Building muscle fast is not simple and it requires a lot of sacrifices. Furthermore, fast is very relative and it depends on your body type and metabolism.
What we want to demonstrate here is how to build muscle efficiently, compared to some other ways you can find on the Internet, or in magazines.
Here are our 7 tips & tricks to build muscle fast:
1. Become Stronger
To build muscle mass you need to get stronger and to get stronger you need to lift heavy weights. The weight should be such as to allow you to perform a maximum of 6-8 reps per set.
Why you ask? Let’s review again how your body works. It tries to adapt to the stress that is applied to it. If you lift not heavy enough weights your body doesn’t need to build more muscle mass because that mass would be useless – you can already lift those weight without problems. Why should your body work to increase the size of your muscles?
By progressively adding more weight you force your body to grow more muscle, so that the next time you will be able to lift those weights again.
So what weight should you use? You yourself are the one that decides what weight you should use. If you can do 12 reps with 150lb on a bench press, it might be time to add more weight. Even adding 2lb every time would be beneficial.
On the other hand, if you find that with 170lb you can do no more than 3 reps, then it’s too heavy for you and you should lower the weight.
OK, here are the 4 most important exercising tips when trying to build muscle fast:
- do a maximum of 6-8 reps per set;
- go to muscle failure every set;
- use heavier weights each time or add reps;
- apply muscle confusion principle.
Now let’s go through these 4 exercising tips and explain them one by one.
Sets and Reps
When considering the number of sets and reps please take a look at this hart and notice that low reps are to build strength and power while high reps are to build endurance:
Generally, for most of us, the best results will be achieved by doing 3-4 sets per exercise to a maximum of 12-15 sets per workout.
If you stick to this routine you can achieve satisfying muscle growth and, in addition, it makes you do short sessions, which is one of the next muscle building tips that we will discuss.
Depending on your goal, either building mass or toning/defining muscles we recommend:
- To build mass 6-8 reps per set;
- To tone, 12 reps per set.
One additional tip: do 6-8 reps when you workout your upper body, and 12-20 when you workout your legs. We usually spend so much time walking or standing (unless you do nothing all day) that our quads, calves and hamstrings are already used to endurance. High reps result in big muscle gains when you train your legs!
Muscle Failure to Build Muscle Fast
You should always push to muscle failure. Your body is always adapting to fight the stress that you apply to it. If you perform your reps using a weight that allows you to do 6-8 reps only, doing a failure set means that you have to get to the point where you almost can’t do the last rep. Definitely you shouldn’t be able to do one more.
Muscle failure chart: the sweet spot is where you have one more rep before you feel like dropping the weights.
If you can perform more reps with that weight it means it’s too light. If you can’t perform at least 6 reps it means the weight is too heavy and you need to go lower.
Remember, it’s better to use lower weights and do exercises in the correct form than using heavier weights and cheating to complete your sets.
Go for muscle failure each time, otherwise you don’t stress your muscles. Not only when you do the last set, you should aim to go to failure each set if you want to see good results as fast as possible.
If you don’t do this you are just not pushing your body beyond the point to make it grow.
Basically, your body adapts to your “daily activity”. If you are a runner, your body will adapt to build endurance, tending to be skinnier and fast. If you lift heavy weights, your body will build more muscle.
The only time you shouldn’t really go to failure is when you use dumbbells for exercises. For example, if you’re doing squats with 100lb dumbbells, obviously don’t go to failure with those!
For the rest, really, this is one of the most ignored muscle building tip and by following this approach you’ll see big improvements.
Progressive Overload Training to Build Muscle Fast
Why is progressive overload training important? By you lift the same weights for prolonged periods of time you will see no results if you are trying to build muscle. You will just maintain your current shape and muscle, but won’t make any gains.
Your body won’t need to grow as it is already capable to lift the weights that you are lifting. If you try to lift heavier and heavier weights, on the other hand, that’s when you force your body to build muscle!
As we mentioned, your body always tries to adapt to your daily routine. If you move to a very bright place you’ll notice that your pupils become smaller to limit the quantity of light absorbed and give you some relief. If you live in a cold place you will be able to stand the cold better than others. If you take a medicine or a supplement for too long it’ll be no longer very effective.
The human body is always subject to new demands like the ones described above. With progressive overload training you force it to be prepared to respond to those demands and changes.
When we lift weights we build muscle, because our body grows bigger and stronger so that the next time we lift those weights again it is not unprepared. The goal of our body is to always overcome our demands.
Even a 0.25lb increase will be beneficial. It’s a change, and as for any change your body will respond to that change.
