A Detailed Guide On How to Build Muscle Fast

Looking to pack a little more punch?

Muscle building is a worthy goal for any gym-goer and the benefits of a brawnier physique are certainly wide-ranging.

But how exactly do you grow and build muscle? In this detailed guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing and building muscle – and how to get the results you want fast.

First let’s break down the basics. 

Muscle building: the basics

The key to muscle building is to keep it simple.

Sources say there are over 600 muscles in the human body[1], all of which have a use in supporting daily functions such as walking, talking, sitting, standing and eating.

Skeletal muscle, the muscle you are trying to build, is formed of myofibrils and sarcomeres which create a muscle fiber that are the basic units of contraction[2].

When you work out, your muscles are put under extreme pressure and the fibers are injured or damaged. Your body then breaks down and rebuilds the fibers, which causes muscle growth because:

  • The number of fibers increase – also known as hyperplasia
  • The volume of each muscle fiber increases – also known as hypertrophy

Both cause the muscles to increase in size because your body is adapting to the strain you’ve placed it under.

For muscle growth to occur, you must continually challenge your muscles to deal with higher levels of resistance and eat the right foods to support the rebuilding stage. This means consistency is key.

Not sure where to start? We’ve put together 10 top tips you can use to put your body to the test and achieve those gains.

muscle building - the basics

The 10 Commandments of Building Muscle

1) Stick to compound exercises

Compound exercises can make a huge difference to your strength training.

Working a combination of multiple muscle groups at one time, they offer real and transferable strength which no other exercise can give you. And as a bonus, they build the most muscle.

Below are five full body compounds workouts which will add mass to your muscle. We recommend these with 30-45 seconds of rest between sets:

  • Walking lunge – 10 reps x 2 sets
  • Deadlift – 5 reps x 5 sets
  • Barbell bent over row – 10 reps x 2 sets
  • Shoulder press – 5 reps x 5 sets
  • Squat – 5 reps x 5 sets

2) Monitor your training volume

Sticking to the same number of reps or weight won’t exert the pressure your body needs to provoke increased muscle mass. Start out with a weight you are comfortable with and increase the reps each time.

Choosing the right weight is also key for the best results. A weight too light won’t help you feel the benefit. Pick too heavy and the results will be more harmful than harmonious.

To add muscle mass swiftly, you should lift at around 80-85% of your one-rep max for a given move.

3) Load up on protein and carbs

Muscle growing takes energy and lots of it, so you need to make sure your body has enough fuel in the tank to maximize growth. The body needs high-quality calories each day to grow.

In other words, you need a good load of protein and carbohydrates in your diet to bulk those muscles up.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend you consume around 1.5-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight (that’s about 20g of protein a day[3]). If you’re new to muscle building, you’ll need more.

Nuts are a good source of protein to build muscle fast

Below are some great sources of protein:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Milk and cheese
  • Beans
  • Tofu

As for carbohydrates:

  • Whole grains
  • Oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Butternut squash
  • Cous cous
  • Blueberries
  • Quinoa
Bowl of blueberries

4) Curb your cardio sessions

Yes, we know cardio offers some of the best health benefits around but if your cardio sessions are burning too many calories, you run the risk of impacting on your muscle and strength gains.

Consider cutting your aerobic sessions down to once or twice a week and making them a little lighter than usual.

5) Give yourself a break

Muscle renewal takes place when your body is resting. For this reason, make sure you get enough rest to allow your body to catch up and make the gains.

Give yourself seven to eight hours of sleep a night and split your weekly training up with a rest day between each if you can.

Rest days are also proven to reduce your injury risk[4].

6) Supplement with creatine

Creatine is a natural compound found in muscle cells. It has been shown to boost high-intensity lifting workouts and enhance exercise performance as it helps the muscles produce energy[5].

Combined with exercise, creatine is the only legal supplement that may directly add mass to your muscle[6].

One review compared the most popular muscle building supplements and of them all, creatine showed the greatest benefits[7].

What’s more, creatine benefits beginners and advanced weightlifters. 

While it is available in different forms, creatine monohydrate is the most commonly consumed form and has been studied for decades.

7. Focus on a calorie surplus not deficit

A Detailed Guide On How to Build Muscle Fast 1

Do you need to eat more to build muscle? Put simply: yes.

If you want to achieve your dream of aesthetic muscle, you can’t get away with the same calorie intake you were having before – your body needs to be in an energy surplus.

This extra energy intake needs to be timed around your workouts. That could be fueling your weight workouts beforehand or having the right food after so that your body has the nutrients it needs to allow muscle recovery and growth.

To gain muscle, most people add on an extra 100 to 500 calories above their regular calorie requirements however the exact amount may vary depending on genetics, physical activity levels and age.

The type of food is important too. You can up your calorie intake healthily by munching on snacks such as pistachio nuts, or by adding avocado to your salad.

Whole milk has been shown to increase protein synthesis and promote greater lean mass gains[8].

In another trial, eating a whole egg did a great job of boosting protein synthesis compared to just eating the white, despite being matched for protein content in young men[9].

Don’t fear fatty foods or carbohydrates when you’re trying to build muscle. Just make sure your overall diet is set up well. This can consist of four to six meals and snacks a day.

Remember to be consistent with meals – don’t skip any, restrict yourself or overindulge.

8. Train three times a week

Consistency is key to building muscle. We recommend you train at least three times a week to keep your body in a muscle-building stimulus and get those results fast. That’s one day on and one day off.

If you’re a muscle-building novice, you could start with two sessions. As your body gets used to the intense workouts, you can ramp it up but don’t overdo it.

