Building muscle is a process that takes time, consistent work in the gym, and a diet that gives your muscles the fuel they need to grow. Muscle growth happens at different speeds, but here are 10 ways to gain muscle faster.
To gain muscle faster, you must work out often, use different rep ranges, and eat enough calories to help your body recover and build muscle. You can also put protein and other supplements at the top of your diet to help speed up your recovery and get the most out of your nutrition.
- 1 Factors Affecting the Rate of Gains in Muscle
- 2 How Much Time Does It Take to Gain Muscle?
- 3 Gain Muscle Faster: 10 Best Tips
- 3.1 1. Eat Enough Calories
- 3.2 2. Train With Weights Over Cardio
- 3.3 3. Train with Heavy Weights
- 3.4 4. Lift Light Weights, Too
- 3.5 5. Train a Muscle to Near Failure
- 3.6 6. Avoid Overtraining With Heavy Weights
- 3.7 7. Creatine Supplement
- 3.8 8. Work out a muscle twice or even three times a week
- 3.9 9. Drink Carbs During Workouts
- 3.10 10. Progress One Training Variable per Session
Factors Affecting the Rate of Gains in Muscle
Most of the factors listed below (except body composition) are uncontrollable and impact the rate you can gain muscle.
Genetics plays a big role in how quickly you can build muscle and where your muscle mass tends to be. This is something you can keep the same. However, you can figure out where your genes make growing hard and spend more time working on those areas.
For example, if it’s hard for you to build up your upper body, you can train your back and chest more often (three times a week) than other muscle groups (two times a week) for 6 to 8 weeks.
Even though your genes significantly affect how quickly you gain muscle, almost anyone can get bigger and stronger with hard training, the right diet, and time.
Age does affect muscle growth rates, with males exhibiting the greatest muscle growth rates in their late teens and early twenties when sex hormones are at their peak.
In the 30s and 40s, when hormone levels begin to change (decreases in growth hormone and testosterone), it may become more difficult for some women to gain muscle as rapidly.
Although you cannot alter your chronological age, realizing that you can build muscle at any age is essential. Even elderly populations can increase muscle growth, according to research.
Focus on training hard, staying safe and healthy as you age, and avoid comparing yourself to your younger self.
There is a good chance that you are stronger than you were when you were younger or have not lost as much strength and muscle as you would have if you did not exercise.
Training age is the number of years you have been training regularly.
Beginners usually gain muscle faster than more experienced lifters because beginners have less muscle mass.
Even though you can change how old you are when you start training, you can’t do much about it because your goal is to keep training for a long time (which is necessary for long-term muscle growth).
The more you work out, the slower your muscles will grow. Realize that this is just part of the process. If you’re getting frustrated because you’re not gaining muscle as quickly as you were when you first started, this is why.
The only thing you can change is how your body looks. This can be changed by how many calories you eat, how many calories you burn, how much you exercise, and how you live your life.
If you want to build muscle as quickly as possible, you need to start with a low amount of body fat.
The less body fat you have to start with (as long as it’s not too little to affect how your hormones work), the more ready your body is to use the extra calories you eat to build muscle and support hard training.
This doesn’t mean people with higher body fat levels can’t gain muscle. They must know that their bodies may want to gain fat just as fast.
One way to fix this might be to lose body fat first to get to a better starting point and then slowly gain muscle so that you don’t gain too much body fat.
How Much Time Does It Take to Gain Muscle?
The rate at which muscles grow depends greatly on many of the things we’ve discussed above. Even though everyone is different, the tips below can help you figure out how long it will take you to build muscle and how much you can expect to gain each month.
It’s important to remember that the muscle growth rates listed below are estimates and vary greatly from person to person. The key is to keep your mind on the fact that you are getting better at your workouts (getting stronger, doing more reps/sets, etc.) and making progress.
- Beginners who have been working out regularly for less than a year should try to gain 1–1.5% of their body weight in muscle per month. This means that 200-pound men just starting could try to gain 2-4 pounds of muscle per month (24-36 pounds in a year).
- Intermediate Lifters who have been lifting regularly for more than a year should try to gain 0.5–1% of their total body weight in muscle per month. This means a 150-pound intermediate female could try to gain between 0.75 and 1.5 pounds of muscle in a month. This may seem slow, but you could gain about 8–12 pounds of pure muscle over a year.
- Advanced Lifters who have been lifting regularly for more than five years should try to gain muscle at 0.25–0.5% of their monthly body weight. This means an advanced 200-pound male could try to gain between 0.5 and 1 pound of muscle in a month. Again, this may not seem like much, but it could help you gain 5–10 pounds of muscle over a year.
Gain Muscle Faster: 10 Best Tips
1. Eat Enough Calories
To build muscle, you must eat enough calories to keep you through hard workouts, recovery, and muscle growth.
Everyone has different needs, but you should try to eat 5–10% more than your daily energy. This will let you train hard, live the way you do outside the gym, and get enough calories to build new muscle.
