What Is the Fastest Way to Build Muscle?

I'm often asked by beginning bodybuilders, "What is the fastest way to build muscle?"

To which I always answer, "It depends."

What's fastest for me might not be optimal for you, and vice versa. We're all very different. However, there are some bodybuilding principles that we all could follow a little closer and learn more about muscle-building in general.

Getting a firm grasp of the following concepts will help you get to the "fastest way to build muscle" for the majority of muscle-building pupils.

Training

  • Train with 5-8 reps for the upper body and 6-10 reps for the quadriceps (10-15 for calves).
  • Exclusively use compound movements. By definition, these exercises involve at least 2 joints. Leave the curls and crunches for putting the finishing touches on your newly-beefed body.
  • Train to failure, but don't go too far. Essentially, lift a weight until you cannot lift it any more (on the concentric portion).
  • High Intensity Training methods can be used, but only sparingly (use ONE method per bodypart). Drop sets, giant sets, negatives, etc. are all viable candidates.

Nutrition

  • Eat enough to fuel your muscle growth. Only you can know what this means, but you cannot expect to quickly build muscle while losing a good amount of body fat. It IS possible, but it's also very difficult to do. It's much simpler just to build the muscle mass quickly and then drop the weight.
  • Do NOT eliminate fats from your diet. In fact, you may want to add some in the form of fish oils and the like. If your body gets any indication that it's about to go hungry, it will go into "starvation mode" by burning muscle cells as fuel. Definitely not something you want to do.
  • Take your supplements! Double up, in fact. Your body needs more nutrition now than ever.

Recovery

  • Give your body enough time between workouts to build itself back up stronger and bigger. The ONLY way you can get bigger is to force your muscles to grow: Break them down with hard and heavy workouts and let them rebuild bigger and stronger. The body is all about self-preservation and if it thinks it can stave off another attack is by getting stronger, it will. It's just that simple.
  • You know how much sleep you need to maintain or grow moderately. But to grow a LOT, you need more rest. Cut out as much extra activity as possible. You can "get back in shape" later, once you've gained the size you want.

That's it really. If I can stress 3 things, it's that you need to keep your muscles constantly nourished with high-quality protein, you need to workout hard enough that the muscles break down, and you need to take enough time between workouts that your muscles have time to grow back stronger than before.

That's the ONLY way your muscles will ever grow.

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