9. Up your h2o

Water is a no brainer when it comes to strength training. About 60% of your body is water[10]  and if you’re dehydrated you put your muscle size at a disadvantage.

Lifting heavy weights can make you seriously sweat, causing water loss and muscle recovery impairment. Lack of water can also affect your mental performance.

Drink enough of the good stuff and you’ll prevent dehydration and achieve the focus you need to make those gains quickly.

10. Make your sets last longer

Man performing squat
Focusing on the eccentric part of the exercise will trigger hypertrophy and provoke that great burning feeling.

What’s the rush? Okay, so you want to build muscle and you want to build it fast. The thing is, to increase mass and growth, your muscles need to be exposed to tension for longer than you think.

Your sets should last between 40 and 70 seconds and your focus should be on the eccentric phase. Say you lower down into a squat – the eccentric part is this action.

Focusing on this part of the exercise will trigger hypertrophy and provoke that great burning feeling.

Workout tips for building muscle

We want to make your dream of achieving aesthetic muscle a reality. That’s why we’ve put together a range of muscle building workouts so that you can transform your body into the peak physique you’re after.

Want to know how to graft for the gains? Keep reading to discover the best muscle-building workouts around.

These workouts could help you build muscle fast.

Try them with a 30 – 45 second rest period between each set.

Full body workouts

Kick your muscle mass into gear with these total body workouts. These compound exercises work many muscles at once, giving you more bang for your buck and adding serious shape to your body.

  • Barbell squat – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Barbell deadlift – 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Dumbbell lunge – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Dumbbell shoulder press – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Pull ups – 3 sets x 10 reps (assisted if you struggle to do a full one)

Leg muscle workouts

Thicken your quads, firm your calves and add some shape to your hamstrings with these leg muscle workouts. Your legs won’t know what’s hit them.

  • Leg press – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Leg extensions – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Goblet squat – 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Good mornings – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Lying leg curls – 3 sets x 12 reps
Man doing lunges
dumbbell lunge

Back muscle workouts

Your back is just as important as your front – in fact, there are a heap of reasons why you should train your back.

Want a balanced, well-rounded physique? Or how about better posture and a reduced risk of injuring yourself? We’ve got it covered. Spend some quality time on your rear with these back muscle workouts.

  • Barbell bent-over row – 2 sets x 15 reps
  • Dumbbell single arm row – 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Lat pull-downs – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Seated cable rows – 3 sets x 12 reps

Arm and shoulder muscle workouts

Add some enviable definition to your shoulders and show off your swans with these arm-and-shoulder-muscle workouts. From your biceps to your triceps, we know exactly what you need to do to get the results you want.

  • Bicep curl – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Triceps pushdown – 2 sets x 15 reps
  • Barbell bench press – 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Barbell curl – 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Overhead triceps extension – 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Bench dip – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Dumbbell shoulder press – 5 sets x 8 reps
  • Front raise – 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Lateral raise – 4 sets x 10 reps
Woman doing an arm workout

Chest muscle workouts

Want your pecs to pack some punch? When it comes to working the chest muscles, most people start and end with the bench press, but there are lots of ways to tone that torso. Here’s how to train your chest muscles to achieve maximum pecs appeal.

  • Cable cross- over – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Barbell bench press – 5 sets x 8 reps
  • Wide press-ups – 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Incline dumbbell press – 4 sets x 8 reps

Muscle building: FAQs

You know the basics, tips and workouts, but what else is there to know when you’re on a muscle building journey? We’ve got the questions and answers covered:

What common mistakes do people make when trying to build muscle?

When building muscle, it’s important to know what to do and of course what not to do. Try and avoid these 8 mistakes when you start your muscle-making mission:

  • Not eating enough protein
  • Overdoing it
  • Not stretching before or after
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Lifting too heavy
  • Lifting with poor form
  • Not getting enough Zzzz
  • Doing too much cardio

How quickly can I expect to build muscle?

The rate of muscle building differs for men and women due to the fact men have higher levels of testosterone. Nutritionists believe new lifters can expect to gain around three pounds of muscle after two months[11], assuming you’re doing everything we have discussed above.

What’s the best nutrition to build muscle?

When building muscle, what you do in the gym is important. But what you do in the kitchen is just as crucial.

A diet rich in protein and carbohydrates is essential for maximum muscle making as is lots and lots of water.

Do I need supplements to build muscle?

It is possible to meet your gain goals by following all of the above however some supplements may help you get there faster.

These four supplements may help you achieve greater muscle mass alongside a heathy diet and exercise plan:

  • Creatine monohydrate
  • Protein powder
  • Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)
  • Branch-chained amino acids (BCAA)

How do I get enough protein to build muscle?

Protein is found in a variety of food sources, so there’s no need to purely stock up on meat and eggs.

Some of the top protein sources include:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Oats
  • Cheese
  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas and hummus
Bowl of oats

Of course, you could always give protein shakes a try. Some experts suggest that consuming 20-25g of protein after a workout may help boost muscle growth and repair[12].

The Final Word

The benefits of building a brawnier, leaner physique are undeniable. But it takes effort, dedication and of course motivation. So, what are you waiting for? Put these tips and workouts into action and you’ll soon turn your body into a fat-burning, muscle-building machine.


References

[1] https://www.britannica.com/science/human-muscle-system
[2] https://opentextbc.ca/biology/chapter/19-4-muscle-contraction-and-locomotion/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4558471/
[4] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01152.x
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12433852
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12433852
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16679981
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28978542
[10] https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
[11] https://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Toning
[12] https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-9-40

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