The first mistake most people make when starting out is that they don’t have realistic expectations about how fast they can build muscle mass. Newcomers are always looking for the quickest way to gain muscle, and they do not realize that it takes time.
It can take months for the average athlete or bodybuilder to put on just a few pounds of muscle. If you are new to resistance training, you can build muscle fast compared to someone who has been weight training for years.
Remember that each person’s growth rate is different; some people get results much faster than others, depending on their genetics and dedication level. Also, keep in mind that building new mass takes diligent and consistent work at the gym over an extended period.
how to build muscle the fastest
There is no one-size-fits-all for muscle building, especially if you are trying to do it quickly. Everyone has different genetics, hormones, work ethic, motivation, etc. All of these variables will affect your ability to build muscle fast.
There are things you can do that can help increase the rate of muscle growth. These tips or techniques are not shortcuts, but instead, they are tried and true techniques that can build muscle faster. Below is a list of techniques you can use to build muscle the fastest.
- Increase your training volume
- Increase your training intensity
- Increase your training frequency
- Eat more protein
- Eat more calories
- Get more sleep
- Avoid Overtraining
It would be best if you tried all of the tips and techniques listed to see which ones work for you, and then once you have tried them all, you can keep doing the ones that work best for you and your body. We will explain each of these tips below to help you understand how best to apply them to your training routine.
Increase Your Training Volume
Increasing the volume in your training is one of the fastest ways to gain muscle. Most athletes and bodybuilders doing resistance training will do 3 sets of a given exercise. By merely doing 3 sets, you are potentially not maximizing the damage you can cause to the skeletal muscle fibers and thus limiting the stimulus for protein synthesis and growth.
By increasing the number of sets, you increase the volume of work you are subjecting the muscles to. This increased work volume leads to more significant fiber damage and thus more stimulus for repair and growth.
Studies show that increasing your training volume can increase muscle growth in a dose-dependent manner. The more sets you do, the more muscle growth happens.
One such study was published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning in 2015. This study took 48 untrained men and divided them into 3 groups. Each group did different amounts of sets per workout. One group did 1 set per exercise, the second group did 3 sets, and the third group did 5 sets per exercise. Each group performed 3 resistance training sessions per week, which continued for a total of 6 months. At the end of the study, the researchers found that increasing training volume increased muscle growth in a dose-dependent manner. They also found that the increase in skeletal muscle growth was most significant in the upper arm muscles, so it appears that some muscles might respond better to higher training volumes than others.
Another study that supports the notion that higher workout volumes stimulate more muscle mass was done in 2019. In this study, the researchers took 48 men who had already done resistance training before the study. The men were divided up into 3 groups like the study mentioned above. One group did 1 set per exercise, the second group did 3 sets, and the last group did 5 sets. The study ran for 8 weeks, and during this time, the test subjects worked out 3 times per week. Each group showed similar increases in strength gains, each group ended up building muscle, but the high volume group doing 5 sets gained the most muscle mass. As with the other study mentioned, the increase in muscle hypertrophy followed a dose-dependent pattern, meaning the more the test subjects increased their training volume, the more their muscle hypertrophy increased.
Increase Your Training Intensity
Increasing the intensity of your training is the fastest way to gain muscle. Many athletes and bodybuilders will increase the intensity of their resistance exercises to stimulate muscle growth.
There are numerous different ways to increase the intensity of your weight training. Below are the key ways to improve the intensity of your training regiment.
- Lift heavyweights
- Decrease the rest interval between sets
- Use a Slow rep tempo
Each of these training intensity techniques effectively increases the intensity of your workouts. We will break down each of these intensity improving workout techniques and explain how they increase the intensity and help build muscle.
Lift Heavy Weights
Lifting heavy weights is a great way to increase your workout intensity, but the catch is that it has to be a heavier weight than the muscle is used to lifting. If you have been doing 225lbs on the bench press for the past year, then lifting 225lbs is no longer considered a heavyweight. Your muscles are used to lifting this weight, so it does not stimulate muscle damage the way it did back when you first lifted that weight.
In order to increase your workout intensity by lifting heavyweight, it has to be a new heavyweight, something you are not used to lifting. Obviously, if you are stuck at 225lbs on the bench press, you cannot simply increase the weight. So, in that case, you might use one of the other ways to increase the intensity, or perhaps you could increase your training volume and then come back a few weeks later and try a new personal best and increase the weight.
Many studies have shown that lifting heavy weights at approximately 80 percent of your one-rep maximum weight for 6 to 12 reps is the fastest way to gain muscle. The gains in muscle mass between heavyweights and lighter weights are comparable, but the difference is the amount of work that has to be done to stimulate protein synthesis and growth. By going to failure with a heavier weight, you are doing many times fewer repetitions of that exercise, and this takes less time in the gym and puts less metabolic stress on your body. When comparing what is quicker, lifting heavy weights versus lifting lighter weights, it is clear that lifting heavier weights is the fastest way to gain muscle out of the two methods.
Decrease The Rest Interval Between Sets
The amount of rest time you take between sets is not something most athletes or bodybuilders think about or give much thought to. You can see this in any gym worldwide; people do their set and then stand around talking with other gym-goers. Some people wait 2 to 5 minutes between sets, which is fine, but if you are stuck and hitting a plateau when it comes to muscle hypertrophy and growth, you might want to start thinking about increasing your workout intensity by decreasing the rest interval between your sets.
A study done by researchers at the University of Southern California found that when the rest interval between sets was decreased to 1 minute, it resulted in more muscle growth compared to the test subjects who used a 4-minute rest between sets.
Another exciting benefit discovered in several studies is that using a shorter rest period between sets to increase workout intensity has the added benefit of boosting anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.
