We all know that staying active is crucial for our health. But people look at fitness as more than just a way to stay healthy. People engage in different forms of fitness to improve their appearance and enhance their athletic performance, and strength training is effective when building muscle and burning fat.
Do you want to learn how to gain muscle fast? In this article, we will list the steps for building muscle and additional tips that will improve the fitness journey.
12 Steps to Gain Muscle
Anyone can achieve muscle gain if they follow these 12 steps. The key is establishing a workout routine, eating the proper diet, resting, and taking supplements when needed.
Step 1: Create a Schedule
Most people alternate muscle groups, as we will discuss later. Create a schedule to focus on specific muscle groups, such as the biceps and triceps, one day. Next, you can focus on the shoulders on the back.
In addition to planning which muscle groups you will work on, you should also plan which days of the week you will exercise. The average person should exercise at least three days a week to maximize muscle growth.
Over time, you can tweak your schedule. During the beginning strength training stages, you’ll learn which exercises work for you and which don’t. In the meantime, you can create your schedule based on recommended workouts.
Step 2: Make Strength Training Work for You
It can be difficult to get the motivation to workout. Maybe something tragic happened and you no longer have the desire to exercise. You could also work a lot and find it difficult to hit the gym even three days a week. Maybe you also love exercising and want to build muscle, but you hate the gym.
If these are reasons why you find it difficult to stick to a fitness routine, make strength training a part of your existing lifestyle.
For example, if exercising for an hour and three days a week doesn’t fit into your routine, opt for half-hour lifting sessions six days a week. If you don’t like the gym, buy free weights and lifting equipment so you can exercise at home.
Step 3: Lift Heavy
The more you can lift, the faster you can build muscle. Lifting heavily creates more demand in your body, which will result in accelerated muscle growth. You should lift as heavy as you can, whether focusing on isolated muscle groups or compound movements (when you work multiple muscle groups at once).
Don’t be discouraged if you’re lifting heavy but aren’t getting bigger. Some people gain lean muscle, so you’ll still build strength and burn fat. But your diet can also impact your strength training goals. We will discuss this more later.
What if you’re intimidated by lifting heavy? You can still lift light weights or engage in bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups. But you will need to perform more reps to achieve the same results.
Step 4: Know the Right Exercises
The key to gaining muscle is knowing the right exercises and which muscles they target. Here are some of the most popular workouts and the muscle groups that you’ll target:
- Squats: calves, hips, obliques, hamstrings, quads, and glutes
- Push-ups: pecs, triceps, and shoulder muscles
- Pull-ups: biceps, lats, rhomboids, deltoids, and core muscles
- Sit-ups: rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdomis, chest, hip flexors, and neck
- Crunches: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, and hip flexors
- Dips: triceps, pectoralis muscles, anterior deltoid, and rhomboid muscles
As you can see, these few exercises target nearly every major muscle group. You also have flexibility when doing these workouts; you can opt to use machines or free weights. Several of these workouts, such as push-ups and pull-ups, are also perfect bodyweight exercises.
Step 5: Alternate Muscle Groups
While consistency is key when strength training, you need a balanced approach. This ensures you build strength in every major muscle group. Plus, alternating muscle groups reduces the risk of injury.
Everyone alternates muscle groups in different ways. Some people may focus on upper body muscle building one day and lower body the next. Others may devote more time to one muscle group and another the next day.
Step 6: Add Weight When Needed
Lifting heavy is necessary to build strength, but you’ll eventually have to add weight to a workout. However, only add weight when necessary. Adding too much weight and too quickly has safety risks. Plus, adding too much weight when you’re not ready isn’t as efficient as you expect.
How do you know when you’re ready to add weight? If you can complete a set of reps with ease, it’s time to add more weight. But start slow and easy. For example, let’s say you lift 10 reps on average. Start by lifting five reps. When you can comfortably lift five reps, increase your reps slowly until you get to 10.
Step 7: Rest
Rest is a core component of strength training. Your body needs plenty of time to build muscle. Lifting too much also increases the risk of injury.
Should you still exercise when resting? Many people will do cardio workouts, such as running and bike riding, between weight-lifting sessions. Others will argue that cardio impedes your strength training goals. While you should still do cardio, keep this workout separate from strength training by at least six hours. In other words, you can lift one day and do brisk cardio the next.
What’s the maximum recommended amount to lift weights? Don’t exceed six days a week. This way, you have at least one rest day.
Step 8: Eat the Right Food
Everyone will say what you eat will impact your strength training goals, but there’s a lot of mixed information. While you will need to consume more calories, you’ll still what to be mindful of what you eat. Focus on nutritious food that’s high in calories.
