So you want to know how to build muscle fast?
You see these other guys walking around all jacked and you’re wondering how the hell they do it.
They appear to have jobs, families and a social life, so how the hell did they find the time to look like that?
What in the world are they up to?
And then there’s you, struggling to make any gains and it feels like you’re getting nowhere.
So we're writing this post on how to build muscle fast so you can finally catch up.
Welcome to the Internets! The most comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide for making gains in the gym as fast as possible.
We're going to take you through the most important steps necessary to make gains as quickly as possible.
It doesn’t matter what you currently look like.
By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get the body of your dreams.
First of all, it’s crucial to make you aware that there is no shortcut to achieving lean muscle growth.
To achieve your goals you must be prepared to put in a consistent amount of effort and dedication.
Whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned gym goer who has hit a major plateau you need to know that the physique you desire will take some time to aquire.
But you’ll get there..
The process of gaining muscle is actually pretty simple.
If the main principles are followed in an efficient and streamlined fashion, you will see results.
This guide is based on science so scientifically you are doing exactly what needs to be done to stimulate growth.
If you tear the muscles fibres to a significant enough degree and provide your body with the correct nutrients and minerals, then magic will happen!
Your muscles will repair and grow larger.
Of course, you must first set up the appropriate environment for your body to begin adapting.
And that starts with what you do at the gym.
Training To Build Muscle Fast
So you’re going to have to tear those muscle fibers so they repair and grow.
This means you’re going to have to lift heavy weights, plain and simple.
Pick weights that you can only manage to lift for 6-8 reps at the most and stretch yourself to complete 4-5 sets in total.
This is called hypertrophy training and is most effective when performing compound exercises such as;
- Bench Press
Compound movements recruit multiple muscle groups in your body in order perform an exercise.
This makes them a vital part of any good muscle building routine.
It’s estimated that muscle repair takes 2-3 days.
Which is why we have outlined a weekly training routine below that hits all the major muscles groups twice every 7 days.
Most guys only focus on one muscle group per week.
By focusing on a muscle group twice per week along with compound movements like deadlifts, bench presses and squats you will grw much faster.
The Essential 8 Week Workout Program To Build Muscle Fast
Monday = Chest & Back
Starting the week with the universal ‘chest day’ combined with its antagonist muscle group in the upper back this Monday workout is guaranteed to reignite your enthusiasm whilst increasing your testosterone levels exponentially.
The goal here is to lift somewhere between your medium/maximum weight on each set and aim for failure when performing the last 1 or 2 repetitions.
- Barbell bench press = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Incline dumbbell bench press = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Cable fly’s & Close-grip push up’s superset = 3 sets of 8 reps
- Plate loaded Chest Press = 4 sets of 8 reps
- Wide grip pull ups = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Single arm dumbbell row = 4 sets of 10 reps per arm
- Single arm dumbbell row = 4 sets of 10 reps per arm
- Cable lat pull-down & standing lat push-down superset = 3 sets of 10 reps each exercise
Tuesday = Legs & Biceps
Continuing the theme set by Monday’s session.
Heavy lifting is once again essential in order to maximize your efforts during leg workouts.
Additionally by including biceps here it slightly reduces the stigma of leg day being labelled as a ‘chore’.
Training your legs properly is crucial because you will increase your testosterone levels more than any other muscle group.
Your lower body holds close to 45% of your entire muscle mass and it is also where your biggest muscles are located (Glutes and Quads).
- Barbell Squats = 5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Barbell Lunges = 4 sets of 8 reps per leg
- Leg Press & Calf raises superset = 4 sets of 8-10 reps per exercise
- Barbell Hamstring Pulls = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Lying Cable bicep curls & Standing dumbbell curls superset = 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise
- Preacher curl = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Concentration Curls = 4 sets of 10 reps on each arm
Wednesday = Shoulders & Triceps
Your shoulders are made up of 3 major muscles named ‘Deltoids’: Lateral deltoid, Anterior Deltoid and Posterior Deltoid.
It’s absolutely necessary to give attention to training all three heads of the deltoid in order to achieve an aesthetically pleasing and well-rounded look for your shoulders.
Finishing off your session here with Triceps is ideal for stimulating extra damage, adding more size and definition to your arms as a whole.
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Military Barbell Press = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Front Raises & Lateral Raises Superset = 8 reps on each exercise
- Arnold Press = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Skull-crushers = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Cable Rope Pull-Downs = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Triceps Dips & Close Grip Barbell Bench Press Superset = 4 sets of 10 reps each exercise
Thursday = Back & Chest
Thursday is Deadlift day. The ultimate test of strength and power in the gym.
