In this program we concentrate on building lean defined muscle rather than bulk or volume, this will result in an athletic build. The program consists of lower reps, heavier weights and longer rest. This ensures that maximum effort can be made during each set and each exercise. The weights used will be about 80% of the maximum and due to this more rest will be given for recovery between sets.

Larger muscle groups are trained first as they require more effort and therefore more energy.

Basic exercises are used so that form can be concentrated on, as well as allowing for higher weights to be used.

The theory of training to a maximum weight on one set of a major muscle group is also used. Training in this manner occasionally ensures that the person exercising innervates more muscle fibers than are usually used, ensuring maximum effort. This increases strength and is a key contributor to an increase in lean muscle gains. This is an excellent way to break through training plateaus, where the body seems to have temporarily stopped improving.

The Weekly Schedule

Use the sessions as described below in combination on each day of the week:

DayTraining/Cardio SessionAbs/Core
MondayTraining Session 1Core
TuesdayCardio Session 1Abs 1
WednesdayTraining Session 2Core
ThursdayCardio Session 2
FridayTraining session 3Core
SaturdayCardio Session 3Abs 2
SundayRest Day

Click here to view each training session and a brief description of the muscle groups:

Training Session 1

Training Session 2

Training Session 3

Abs and Core

Cardiovascular Sessions

Brief Description of the Muscle Groups

Training Session 1

Working your Legs, Glutens and Lower Back

Forward Lunges3101 minConcentrate on balance and coordination
Back Squats381 minContract core muscles
Leg Curls3101 minSlow and Controlled
Leg Extension381 minSlow and Controlled
Leg Press381 minLast set as heavy as you can; 4-6 reps, maximum effort
Back Extension3101 minSlow controlled movements; Done to ensure that abs and back strength ratios are correct

Training Session 2

Focusing on your Chest, Triceps and shoulders

Flat Bench Press with Dumbells3830 secSqueeze dumbells together at the top to work the inner pecs
Barbell Bench Press3830 sec3rd set as heavy as possible; 4-6 reps
Cable Crossovers31030 secSlow controlled movements both on contraction and relaxation
Military Press31030 secContract core muscles
Shoulder Shrugs31230 sec
Reverse Tricep Extensions31230 secKeep elbows as close together as possible
Seated Tricep Press4830 sec

Training Session 3

Training your Back, Biceps and Calves

Lat Pull Down380Superset
Seated Row3101 minConcentrate on pulling shoulder blades together
Bent Over Row3101 minSlow and Controlled
Alternating Dumbell Curls3161 min8 reps a side
Cable Double Bicep Curls381 minSlow and Controlled
Hammer Curls3161 min8 reps a side
Bent Leg Toe Press3101 min
Seated Calf Raises3151 minStraight, inside, outside

Abs and Core

To be done with Cardio

ExerciseMuscle GroupSetsRepsRestNote
Bridge with Leg ExtensionErector Spinae30 sec4302 sets per side
Standard BridgeEntire Core60 sec215 sec
Side BridgeAbdominal30 sec215 sec2 sets per side
3 inchesAbdominal60 sec215 sec
Abs 1
CrunchesAbdominal20Super Set x3
Side CrunchesAbdominal15
Reverse CrunchesAbdominal20
Abs 2
Seated Flat Leg Pull InsAbdominal41530 secSuperset x3
Hanging Leg RaisesAbdominal31030 sec
Hanging Torso RotationAbdominal31630 sec

Cardiovascular Work

Trainers can select from any of the following modes of large muscle group rhythmic exercises:
•    Rowing
•    Stepper
•    Cycling
•    Running
•    Cross training
•    Swimming
This choice is then used to perform the cardiovascular exercise sessions described below.

Cardio Session 1 – Choose a few of the modes listed above and spend 5min on each, with a focus on high intensity. Make quick changes after each 5min is up, and get going again. Continue this for 20-40min in total. It is important that you have maintained a sustained HARD effort throughout.

Cardio Session 2 – This is an interval session. Choose one of the modes listed above and perform the work in the following way: spend 2min working very hard, followed by 1min of easy recovery, then repeat the sequence for a total of 20-30min. Ensure you recover well enough on the easy parts to be able to work hard for the 2min bursts.

Cardio Session 3 – Choose a maximum of 2 of the modes listed above. You have 30-50min in total to perform as much work as possible. That means, in a continuous effort, try to get the most distance, calories, or average power over the whole workout. This is what is meant by a time trial attempt. You will need to work hard and sustain the effort.

Brief Description of the Muscle Groups

Legs – Consist of the Quads at the front of the thigh, the Hamstrings which make up the back of the thigh, the Hip flexors which include the abductors on the outside of the leg and the adductors on the inside of the leg.

Gluteus – These are the big muscles covering the butt.

Lower Back – The erector spinae, which extends the back, aids in good posture and is part of the core group of muscles.

Chest – The muscles of the chest are known as the Pecs, they are the large fan shaped muscles that covers the front of the upper chest.

Shoulders – They consist of the Trapezius, which run from the back of the neck to the shoulder and the deltoids, the cap of the shoulder.

Triceps – The back of the upper arm, which is exercised by pushing movements.

Biceps – Muscles includes the Latisimus Dorsi or the Lats, which are the large muscles of the mid back, they give the back a nice V shape, making the waist appear smaller. It also includes the Rhomboids which are situated in the middle of the upper back, between the shoulder blades.

Calves – The lower leg, made up of the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The gastrocnemius gives the calf its round shape and the soleus runs beneath it.



  1. Just what i have been looking for. I also have a question if anyone actually reads the comments. Im right handed and use the right side of my body more than my left, and have noticed obviously my right side is better built than my left how do i get it so they both at the same level of muscle mass, or will this even itself out over time?

    • Hi Shaun, there are a few methods we would recommend, first of all, make sure your technique is perfect, as like you said, you will balance out over time. you could also target weaker muscles with maybe a few extra sets or an individual exercise.

  2. I would just like to ask for the cardio sessions, could i replace those days with running? for example Cardio Session 1 – 5 k run, Cardio Session 2 – 8 K run, Cardio Session 3 – 10 k run!

  3. Would this also help women looking to build lean muscle? I was told that to build lean muscle you can use lighter weights with higher reps and sets. Is this correct?

    • Hi Samantha, yes to both of your questions, that’s a common training method for those looking to build lean muscle, good luck #ChallengeYourself

  4. Hi,

    Looks like a good plan, however in between sets would you increase the weight if so by how much? Or would you keep the weight heavy throughout the whole exercise?


    • Hi Ranjit, we’d recommend sticking to the 80% limit with this routine and see how you get on. #TeamUSN

  5. Team USN, programme looks great. However I am 36, lean but slightly underweight (1,77 m; 81 kg) due to a 6 month out of training period. I am hesitant about the cardio as I do lose weight easily. I would love to weigh in on 85/86 kg. Any advice?

  6. Hi, I was wondering how many weeks you would still to this and how often would you up the weight? Also how do I find out what would be 80% of my maximum ? Thanks

    • Hi Freddy, we’d recommend changing your workout after 12 weeks, even if it’s a few exercises. Regarding your max lift, that would be 80% of the most you can lift of each exercise.


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