You don't have to be a wannabe bodybuilder to desire instantaneous results. We've all dealt with the frustration that stems from working our butts off bench pressing, squatting and curling for gains that seem nonexistent.
Building muscle is a slow process. It doesn't matter who you are, you're not going to become Mr. Olympia overnight. But besides learning a lesson in patience, you need to focus on three simple aspects. You'll see that building muscle doesn't have to be overly complicated, and you'll build muscle faster than ever before. (Here are 3 More Quick Tips to Build Muscle.)
Watch Your Calories
Without a doubt, calories are the most important factor for building muscle. Although you may not necessarily be concerned with your weight, to build muscle fast you must consume more calories than you burn. To accomplish this:
- Figure out what your total daily energy expenditure needs to be (see Calculate How Many Calories You Need to Eat).
- Add 300 calories to your maintenance level.
- Weigh yourself regularly. If you're putting on more than two pounds per month, you're probably adding too much, so cut your calorie intake back a little.
Take Progress Photos
Progress photos are the easiest way to gauge improvements in muscle growth and decreases in body fat. Here are some tips:
- Take three photos once a month on the same day, from the front, side and back.
- To get a reliable comparison, wear the same clothes and take photos in the same lighting.
- Pose the same way every time.
Use Progressive Overload
It sounds blindingly obvious, but to build muscle you have to put in the work in the weight room. Look around your gym. It's no coincidence that the ripped guys are lifting heavy and the skinny dudes are still stuck on the pink dumbbells. How to progress:
- Push yourself to lift heavier so your muscles will adapt and grow; but select weight you can lift safely.
- Perform more reps and sets at a slower tempo. To progressively overload your muscles and spark growth, perfect your form and reduce your rest periods.
- Aim to improve on every lift in every session, even if it's just doing one extra rep, or using a two- instead of a one-second negative.