So many people ask how to build muscle fast and think training like a bodybuilder is going to get them there. If you’re like me, you don’t have a ton of time to spend in the gym every week.
6 workouts a week just isn’t possible for most people that have real jobs and busy lives. But sitting back and letting your body turn to mush isn’t something you can allow either!
This article is really for people that want to go to the gym, train hard for an hour and get out! They don’t want to go to the gym for 2 hours every day, and neither do I!
These are my top 5 tips on how to build muscle fast!
#1 Recovery Is Key!
When it comes to building muscle, recovery is something you have to pay attention to!
Most people I’ve talked to go to the gym every day, do tons of cardio, eat healthy, do everything they’re supposed to do BUTTTT they don’t focus on recovery!
When muscle building is the goal, recovery is your #1 priority! If you don’t recover optimally you won’t build the most muscle possible!
Get Some Sleep For Optimal Muscle Gains
Do your absolute best to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Make sure you’re getting in low-intensity cardio every day. Such as going for a walk. And above all, make sure you’re eating enough calories to not only grow but also to recover from your intense workouts.
Go For A Walk
When I think about off days, they’re not only for getting out of the gym but also for increasing your ability to recover. The main thing I always urge people to do in general is to get up and go for a walk a couple of times a day!
After each meal, go for a 10-minute walk. That’s the basic gist of it. 3, 10 minute walks a day is absolutely doable for most people.
No matter what you do in life or where you are, you can manage 10 minutes to go out and move around. It doesn’t half to be intense either, just don’t drag your feet!
This doesn’t just help with recovery but it also aids in digestion. Which is wonderful for people with GI issues.
Cardio On Off Days To Build More Muscle?
Another thing I’ve recommended before is hopping on an
People think doing some basic cardio will kill their gains but it won’t as long as you’re eating enough! Getting some basic blood flow through your muscles and joints helps you recover faster.
Are you getting the basic math? A car’s engine is only as good as the gas in its tank. Without gas in the tank, the engine can’t run and the car can’t do anything.
The same thing goes for people, the better your aerobic ability is, the more work you can do. The more work you can do and recover from, the more muscle you’ll build. It’s so basic but people miss out!
Deload Weeks Are Important!
Don’t forget to include deload weeks in your training programs. The best way I’ve found is to set up a progression that increases sets, reps, and weight over 3-6 weeks and then program a deload week.
I like to keep the intensity the same but cut the sets and reps in half. This allows you to decrease your fatigue levels, get ready for the next phase of training, and assist with gauging your strength for the following phase as well.
Bottom line: do some basic cardio. It’s good for your gains and it’s good for your heart too. You can’t build muscle if you’re dead!
When it comes to recovery a major point people miss out on is water intake!
Everybody has heard of the 8 glasses a day thing and even the gallon a day thing. My recommendation is a little easier to figure out and it isn’t some arbitrary number.
The issue with other recommendations is it doesn’t take into account your bodyweight. Do you really think a 100 lb woman and a 200 lb man should drink the same amount of water?
I didn’t think so. You don’t eat the same amount of calories so why would water be any different?
I recommend half of your bodyweight in ounces every day.
If you’re 300 lbs that means you’ll drink 150 ounces on average. It doesn’t have to be perfect but anywhere in that ballpark will work. 64 ounces is a great starting point for most people but the bigger you are the more water you need.
I guarantee if you increase your water intake you’ll not only recover better but you’ll also have better performance in the gym. Those two factors alone will help build muscle faster. I’d say that’s a win-win!
If you want to get more information on recovery here’s an awesome article by Paul Carter from Lift-Run-Bang.com on the topic of proper recovery!
What is your favorite way to make sure you’re recovered for workouts? Let me know in the comments below!
#2 EAT MORE FOOD!
So many people forget something that’s so basic in nature and I scratch my head every time I hear people say they can’t build muscle!
Again, they do EVERYTHING right, except they don’t give their body enough fuel to build the muscle in the first place!
Imagine you’re trying to build a house without any building materials. The carpenters are working hard building the damn thing but they don’t have materials to do so! They’re just getting tired and sweaty without actually accomplishing anything.