If you can lift the same weight for 2 weeks in a row if absolutely necessary to increase weight next time. Same thing when you can do 12+ reps with a certain weight, it’s time to add some more. Remember to always go to muscle failure.
Training to muscle failure and increasing weight are the best stress that you can apply to your body and force it to grow, and make it respond with important muscle gains!
If you plan to do 3×10 sets don’t stop at the 10th rep if you feel like you can do one more. This is a good indication of when it’s time to add weights. If you stop at 8 or 10 reps and you’re not exhausted, you’re simply not applying the principle of progressive overload training.
The Principle of Muscle Confusion
The principle of muscle confusion is one of the best ways to build muscle fast because it contrasts the tendency of the body to adapt to our workouts and stop being responsive.
Because our bodies are so adaptable, they:
- Build stronger muscles when we lift weights, to be able to lift them next time without so much effort;
- Produce antibodies when we get sick (cold, flu etc.) to learn how to fight the disease next time;
- Get tanned to protect the skin from the sun after exposure;
- Get used to the cold after we move to colder areas.
Simply, our body doesn’t want to be unprepared the next time it experiences a stress.
This is why if you do the same exercises and follow the same routine over and over again without changing, your workouts will basically become useless in gaining muscle.
The principle of muscle confusion consists in rotating the type and the intensity of the exercises that we do, to actually confuse our body, and don’t let it settle and learn how to adapt.
A change of routine every 6 to 8 weeks is important to keep your body alert.
When you change routine you can still train the same muscle, but with some changes:
- Change exercises. If you were doing barbell bench press you can do dumbbell bench press, or inclined bench press etc.;
- Change reps and weights. If you were doing 3×8 with 100lbs, try 10/8/6 increasing the weight each set. This can be done even if you keep the same exercises;
- Change targeted muscles.
Muscle confusion is one of the best ways to build muscle fast and to keep interest in going to the gym.
2. Do Compound Exercises
If you want to build muscle fast you shouldn’t focus on small muscles because even if they look nice they won’t help you build a lot of mass. You have to focus on big muscles like legs, back muscles and pectorals. Doing compound exercises is one of the most effective muscle building tips that we can give you when talking about workouts.
Don’t bother working out your biceps, triceps, forearms, calves etc. for now if your primary goal is to build muscle mass fast. You won’t get big by doing biceps curls or by working out your triceps.
Compound exercises are those that involve more than one joint and more than one muscle group throughout the range of their motion.
Examples of some of the most common and effective compound exercises:
- Squats (with barbell and dumbbells);
- Leg Press;
- Barbell Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench Press (flat, incline, decline);
- Close Grip Bench Press;
- Pull ups/Chin ups;
- Military Press/Shoulder Press;
- Dips (triceps and lower chest version).
Compound vs. Isolation
Squats are the king of all the exercises and should be present in your workout program. They involve several muscle groups, including the biggest muscle in your body: your quads. Beside quads, when you perform squats you work on your core, abs and back, because you need to keep them tight in order to perform the exercise in the correct form. You use your glutes, hamstrings, calves as well.
You can see that with one exercise only, you work out all your lower body muscles, and part of your core. You should focus on compound exercises if your goal is to gain strength and build muscle mass.
The more fibers you involve and stress during your workout, the more mass you will build. The reason is simple – if you focus on one specific isolation exercise that involves one muscle, your body will work to make that muscle grow. If you work out more muscles your body will make all of them grow.
Imagine the difference between squats and leg extensions. They both train your quads as primary muscle group, but the big difference is in the secondary muscles that are involved.
Full body exercises that train secondary muscles can effectively replace isolation exercises and save you lots of time at the gym. You can leave isolation exercises as complementary exercises, if you have time.
- Work primary and secondary muscles;
- Stress high amount of fibers;
- Build muscle mass fast;
- Stimulate testosterone and HGH production;
- Save you time at the gym and give you max recovery benefits.
- Work primary muscles only;
- Stress low amount of fibers;
- Don’t build much muscle mass, and slowly;
- Don’t stimulate anabolic hormones production;
- Take a long time to work all the muscles that you could train with a complete exercise.
Compound exercises stress a huge amount of muscle fibers, much more than several other exercises together. Your body, as a result, always tries to adapt to the changes and therefore starts a process that has the purpose to increase the strength and the mass of those muscles by increasing your testosterone level (responsible for muscular/bone development).
A higher level of testosterone results in an increased development of muscles in your whole body, even if you don’t work out certain specific muscles.
When you have a decent mass you can then opt for isolation exercises to work on the shape of your biceps, triceps or other muscles you would like to define more.
