Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine is a bulking workout plan designed to boost muscle growth and strength gain.

Unlike many strength training programs, the Generic Bulking Routine is for a very specific set of people. Specifically, it’s for those who are eating plenty of calories, are looking to gain lean muscle mass fast, and have at least 12 months of experience with weightlifting.

In this article, you’ll learn what the routine is, why it’s one of the best bulking workout plans on the internet, and everything you need to know to get started on the program, including the workouts, schedule, exercises, rest times, progression scheme, and more.

What Is Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine?

The Generic Bulking Routine is a 4-day strength training program created by Lyle McDonald

It’s classed as a “bulking” gym program because it’s a demanding program only suitable for people eating in a calorie surplus.

As a general rule, you won’t be able to handle as much volume (sets) while cutting, which means following this program is more likely to lead to burnout. So, if you decide to follow this routine, make sure you’re eating enough calories and protein and getting plenty of sleep.

It’s also only for those who have been training consistently for more than 12 months, exhausted their “newbie gains,” and need to begin a more rigorous regimen to continue gaining muscle and strength. The program is likely overkill for anyone with less training experience than this.

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A Complete Guide to Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine

Here’s everything you need to get started with the Lyle McDonald Generic Bulking Routine.


Lyle’s Generic Bulking Workout Routine alternates between upper- and lower-body workouts 4 days a week.

Training four days weekly is ideal for those who want to do plenty of volume without training every day of the workweek.

You can plan your workout days however it suits you; just remember two rules:

  1. Follow the workout order: Lower body, upper body, lower body, upper body. Don’t do both lower or upper body sessions back-to-back, and don’t mix them up randomly.
  2. Don’t train more than two days in a row. Taking a break after every two workouts helps your body recover, which is vital for making steady progress.

Here’s a sensible way to schedule your workouts that’ll work well for most:

  • Mon: Lower Body A
  • Tues: Upper Body A
  • Wed: Rest
  • Thurs: Lower Body B
  • Fri: Upper Body B
  • Sat: Rest
  • Sun: Rest


You do 3-to-4 compound and 2-to-3 isolation exercises in each training session. 

Much like Eric Helms’s Novice Bodybuilding Program, the Generic Bulking Program offers guidelines on the types of exercises to perform rather than prescribing specific ones.

This flexibility is a benefit because it allows you to customize the bulking workout plan to fit your circumstances and preferences.

Here’s the template the program provides:

Lyle McDonalds Generic Bulking Routine Template

You’ll notice that there are only templates for 2 workouts, yet the program involves training 4 times per week. The reason is that you can choose to repeat the same two workouts, or you can tweak the routine to create 4 similar but slightly different workouts.

Bulking Workout Routine

As we’ve already seen, you can organize the bulking workout routine however you like within the framework provided. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, though, here’s one way you could organize your workouts based on the template: 

Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Workout Routine 

A unique feature of the routine is that it gives rep and set ranges. For example, it prescribes 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps of squats.

McDonald does this because it allows you to tailor each workout based on how you feel. If you complete three sets and still feel strong, you can do another; if you feel exhausted after three sets, you can skip the fourth.

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Rest 2-to-4 minutes between compound exercises and 1-to-3 minutes between isolation exercises.


McDonald recommends doing the bulking workout plan in 8-week cycles. The first two weeks are “submaximal” weeks designed to help you ease into the heavy training.

In the first week:

  • Use 85% of your 8-rep max for sets in the 6-to-8 rep range.
  • Use 85% of your 12-rep max for sets in the 10-to-12 rep range.
  • Use 85% of your 15-rep max for sets in the 12-to-15 rep range.

For example, if your 8-rep max on the squat is 100 pounds, use 85 pounds for all sets of squats in week 1 of the program.

For the second week, follow the same protocol but use 95% of your 8-, 12-, or 15-rep max instead of 85%.

For the following six weeks, select a weight that causes you to fail within the target rep range for each exercise. For example, if you’re aiming for sets of 6-to-8 reps of the squat, choose a weight that allows you to perform at least 6 reps but no more than 8.

Use this weight until you get 8 reps for a set, and then add 10 pounds to your next set.

If you manage 5 or fewer reps with the new weight, reduce the weight by 5 pounds to ensure you stay in the 6-to-8 rep range. 

Follow this pattern of trying to add reps or weight to every exercise in every workout.

At the end of this 5-week period of striving for progressive overload, take a deload, and start the process again. Before beginning your next cycle, use the Legion One-Rep Max Calculator to recalculate the weights you’ll use in the first two weeks of your next cycle. 

For best results, base your recalculations on the weights you used during your final week of heavy training in the previous cycle.