This is the average gym goer that’s trying to build muscle. They go to the gym, give the body a ton of signals to grow and then…nothing happens. They just keep doing this month after month with no muscle growth to show for it.
Eventually, they give up and all their potential muscle gains give up with them. You have to eat!
If losing fat completely boils down to being in a calorie deficit, and it does as shown by this article. Then building muscle needs a calorie surplus to occur in the body!
If all you do is workout over 9,000 times per week without giving your body materials to grow, you’re just burning calories and achieving nothing, unfortunately.
Don’t Try To Gain Weight Too Quickly!
The best recommendation I have is to start with a baseline level of calories and only try to gain up to 0.5% of your bodyweight per week. Any more and you’ll risk gaining unnecessary amounts of body fat.
For a 200 lb man, we’ll start with 15 times his bodyweight; 3,000 calories. His goal is to gain NO MORE than 1 lb per week on average.
If you’re naturally inclined to be super skinny and need to bulk up faster you can go up to 1% per week. So 2 lbs per week on average.
I know this sounds slow but you can’t force-feed muscle growth. You have to give it the signals it needs to develop while also feeding the body just enough nutrients to grow optimally.
If you stop gaining weight at your optimal rate increase your calories by your bodyweight and keep chipping away. This means the 200 lb athlete will add 200 calories up to 3,200 and keep working.
Following this model, you’ll gain weight slowly over time rather than gaining tons of fat just eating whatever you want because you’re “BULKING”.
Think about a time you built a lot of muscle by eating more in the past! I want to hear about it in the comment section!
#3 Focus On Compound Movements!
When I see people in commercial gyms I notice a couple of things; the girls might be doing Squats, the gym bros are doing Bench Press all day, and the bodybuilders are doing Lat Pulldowns with the whole stack.
What do you notice is similar in all of these cases? They’re all doing compound movements!
Compound movements are the biggest bang for your buck exercises that produce the most homeostatic disruption, build the most strength and allow you to use the most muscle.
This is incredibly important for building muscle quickly!
The girls doing Squats usually have well-developed quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The guys Benching every day most likely have big chests, shoulders, and triceps; IF they’re eating enough. And the bodybuilder doing the Lat Pulldowns most likely has massive lats!
Any movement that uses a bunch of muscle groups with a ton of weight is what we want to focus on to build the most muscle possible!
If you could bench 315×20, overhead press 185×20, dip 200×10, pullup 100×10, barbell curl 185×10, DB row 200×10, stiff leg deadlift, and squat 500×20; wouldn’t you be incredibly strong, have a ton of muscle mass and have a really balanced physique? I think so!
Use Compound Movements And Their Variations For Maximal Muscle Gains!
When building a program always make sure you have room for those lifts above or close variations. If you can’t do pull-ups, do pull-downs. If military pressing hurts your shoulders, do incline press.
There’s a ton of options when it comes to compound movements but if you’re in the gym doing a ton of isolation exercises they aren’t going to cut it.
Focus 80% of your time on basic compound movements and get stronger at them. I guarantee you’ll build more muscle doing this one thing over anything else.
#4 Increase Your Training Frequency
Back in my early days of training I always bought those Men’s Fitness Magazines in the hopes of getting stronger and building muscle.
I would look at all the different workout routines that the pros are supposedly doing and think it was impossible for an average person to commit to such a schedule.
Training 6 Times A Week Isn’t Possible For Most People
Who has the time to do 6 workouts a week while meal prepping all your meals, raising a family, going to school and work, etc?
Not a lot of people I know that’s for sure! That’s when I first realized the whole train each body part once a week thing was total BS.
Advanced Bodybuilders have to do it to keep fatigue levels down of course. They can’t Squat 3 days a week because their muscles are so big they would be fatigued like crazy. They need up to a week to recover just from how much damage and volume they have to put in per workout just to keep growing.
For people like you and I, we can and should increase our training frequency. Training different muscle groups multiple times a week works much better for so many people!
