Last spring, we launched our Build Muscle program to help you get stronger and build muscle mass. It soon became our most popular all-time program. After many requests from our Members, we’re proud to announce the sequel, Build Muscle Part 2.

The same team of trainers will lead you through six weeks of workouts to increase mass using the principles of progressive overload and periodization.  The workouts will give you the same pump as Round 1 but with fresh exercises and coaching. This program is perfect for anyone who wants to continue their strength training journey!

Who it's for:

We've designed this program for our Members who are looking for more advanced, traditional strength training. Build Muscle 2 incorporates heavy lifting with long periods of rest so you can exercise at your best for every set. Each workout focuses on particular muscle groups: Chest + Triceps, Butt + Legs, Back + Biceps, and Total Body. You’ll repeat these workouts in three week periods over six weeks, employing high repetition and progressive overload for marked progress that drives results.  

What it consists of: 

Four weekly workouts for six weeks:  

  • Chest + Triceps w/Gerren
  • Butt + Legs w/Hollis
  • Back + Biceps w/Armond
  • Total Body w/Chris 

Meet the Instructors

Gerren Liles: Gerren, the self-appointed “chest guy,” will be leading you through your Chest + Triceps workouts over the next six weeks. Gerren is a founding trainer for lululemon Studio, Master Instructor for Equinox Fitness clubs, and a personal trainer and fitness consultant. Gerren was rated Equinox's Top Instructor for the Northeast region in 2015. He believes in building community and does an amazing job keeping you motivated through those tough lifts! 

Hollis Tuttle: As a runner, Hollis knows a little bit about strong legs, and will be sharing that knowledge with you during her Butt + Legs workouts. A key-player in the New York Fitness Community, Hollis is an ultra-marathoner, running coach, and personal trainer.  She is passionate about strength training and is always elevating her knowledge to help her clients achieve maximum results while having tons of fun along the way!

Armond Jordan: Armond is a renowned fitness instructor who promises to bring the heat to your Back + Biceps workouts. He’s admired for his ability to connect with his clients and push them past their limits to achieve their fitness goals. Through Armond's extensive certifications and experience in the fitness industry, he wants to help and motivate clients to achieve their goals, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and enjoy every moment of doing so.

Chris Ryan: Flex ‘em if you got ‘em! Chris will be rounding out your week with his Strength: Total Body workouts for the duration of the program. Chris is a founding trainer for lululemon Studio, a former Division 1 athlete, and one New York City's most sought-after personal trainers. A favorite of many for his motivational attitude and abundance of energy, Chris will have you working to the max and smiling every time you come to class!

Tools for Success 

Any job you do requires the right tools. The following suggested items will help you feel successful over the next six weeks: 

  • An array of dumbbells to allow you to increase and decrease your weights as needed. If you need to purchase weights for the program, you can always pick up a set of our weights here.
  • Comfortable clothing and sneakers you feel confident moving and sweating in.
  • A water bottle to help you stay hydrated. Remember to hydrate both before and after workouts!
  • Foods that are going to help you fuel your body for recovery and peak performance.
  • Appropriate rest and sleep for your body to perform at your best while exercising.
  • A training buddy or two to help you stay accountable.
  • A calendar to help you keep track of your workout and rest days. Remember to stay in the program for all six weeks for best results!

Measuring Workout Intensity: The RPE Scale

RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) is a common scale used in strength training to ensure that an exerciser is using appropriate weight for the correct number of reps to achieve their goals. RPE can help you gauge if you’re working at the proper intensity during your sets. 

Below is a numerical scale for your reference to help you understand how RPE can be utilized in your workouts. The scale measures your perceived intensity from 1-10, with 1 being like a leisurely walk and 10 being your maximum effort. This will help you assign value to your individual effort and help you to feel if you need to increase or decrease your weights for a given exercise. 

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale

RPE 1-5

This set should feel easy, like a warm up or leisurely walk.

RPE 6-7

You’re definitely working, but you can sustain your work for an extended duration. You finish your set able to perform 3-5 more reps with proper form.

RPE 7-8

Working even harder and a little slower.  You finish your set able to perform 2-3 more reps with proper form.


This should feel extremely challenging. You finish your set able to perform 1-2 more reps with proper form.

RPE 10

This set ends with mechanical failure! You are not able to perform any additional reps by the end of your set.

Applying the RPE Scale:

Rep Counting and RPE:

When building muscle, counting your repetitions is a helpful tool to both measure your progress and know if your weights are appropriate. Most of the exercises in this program will have a rep target assigned by the trainers.

