The 'Build Muscle Fast' Workout Plan

June 6, 2013 | Nick Tumminello

Must See Strength Training Videos

Building muscle size—also known as hypertrophy—is generally considered to be a slow process. It takes 6 to 8 weeks before your body is able to grow and build muscle.

It's generally thought that the strength increases beginners achieve within the first few weeks of a weight-training program are due to neural adaptations. In other words, their brains learn how to engage their muscles as they progress through the early stages of the program.

However, research is beginning to challenge this belief.

A 2007 study featured in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that "changes in muscle size are detectable after only three weeks of resistance training." And a 2011 study conducted by researchers at the University of Oklahoma found significant skeletal muscle hypertrophy within the first 3-4 weeks of training.

According to Brad Schoenfeld, 2011 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year and author of The MAX Muscle Plan, "The general body of literature indicates that neural mechanisms are primarily responsible for increased strength in the early phases of training, although it does seem hypertrophy (i.e. increases in muscle size) plays at least some role in the process."

So then, what is the best means for building muscle early on in your training? We present the Build Muscle Fast Workout.

This six-week workout plan is designed to help beginners safely build muscle fast—within 3 to 4 weeks—and continue that muscle growth through the duration of their training program.

The program is inspired by and uses a weekly split and set/rep scheme similar to the protocols used in the University of Oklahoma study, which prescribed a weight-training program consisting of the Leg Press, Leg Extension and Bench Press lifts.

The workout plan below is more well-rounded and less monotonous than the routine used in the study, because it alternates between two different workouts and incorporates a wider variety of exercises to engage more muscle groups. The result is a total-body workout that won't cause burnout.

Muscle-Building Workout A

Muscle-Building Workout B

Coaching Points

  • Perform the exercises in paired sets (e.g. "1a" & "1b") with 30-45 seconds rest between sets
  • Two exercises ("a" + "b") = 1 superset. Complete all sets of the first pair of exercises before moving on to the second, and so on.
  • Complete this workout on three nonconsecutive days per week for six weeks and alternate workouts ("A" & "B") each week

Six-Week Set/Rep Progression

Follow these general set/rep parameters to ensure your safety and constant progress:

  • Week 1: 2 sets x 8-10 reps of each exercise; rest 45 seconds between sets
  • Week 2: 2 sets x 10-12 reps of each exercise; rest 45 seconds between sets
  • Week 3: 3 sets x 8-10 reps of each exercise; rest 45 seconds between sets
  • Week 4: 3 sets x 10-12 reps of each exercise; rest 45 seconds between sets
  • Week 5:  3 sets x 12,10,8* reps of each exercise; rest 30 seconds between sets
  • Week 6: 3 sets x 10,12,14* reps of each exercise; rest 30 seconds between sets

*Perform Set #1 for 12 reps, Set #2 for 10 reps, Set #3 for 8 reps
*Perform Set #1 for 10 reps, Set #2 for 12 reps, Set #3 for 14 reps

Nick Tumminello
- Nick Tumminello, known as the "Trainer of Trainers," is the owner of Performance University, which provides hybrid fitness training for athletes and educational programs for...
Nick Tumminello
- Nick Tumminello, known as the "Trainer of Trainers," is the owner of Performance University, which provides hybrid fitness training for athletes and educational programs for...
Must See
Brandon Jennings: Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 5,512,701
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 24,436,943
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,799,420

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Views: 243,040
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,319
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,097
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,211
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,865
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,918
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,269,514
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,560

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

Baseball players are typically ranked on five tools. One of those five tools is arm strength. How to build arm strength for baseball is at the top of...

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

Speed Drill of the Day: Weighted Arm Swings

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Speed Drill of the Day: Reverse Lunges

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

YardBarker