/2018 - 11:01
JoshEngland

Hi John,

Sure, it can be used in that fashion. However, if you goal is better performance on the court - there are better programs out there. Give this one a shot: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/basketball-performance-workou...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 05/15/2018 - 12:40
Ivo

Hello,
Great split, I am motivated to try and I have some questions, please:
1. With what exercise can I substitute the Hammer Strength Chest Press becase there is no such machine in my gym for the chest?
2. On rest days can I do anabolic running/sprinting something like 2 times a week per 16 minutes each week.

Thank you very much for answer,
Ivo

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:24
JoshEngland

Hi Ivo,

Awesome! Best of luck!

1. Any chest press variation will do the trick. Feel free to pick whichever you'd like to do. A smith machine variation might be a worthy sub.

2. Sure!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 12:25
Thomas

... just finished my third week day #1 of this program an hour ago. Wondering if / when you would advise increasing weight? I was thinking in two week intervals (ie, same weight-to-set pattern this week as last week, then increase on each exercise 5 - 10 lbs next for week and hold at that the week after). I'm not new to the gym, but this is the first time in a long time I have been adhearing to a program geared toward building and just looking for advice...thanks...

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 16:29
JoshEngland

Hi Thomas,

I'd recommend increasing weight when you can. Every other week is definitely a good goal.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 02:22
Anish

Do we use the same weight in every set?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 09:28
JoshEngland

Hi Anish,

You can or you can pyramid them up. Whichever you decide, just be sure to do it consistently.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 04/01/2018 - 19:48
Andres

Hi Josh,
do you have a diet plan to build lean muscle?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 09:32
JoshEngland

Hi Andres,

Any in which you are eating enough calories to put you in the calorie surplus needed to build lean muscle tissue.

I'd recommend starting here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Add 300-500 calories and go here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-calculate-perfect-macros

Then finishing up here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 03/31/2018 - 15:19
Siva

I am 64 kg for gain weight, let me do this exercise

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Posted Sun, 03/25/2018 - 14:50
Farah Jamanur

Question - would be recommended to take an active rest day after the second day? Thank you.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:43
JoshEngland

Hi Farah,

Sure, you can do it that way.

Personally, I'd take my rest days on Wednesday and the weekends. But to each their own.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 03/23/2018 - 13:21
Tİbet

Hi josh. Finally i have found my workout. Is it ok to began to back day from vertical pulling excercise, and instead of deadlift perform barbell shrugs? (Last time when i do deadlift, i little bit hurt my back) and also add incline dumbell curl to bicep day for emphasise long head of the biceps would be optimal? Thank you very much

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/23/2018 - 16:14
JoshEngland

Hi Tİbet,

You can nix conventional deadlifts from this program if it causes you pain. However, I'd recommend working with a professional in person to help you find a pain free hip hinge alternative. It's an important movement pattern to train for everyone.

Yes, you can add in an additional bicep exercise if you wish.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 03/23/2018 - 16:31
Tİbet

Thank you very much! And the last one: what would you say about what if i began back day from pull up and lat pulldown and then perform horizontal pulling etc?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/23/2018 - 16:48
JoshEngland

That would be fine. Personally, after deadlifts, I go into a pull up variation and then go back and forth between horizontal and vertical pulls.

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Posted Fri, 03/23/2018 - 16:52
Tİbet

THank you so much.

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Posted Thu, 03/22/2018 - 09:51
Kevin

Can I swap different exercises throughout the 6 weeks? Ex. Db flys for cable crossover or DB pullovers for Hyperextensions?

Thanks,
Kevin

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/22/2018 - 12:28
JoshEngland

Hi Kevin,

Sure, you can modify this template however you see fit. However, I'd recommend keeping the exercises the same regardless of which you choose to perform for the 6 week period. This will make it easier to track your workouts and improve on those lifts during that time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/22/2018 - 19:48
Kevin

Ok, makes sense. Thank you!!

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Posted Sat, 03/17/2018 - 13:36
Andrew

Hi, will this workout actually help to lose weight with light cardio? e.g 20-40mins of fast pace walking.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/19/2018 - 09:13
JoshEngland

Hi Andrew,

Yep! Just be sure to pair it with a calorie deficit.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 03/19/2018 - 12:53
Andrew

Can i pair it up with intermitten fasting?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/19/2018 - 13:41
JoshEngland

Hi Andrew,

Sure, I don't see why not if you find that approach works best for you. So long as you're achieving that calorie deficit, you'll achieve your fat loss goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/06/2018 - 16:28
Mike

Josh,

Do I need to increase the weight every set? Or must it be the same?
Thanks for the workout. Just started today with it! was intense.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/07/2018 - 09:12
JoshEngland

Hi Mike,

That's awesome! Thanks for giving it a shot!

You can do either or. Personally, I'd keep them the same and try to increase the weight used on one set for each exercise per week.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 01/23/2018 - 10:16
Colton

Is it 2 days on and then one rest day followed by two more days lifting and then the weekend as a rest?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 01/23/2018 - 10:30
JoshEngland

Hi Colton,

Yes, that's a perfect way to set up your week with this workout program!

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Posted Sun, 01/21/2018 - 13:18
Suraj Raman

Dear sir.. this looks like an ideal plan. I play a lot of tennis. Can I combine the both. I am 90 kilos and feel a weight in the range of 85 can help my movements better. Is there a way in which I can use this plan for improving my tennis fitness and strength levels

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:22
JoshEngland

Hi Suraj,

Sure you can use this program to achieve fat loss. Find your calorie needs here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Then subtract 250-500 calories from that number to create a deficit and aim to eat that amount of calories consistently each day over during the workout program.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 12/30/2017 - 02:45
JK

Hey Josh, this looks a great workout plan - will be ideal for my New Year goals! Can you recommend an alternative for the Machine Hack Squat (I don’t have one of these in my gym)? If I was to do 8 min Sprint intervals on a treadmill at the end of each workout, do you think this would have a negative impact on my results? Appreciate the help. Regards

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 01/02/2018 - 09:17
JoshEngland

Hi JK,

Awesome dude! Hope you enjoy the program!

For hack squats, you could go with barbell hack squats or leg press. Both would be fine substitutions.

On the sprints, it shouldn't. Just make sure you are eating accordingly to your goals and getting enough sleep each night.

Hope this helps!

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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
JoshEngland

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
JoshEngland

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
divesh

sir please tell me leg exercise for running purpose

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

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
Mitz

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
JoshEngland

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
Steve

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
JoshEngland

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
JoshEngland

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