When you decide to embark on a fitness journey, you inevitably want to see results immediately and gain muscle fast. However, patience and consistency really are the keys when it comes to building muscle as fast as possible. It has been proven that, under optimal conditions, you can gain maximum 1-2 pounds of muscle every month. This means that the best way to build muscle is to ensure you are eating the right amount/kinds of food and are training the perfect amount with correct form.
Eating can be a challenge when it comes to building muscle, as you need to be eating enough to actually build the muscle, but a huge caloric surplus will lead to unwanted fat gain.
Ensure you focus everything you eat around whole foods, with sufficient protein and, if you want to be extra technical, try to schedule your carb intake around your training (for example some protein oats after a morning workout). Some great examples of protein to include at every meal and snack are Greek yoghurt, eggs, lean meats like chicken, white fish and protein powder. Protein powder is not a miracle worker, but it can be a really efficient way to hit your protein intake daily, whether it be in a post-workout shake or a tasty protein cookie.
“Newbie gains” are something to be aware of if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey. These are the initial muscle gains you’ll see when you first start weight training – you’ll be losing fat as well as gaining muscle which, once you’re no longer a beginner, you sadly won’t experience. So enjoy them as this is likely to be the quickest muscle growth you’ll experience!
For more long-term exercise tips, make sure you focus your fitness regime around weight lifting, and keep increasing your weights! Progressive overload (when you increase your weight regularly to ensure you’re always challenging your muscles) is what leads to muscle gain. Constantly incorporate hypertrophy into your workouts too (this is when you are upping either the number of reps of each exercise, decreasing the rest time, or upping the weight). Really focus on every movement of every rep, concentrating on the muscle you are working.
Depending on how often you can exercise, think about potentially splitting your workout days into body parts, such as a lower body and upper body day, or push and pull days. Aim to workout 3-5 times a week for optimal muscle growth.
Compound movements are also key when it comes to building muscle quickly, as these recruit the largest muscles in your entire body. Examples of these exercises are squats, deadlifts, pullups and rows. Try a combination of compound and isolation exercises (isolation exercises include bicep curls, lateral raises, leg extensions) – don’t forget these!
When it comes to performing exercises, correct form is really key. Research every exercise you decide to incorporate into your routine and, if you can, ask a personal trainer to show you exactly how to perform each exercise. Before you start adding huge amounts of weight to any exercise, make sure your form is correct.
In terms of length of each session, make them an hour maximum in order to keep the intensity high. This way, you are more likely to get the session in as you won’t be in the gym all day, and you’ll be making most efficient use of the time spent in the gym.
Sleep is really key when it comes to building muscle quickly. When you are asleep, your body releases the growth hormone that contributes to muscle growth and keeps cortisol, the nasty stress hormone, at bay.
You might be tempted to skip the sleep and ensure you’re hitting the gym every single morning, costing you that extra hour of shuteye. Don’t do this! More is not more when it comes to training, as the body really does need time to recover and rest. Over-training will not lead to more muscle growth – in fact, it will lead to poor recovery and even injury. If you’re still in pain, take a rest day!
At the end of the day, if you’re following all of these tips, you will be growing muscle. But just remember – it is a slow process and certainly doesn’t happen overnight!