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Designing a Training Program that Builds Muscle

In addition to losing weight, one of the main goals for many of your personal training clients is building more muscle.

However, sometimes in the quest to lose weight and build muscle, our clients can unintentionally neglect some of the basic rules to achieving a strong and toned body.

Here are some fundamentals to building muscle to keep in mind and also teach your personal training clients.

Align the Training Program With Your Client’s Goals

Make sure your client’s goals and their training program align. If the goal is to add lean tissue, your client’s weight and resistance training program should include specific parameters to facilitate muscle growth.

A quality hypertrophy (the process by which your skeletal muscles grow as a result of exercise, specifically weight and resistance training.) program generally favors a high training volume with relatively brief rest (about 60 seconds) in between sets of an exercise. Ideally, you want to design a program that trains each major muscle group twice a week.

Consistency is Key

Building muscle takes time and the rate at which it occurs will vary for each individual. Further, muscle growth is influenced by a number of factors including age, hormonal profile, nutrient intake, hydration, genetics, etc. With the right program everyone can build strength and muscle.

One key is consistency in training. It’s not enough to train two days a week at random. If the goal is to gain muscle mass, clients must be consistent in their frequency and duration of exercise as well as their adherence to the program itself.

Sleep is Vital for Muscle Growth

Sleep is not only necessary for clear cognitive function; the body needs it for physical recovery. When the body sleeps, the real work of repair and growth occurs. During an intense lifting session, “damage” is done to the lean tissue in the body.

For muscle to repair and grow and, thus gain strength, rest is a required component of the formula. Clients should establish a healthy sleep routine in order to facilitate protein synthesis and repair. Quality and quantity of sleep matters for all physiological functions of the body.

Nourish Your Body Appropriately

While caloric control is necessary for long-term weight management and healthy body composition, restricting calories too much will be detrimental to achieving muscle growth.

You can help your clients find the right balance of nutrient intake by teaching them how to fuel before and after their workouts as well as referring them to a registered dietitian to optimize their meal planning and timing, and hydration.


In order to ensure your client’s weight training regimen is leading towards progress, it’s important to schedule assessments. Not only will new data provide information about the efficacy of the program you have designed, but it will also help you and your client avoid hitting a plateau and experiencing a detraining effect.

Getting Started

Building muscle requires dedication and there are rules to the muscle gain game. You can help your client achieve their optimal muscle-building potential by following these basic rules.

Check out what it takes to start a career in personal fitness training. This is your most affordable and fastest way to become a highly qualified personal trainer.

Is your recertification coming up? Learn more about earning your CEU credits. You can find the full list of CEU courses here.

There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.

NESTA and Spencer Institute coaching programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.

That’s it for now.

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NESTA | Spencer Institute