3. Do Short Training Sessions
Short training sessions (short workouts) are one of the keys of building muscle fast. When you start to workout your body starts to release HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and testosterone, which are anabolic hormones.
When you workout in anabolic state you increase your chances to build muscle fast. It has been demonstrated that after 27 minutes of workout you reach the pick of anabolic hormones production. Basically that means that it’s the time of maximum effectiveness of your workout.
The anabolic state drops around 45 minutes after you started exercising. After 45 minutes your testosterone production decreases along with the production of HGH. At that point your body starts producing another hormone, cortisol, which is unfortunately a catabolic hormone.
This will basically “eat” muscles in your body and increase the storage of body fat.
This is why it is strictly necessary that you consider doing short training sessions, 45 minutes max. Short training sessions also allow you to focus more on the exercises that you have to do. Furthermore, you to recover faster and are ready sooner for your next session.
Recovery is crucial for building muscle. We can safely say that 35% of your muscle growth happens when you workout, and 65% happens when you rest. When you sleep, that’s when you truly grow.
If you keep your workouts short then you can basically afford to train more often because you don’t stress your body so much and you allow it to rest properly. After a short workout you are less tired and can be ready sooner.
Keep in mind these factors:
- Keep your workouts short, maximum 45 minutes (of course excluding initial warm up);
- Maximize the anabolic effects of testosterone and HGH during the first 45 minutes (and avoid the opposite catabolic effects of cortisol that happen after 45 minutes);
- Get the rest that your body needs to heal and recover.
Training for longer than 45 minutes will only cancel all the good stuff that you just did and can do more damage to your muscles than not training at all!
Long trainings are also dangerous for your muscles and joints as they are put under too much stress and the risk of injuries increases exponentially.
4. Train Your Legs
Training legs properly does help you build muscle fast. One of the biggest mistakes you could do is to ignore your legs in your workout routine.
Men tend to ignore legs when exercising. Legs are rarely shown and they don’t make individuals as proud as when they can show their biceps.
However, they are probably the muscle you should dedicate most of your attention to. Why? Because the biggest muscles in your body are placed in your legs.
Getting them strong will boost your testosterone, and all other muscles will benefit from it.
5. Get More Rest and Recovery
It’s very important to work out your muscles, and it’s even more important to recover properly.
Basically, your muscles grow when you rest, when you sleep,not when you train. Your body heals when you sleep.
Why do you feel tired after workout? Or why do you feel that you need to sleep when you’re sick and have fever?
Those are all signals that your body gives you because it needs you to rest so it can heal.
You can build muscle fast if you rest longer than you train.
Plus, resting will keep your mind clear and more motivated. By workout too often you run the risk of losing motivation and stop going to the gym.
6. Gain Weight
You can’t build muscle mass unless you eat enough. As the equation goes:
Calories you take in > Calories you burn = Weight Gain
You need to eat more and eat right to build muscle fast. No junk food, but protein, carbs and healthy fats (40-40-20 is recommended).
However, similarly to muscles, you need to train your stomach too. If you don’t eat much your stomach gets smaller, therefore you feel full after a few bites.
The opposite happens if you force yourself to eat more. Your stomach (which is very elastic) enlarges and has more room for other food, giving you the feeling that you need to eat more in order to fill it up.
For building muscle you need to make yourself eat more and add some calories between meals. Learn about pre workout nutrition and post workout nutrition.
Increase Proteins in Your Diet
Proteins are the bricks that build your muscle. If your diet doesn’t provide you with the necessary amount of proteins you can’t build muscle.
Proteins are found in meat (especially chicken and turkey more than beef and pork), fish, eggs, milk, nuts and some legumes like beans.
Eat Good Fats
Fats are needed in our diet. A common misconception is that if you eat fats you store fat.
That is not true, or it is true only if you eat the bad fats (animal fats, saturated fats).
Additionally, good fats provided by foods like avocado, or fish oil increase your natural production of anabolic hormones:
- HGH (Human Growth Hormone);
- IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor).
7. Take Supplements to Build Muscle Fast
The help of supplements goes a long way to help you build muscle fast. Don’t misunderstand, we are not talking about steroids, we arefirmly against them.
We are talking about supplements that can add those ingredients that help you gain weight and build muscle fast, or that help you recover faster.
Some of the more popular ones are:
- Weight Gainers;
- Whey Protein;
- Testosterone Boosters.
These were our 7 Tips & Tricks to build muscle fast, hope you found them useful.How about you? What is YOUR advice? What Do YOU Recommend to Build Muscle Fast?