Bigger Muscle Groups 2-3 Days A Week, Smaller Muscle Groups 2-5 Days A Week
After a workout, it takes around 48 hours for muscle protein synthesis to level out. This is also about the time it takes for the soreness to dissipate and be ready for hard training once again.
Because of this fact, you can train things like legs, back and chest up to 3 times a week. Smaller muscle groups like shoulders, arms, and calves can be trained up to 5 times a week!
How many people do you know that have 1 arm day per week and their arms don’t grow whatsoever? Probably more than you realize!
The bigger a muscle group, the more time it takes to recover and the less frequently we can train them. On the flip side, smaller muscle groups take less time to recover, this allows us to train them much more frequently!
Doing this we can build more muscle faster than those that only train each muscle group once a week. Guaranteed! I’ve seen it too many times for it to be a coincidence!
Find parts of your body that aren’t growing and try increasing your training frequency. I like to set it up using big compound movements like I recommended to do in the last section.
Let me know about your experiences with increased training frequency and how it helped you build more muscle!
#5 Progressive Overload
Working out week after week with no concrete plan to improve your performance will ensure you remain small forever!
Progressive overload is a basic principle that basically means increasing the amount of stress you put on your body over time.
If you want to build muscle, gain strength, or even lose body fat; you need to incorporate progressive overload. Without it, your time in the gym will be wasted.
Think of how many people you’ve seen that workout year after year but never have any results to show for it? You might realize you’re one of those people reading this. Don’t you want to change that?
The best way to go about this is to make sure you start too light. I know it sounds counterproductive but it actually helps you more than you can imagine! If your goal is building muscle and you’re lifting so heavy you can barely get 5 reps on your first week, how do you progress from there?
Sets of 1-5 Are Too Fatiguing For Optimal Muscle Gain
The best rep ranges you want to focus on for building muscle mass are 6-20 reps on average. Sets of 1-5 are too fatiguing, even though they can build muscle mass I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time in that rep range.
Think about it, 3 sets of 10 reps takes way less time to recover from than 10 sets of 3 reps. The intensity you would have to use to grow from the sets of 3 would burn you out and take too much time to build a program around for muscle mass.
Sets of 8-12 Are An Amazing Way To Progress!
A super basic way to set this up for your main barbell lifts is to pick a weight you can do for 8 solid reps. Over time you want to be able to do 12 reps with that same weight. As soon as you hit it for that all-out set, increase the weight by 5 lbs and build back up to 12 reps.
Incredibly simple progression but it works! My client Brianna is using a similar setup! By doing this she has more than doubled her strength, built more muscle, and lost more fat in 12 weeks with me than she ever did on her own.
Use 15-20 Reps For Legs, Back And Shoulders
You can also do super high rep sets for legs, back, and shoulders. They really do benefit from much higher rep ranges!
Just think about how much muscle you’d gain from Squatting 100 for 20 reps to 300 for 20 reps. The amount of strength and muscle mass necessary to make that kind of improvement would make a massive change in your physique!
What type of progression has given you the best results? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing what has worked for other people!
No matter what training style you enjoy you have to realize building muscle and strength is a long process. You can’t put in the work for 2 weeks and expect to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We all want it to work that way but it NEVER does promise.
The number of people out there that train hard week after week and year after year is small. But those people all have developed their bodies and minds for the long game.
They know building muscle and gaining strength is a mountain they have to overcome. One day at a time, taking one step further toward their goals. If more people stuck with it they would have the results to show for it.
Unfortunately, they get to that first steep grade and quit before any of the real results start to show. They think they DESERVE it and shouldn’t have to work for it.
Don’t be a quitter and keep putting in the hard work. I know if you follow the tips I’ve outlined here and be consistent, you’ll absolutely achieve any goals you set out to achieve.
Don’t complain about the results you didn’t get, from the work you didn’t do. Keep your head down, work hard, struggle, and persevere. That’s how it’s done.
Thanks for reading my friends.
P.S. Here’s a link to my favorite book on muscle building principles. It’s highly scientific with multiple bodybuilders, sports scientists, and PHD’s working on it. The price of this book is insane for the wealth of knowledge you’ll receive from it! Check it out HERE on Amazon!