So, you want to pack on some muscle and you want it fast?
You are not alone.
How to build muscle faster is what is on the mind of most beginners and intermediates.
This post will give you a different answer than what you usually read online.
Because honestly, it seems to me that way too often such questions are answered with either convincing you to buy some crazy supplement or a bundle or supplements.
Or that you need to obsess about meal frequency or timing or some advanced concepts like lifting tempo or mind-muscle connection.
Instead of telling you to focus on getting the tiny details and advanced things right, I would suggest you put all your focus on the stuff that matters the most.
What matters the most are the basics: 1) overall nutrition, 2) recovery and sleep and of course not to forget 3) proper workouts routines and progression.
If you hone in on the basics and really pursue improvement of those your effort will likely result in a better outcome.
That is perhaps unless you are a highly advanced lifter and already have your basics dialed in. If that is the case then you need to work on advanced things.
Getting Basic Nutrition Right For Fast Muscle Growth
Getting sufficient calories and the right macros on a consistent basis is what matter the most regarding nutrition.
You need to figure out how many calories you should eat and what distribution of macros that you will feel the best with and is also within the recommend macro range.
For starters, you have to eat enough food so you are in a calorie surplus.
But if you want to remain as lean as possible and keep fat gain under control you have to fine-tune the food you eat and get just the right amount and nothing more.
Before you figure this out the best starting point is using your training experience as an indication of how big a surplus you should consume.
Because with training experience and muscle development the growth rate slows down and the calorie intake should be adjusted for that.
In other words, if you can gain muscle fast you want a higher surplus compared to if you gain muscle slowly. For more details, you can check out this post on lean bulking.
Regarding macros, you basically need a good amount of them all, but especially protein and carbs.
By including a good amount of them all you will not only ensure your body is functioning well and can recover and grow muscle, but it will also allow for greater flexibility and enjoyment of food.
I have written a cool nutrition guide + email course on how to set up your diet for lean muscle growth.
I include both as a welcome bonus to anyone who joins my email list. You should check it out 🙂
What Honing In On The Basics Is Not About
Getting calories and macros right is a larger picture than focusing on the question of 3, 4, 5 or 6 meals a day.
Failing to hit the numbers one day or two days in a row now and then will probably not matter at all. By the way, this happens to everyone.
You don’t have to obsess about meal frequency and timing.
Some people are successful with building muscle eating only one meal a day (OMAD-diet), and you also see many lifters getting seemingly no negative effect from regularly fasting even up to 24-hours fasts or more.
What should be said about that is from the perspective of developing good eating habits, it is probably better to find the eating schedule that fits you and stick with it.
Also, you don’t need to prepare pre- or post-workout meals or supplements.
Not eating or drinking a shake right after a workout will not make you lose your gains!
Research does suggest that there is a small advantage to getting some protein and carbs within 2-3 hour after working out. But this is what I would call a minor detail and has little relevance if you are not getting the basics right.
Sleeping And Recovering
Many fail to realize how important sleep is for building muscle.
You need proper sleep for recovery and balance the hormones that regulate muscle growth.
In order to get a good sleep most people need somewhere around 7-9 hours and they need to go to bed the same time every day.
So it is probably not the best idea to stay up late.
Because your muscle grows outside of the gym, you need to allow your body enough time to recover and to take this very seriously.
In general, you want to avoid strenuous activity outside of the gym. Cardio is great but if you want fast muscle growth it needs to be limited.
Especially intense cardio will interfere with your recovery.
E.g. running or sprinting on the same day or the day after doing heavy leg training will definitely interfere with your muscle gains. This of course also applies to other muscle groups in your body.
Solid Workout Program With Great Progression
Muscle growth is triggered by several factors, but by far the most important one is progressive overload.
If you want to know more about the factors behind muscle growth you can click this link.
You can think about muscle growth as an adaption to the level of tension you put on them by lifting weights.
If you keep lifting the same old weights at some point there will be no further adaptation.
So you need to progressively increase the tension as you become more adapted and your muscles grow.
There are many smart ways to do this but the most practical way is to increase the weight.
A linear progression of adding more weight will take you far, but at some point, you need to adjust other things and incorporate some kind of periodization in your training.
For continual fast muscle growth, you need a have a solid progression model and stick with it.
A workout program with a solid progression model you can follow is what will give you great results.
For a more detailed explanation of workout programs, you can check out my ultimate weight training beginner guide.
What About Supplements For Faster Muscle Growth?
I know that I said you should focus on honing in on the basics, but I also know that a lot of you want to buy supplements.
In case you are looking to buy a supplement that will speed up muscle growth, there is one that I would recommend.
That one is creatine monohydrate.
It is a great and inexpensive supplement that enhances your performance. According to research, the average increased performance is around 5 – 15 %.
You can check out something cool I wrote about creatine here.
Also if you want to learn more about whether you should buy protein powder or not, you can check out this post.