The one thing to keep in mind with reducing the rest time between your sets is that your body will adapt to this the same way it adapts to the increase in weight. If you reduce your rest to 1 minute between sets and do this for weeks, the benefits of increased anabolic hormone response will decrease.
Because of this adaptation response, it is always a good idea to switch up how you are increasing your workout intensity. Try using more weight for a few weeks, and then for a few weeks, try reducing your rest intervals, and once you adapt to that, try changing your rep tempo. To keep the intensity up, you have to change it up once your body starts to adapt.
Use A Slow Rep Tempo
The last way to increase your workout intensity is by using a slower rep tempo. The rep tempo is the speed of the repetition, So how fast you lift and lower the weight. Tempo is another thing that few people give much thought to, and it can make such a significant impact on your muscle hypertrophy and size.
Research shows that doing slow controlled reps results in more skeletal muscle fibers being recruited and utilized during the exercise. By recruiting more fibers, you will cause more muscle trauma, which will stimulate more protein synthesis, and as we all know, the higher the rate of protein synthesis, the faster muscle growth will occur.
Studies show that slowing down the exercise and tempo causes an increase in growth hormone, similar to what we saw when the rest interval between sets was decreased.
All three ways to increase training intensity are effective in building muscle quickly. They are all easy to implement in any resistance training program. You can use one at a time or all simultaneously; it is up to you to find what works best for you. Remember that these techniques only increase the intensity of your workout if your body is not adapted to them. Once your body adjusts to more weight, decreased tempo, or rest time, it is essential to change things up to keep the intensity level up.
Increase Your training Frequency
It is a documented fact that doing resistance training more frequently results in more significant gains in lean muscle mass. If you are working out 6 days a week, you will build muscle faster than a person who is only working out 3 days per week.
Many studies show that doing multiple resistance training sessions per week is more effective at increasing strength and skeletal muscle gains. This is not to say that one workout per week is useless, as it did show doing at least one workout per week did produce muscle strength and mass gains, but not to the same extent as 2 or more sessions per week did.
Eat More Protein
Protein and the amino acids that makeup proteins are critical for building muscle. Without enough protein and amino acids, the body cannot repair damaged tissues and cannot create new muscle.
The fastest way to gain muscle by upping your protein intake is to shoot for 1.7 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This protein dosage is what science shows yields the best anabolic benefits. For more detailed information about protein intake and digestion, check out the following articles:
Certain amino acids are central to turning on the anabolic response and upregulating protein synthesis and hypertrophy. The primary anabolic amino acids are the branched-chain amino acids, which consist of:
The most potent of the 3 BCAA is Leucine; it can stimulate protein synthesis better than any other amino acid. The anabolic benefits of leucine are too many to list in this article, so it is recommended that you read our article on leucine.
Increase Your Calorie Intake
Increasing your caloric intake is a fast way to add weight, and a good portion of that weight will consist of muscle mass. It is a well-known fact that calories build muscle.
The key to eating excess calories to increase muscle building is to ensure that most of those excess calories come from protein.
According to a study conducted by Pennington Biomedical Research Center in 2014, eating a high-calorie diet high in protein increases muscle mass. People in the study who consumed a high-calorie diet that provided excess calories and was also high in protein stored approximately 45 percent of those extra calories as skeletal muscle. The group of people who consumed a high-calorie diet low in protein stored 95 percent of the excess calories as fat.
Get More Rest And Sleep
Another critical area of the hypertrophy process that is often overlooked is the rest and recovery aspect. Rest and sleep are vital to protein synthesis and the entire muscle recovery process.
Sleep deprivation impairs protein synthesis, and if protein synthesis is slowed or stopped, the anabolic process grinds to a halt. In addition to negatively impacting protein synthesis, sleep deficits can cause a reduction in anabolic hormones such as testosterone, Growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and an increase in catabolic hormones like cortisol.
These studies indicate that sleep debt can shift the body from an anabolic environment into a catabolic one. If the body shifts into catabolism, it means the muscle is catabolized and broken down, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
Don’t Over train
Often in the pursuit to build lean muscle fast, people forget to take time to rest and recover properly. They are so eager to build muscle fast that they want to work out every day and train with high intensity.
The problem with this is that the body can only handle so much wear and tear before it stops being able to keep up and recover properly after training. When the body reaches this point, it is called overtraining syndrome. When you train to the point of developing overtraining syndrome, you risk hurting your ability to add skeletal muscle. In some cases, overtraining can lead to increases in cortisol and decreases in the anabolic hormone testosterone.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which means it breaks down muscle tissue in catabolism. You do not want cortisol levels to be elevated if you are trying to add lean mass.
Testosterone is a critical anabolic hormone that you want to be elevated as high as possible when trying to build muscle fast. If Testosterone levels drop, as is the case with overtraining syndrome, this will negatively impact the speed you can add muscle mass.
Overtraining can greatly slow down muscle building and should be avoided at all costs. In the world of bodybuilding and resistance training, more is not always better. Listen to your body and pace yourself; if you are experiencing any signs of overtraining, you need to take time off and recover. Below is a list of signs of overtraining
- changes in mood
- Weight loss
- Muscle loss
- Decreased performance
- Increased muscle soreness
- Slowed recovery
Summary of the fastest ways to gain muscle
The fastest way to gain muscle is by combining high calories, high protein, low carbohydrate meals, plenty of rest, and training that incorporates periods of high intensity or high volume. Avoid overtraining at all costs by listening to your body and taking time off when needed. As you can see from the topics we covered in this article, there are many different ways to build muscle fast, but it all begins with a solid foundation of sound nutrition, training, and recovery.