How to Gain Lean Muscle Mass (Part 1)


MidwestFit Team: Aug 4, 2015


One of the main reasons people go to the gym is to put on lean muscle mass. Plain and simple the gym is full of people all looking to put on muscle and maintain or decrease their fat storage. It is something that is highly desired but often misunderstood. Should you be lifting for high or low reps? What exercises should you do and in what order? What supplements will help you reach your goals? What should you be eating and when? How many carbs, proteins, fats (macronutrients) do you need in a day? To address all this we are going to post a three part blog series. This is the first of that series and it will concentrate on the type of workouts you should be doing. So, without further ado, here we go…

First we need to understand exactly what we need to do in order to get our muscles to grow. The concept is very simple: We need to overload each muscle group to a specific point in which we have torn the fibers just enough that we have not overtrained them (overtraining will destroy your gains). Then, we need to rest and refuel (eat the right food) so that the muscle can grow. Then we repeat. Each weak you will gain a little bit of strength. And in a month or two you will never look back.

So, how do we do this you ask? Well, we will work 1 muscle group a day doing heavy compound lifting exercises while also utilizing reverse pyramid training. That all sounds really fancy but it really is not at all. Heavy compound lifting exercises are exercises such as back squat, bench press, overhead military press, etc. What we like to call "Big Boy Lifts". Reverse pyramid training is when you lift your highest weight first, then if necessary we lower said weight. This is likely the opposite of what you think and if so I wouldn't be surprised.

Reverse pyramid training makes sense because you want to overload the muscles (remember what I said earlier). So why would it make sense to do your lightest weight and slowly go up? By doing this, when you get to your heaviest weight you are utilizing about 50% of the energy you had on the first lift. So instead, you want to do your heaviest weight first to utilize your max energy level, then on the next set you can lower the weight (ONLY IF YOU HAVE TO). And so on and so forth. This concept is extremely important when it comes to gaining muscle mass. Fail to execute on this and you are doing yourself a massive disservice. If you have had trouble in the past with increasing your weight on lifts like the bench press or back squat, we promise this style of training will change that. You will be shocked at the results.

Here is an example of doing reverse pyramid training with the bench press:

Set 1: 260 lbs for 4 – 6 reps

Set 2: 250 lbs for 4 – 6 reps

Set 3: 240 lbs for 4 – 6 reps

Technically, you will not want to lower the weight unless you have to. So, if you cannot do at least 4 reps, you need to lower the weight. If you can do more than 6 reps, you need to increase the weight. Keep track of your numbers and after a week you should have a good idea of the weight you should be lifting on each major lift.

The Program - Muscle Mass

If you go through the MidwestFit questionnaire and select your goal to be "Muscular" then narrow it down to the Muscle Mass program (at the bottom you will see programs get crossed off as you answer questions. Just answer the ones that get you to Muscle Mass). Program is structured as follows:

Day 1: Chest

Day 2: Back

Day 3: Shoulders

Day 4: Legs

Day 5: Arms

Day 6: Rest


(Note: ab exercises will be mixed into some of these days but we do not have an entire day for abs as that is not necessary)

This program works and WILL help you gain muscle and increase all your major lifts. We have no doubt about that. The program will have you mainly doing 3 sets of 4 - 6 reps. Seems low but this is VERY critical. The 4 - 6 rep range will really help you properly overload the muscles without overtraining them. Some bodybuilding magazines will tell you to do anywhere from 12 to 20 reps and that is just plain wrong. You do that and you WILL overtrain. PERIOD. Anyone doing that many reps is likely on steroids (don't do steroids people!) and thus will not have the same issue of overtraining i.e. they can lift really heavy for tons of reps and their muscles will still regrow. On every set you want to stay in the range that is stated for the exercise in the program. Again, this is critical. Don't screw yourself by doing lighter weight for more reps. This will not overload the muscles properly and you will be wasting a lot of time in the gym not gaining muscle and will mainly be working on endurance.

In the next part of this series we will be discussing nutrition. What kind of foods to eat and when to eat them to maximize your gains. Any questions about this article feel free to reach out to us at 

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