Whether you’re new to the gym or a seasoned pro, the chances are you’re on the lookout for the best ways to build muscle fast. There are plenty of science-backed recommendations for building muscle, but they’re rarely in the same place.
In this complete guide, we’ll spare you the searching and tell you everything you need to know about how to build muscles fast. We’ll take an in-depth look at training volume, the best exercises, nutrition, and much more.
So, get your favorite gym playlist loaded up and get ready to get ripped.
Table of Contents
How you spend your time in the gym plays a huge part in how you end up looking. That guy on his phone for five minutes between sets always seems to look the same for good reason. Don’t be that guy!
The first and most important thing is to always walk into the gym with a plan. Know exactly what you’re doing and go in there and get it done. Spending time trying to work out what to do next will interrupt your training intensity and focus.
Always have a clear picture of:
- What exercises you’re going to perform
- How many sets and reps you’re planning on doing
- How much weight you need to use
- How much rest to take between sets
If you know all this then you can be time and energy efficient in the gym. This is important for two reasons. One, you don’t want to be losing motivation half-way through your workout because you don’t know what to do next. But also, it helps you work out how long your training sessions are going to be.
If you’re looking to build muscle then you should aim to be training intensely for 45-60 minutes each session. The reason for this is that as you work out for longer your body releases more cortisol.
As your body starts to release cortisol you enter what is known as a catabolic state. This is where the body starts to use those hard-earned muscles for energy and you begin to reduce the body’s ability to synthesize protein.
Unless you’re an endurance athlete, training for too long can have a hugely detrimental effect on muscle gains as well as:
- Weakening the immune system
- Increasing stress levels
- Increased risk of injury
We’ll take a closer look at rest and recovery later on, but it’s important to find a balance between training intensely and not putting your body through too much stress to build muscle as fast as possible.
If you’re looking to pack on muscle fast then you’re going to need compound movements. The main compound movements you’ll need for building muscle are:
- Barbell bench press
- Barbell squat
- Barbell deadlift
- Bentover barbell row
- Military press
- Pull up
You can build all the muscle you’ll ever need with these few compound movements and a few accessory exercises such as bicep curls. Accessory exercises are great for bringing out the definition in muscles, but if you’re looking to get big quickly, then you’ll want to dedicate about 80% of your training to compound movements.
The 5×5 Training Method
If you’re looking to get big then you’re going to need to get strong. That means being able to increase the amount of weight you can move with each compound movement.
Constantly putting your body under increasing amounts of stress is known as progressive overload training, and that is what forces your muscles to grow. To lift more weight you’re going to need more muscle fibers!
One of the most recognized methods for doing this is known as the 5×5 method. You take 5 compound exercises:
- Barbell Row
- Military Press
And perform them each for five sets. You’re going to be working with heavy weights (about 80% of your 1RM) so you’ll want to take sufficient time between sets to rest.
You should aim to train 5×5 three times a week to make sure the body has enough time to recover between workout sessions. A typical 5×5 week will look like this:
- Monday: Training day 1
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday: Training day 2
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Training day 3
- Saturday/Sunday: Off
The workouts should last no longer than one hour. It’s fine to incorporate other exercises in the 5×5 method such as weighted pull-ups and dips.
Compound movements should be your main focus, but that doesn’t mean that accessory lifts don’t have their place. Once you’ve completed your compound movements you can isolate individual muscles with isometric exercises such as the leg-extension and bicep curls.
This is a great way of working through fatigue without increasing your risk of injury as your form starts to fail. This is known as hypertrophy training. You increase the number of reps and sets while laying off the weight a little.
If you’re stuck for time and looking for a great way to shock your muscles into growing then drop sets might be your best friend. Let’s take the seated leg-extension as an example.
Pick a weight that you can do 10 reps with. Perform those reps and then immediately cut the amount of weight in half and go to failure. Once you reach failure, take a deep breath, cut the weight in half again and perform as many reps as possible.
Drop sets can be performed with any exercise, but it’s safer to use isometric exercises as form doesn’t matter as you fatigue.
Rest & Recovery
When it comes to packing on muscle many make the mistake of thinking that more is more. It’s easy for gym-addicts to train intensely for two hours every day But these gym-addicts usually wonder why they’re not getting huge despite their hard work.
Your rest and recovery are almost as important as your training regiment. Unless you’re using steroids then you simply can’t be training every day. There are no golden rules for resting, other than make sure that you get enough. A lot will depend on the rest of your daily schedule.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to spend the rest of your day eating and sleeping then you might only need one day off a week. But you’ve probably got a job and other obligations.