The exercise is so taxing at heavier weights that it is advisable to do significantly less reps than usual and focus on technique in order to complete clean lifts.
For chest, three very strict exercises here are ensuring to mould your upper body into shape.
Focus on a full stretch at the top of each movement and full control of the execution in the downward phase.
- Barbell Deadlifts = 5-6 sets of 4-8 reps
- Bent Over Barbell Rows = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- T-bar Rows = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Reverse Lat-Pulldown Machine & Wide grip Press Ups = 4 sets of 8 reps each exercise
- Plate Loaded Chest Press = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Incline flys = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Friday = Biceps & Triceps
Friday is your day to focus solely on the arms. Doubling up after having trained them individually earlier in the week.
This session is composed of a lot of isolation exercises which makes it unique in your routine but necessary in order to achieve symmetry and maximise growth on your arms.
- Dumbbell Hammer Curls = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Reverse Preacher curl & Standing Barbell Curls Superset = 4 sets of 8 reps on each exercise
- Close Grip Pull Ups = 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Dumbbell Triceps Extensions = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Triceps Cable Overhead Extension With Bar = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Saturday = Legs & Shoulders
The final session of the week doubles up on your legs and focuses more on the rear deltoid head of the shoulders, completing your routine nicely with a new range of exercises.
- Barbell Step Ups = 5 sets of 8 reps on each leg
- Plate Loaded Leg Press = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Hamstring Curls = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Smith Machine Front Squats = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Rear Delt Lateral Raises = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Reverse Cable Crossover & Shrugs = 4 sets of 8 reps on each exercise
- Barbell Upright Rows = 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Sunday is your day to rest and recover, which is as important as any of the prior days spent in the gym.
A 6-day training split is tough and your body will feel the effects of such intense physical exertion.
So it’s important to recuperate effectively outside the gym.
We'll talk more about recovery in a minute.
This workout program is simply one of a multitude of different possibilities at your disposal. However, it is one that I have personally tried and tested to great effect.
This is a great plan for building muscle fast.
Your body will adapt to whatever strain you put it under.
Therefore it is necessary to constantly change up your workout program in order to shock the muscles into growing.
So feel free to replace exercises every now and then with new ones.
This means changing up and varying your routines every 8-10 weeks or so.
This will help you to avoid plateaus and ensure no time in the gym is wasted.
Additionally it will be necessary to manage your routines and plan them in accordance with what level you are at as a bodybuilder.
The above training programme is fantastic for anyone used to being in a gym environment. However, we would not recommend it for a complete novice.
For new starters, we would suggest picking out elements of the routine we’ve outlined and tailoring them into your own programme – steadily building yourself up to train more often and work muscle groups at a higher frequency.
So start by only doing a few of the exercises or less sets if you’re a newbie and work your way up.
Four of The Best Training Methods To Build Muscle Fast
As you already know, it’s important to switch up your training methods and workouts to prevent your body from adapting and plateauing.
Below, we have highlighted some of the most effective additional ways of training that are proven to help build muscle quickly.
You can include these techniques as the dominant style in your sessions or simply throw them in here and there on exercises of your choosing..
1. Drop Sets For Building Muscle
An old favourite heavily endorsed by 8 times Mr Olympia Champion Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Drop sets are an extremely popular and effective way to bulk up.
To perform a drop set, you do not take rests between sets.
Instead you lower the weight you are using as quickly as possible and get cracking on another set straight away, again working to failure.
The amount of times you drop down is at your discretion although 2-3 full-blooded efforts should suffice.
Using this particular method ensures you push your muscles to absolute failure, unlike a conventional set of say 8-10 reps which by the end of which you may feel heavily fatigued on – but you will not have recruited all your reserve muscles fibres for.
2. Pre-Exhaust Training For Building Muscle
A fantastic way to introduce new stimuli for the muscles.
Pre exhausting works by using isolation exercises at the start of your session.
Focusing on volume without recruiting multiple other muscle groups will ensure you fatigue your target muscle group effectively as a pre cursor to compound exercises.
This method of training ensures that when you move on to the multi-joint exercises the sets wont end prematurely due to secondary muscle strain and will force your target muscle to work twice as hard.
3. Volume Training For Building Muscle
Widely considered one of the best ways to achieve the optimum ‘pump’ during a workout.
Volume training is all about churning out more reps at a lower weight than usual.
Lifting heavy is great and perfect for recruitment of high-twitch muscle fibres but to really make your muscles swell with blood, slow twitch fibres should be hit on occasion as well.
This technique achieves this by keeping your muscles under strain for longer periods of time causing your cells to adapt to the extra pressure.