Your trainer will be adjusting your workouts throughout the six weeks using principles of progressive overload. Consistently checking in, and referring to the RPE scale as you move through the program will help you make sure you’re working with appropriate weight to get the most out of your time exercising. For most of this program, you’re going to want to finish the last set of a given exercise between a 7-9 on the scale.

Which Weights Should I Use?

Over the course of your program, your trainers will suggest working with light, medium, or heavy dumbbells for certain exercises. How heavy a weight feels will be relative to your individual strength level at the time of starting this program. That being said, there are a few ways you can determine whether you’re working with appropriate weight or not for a given exercise. 

  1. When in doubt, start your first set on the lighter side! If by the end of your first set you’re not feeling much fatigue (1-6 on the RPE scale in this guide), then you know you likely need to increase your weight for your next set.
  2. If you’re failing to hit the last few reps in your first set or unable to move for the expected exercise duration, then you know you likely need to decrease your weight for the next set.
  3. It is always good to have a wide variety of weights available to you. If you’re not sure what to have available to you, your first set of weights might look like this:

Sample Workout Week

It is strongly recommended when building any routine that you incorporate at least 1-2 rest days for your body to recover. You can supplement this program with other workouts of your choosing, but you should make sure you’re scheduling enough time for your body to rest. You can even think of these days as active recovery days, where you perform very light activities such as stretching, gentle or restorative yoga, or a leisurely walk.

Common Terminology + Training Principles

Below is some strength training terminology you might hear your trainers use as you move through the next six weeks.   

Common Terminology:

Rep - Short for “repetition,” a “rep” represents one complete movement of an exercise.
Ex: One rep of a biceps curl is bringing the weight up and completely lowering it back down.

Set - A set is a specific amount of time, or reps, of a given exercise. A typical workout usually consists of multiple sets. 

Round - A round consists of one or more sets.

Interval - An interval refers to the amount of time you are performing an exercise or rest break. 

Compound Exercise - A compound exercise is any movement that combines 2 exercises to work more muscle groups.  

Ex: Biceps curl to overhead press

Ex: Deadlift to bent over row

Superset -  A superset is two sets of different exercises programmed back to back, followed by a rest.  The goal of a superset is to increase the amount of work you are doing in a set without increasing the rest interval. Supersetting can be used one of two ways:

  1. To allow one muscle group to recover while another is working
  2. To exhaust the same muscle group by targeting it in back to back exercises  

Maximal Load - Maximal Load refers to the absolute heaviest weight you can use for the assigned amount of reps. You will know if you are using your maximal load if you’re able to complete your set, but the final 2-3 repetitions feel increasingly challenging. 

Work to Rest Ratio - The amount of time you spend working out in relation to your recovery time during a workout. In programs such as this you will most commonly see a 1:1 work to rest ratio, which means you will be resting for as long as you work. 

Progressive Overload - A training principle where the central concept is to make your workouts more challenging over time to place greater stress on your muscles. This progression can help you gain strength, muscle mass, and endurance.

Common examples of Progressive Overload:

  • Increasing weights
  • Varying tempo in a given exercise
  • Decreasing rest time
  • Adding reps, sets or rounds of a given exercise
  • Increasing time under tension
  • Changing the range of motion in a given exercise

You will see different examples of Progressive Overload applied strategically to certain lifts throughout the program.

Active Recovery -  Active recovery is a form of recovery that involves light movement designed to keep your body warm.  Active recovery during a workout, could be a march in place or a dynamic stretch after a hard push. Active recovery on an off-day might be a low impact class such as yoga, stretch, or heading outside for a brisk walk. 

Rest - Rest is a form of passive recovery that involves little to no movement in order to allow your muscles to fully repair.  Rest during a workout could be a standing stretch or deep breaths.  A rest day should include some form of active recovery.

Intensity - Intensity refers to how hard you are working during a workout. Exercise intensity can generally be described as low, moderate, or high.  

Mechanical Failure - Mechanical failure is when you can no longer perform an exercise with proper form or technique through the full range of motion.  

Time Under Tension (TUT) - The amount of time a muscle is held under tension or strain during an exercise set. When adding time under tension, you lengthen one or more phases of a movement and potentially make your sets longer.  TUT forces your muscles to work harder and optimizes muscular strength, endurance, and growth. 

What’s Next?

After completing the six weeks of the “Build Muscle 2” program we want you to feel confident and equipped to tackle new challenges that incorporate strength training. Here are some jumping-off points: