If your goal is to add mass and grow lean muscle, then your workouts need to focus on your goals. I always advocate that you need to map out your goals, give them a date and give them a method. If you are not sure how you are going to get there, you will never get there. Once you have your game plan in place, it is time to take action. For adding lean muscle mass, you want to avoid the following pitfalls that are hindering so many lifters now.
Resting Too Long Between Sets
Keep your rest period between sets to 30-90 seconds. Power lifters have different goals, hence they have different plans. Their rest periods tend to last longer. Keep your rest periods to 30-90 seconds, but never greater than 90 seconds. After 90 seconds, your muscles have fully recovered too much and you are losing that “burn.”
Not Performing Enough Sets
You want to stay in that 20 range of sets per major body part. Studies have shown that the optimal number of sets to maximize muscle hypertrophy is 12-20 sets per muscle group per week. Keep these sets to 8-15 reps each. I train each body part once per week as it fits my schedule, but you may find that it is easier to train each body part twice per week. If you fall into the latter, give yourself 3 full days to rest before hitting the same body part.
Avoiding Isolation Exercises
You hear this all of the time. Stick with compound movements and avoid isolation exercises. I will never understand this advice. Compound movements are great, but once you have performed compound movements, it is perfectly acceptable to use isolation exercises to fine tune your muscles.
The quickest and most effective way to bring up less developed areas is to force them to work by specifically targeting them with isolation exercises. That is the whole point of isolation exercises: To give specific muscles a stimulus that they do not get from compound exercises. Always re-fatigue muscles before performing isolation exercises, but do use isolation exercises. You know how people always tell you that you cannot spot reduce (and it is so true)? On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can, and should, spot train with isolation exercises.