A Behind the Scenes Look at how to Gain Lean Muscle Mass Part 3

In the summer of 2021, five members from Curtis Bartlett Fitness Center participated in an all-natural body building show. We learned an uber amount about gaining lean muscle mass. In my last couple of newsletters, I wrote about our diet and today you will gain insights from our strength training protocol. 

Lifting for Lean Muscle Gain

1.   Hit all the muscle groups. There is a lot of debate on full body workouts (engages all or most of your muscle groups during one session with less volume per muscle) versus a split workout plan that separates muscle groups from one another (more volume but each muscle group only once a week). I have deployed both approaches with positive results. 


Our body building coach favored a split plan. We worked out five days a week with two recovery days – legs, chest, back, off/recovery, delts, arms, off/recovery. During the bulking phase we did less cardio and when it was time to lean up or “cut,” we increased cardio. If your goal is wellness, without competing, you may choose a 3-day split such as back/biceps, chest/triceps and legs/delts. The key take-away from body building is work your whole body in order to look and feel your best.

2.   Don’t overthink weight, reps or sets. I get stopped frequently in the gym from members who quiz me about how heavy they should lift or how many reps and/or sets are best. For overall health, any movement or strength training helps. To increase your performance, you need progressive overload (gradually adding intensity). The magic is in doing it, not necessarily how you do it. For example, I can:

·     Add more weight

·     Keep weight the same, but add reps

·     Work faster in between sets


All of the above will put more stress on your body and help you to becomes stronger or increase endurance. I sometimes say it this way, “If you want to work your butt off, work your butt off!”

3.   Proper form prevents injury and builds muscle. I give horseback riding lessons to people who have never been on a horse. If you don’t know how to lift properly, seek out a personal trainer to learn proper form. Not only will this prevent injury, you will understand mind and muscle connection, maximizing each lift. 


I worked out with my son, Caleb, during my first year of body building. Although he is much stronger than me, I was surprised to learn that I was lifting similar weight. Why? He was truly isolating the muscle/s he was working and I was losing focus trying to impress myself with the weight I was pushing or pulling. With his help, I started using better form and concentrating on the muscle I was engaging rather than on the exercise itself. My lifting weight decreased, my muscle mass increased, and my body fat shrunk. Mission accomplished!

If you would like a detailed list of my daily lifting routine, showing every exercise for each muscle group, email me at the address below. In meantime, live inspired and stay strong.


William S. (‘Sam’) Bartlett is a leadership practitioner who has guided both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to high levels of success. Sam’s diverse experiences have made him a sought after motivational speaker and consultant to results driven companies. He is a noted authority in the areas of team building, employee engagement, customer service, conflict management, leadership, and what it means to “live inspired.” Sam has a love and passion to help others succeed. At 62, he compet

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