How To Design A Weight Training Program For Growth – Muscle Growth Part 1

Looking to build more lean muscle mass on your frame? If so, getting a good workout program in order will be essential to your success.

Many people think that all that’s involved in building lean muscle mass is hitting the gym and lifting some free weights. While it is true that this definitely is necessary to see muscle growth occurring, it takes more than just a bit of lifting to get the results that you’re likely after.

You need to be putting together a workout program in a particular way that’s going to ensure that you are able to maximize the growth process and see optimal results.

Let’s go over what you should know about how to grow larger through a smart weight training program.

Exercise Selection

The very first thing that you must consider is your exercise selection. When you’re aiming to build muscle, you have two primary goals in mind.

They are to lift as much weight as possible and use as many muscle fibers at once as you can. By doing so, you’ll get a far higher testosterone release, which then means you move that much closer to your end goal – a new and improved muscular body.

Now, which exercises are best going to help you do this?

Compound movements.  For the fastest results with any muscle building workout plan, you want to focus around doing exercises that work more than one muscle group at once.

This means doing exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, shoulder presses, bent over rows, and the chest press.

These movements will create a far greater growth response in the body that will pack on lean muscle in no time.

This isn’t to say you can’t use some isolation exercises, which are exercises that will stimulate just a single muscle group at once; it’s just that they should be at a lower percentage when looking at the entire workout program.

Add one or two isolation exercises towards the end if you really feel the need.

Rep And Set Ranges

Second, it’s important that you choose your reps and sets carefully as well.  You’ll want to aim to complete somewhere around 8-12 reps for most exercises when you have the goal of increasing muscle growth.

While this may not allow you to see quite the same strength gains as using the lower rep range of around 5-6 reps would, it’s more conducive to size gains.

You’ll still gain some strength, but that strength will be accompanied by more muscle mass overall.  You’ll create a more anabolic environment in the body using this slightly higher rep range.

Don’t ever go beyond 12 reps though as then you’d be lifting too light of a weight.

For your total set number, you want the sweet spot of around 3-5 sets for most compound exercises, and one to two sets for isolation exercises.

Don’t go overboard here either or you will start to over train.

Rest Periods

The rest periods are the next thing to consider as you develop your strength training workout program to build more lean muscle mass.

Rest periods will influence testosterone and growth hormone release, and will also determine how much weight you lift with each set you do.

Therefore, you don’t want the rest periods to be too short or you won’t be able to lift heavy, but not too long either or you’ll lose the hormonal response you could be seeing.

Aim for around 60-90 seconds for most exercises. This will be the happy middle ground so that you can see the best results while still maintaining good form and avoiding injury.

Bring a timer with you to the gym if you have to in order to see precisely how long you’re taking for each rest between your sets that you do.

Workout Split

The next component to look at when determining your strength training program to build muscle mass is your workout split.

This is where far too many people go wrong. They think that the more often they are in the gym, the better the results they’ll see.

As such, they adopt a body part split which has them working out five times per week, with just two days off.  Sadly, they see very little results.

Remember, you don’t grow while you’re in the gym.  You grow when you’re outside of the gym resting and recovering.

If you’re in the gym so frequently you never rest, you aren’t going to be making progress.

Furthermore, for best results you want to work each muscle group at least twice per week and the five day workouts typically have you working just one muscle group once per week.

It’s simply not ideal.

Instead, opt for a full body workout or an upper/lower split pattern set-up. This is the way to see fast results and can be easily used by both beginners as well as advanced trainees.

Cardio Training

Finally, the last thing to take into account is cardio training. You’ll hear mixed advice on cardio training – some people feel it should be avoided entreily while some say do it often to avoid fat gain.

First, realize that fat gain is a function of diet, not lack of cardio. If you’re gaining fat, you need to reduce your calorie intake slightly.

But second, cutting out all cardio is a mistake as well. You should still perform some as it will help with recovery, it’ll help keep you appetite higher, and it’ll help to keep you in shape so that you can return to cardio when you need to focus on fat loss.

Do 2-3, 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio each week. You don’t want to do intense cardio however as that would sacrifice the recovery you make from your weight lifting workouts.

So there you have everything that you need to know about designing a proper weight training program. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be seeing size gains in no time.


Martin Bolduc, CPT, ACE, CFNS
2008 Lean Body Challenge Champion

About the Author
Martin Bolduc is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Express Fat loss” and the winner of the Lean Body Challenge 2008. Martin  is a Certified Personal Trainer ACE and Certified  Fitness Nutrition Specialist. He is a natural bodybuilder in the INBF. Martin helps hundreds of clients to reach their fitness goals.