Whether you’re a teenager or someone from an older generation looking to build muscle quickly, there are ways to accomplish this. Regardless of your current situation and background, the fundamentals will always be the same. Read on to learn how to build muscle fast.
There are no short cuts. It takes dedication and a radical change in your habits to build muscle quickly. Think of weightlifting more of a lifestyle choice rather than a means to an end. With a smart approach (outlined below) and consistency, you’ll be on the road to having a better body in no time.
Proper Nutrition is Vital
When it comes to fitness you’ll often hear the words “you are what you eat”. Whether you are skinny or overweight, the correct nutrition is vital for anyone who wants to know how to build muscle fast, lose fat and become healthier overall. This isn’t just about protein – a lot of people just starting the bodybuilding journey continue eating nonsense, but think just because they have a protein shake before bed they’ll get swole. It’s all about having a balanced diet and consuming the right macronutrients for your goals. Think of your macronutrients like the building blocks that will help you to build the body you want.
Macros consist of carbohydrates, protein and fats – and it’s essential to eat a good balance of all three for optimal health and muscle growth. You can use our macros calculator here (or in the sidebar) to figure out exactly what macronutrients you require for bulking. As a basic guideline, it’s important to consume 1g of protein and 0.65g of healthy fats per lb of bodyweight. The remaining carbohydrates you consume generally depend on whether you’re cutting, maintaining or bulking. Just keep in mind that the results from the calculation are a guideline only, and you will need to adjust it depending on how you react. Also remember that your body doesn’t store protein so space out your nutrients throughout your day. Every meal should be balanced.
Smart Food Examples
- Protein: boiled eggs, lean beef, chicken, turkey, fish, low fat dairy, whey/casein protein powder
- Carbohydrates: oatmeal, whole grains, brown rice, sweet potatoes
- Healthy Fats: flaxseed, sunflower seeds, avocados, nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts etc.), olive oil
- Vegetables: Don’t forget your nutrient rich green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach etc.
- Fruit: Fruits contain simple carbohydrates so try to limit consumption or keep them for pre/post workout snacks. Good choices include mangos, pomegranates, guavas, raspberries, bananas, oranges etc.
Best Supplements for Muscle Growth
Even the most balanced diets often lack nutrients required for optimal muscle growth. Those who want to know how to build muscle fast may wish you consider adding the following two supplements to your diet:
Creatine: This is a nitrogenous organic acid which is naturally produced by the body and helps supply energy to muscle cells. However, the amount produced by the body is usually minimal. Consider supplementing 2-5g per day to notice a significant improvement in the gym (including faster recovery times).
BCAA’s: Branched-chain amino acids include three of the most essential for muscle growth (leucine, isoleucine and valine). These amino acids are the most effective at conducting protein synthesis to prevent muscle breakdown and assist in muscle repair. For best results, take 4-8g pre and post workout. There are also intra-workout BCAA supplements such as Xtend which are great. Xtend also includes glutamine which is another important amino acid for muscle growth.
Bodybuilding for the First Time
If you’re a teenager who is just starting out, it’s best to stick to bodyweight exercises until you’re 14 or 15. Bodybuilding prior to this is pointless due to the lack of testosterone, and may result in injury. Once you have a large amount of testosterone present in your body, it’s possible to then start building muscle mass. In fact, it’s actually a great time to take advantage of the increased testosterone and build a solid foundation before levels drop when you’re older.
Older individuals who haven’t weightlifted before also have an advantage when it comes to learning how to build muscle fast. The shock to the muscles will result in a phenomenon often referred to as “newbie gains” which means you’ll build muscle much quicker (at least initially), than those who have been bodybuilding for years. Within as little as 4-8 weeks, it’s not uncommon to notice a drastic difference in body composition.
There is also a phenomenon known as ‘muscle memory’ which means that if you used to work out, but have stopped for many years, you’ll see great gains when you start up again. Regardless of which category you fall into (and regardless of your gender), staying dedicated to nutrition and being consistent in your bodybuilding routine will help you achieve results in no time.
Compound Exercises vs Isolation Exercises
Many people who first start working out make the mistake of performing a few simple isolation exercises and wonder why they aren’t seeing progress. Isolation exercises involve working out a single muscle group, utilizing a single joint. Just one example is the bicep curl. There is a time and place for isolation exercises, but those just starting out should focus primarily on compound exercises. You can learn more about the best compound exercises for muscle growth here.
Compound exercises are the bread and butter of bodybuilders and powerlifters looking to increase strength and build muscle mass. A compound exercise involves working out more than one muscle group at a time and usually simulate real world movements. Examples include the bench press, squat, deadlift, military lift, pull ups and so on. Following on from the isolation example, you may think you’re ignoring your biceps if you don’t perform bicep curls, but you use your biceps for almost every back exercise – such as pull ups and barbell rows. The same can be said for triceps which are worked out during the bench press.
The reason why compound movements are great for building strength and mass is because you can lift more weight than you can with isolation exercises. There is also less risk of injury with correct form, as less strain is placed on any one joint. As for this latter point, it’s in your best interest to discuss correct form with a personal trainer at a gym, or if you’re working out at home, to pay special attention to tutorials to ensure you don’t injure yourself – which will put a serious damper on any quick progress you’re hoping to achieve.
How to Build Muscle Fast: Frequency
Those who are eager to get in the gym and build muscle often make the mistake of overtraining. Working out the same muscle everyday will only lead to stunted progress and a variety of injuries. There needs to be a window between training muscle groups to allow the torn muscle fibers to repair and grow stronger. With this in mind, correct nutrition as outlined above will also play a pivotal role in recovering quicker.
For beginners, it’s best to either start with a weekly split, or a full body workout routine (depending on how much free time you have). As you build a solid foundation and gain more experience, your routines can become more advanced. To learn more about what bodybuilding routine to follow, read our article on Bodybuilding Workout Plans for Beginners.
The key to knowing how to build muscle fast is consistency. Working out for a week or two and then deciding it’s not working will never net you any results. It takes a dedicated approach, both in terms of your diet and workout routine for a minimum of 4 to 8 weeks before you’ll begin to see results.