By incorporating it into your sessions once or twice a week you will increase the chances of reaching your full potential for building muscle.
4. Supersets For Building Muscle
This method is about performing two exercises back to back with no rest in between.
Once you finish the second exercise you will have successfully completed 1 set.
Supersets are a fantastic way to build muscle, boost endurance levels, shred fat and increase the efficiency of your workouts.
Studies have shown that this technique burns more calories than orthodox resistance training and can boost your overall performance and intensity levels.
According to the ‘Protein Book’ written by Lyle McDonald, you can roughly expect to gain about 40-50lbs of complete muscle mass over the course of your bodybuilding life.
But interestingly, the book suggests you can expect close to half of those pounds to be put on during your first year in the gym (assuming you know what you’re doing in there!).
To take full advantage of these stats as a beginner, we suggest you read each section in full, because without implementing each stage properly and having them correspond with each other, you will not reap the benefits.
When you begin working out and lifting weights, your body will be hyper responsive to this new stimulus you have introduced and you will have the potential to build muscle quicker than at any other point in your life.
The ‘True Rate’ of muscle growth is estimated to be;
- 0.5-2.5lbs per month for men
- and 0.25-1.25 for women
As a newbie that knows what he’s doing, you can expect to be at the higher end of these ranges.
Intermediate or advanced lifters will unfortunately fall into the lower end of the spectrum for rapid growth and the average person will be somewhere in the middle.
Which is why constantly varying your regimes and pushing yourself to lift more weight is the only way to maximise muscle growth as quickly as possible after the newbie stage.
Recovery – The Key To Building Muscle Fast
Contrary to what you might have heard, your muscles do not grow in the gym.
Take a second to process that fact.
Yes it is in the gym that you will be tearing muscle fibres and doing the damage necessary to stimulate changes BUT it is outside the gym when the muscle will grow.
If you don’t recover properly post workout, you are essentially wasting your time because you will never grow an inch.
Sleep To Build Muscle
We will start by talking about probably the most essential aspect of recovery for any serious bodybuilder – a good nights sleep.
It is estimated that about 2 hours into a cycle of sleep, Growth Hormone (HGH) is produced and in turn protein synthesis occurs.
This is a necessity in order to repair your muscles properly and help them grow to their maximum.
Additionally your energy expenditure is greatly reduced whilst sleeping and the brain cells undergo restoration.
This means getting 8-10 hours of a sleep a night allows the body and mind to function at optimum levels.
Stretching To Build Muscle
It is important to mention you should always stretch before and after a workout.
This is also a vital part of recovery because it helps relieve muscular tension and reduce soreness thus speeding up your overall recovery time.
Nutrition – Essential For Muscle Growth
This will be the most in depth recovery topic to cover.
You are going to need to have your diet in order because to gain muscle you HAVE to be in a calorie surplus.
This means eating more calories than your body expends during its daily routine.
You also ideally need to be consuming somewhere around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of your own bodyweight.
Good quality protein is full of amino acids which are essentially the tools for building, repairing and maintaining muscle tissue.
To recover sufficiently post workout and grow in the process, a proper protein intake is essential.
Carbohydrates are also needed as these macronutrients are your body’s main source of energy.
Carbs will keep you going during your most demanding workouts and replenish the glycogen within the muscle (energy stores).
They will also keep your blood sugar levels at a consistent level so it is of paramount importance not to neglect them.
There is a difference however between good and bad carbs, so always make sure you choose those that have a high nutritional density.
Finally eating healthy fats is an element of your dieting that should never be undervalued; it is essential for optimal hormone function not least the testosterone you need to build muscle.
Fats provide your body with about 70% of its energy when you are resting and provide your vital organs with vital padding and protection.
The Best Foods To Include In Your Diet For Rapid Muscle Growth
Following a strict diet is not necessarily the best way to build muscle.
What is essential however is that your body gets the nutrients it needs from the food groups I mentioned above, with particular focus on maximising your protein intake.
Lean meat, fish & poultry, eggs and dairy are all examples of high quality proteins but obviously do not neglect your carbs and fats either.
Comprehensive list of essential foods for gaining muscle:
Protein rich foods
- Lean beef
- Greek Yogurt
- Brazil Nuts
- Beans & Pulses
Healthy carbohydrates (including carb rich fruits)
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole-wheat bread
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Ripe Olives
For some of the most vital vitamins and minerals your body does not produce, eating nutrient rich vegetables is necessary in order for all your bodily functions to perform at their highest possible levels.
Too many people think that taking vitamins in pill form are the way to get extra nutrients but the fact is your body absorbs micronutrients to a far better degree via the foods in your diet.
