“I wish I could gain muscles fast”! This is a common complaint coming from people who work hard at the gym, eat right yet aren’t able to flaunt the ‘gains’ they would love to. It isn’t easy by any means, and you need to invest in your 100%.
However, if you are still doing everything that needs to be done, yet are not getting the results you want, read not gaining muscle mass, then you probably need to take a closer look at your approach.
But, don’t worry if you have gone off-track somehow, there are great ways of revving up your results. Here are 9 ways to do that.
Here are the top nine methods for fast muscle growth.
How do you gain muscle fast? By increasing the volume, multiply the number of reps by the number of sets, it is the best primary determiner of hypertrophy (it is the enhancement of a particular organ or tissue from the increase in the cell-size).
Increasing the volume may not always mean increasing the weight. If you want to increase volume, you may actually need to go lower in weight than you might guess. To add volume to your muscles, you can perform each of your lifts for 10 to 20 reps for three to 6 sets.
Lifting weights involve two phases, one is the concentric phase (hard) and the other is the eccentric (easy) phase. To make it easier for you, let’s consider an example when you perform a squat, it is actually an eccentric action. When you go back to the standing position, it is called the concentric phase. Research shows that eccentric work helps trigger hypertrophy at a higher scale than concentric movement. So, how can you increase the eccentric phase? Just slow down the movement or add eccentric variations of the movement. How can you transform a strength-training move such as the squat into an eccentric-only exercise? Just increase the weight. This way muscles move in a stronger fashion.
No more browsing your phone between your sets. If you want to get the best out of your workouts, you have to reduce the rest periods to 30-90 seconds, this helps release quick muscle-building hormones and that includes testosterone and human growth hormone. Workout till your muscles are tired. When you have well and truly fatigued your muscles, it makes way for hypertrophy. This is what makes you feel the burn.
Here is the simple science you should know about when you train you to break down your muscles. What do you need to build them back again? Yeah, you got it right, its protein! So, if you are into lifting hard, you must replenish your protein needs for your recovery. According to research, weightlifters need at least 0.25 to 0.30 grams of protein per kg body weight per meal. So, for example, if a person weighs 175-pounds, you need to include at least 20 to 24 grams of protein for every meal. So, how can you include that amount of protein to your meals? Well, you can include at least three to four eggs, a cup of Greek yogurt, or alternatively one scoop of protein powder.
Are you into counting calories? Well, this is one big myth that needs to be busted. You need to consume more calories to build more muscles. If you want to gain, you need to consume more to burn more.
This is because when you eat less, your body senses a calorie deficit and your body stops building new muscle. Your body gets into starvation mode and it holds onto the fat instead of packing in new lean muscles.
So, how much should you eat? Aim for at least 250 to 500 calories per day. Research substantiates that people who eat more protein in the form of calories, end up putting on more muscles than those who eat a low-protein diet.
Working more than one muscle at the same time is known as compound exercise. A few examples of compound moves are the deadlift, press, squat, row, and pull-ups. The advantages of compound lifts are numerous, they utilize more muscle mass. It involves efficient training and helps in the releasing of hormones such as testosterone that promote growth. If you are fond of isolation work such as curls or leg extensions, you can add them too; but first, you have got to finish up your compound workouts. As they say, a compound exercise is the main course and isolation moves are in fact the dessert.
7. More casein, before you hit the snooze button
Casein protein is an eternal favorite with the bodybuilders as it gets absorbed slowly into the bloodstream and feeds the muscles with amino acids for long hours unlike other types of protein such as whey and plant proteins. It is said that consuming casein protein immediately before bed can keep boosting the amino acid circulation for 7.5 hours, and you build more muscles while you sleep. Try and get your casein fix from foods such as cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and milk. If you love smoothies, casein-based protein powder can add that bit extra to your smoothies.
The more you work your muscles, the more recovery time you need to help your muscles to grow. The bottom line is, invest in 8 hours of sleep. This is more important than the right nutrition and it is not about that one night; every night you will have to put in eight hours. When you sleep, your body releases human growth hormones, which help in muscle growth, reduce stress and also keep the hormone cortisol in check. And if you are skimping on sleep then you are cutting your muscle-building testosterone level by almost 10 to 15 percent.
Creatine is the number one supplement to enable muscle growth, though it does not directly grow muscle. But yes, it helps boost your performance at high-intensity levels when you lift workouts. The natural compound helps promote muscle growth. What I mean to say is that when you supplement with creatine, you get a greater impetus to lift when compared to lifting without the help of supplements.
Your best bet is probably creatine monohydrate, this is one of the most researched forms of the supplement.
HMB or beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate is a natural compound that helps prevent muscle-protein breakdown, helps in muscle growth, and also enables exercise recovery.
Food is important, but optimum muscle growth may not be possible with food alone. Supplementation fills up the gap and helps you get closer to your target. Yes, research substantiates the truth; and a 12-week study on resistance-trained individuals have revealed that a high-intensity lifting routine has helped with muscle strength more than the individuals who went sans HMB. HMB is a Godsend for people who have the tendency to overtrain, which leads to muscle loss. So, it makes sense to combine HMB supplements or select the ones that come with protein and creatine powders.
Well, we already know that when we exercise, we create micro-tears in our muscles. So, how does it help the muscles grow? Well, it helps in one or two ways. The first is it makes the muscles more efficient, it helps fire your nerves faster, and it also helps contract your muscles with much more force. This helps you get stronger without packing in more muscles.