You can use this TDEE calculator to determine how many calories you need to keep your weight the same.
If you’re skinny and want to gain muscle quickly, increase your calories by 5–10% and read this guide to bulking up.
If you’re not as thin as you want to be and want to build muscle, start a lifting program and track your progress. You can always use this article to determine how many calories you need to add or remove.
2. Train With Weights Over Cardio
Cardio won’t necessarily stop you from building muscle, but it doesn’t do much to help you build muscle.
If you want to get stronger, you need to lift weights. Cardio can help you build up your overall endurance to lift weights harder if you’re always out of breath. However, cardio shouldn’t be your main focus when you work out.
If you want to gain muscle quickly, you should try to lift weights at least four times a week. So, you’ll be able to work out each muscle at least twice a week.
Cardio should be done rarely and shouldn’t take up too much of your training time or energy or compete with your strength training.
3. Train with Heavy Weights
To build muscle, you must ensure that your workouts are hard enough to get the job done.
Heavy weight training (5–10 reps) is a great way to work out a lot of muscle tissue at once and get stronger. When you build strength and muscle, you can gradually overload the movements (by adding more weight or volume) and keep growing your muscles for months.
Aim to do 5 to 10 reps of at least one exercise for each muscle group. You don’t have to train only with heavy weights, though. Training with moderate and lighter weights also has many benefits.
4. Lift Light Weights, Too
Lifting lighter weights can increase muscle growth and blood flow to tissue and is a great way to round out a well-written muscle-building program.
When you train with lighter weights, it’s important to train close to or right up to the point where your muscles fail.
When using machines, free weights, and isolation exercises, the best way to build muscle is to train with light to moderate loads. This lets you focus on one muscle at a time and work it without tiring out other areas.
5. Train a Muscle to Near Failure
Training hard is necessary to build muscle, but many people wonder how hard they should train.
Research has shown that training to or near failure for short periods (a few weeks or with increasing intensity) can help promote muscle growth, increase motor unit activation, and possibly increase the amount of growth hormone released.
When training to build muscle, you want to make sure that your workouts are hard enough to stress the muscles and let you do enough of them to cause muscle growth.
This moving target can differ for each person, but the work you put into each set should stay the same.
Most people should train at a level of intensity that leaves them with 0–2 reps left after each set (i.e., they finish a set and think, “I probably could have done just one or two more reps”).
Also, your form shouldn’t worsen because training to fail or almost fails shows you still have good form and control.
6. Avoid Overtraining With Heavy Weights
The rule that you should train to failure or very close to failure has one exception: when you are using heavy loads.
Training until you can’t do any more reps can be bad if you are using a weight that you can’t do more than five reps with (more strength-building rep ranges).
This is because it will be hard to build enough training volume to grow your muscles.
Also, the more weight you carry, the more stress you put on your connective tissues and bones. This can lead to an injury or overuse injury if you carry heavy loads or do many of them.
When training with heavy weights (ones you can’t do more than five reps with perfect form), always have 1-2 perfect reps left. This will make sure you can move with good form, don’t put too much stress on your connective tissues and bones, and don’t get hurt.
7. Creatine Supplement
Creatine has been shown to improve sprint performance, short-term strength and power, and maximal muscle contractions by 5–15%.
When you get better at these things, you can train harder, lift more weight, and do more intense training, which can help you build muscle.
If you want to take creatine as a supplement, eat 5g of creatine monohydrate daily.
8. Work out a muscle twice or even three times a week
Research shows that directly working a muscle three times a week can help you build more muscle than working it once or twice weekly.
By working out a muscle more often, you can increase muscle protein synthesis, keep natural anabolic hormone levels high throughout the week, and be in a state where muscle growth is easier and lasts longer.
Train each muscle at least twice a week to get the most muscle growth. If you want to give an area of concern an extra training day, you should work on it three times a week.
9. Drink Carbs During Workouts
Drinking carbs during a workout helps build muscle, start recovery, and refuel muscle bellies with glucose.
Carbohydrates during or after resistance training increase muscle protein synthesis, start muscle recovery and improve performance.
A 60-90-minute weight training session should include 30-60g of carbohydrates for most people.
10. Progress One Training Variable per Session
Progressive overload is a key part of building muscle and getting stronger. Every time you work out at the gym, except for deloads, you want to ensure you’re improving in at least one area.
Here are some ways to make your workouts harder, which you can do by changing the weight you lift or other variables. All of these can help you get better results:
- Increase the weight on the exercise by 2-3%, and perform the same reps and sets as the week prior.
- Keep the same weight as the prior week on a given exercise, but perform a few more reps per set, or add one more work set than the previous week.
- Keep the same amount of loading, sets, and reps on a given exercise, but slow down the movement to increase the total time under tension.
- Increase the range of motion at which you are training a movement, such as trying to squat lower with the same weight you did in previous weeks.