It’s recommended that you take 2 days off a week as a minimum. This works if you’re training a bro-split type program. But, if you’re looking to pack on muscle with big compound movements then you’ll want to be taking 3-4 rest days a week.
Sleep is the next most important thing for you. When you sleep your body releases human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is what helps to repair muscle tissue, build muscle mass, and burn fat.
If you’re not getting enough sleep then you’ll find that you don’t recover as well, and you’re likely to put yourself at risk from overtraining. Overtraining isn’t necessarily about training too frequently, but more about not getting adequate rest and recovery time between sessions.
There is no golden rule for sleep, but most studies have found that 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night is ideal for muscle growth.
If you’re looking to pack on muscle then you’re going to need to eat! Simply put, if you want to grow then you need to eat more than your body is using. How you do this is up to you.
If you’re looking to bulk then it’s recommended that you consume 10-20% additional calories than normal. If you’re planning on bulking up and then shredding fat afterward you have a lot more freedom.
High-calorie foods such as ice-cream, pizzas, and mass gainers are fair game for adding extra calories if you already have a healthy balanced diet. If you’re looking to bulk and stay shredded then you’ll need to eat a lot of healthy foods.
Bulking and staying and shredding can be incredibly taxing on the body and your time. Muscle building will be optimum when you’re eating more than you need, but your appearance might not be. Trying to stay trim while bulking can reduce the rate you pack on mass.
The health supplement market is booming with false promises. Some powders and tablets promise to make you super-human in a matter of months, and it’s simply not true.
However, several key supplements are scientifically backed and every bodybuilder should have them.
To build muscle it’s recommended that you consume around 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, if you’re a 175-pound guy, you’re going to need around 260 grams of protein a day. That’s almost a kilogram of chicken breast!
Protein powders are a great way to make sure you’re getting enough protein every day. They’re convenient to take around your workouts or just before bed. Just be sure that you don’t depend on them entirely. You must get most of your protein from food.
Creatine is widely considered the most popular OTC supplement for bodybuilders. Creatine has been proven to increase muscle fiber growth and strength gains. It’s well-tolerated and is side-effect-free.
If you’re looking to pack on muscle then you should be taking 5g of creatine every day.
L-citrulline is a non-essential amino acid. Citrulline malate is the most bioavailable form of it. Citrulline malate boosts nitric oxide production in the body.
This is going to help you during your training as it means you’ll have improved blood flow and oxygen flow to the muscles, thus increasing your exercise performance.
SARMS & Steroids
If you’ve been training for a while and forever staring up at the greats like Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, and Dorian Yates then you’re probably wondering how they got so big.
The truth is, that if you want to build muscle to the same degree as professional bodybuilders then you’re going to have to look at SARMs and anabolic steroids.
Steroids get a lot of bad press. The fact is, that if you’ve decided to dedicate your life to building muscle then you’re going to have to consider them. Especially if you want to do it fast.
The misuse of steroids is more dangerous than the steroids themselves. The biggest problem is the increased toxicity to the liver by using anabolic steroids. That, and the shutting down of natural testosterone production.
These two factors can be managed with on-cycle and post-cycle support, however, there is always a large chance that when you finish a steroid cycle your natural testosterone levels will suffer.
SARMs are similar to steroids, but they only bind to androgen modulators in the body. This means that they are much less toxic on the liver and other organs. Higher doses will increase potential liver toxicity.
They also repress testosterone production much less than anabolic steroids, but only in low doses. If you’re trying to use SARMs to match the effects of anabolic steroids then you’ll need to use higher doses. The side-effects will be much less than steroids, but you’ll still need on-cycle and post-cycle support.
SARMs aren’t currently regulated by any official body and are only sold for research purposes. If you’re looking for SARMs for sale, then be sure to do your research first.
Now You Know How to Build Muscles Fast
One thing that’s important to remember is that building muscle takes time. If you’re not willing to take anabolic steroids or SARMs then getting big is going to take a lot of determination.
Now you know how to build muscles fast you can hopefully structure your training more efficiently and learn to prioritize your rest days and your diet. It’s a long way to the top of Mount Olympia, but with hard work and determination, we can start our climb.
If you found this article useful and you’re looking for more health and lifestyle tips and tricks then be sure to take a look at the rest of our site.