What is the other way that your muscles adapt? It adapts by adding on new muscle tissue. When you workout, you break down your muscle tissue and your body copes by packing in more muscles to make you ready for your next workout.
This is the fastest way to gain muscle. With time, your body changes and adapts to this line of training. Now, suppose, you struggle to do 20 push-ups today, you’ll start adapting to it after a few days. And those 20 push-ups will seem like warm-ups. You will gradually adapt and move onto doing higher reps.
How to get muscles fast? A short and easy answer to that is to keep pushing yourself and your body, keeping your body guessing to be exact so that your body has a hurdle to cross every time and meet fresh new challenges. The challenges mean, adding more weights, or adding more reps or sets.
If you are working out at home, try and add dumbbells and barbells to your routine as this will help you progress faster than someone who isn’t working out with weights. However, bodyweight workouts work too if you don’t have weights with you.
Push ups and pull ups are particularly effective in challenging your body, especially your upper body. There are lower body exercises such as lunges, step ups and single-leg squats that are even more challenging than two-legged exercises such as squats.
Choose exercises according to your fitness level and the equipment you have. If a full-bodied push up isn’t quite your thing, then do the push up from your knees.
So, if you have finally figured out how you can carry out the exercise routine, you can try three full-body workouts per week. Once you nail the full-body workouts, you can split your routines into two halves; so, for a few days, you do the upper body workouts, for the rest of the days of the week you can go for the lower body workouts. However, you cannot do the upper body workouts on consecutive days. If you do the upper body workouts on one day, follow it up with lower body workouts for the next day. Ideally, you should give 48 hours to rest to each of the body parts. You need more time to recover and this will also help avoid injuries and ensure muscle growth.
So, how many sets should you do? Start with 10 reps for each exercise. Packing in many sets won’t necessarily help you flaunt the gains. The key here is that more sets isn’t necessarily better and it isn’t one of the best ways to gain muscle fast. Always pick the weight that helps you complete your workout and does not make you give up in the middle of the sets. If you are able to hit the sweet spot you will get faster gains.
Rapid muscle growth is possible with the right exercise and the right foods. We have covered the exercise bit, and now it is time to pick out a few protein-rich foods that will help you get quick muscle gain.
1) Beef (from grass-fed cattle)
Beef is an important food for building lean muscle as it has got high protein content, cholesterol, other nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins, and iron. It is said that grass-fed cattle contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and this helps you get shredded fast.
This is the latest superfood and it is one of the best foods for your post-workout recovery as it contains betaine. It contains trimethylglycine and enhances liver health and joint health.
3) Brown rice
If you are into lifting, then brown rice is just what you should have. It is a slow-digesting whole grain that provides longer-lasting energy throughout the day, and also during workouts. Brown rice also elevates the growth hormone (GH) levels, which encourages fat loss, helps in lean muscle growth, fat loss and strength gains.
When it comes to protein foods, it’s ranking is pretty high. It helps boost lean muscles and strength. But if you are only having the egg white, you are not doing yourself any favors as the yolk is a storehouse of cholesterol and other important vitamins and minerals. Eggs had got a bad rap in the last few years, when in all actuality cholesterol in egg yolks improves the HDL levels (the good cholesterol) and decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. It is the LDL particles that are often associated with atherosclerosis.
The citrusy boost of oranges helps in muscle growth, strength, and endurance. It works best when you have it before your workouts.
Cantaloupes contain low fructose content and are actually a fast-digesting carb. So, it is one of the best fruits to have first thing in the morning. Also, it is one of the best foods to have to post your workouts.
7) Cottage cheese (organic)
We have already told you how casein protein is the best one to have before you go off to sleep. Cottage cheese contains a generous portion of casein. So, it feeds your muscles when you are sleeping at night and are in a fasted state.
8) Milk (organic)
Milk contains both whey and casein and is rich in the amino acid glutamine. Choose your milk with care though, organic milk contains 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than ordinary conventional milk.
Apples contain healthy doses of polyphenols and it helps increase muscle strength and prevent muscle fatigue, enabling you to go hard at training. Polyphenols have other properties too such as fat-burning properties. Have one apple before you hit the weights as this will help increase fat burning as well. That’s why it’s a good idea to make apples a pre-workout carb source and it will ensure that you gain muscle fast.
10) Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has more protein than plain yogurt (like a whopping 20 g per cup) and has a reasonable carb content such as 9 g per cup. It’s also a substantial source of casein protein.
Well, now you know the quickest ways to gain muscle. And it isn’t rocket science in any way. You can follow the above-mentioned hacks and reveal a new and ripped you. Follow all the three important points: nutrition, exercise, and sleep and you’ll be sorted. Best of luck!
Disclaimer: All exercise should be done under the supervision of certified professionals; and if any medical condition exists, please do seek the advice of the physician to proceed with this exercise.
Some of the supplements are recommended to serve a particular purpose, but usage depends on individual health, workout intensity and more. Usage is at your own risk.
Devi Gajendran is a Post Graduate in Nutrition (University of Madras, Tamil Nadu) and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She is the chief advisor and full time contributor at the Fit Indian and has the final say on all the segments under the Fit Indian paradigm, such as beauty, fitness, home remedies, diseases, diet tips, weight loss, weight gain and so on. A foodie herself, she believes in the Hippocrates quote,” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” A fitness enthusiast, she believes that the combination of diet and exercise can work wonders. When she is not sharing her valuable knowledge about food and fitness, she likes to spend quality time with her family members, do some healthy baking and listen to soft soulful music.