Most of us would love to be stronger, but building muscle takes time and involves focused strength training, workouts, and the proper diet.
But what is the best way to build muscle? Is there a way to build muscle fast?
In this article, we will discuss how to build muscle fast and effectively to maximize your gains and get you the physique you’re looking for.
We will cover:
- How to Build Muscle Fast: 9 Ways To Gain Muscle Mass
Let’s jump in!
How to Build Muscle Fast: 9 Ways To Gain Muscle Mass
Building muscle ultimately takes time, but here are some tips for how to gain muscle fast:
#1: Increase Your Training Volume and Frequency
It’s no surprise that if you’re looking into how to gain muscle fast, you’ll need to focus on your workout routine. Hypertrophy, or building muscle, requires high-volume resistance training.
There are lots of different ways to structure your resistance training workouts. Some people prefer to do total body workouts, which include exercises that, in sum, target all of the major muscle groups in the body.
Other people prefer performing split workout routines, such as upper body/lower body split routines or body part splits in which you split up your training week into workouts that focus on the chest muscles and triceps, back and biceps muscles, lower body muscles, etc.
One approach isn’t necessarily better than the other, but you should be working each major muscle group at least two times per week.
However, what is important if you’re trying to build muscle is that you’re doing enough training volume, both in terms of the frequency of your workouts as well as the number of reps, sets, and exercises performed during each workout.
In order for muscles to grow, they need adequate stimulus. This comes by way of hypertrophy workouts.
Heavy resistance training workouts cause microscopic damage to the muscle fibers, which stimulates the reparative process of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS), often simply referred to as muscle protein synthesis.
Building muscle is mainly achieved by way of increasing training volume over time (sets x reps), usually using loads that are 65-85% of your 1 RM). Typically, you perform 6–12 repetitions per set and at least 3 sets per exercise, with 30-60 seconds of rest in between sets.
#2: Increase the Weight You Are Lifting
If you want to build muscle quickly and effectively, you need to lift heavy enough. If you can do 12 or more reps with the weight using good form, you need to increase the weight.
Hypertrophy training requires that the load be at least 65% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM), but closer to 85% is ideal.
#3: Perform Compound and Isolated Exercises
Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, step-ups, bench press, rows, pull-ups, lat pull-downs, etc., help build lots of functional strength and should make up the bulk of your training, but isolation exercises like biceps curls can also help build muscle mass.
#4: Cut Back On Cardio
Cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, rowing, swimming, elliptical machines, and stair climbing, are important for overall health, but doing too much cardio can inhibit muscle building.
Cardio exercise burns a lot of calories and can potentially put you in too much of a caloric deficit. This places your body in a catabolic (breakdown) state rather than an anabolic (muscle-building state).
Although aerobic exercise is important for health, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) during your bulking phase.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are popular due to the efficiency and effectiveness of this style of training, coupled with the fact that many people enjoy the dynamic nature of having bursts of different efforts, which can help the workout time fly by.
By incorporating bursts of very vigorous exercise followed by bouts of recovery, HIIT workouts elevate your heart rate higher than it would get during a standard moderate-intensity steady-state workout and allow you to go harder and work at a higher intensity during your “on” intervals than you would be able to should there be no relative recovery or rest.
HIIT training can help you get stronger and fitter and may stimulate anabolic hormones to support muscle growth.
#5: Increase Your Caloric Intake
There is a popular saying in the fitness and diet world, “Abs are made in the kitchen.”
This refers to the fact that although you can, and should, certainly train your abs in your workouts, if you want to see real muscle definition, it largely comes down to your diet.
Ultimately, the same principle applies to building muscle fast. Although your workouts are important, and you have to be doing the right type of training and enough volume and intensity, your diet will also have a significant impact on your ability to build muscle mass.
Muscle protein synthesis—the process of building muscle—requires having enough calories—usually a 10% surplus over what you burn in a day—and enough protein.
Some health and fitness experts even recommend a slightly more aggressive caloric surplus, aiming to consume 10-20% more calories per day than you’re burning if you want to gain muscle fast.
If you’re not sure how many calories you need to eat per day, consider using an online BMR calculator and then adding in your physical activity or exercise, or use an online calculator that takes into account activity level.
#6: Increase Your Protein Intake
Evidence suggests that eating at least 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight at each meal—aiming for a total of 1.6 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the day—is recommended when looking to build muscle when combined with appropriate resistance training.
The American College of Sports Medicine has similar recommendations for athletes, suggesting that athletes consume at least 1.2–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, and protein needs to be spread out throughout the day.
Make sure you are getting complete sources of proteins because it’s important to have all nine essential amino acids. This will ensure your muscles have a well-rounded, balanced pool of amino acids, which are the building blocks necessary to build any type of protein your body (and muscles) need.
#7: Fuel With Carbohydrates Before Your Workout
Many strength athletes looking for the best way to build muscle focus solely on the importance of protein; after all, muscle tissue is composed of protein.
However, carbohydrates are also important for muscle growth and will help you fuel your muscles to maximize the intensity of your workouts, increasing your potential gains.
Therefore, it is important that you are fueling your body before your workouts with carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are your muscles’ preferred fuel source during high-intensity exercise, such as strength training, and drinking a sports beverage with carbs during your workout can help support muscle protein synthesis.
#8: Get In a Nutritious Post-Workout Snack As Soon As Possible
After you finish your workout, you should begin the process of refueling and hydrating as soon as possible, preferably within the first 30 minutes.
Aim for a nutritious snack or meal that contains carbohydrates and proteins in a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1, with at least 20 to 25 grams of protein in this post-workout snack.
If you hit the minimum of 20 grams of protein with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, this means you need to eat 60 grams of carbs for a total of 320 calories (protein and carbohydrates each provide 4 kcal/gram).
However, if you are looking to maximize your muscle growth, boost the calories and protein content in this snack.
Good post-workout snacks include smoothies or protein shakes, oatmeal with protein powder mixed in, Greek yogurt with fruit and low-sugar granola, nut butter on whole-grain bread or fruit, trail mix, or a whole-grain wrap with hummus or turkey.
#9: Try Supplements
Taking certain supplements, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), certain protein powders, and creatine, may also help you build muscle faster because they can accelerate the rate of muscle growth.
Ultimately, most experts say that the average person can put on 1-2 pounds of muscle per month, or 8-15 pounds per year, with the right diet and exercise program. Your own rate of muscle growth may be higher or lower based on your genetics, training, age, sex, and diet.
If you are looking to enhance your muscle gain by adjusting your diet, we have an example of a diet specific for muscle growth: