There are no shortcuts to build muscle fast, and that is where I find that most people fail when lifting weights with the intention of putting on muscle. They begin working out with a solid diet, but then they quit after a few months because they are not seeing the results. Let’s face it – you’re not going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after only a few months of lifting weights. To build muscle, you must make it a complete lifestyle change and really put some time and dedication into it. Here are five steps that you can put to use in order to get the most out of your workouts.
1. Build Muscle with Diet
The single most important step to build muscle is your diet. This is the biggest thing that you will see people mess up. Some people get so caught up in their workouts trying to increase their weight and get a good pump that they completely forget to eat. Others may focus on just getting in enough protein, but they don’t think about just getting in enough calories. In order to grow, you must put yourself in a caloric surplus – that is, consume more calories than what your body burns to build muscle.
What I tell most people is that they need to be tracking their macronutrients each day. Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. In order to build muscle fast, it is recommended that they consume their body weight in protein, .4x their body weight in fats, and the rest will be filled up with carbohydrates. Their caloric total is dependent on how many calories they burn. A beginner should eat around 500 calories (1 lb per week) over their maintenance whereas a more advanced lifter should stick to around 250 calories (0.5 lb per week) over maintenance.
2. Focus on Compound Exercises
Another very important step in order to build muscle fast is to focus on compound exercises: the bench press, squat, and dead lift. If you get the “big three” to a high number, then you will be able to pack on a ton of overall body strength and muscle mass. You should do all of them as they are all equally important. Some people get so caught up in “isolation exercises” in the beginning when they should just be focusing on the compound exercises. Over time, it is okay to throw some isolation exercises in there, but these three compound exercises are what will get you off the ground. Do not neglect them and you will be able to build muscle at a solid rate!
3. Good Form to Build Muscle
Another very important step in order to build muscle fast is to always stick to good form. Most people want to see their lifts continually go up in the gym each session – that’s completely fine! However, by sacrificing your form to move up in weight, not only are you throwing other muscles in there in order to lift those weights, you are also putting yourself in danger of hurting yourself. No one is invincible, and putting yourself on the sideline for a few months will only put yourself back in your attempt to build muscle.
It may be embarrassing only lifting a certain amount of weight, but I can guarantee you will get more out of only benching 135 lbs with a slow negative and really controlling the weight versus bench pressing 185 lbs with virtually no negative, bouncing it off your chest, and showing no control over the weight. If you want to build muscle, then you need to make sure that you form is spot on!
4. Focus on Progressive Overload
Another key to build muscle fast is to focus on progressive overload. What I mean by that is to make sure that you are continually increasing in weights. This may seem obvious to you, but a lot of people get caught up so much in the “pump” that they completely forget or disregard gaining strength. A good “pump” does absolutely nothing unless you are getting stronger and giving your muscles a reason to grow.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you go into the gym and curl 10 lb dumbbells each time. You could get a tremendous pump each time you went in there from curling the 10 lb dumbbell for several reps, but will you be able to build muscle by doing this? Absolutely not! In order to build muscle fast, it is extremely important to focus on progressive overload and keep adding weight to the bar week by week.
5. Variety of Reps to Build Muscle
Finally, it is important that one uses a variety of rep ranges when training to build muscle fast. Some people get so caught up in sticking in the bodybuilding 8-12 rep range – even though this is fine, it is important to train for strength as well in the 3-5 rep range. You can build some solid muscle training for strength as well.
What I would recommend is to have one day of the week where you train heavier in the 3-5 rep range and then another hypertrophy day where you train in the 8-12 rep range. By doing this, you will be able to mix things up in the gym making it funner for you while at the same time being able to train what is most optimal for putting on a ton of muscle mass.