Locker room nicknames like “chicken legs” or “twiggy” got you down? Wondering if it’s possible to build muscle faster? It’s the eternal question of hard working gym-goers everywhere.
Sure, there’s something to be said for being patient and doing it the right way. But let’s face it, you’ve probably never said, “I want to put an inch on my arms in three years,” or “I’m not in a rush to get big and awesome.” Why would you? You want to be the envy of other guys in the gym, you want girls to swoon over your 20-inch guns, you want to look like a superhero and you want it now.
So how do you craft an awesome physique quickly? (Read 5 Tips to Build Muscle Quickly.)
Most skinny guys have really fast metabolism, which is public enemy number one when it comes to getting huge. It’s good that you’ll probably never end up being a fat couch potato, but it’s also the bringer of doom to your muscle building process.With that in mind, here are four tips on how to build muscle faster:
1. Eat Every Meal Like It’s Your Last
Building muscle is all about calories. You need them. More precisely, you need to consume more than you burn. This is so your body has enough energy left over from repairing muscle fibers damaged in training to build you some slabs of prime beef.
To get beefy, you need to eat beef and chicken, fish, eggs, oats, rice and nuts. In fact, you’ve just got to eat period. The number one issue holding most guys back is not eating enough. (See Eat Healthy to Build Muscle.) Each meal should be spilling off the edges of your plate and have four components:
- Protein source. From red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. Make it fill around one third of your plate.
- Carbs. These are your best friend when building muscle. Fill another third of your plate with brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, couscous, squash or any other kind of starch you can get your hands on.
- Veggies. Pile them high on the final third of your plate, and let them spill over onto the table. It really doesn’t matter. Portion control goes out the window when bulking.
- Healthy fats. If you’re getting your fat from oil, drizzle two tablespoons of olive, coconut, almond, peanut, or palm oil over your plate. If you’d rather go for solid fat, a half cup of nuts or olives is a good choice. Alternatively, slather two tablespoons of grass-fed butter on your veggies.
2. Have a Muscle Building Shake Between Meals
Three square meals might do it for Mr. Average, but you need more than that, young warrior. Forget your basic protein shakes; you need a shake so caloriic it would turn mere mortals into quivering wrecks at the thought of so many calories in one sitting. Fortunately for you, all that protein-y goodness will be put to work building muscle. Here are the ingredients for said shake:
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter
- 1 cup whole milk or almond milk
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon of fiber powder or 2 tablespoons of flax seeds
Have one shake between breakfast and lunch, another between lunch and dinner and a third before bed if you need that extra protein hit.
3. Weigh Yourself Once a Week
You can add around a half pound of lean muscle each week if you’ve been training awhile, and up to a whole pound if you’re new to weightlifting. Weigh yourself once a week, always first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach (and an empty bladder).
If you’ve gained around a pound, congratulations: you’re on track. If you’re up less than a half pound, it’s time to kick things up a notch. Give your metabolism a kick-start with a big treat meal. Make it your last meal of the day and go to town. Eat whatever you like within a 60-minute window. For the average lazy, sedentary, non-gym going person, this would be a travesty; but for a hard working wannabe muscle man like yourself, it is the boost your metabolism needs to start turning those calories into lean mass.
4. Train Less
It may seem counterintuitive, but building muscle is far more about quality than quantity. Don’t be duped into following a typical bodybuilding routine, training twice a day, six days a week, seventeen exercises per body part, hitting every muscle from every conceivable angle with set/rep schemes so complicated they look more an algebra exam than a workout. Stick to three sessions per week with basic exercises in each.
Stripping it back to the bare bones, the following routine performed on Monday, Wednesday, Friday works fantastically well for hard gainers:
- Back Squats – 5×5 heavy reps, followed by 1×20 of lighter rest-pause set (i.e., rest a few seconds when fatigued until you complete 20 total reps)
- Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 2×12
- Incline Bench Presses – 4×6-8
- Barbell Rows – 4×6-8
- Dips – 2×12-15
- Hammer Curls – 2×12-15
- Weighted Sit Ups – 1×20
- Standing Calf Raises – 1×20
Add an extra rep or two, or whack a touch more weight on the bar, every session.