How do you really build muscle faster? The following five tips are my favorites, and I recommend them to clients who want to make serious weight room gains.
Eat Like It’s Your Job
You simply can’t gain muscle if you’re not giving yourself the building blocks to do so. If you’re having trouble gaining weight, complete the following steps. You’ll be a lot closer to a proper muscle-building diet.
- Record everything you eat and drink for three days, including total calories consumed.
- Find the average number calories you consumed over the three days.
- If you averaged fewer calories than 20 times your body weight, add 500 calories per day and eat that amount of calories for a week; if you don’t gain any weight by the end of the week, add another 500 calories until you’re gaining about 1 or 2 pounds per week.
- If you’re still not gaining weight, make sure you’re getting at least 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight; and if you aren’t gaining weight after that, consult with your doctor, because you may have a digestive system issue.
Get Back to the “Big Basics”
The best lifts for getting brutally strong, fast and explosive are also the best lifts to build muscle If you want to pack on muscle, you simply can’t waste your time on isolation lifts. You should be adding weight to the bar in lifts like the Squat, Deadlift, Pull-Ups, Bench Press and Overhead Press. (See Lifts That Build Muscle and Burn Fat Fastest.)
If you currently bench 135 pounds, how different do you think you’d look if you benched 275 or 315? Add weight to the bar over time in these big basic lifts; maintain great technique; and you’ll be packing on muscle in no time.
Increase Your Training Volume Over Time
Training volume is a simple equation: weight lifted x repetitions performed = training volume for a given exercise
In order to get your muscles to grow, you need to give them something to adapt to. My favorite method for adding volume to my training is to add more sets of a heavier weight, rather than to perform more reps with a lighter weight. For example, it’s easier to do 10 sets of five with 225 than to do five sets of 10. Setting up your training this way also helps ensure that each rep is performed with great technique, rather than struggling at the end of long, heavy sets. (Read Five Variables to Consider When Developing a Training Program.)
Adequate Rest & Recovery
If you’re training hard every day, you may not be giving your body enough time to recover and grow. (Check out the Value of Rest and Recovery to Sports Injury Prevention and Treatment.) If you’ve been struggling to gain weight, eating like it’s your job and training hard four or more times per week, you may be training too often. It sounds strange, but the reason for training in the first place is to elicit the response that happens afterwards. I tend to see the best results with myself and my athletes when we lift three times per week, usually split between a Squat and posterior chain assistance day; a Bench Press and upper-body pulling day; and a day devoted to hitting the Deadlift and Overhead Presses.
In addition, if you’re staying up all night playing video games or chatting away on the phone, you need to get some sleep. If you aren’t sleeping at least seven hours a night, you simply aren’t giving your body the chance to maximally produce the natural growth hormones that help it repair itself. It can also be beneficial to get a short nap during the day if your schedule allows it.
No supplement can replace a proper diet, proper rest and recovery, and working your tail off in the gym; but you can absolutely maximize your results with smart supplementation once you’ve taken care of the basics. (See A Guide to Muscle-Building Supplements.)