Our muscles are made of 22% protein, making it one of the core nutrients you’ll need. Eat healthy, high-protein food such as fatty fish (salmon and tuna), chicken, and eggs. If you eat a plant-based diet, focus on beans, lentils, nuts, quinoa, edamame, tempeh, and tofu.
Many fitness enthusiasts will recommend eating beef and pork. While these foods are high in protein, they’re also filled with saturated fat. Because of this, eating red meat will put you at risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s recommended you stick to healthier protein sources to build strength while decreasing your risk of heart disease.
Your diet should also include fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables not only offer essential nutrients but also contain fiber. Fiber is a powerful nutrient that helps you feel full. You’ll be consuming enough calories but not excess calories, ensuring you don’t gain more weight.
When you do consume carbs, stick to whole grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, can lower triglycerides and total cholesterol. You’ll consume the calories you need while also benefitting your heart health.
In addition, avoid food filled with white flour, sugar, additives, trans fat, and anything processed. These foods will interfere with your fitness goals, forcing you to gain fat instead of losing it. They also increase your risk of various diseases and health complications.
Step 9: Know Proper Portions
Since you need calories to build strength, you should eat large portions. Your body will use these calories as fuel to build muscle and strength. What should your meal portions look like? Here are some examples.
Breakfast: two-to-four eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, and one-to-two pieces of fruit.
Lunch: chicken sandwich (use real meat and not processed meatbuy rotisserie chicken if you don’t want to cook chicken) on whole wheat bread. Fill the sandwich with healthy ingredients; for example, use an avocado spread instead of mayonnaise. Top it with veggies such as spinach or kale and tomatoes. Eat nuts on the side instead of chips if you crave a salty snack.
Dinner: a salmon filet with vegetables of your choice and sweet potatoes.
Only eat until you feel full. If you get hungry in a couple of hours, don’t ignore your hunger pains. But be mindful when eating, especially when you eat snacks. Eat healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, and nuts for more protein.
Step 10: Stay Hydrated
You should drink water throughout the dayduring your workout and when you’re resting. Your body needs water to transport glycogen structures and protein. You should also give up sugary drinks, since they lack the nutrition your body needs for growth. Decreasing your alcohol intake is also beneficial. Alcohol dehydrates the body and makes you feel lethargic, interfering with your fitness goals.
Step 11: Take Supplements When Needed
Lifting while eating calorie-rich and nutritious food should be enough for people to gain strength. However, some people may need some extra help. If none of your strength training efforts have been successful, try taking supplements. Protein shakes and supplements such as creatine will provide your body with the calories it needs and delivers essential nutrients that your body needs.
If these supplements also don’t help, you can always buy SARMs. SARMs are popular because they help you build muscle and lose fat. Make sure you do your research before using SARMssome are ineffective and others may be unsafe.
Step 12: Sleep
Rest is essential for your muscles to grow, and so is sleep. When you sleep, your body releases amino acids into the bloodstream and at an increased rate compared to when you’re away. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so you’ll grow stronger and get bigger when you sleep.
How much sleep should you get? Eight or nine hours is ideal. At the very least, aim for seven hours of sleep. If you’re an insomniac, try going to bed earlier, turn off your devices (get an alarm clock if you need one) and don’t consume coffee before bed. Drinking herbal tea and reading can also calm you down, helping you sleep better.
Additional Tips When Building Muscle
Have you completed these steps before and don’t find them effective? Or do you know all of these steps and still need more help? Here are some additional tips to get you on your strength training journey.
When you’re at the gym, you likely see others doing these complex routines. You may also be tempted to join intense training classes and programs. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start out simple so you develop realistic fitness goals and learn how your body responds to lifting.
Even if you’re not a beginner, there’s nothing wrong with preferring a simple weight lifting routine. As long as you’re seeing the results you want, you should continue sticking to the simple routine.
Use Proper Form
You may have heard you should be mindful of your form when lifting, and it’s true. Bad form strains on your bones, ligaments, and vertebrae. This can result in pain or injury, at worst.
When you’re new, you may not know the difference between proper and improper form. It’s beneficial to work with a personal training if you’re starting out, or at least workout with a more experienced friend. This way, they can judge your form and offer suggestions.
Even though you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) exercise daily, you should still be consistent with your workouts. It sounds easy enough, but life often gets in the way.
What if you have been lifting consistently but something came up? For example, let’s say you suddenly need to move and you are no longer prioritizing your fitness goals? The good news is you can take time off of exercising and not lose your progress. But if you sustained an injury and suspect you’ll have to pause workouts for several months, talk to a personal trainer and see what your options are.
How to Gain Muscle Fast: Follow These Steps
Now that you know how to gain muscle fast, it’s time to hit the gym! Create a fitness schedule, lift heavy, eat calorie-rich and healthy food, rest, drink water, and take supplements when needed. Do you need more health advice? Continue reading our blog!