Lean Bulk Workouts
Another key aspect of a lean bulk plan is resistance training. And, just like nutrition, there are several factors that you can adjust to optimize your workouts.
Those factors are exercises, reps, rest periods, and volume. In addition, I’ll teach you how to mix cardio with your weight training to keep fat at bay.
5. Mix Compound & Isolation Exercises
When your goal is muscle gain, compound exercises are king. This includes squats, bench press, and deadlift. As well as any movement that uses multiple muscle groups in unison.
In addition, you should include some isolation exercises. These generally use only one muscle group. Such as leg extensions, cable flys, or bicep curls.
Include 1 to 4 compound exercises per workout depending on the muscle group being worked.
6. Use Medium to Low Rep Range
In resistance training, the number of reps per set generally correlates with the weight being lifted. That is, the heavier the weight, the lower the reps, and vice versa.
For example, powerlifters commonly lift heavy weights for less than 5 reps to build strength. Whereas conditioning workouts often consist of 20 reps or more. And bodybuilders usually target 8-12 reps.
When your goal is optimizing muscle gain, it’s best to live in the low to medium rep range. That means you fail after 5 to 12 reps with a given weight.
Perform some exercises in the 5-10 rep range and others in the 8-12 rep range.
7. Rest ≥ 90 Seconds Between Sets
An often overlooked aspect of resistance training is the rest period between sets. Most people don’t pay attention to the importance of the downtime between the action.
However, the amount of time you take between sets has a direct effect on your power output as well as the energy system used.
Too short of a rest period and you overload your cardiovascular system before making your muscles fail. But too long and the muscles won’t be stimulated to grow.
Rest for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes between sets.
8. Low Volume, High Intensity
In resistance training, “volume” is the total number of sets you do in a workout. And there is an indirect correlation between volume and intensity. That means as volume increases, intensity decreases.
In other words, you can work hard or you can work long. But you can’t do both!
Once again, lean bulking is about balance. You can’t be in and out of the gym in 30 minutes. But you can’t be doing marathon workouts at half-ass intensity either.
Target 24 to 30 sets per workout with high intensity – meaning every set ends in muscular failure.
9. A Little Cardio Goes A Long Way
Last but not (not) least, is cardio. Many bodybuilders, including myself, tend to avoid cardio during bulking season. Because it just means you have to eat even more to be in a surplus.
But cardio does have its place in a lean bulk. And recently, I’ve found more value in using cardio as a tool to balance your daily metabolic state. That’s because cardio is inherently catabolic, especially when carbs and calories are low.
Therefore, I recommend doing cardio a few days a week in the fasted state. This maximizes fat burning and sets you up to be more anabolic later in the day.