How To Build Muscle

To build muscle as fast as possible, you must build strength as fast as possible.

Muscle grows over time when you load it with progressive resistance.  You can provide the progression in resistance by

  • Gradually adding barbell plates to exercises
  • Gradually adding resistance bands to exercises
  • Gradually transitioning from use of two limbs to one limb when performing bodyweight exercises
  • Gradually reducing leverage in bodyweight exercises, for example transitioning from tuck front lever to advanced tuck front lever

Build Muscle As Fast As Possible

I know you want to build muscle as fast as possible.

Unfortunately the body probably can't build muscle as fast as you would like to have it happen.

Research shows that typical novices to progressive resistance training will only gain on average 1-2 pounds of muscle per month – that’s only one-quarter to one-half pound of muscle per week – with a wide variation between individuals.

As one passes the novice stage, the rate of gain tapers considerably as the rate of strength gains slows down and the quest to gain muscle requires more patience and persistence over a long term.

Build Strength To Build Muscle

You have to build a lot of strength to build muscle.

The body is very conservative.  Since muscle is expensive to build and maintain, it will build muscle only if absolutely necessary.

You won't see much if any muscle growth by increasing the resistance you use in squats, chin ups or dips by only 5, 20 or even 20 pounds.  You need to think in terms of doubling, tripling and quadrupling your strength levels to build muscle.

To build big legs, chest and arms you need to think in terms of building up to 15-20 squats with 300 pounds,  6-10 chin ups or dips with 100-150 pounds added resistance, and 6-10 repetitions of overhead press with a load equal to your bodyweight. 

What Doesn't Build Muscle

The following training practices won't build muscle faster:

  • Changing your exercises every month.  You need to stick with basic exercises for a long time and get very strong.  Changing exercises frequently prevents you from getting stronger.
  • Increasing sets.  Adding sets beyond 2-3 per muscle group per session is not progressive resistance (load), it is progressive volume.  Adding volume is for building endurance, not strength.  Add resistance, not sets. 
  • Complicated routines.  Basically, a proper program to build muscle should contain no more than about 10 exercises, most of them basic multi-joint exercises like squats, chin ups and dips. 
  • Increasing frequency.  Progressive resistance is king.  Your frequency should be adjusted to what enables you to increase loads on a regular (preferably weekly) basis.  Generally you should not train a muscle group more than thrice weekly as a novice, twice weekly as an intermediate and once weekly when advanced. 
  • Overeating.  Overeating – eating more than your appetite dictates – only adds body fat.  You don't gain muscle because you are eating more, you eat more because you are gaining muscle. 

Training to Build Muscle

The Gaining Strength programs will enable you to build muscle.  Here are some examples for novices who have little or no experience training:

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