So without further ado, here are the best vegetables for you to be eating regularly in pursuit of the nutrients to aid muscle building:
- Green Beans
- Green Onions
This nutritional section is not an exact list of what you should eat and when – it is simply a guide advising you on the scientifically proven best foods for your body to function best AND to build muscle as fast as humanly possible.
Find what works for you by combining these food groups to make meals that you can fit into your daily schedule at regular intervals and remember – without good nutritional habits you are never going to see the results you crave physically.
Supplements For Building Muscle
Good use of supplements can be a great addition to your bodybuilding program.
You must take heed of the fact that these products are not meant to be used as meal replacements.
What they can be used for is to complement your daily diet and aid your performance and recovery, which can only be beneficial in speeding up your muscle building process.
The 4 supplements we suggest are most beneficial that you can buy now are:
Whey is quickly digested and enters the bloodstream fast too.
Which means it gets to your muscles post-haste and increases protein synthesis.
These effects are supposedly enhanced if you have a whey protein shake after a workout and will cause greater gains in lean muscle over time.
Increases your metabolic rate – which in turn increases your ability to shred unwanted fat and provides you with a massive energy kick for maximum output if taken prior to a workout.
This substance has many benefits including improving recovery, increasing strength and boosting overall muscle size.
It takes about 4 weeks to fill up the creatine stores within your body so it needs to be taken regularly, but it is cheaper to buy it as a supplement than it is to rely on solely red meat as your source of creatine.
BCAA’S (Branch Chain Amino Acids)
These are potentially a fantastic product to include in your daily routine – BCAA’s are comprised of 3 essential amino acids your body can use to cause protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown.
They are also another great supplement for aiding in recovery and significantly reducing fatigue.
Anabolic Steroids are synthetically manufactured performance enhancing drugs derived from testosterone.
These drugs are used to increase lean muscle growth, boost strength levels, reduce fat and reduce the recovery times between workouts.
For centuries they have been used in competitive sports and bodybuilding because they produce such extreme results in such short periods of time.
However, Anabolic steroids are ILLEGAL and consumption comes with very real and dangerous risks.
Side effects can include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Liver damage
- Male Pattern Baldness
- Testicular Atrophy
- Increased aggression
- Excess body hair
- Gynecomastia (Man Boobs)
Those are just a few of the reported side effects associated with these powerful drugs and those risks can affect not only you, but your friends and family as a direct result.
Anyone considering the use of Anabolic steroids should do extensive research on the subject and ask themselves the following question – are quicker gains really worth risking my life over?
There are many cases of steroid users suffering with major health issues and that includes former professional bodybuilders – many of whom state they wish they’d never taken the drugs and advise future competitors to aim for greatness through natural means instead.
Quickstart Plan To Build Muscle Fast
Concluding your one-stop guide for building muscle quickly it is time to bring it all home and recap what we have talked about.
The information provided in this article can be the foundation that sets you on your way to becoming the leanest, strongest, most defined and muscular version of yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, a seasoned gym rat or someone that falls in the middle – if you train hard and efficiently as well as eat smart and efficiently – you can gain lean muscle mass quickly.
- Revise the principles of training and the best practices for stimulating muscle growth
- Use the training programme we outlined as a starting point for your first 8 weeks of training
- Remember to incorporate different training techniques (Pre exhaust, Drop sets, Super sets, Volume Training)
- Consider the rate muscles actually grow and be realistic about the time periods you wish to see results in
- Make sure you get enough sleep, warm up/down every time you train and feed your body the nutrients it needs to stimulate muscle growth as often as needed for your weight and body type.
- Do not necessarily follow a strict diet – like with training your body adapts when habits are constantly repeated – just make sure you are eating high quality foods from all the main groups and getting the minerals needed to keep your body in optimal working order.
- Supplement with the products I have mentioned when possible, they can really boost your progress and give your body an extra kick performance wise.
- Try to build muscle naturally and avoid the temptation to seek the quick way to success through use of anabolic steroids.
Bodybuilding is an empowering, healthy and sociable hobby or profession to get involved in and with these steps you can start to put on real lean muscle mass as fast as possible.
Everyone wants to look in the mirror and see chiseled abs, a peacock chest, boulder like shoulders and defined tree trunks for legs.
So that’s how to build muscle fast. If you put your mind to it and stay dedicated, within a few months you can be well on your way to the physique of your dreams.
Jerry Connel is a fully qualified nutritionist and personal trainer. He is also currently undertaking a Ph.D. in Food Science at Oregon State University in the US. He has been a keen bodybuilder throughout his adulthood and is well-versed with health supplements.