How To Put On Muscle Fast: The Guide
Ben Craughwell | 22nd July 2016
First things first! The main crucial factor in how to put on muscle fast and effectively is down to genetics. So, if you’re a 6ft 6′ basketball player, you’ll find it much harder to grow in comparison to a shorter, stockier type.
Sadly we can’t choose what genetics will be expressed, so whatever body you have now will be the one you ALWAYS have. You may train like Arnold, Steve Cook, Calum Von Moger but you’ll never look like them if the genetic potential isn’t there.
I want to stress that you shouldn’t let this hinder you – accept what cards you’ve been dealt and play them the best you can. I say this because not having Ronnie Coleman’s genetics doesn’t mean you can’t add quality mass.
All you need is patience, consistency and a burning desire to see change. Without these three crucial elements, you’ll end up like every other tire kicker you see in the gym who have not made any noticeable changes to their physiques in over a decade of training.
So put your head down, phone down, camera down and stop vlogging your 11” arms doing biceps curls because nobody is watching or interested. If recording your workout or getting the right camera angle is more important than the training, please kindly leave the page. If not, and you’re hungry for this, then welcome aboard.
#1 Reduce Your Body Fat Percentage
The first thing you want to do is get lean. Dieting down to a respectable bodyfat whereby your abdominal muscles are visible will make it much easier to put on muscle fast. It’ll feel like you’re taking a step back but in the long run you’ll be taking two steps forward.
You’re hormone output will be in an optimal state when you get leaner. This means better testosterone output, increased insulin sensitivity and your body being perfectly capable of utilizing all the nutrients from food in a much more productive way than if your body fat percentage was higher.
Most men want to put on muscle straight away, but from experience, I want you to trust me when I say that shedding some fat BEFORE you try to add mass will allow you to become bigger quicker in the long run.
#2 Eat Nutrient Dense Food
The second thing you need to do is to eat nutrient dense food. I see men constantly necking supplements thinking it’ll allow them to put on muscle fast – supplements are about 1% of the formula. You need to eat proper food! I am talking about organ meats (such as liver), shellfish (oysters are phenomenally nutrient dense) and single ingredient whole foods. Necking pizzas every second night won’t help you to put on muscle. You may think you can get away with it because you train hard, but if you want to add lean mass, you need to eat quality food.
Find out how many calories you require every day (either from hiring a coach or use an online calculator for a rough estimate) and eat AS PER THESE MACROS consistently. Training is all well and good, but isn’t worth much without the correct amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein. At Optimum Performance Personal Training Stillorgan, we place a lot of emphasis on great food – heading to the gym is only half the battle.
#3 Focus On Leucine Rich Meals Every 2-3 Hours
You need to eat leucine rich foods (chicken, beef, seeds, cheese, fish and nuts) every three to four hours. Leucine is one of the three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and is unique in its ability to stimulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Leucine has roughly a 10-fold greater impact on protein synthesis than any other amino acid. It has been shown that leucine activates a major complex in the anabolic pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). 3g of leucine is sufficient to maximise the anabolic response (e.g. 175g chicken breast contains 3g leucine). So in short, if you want to put on muscle fast, ensure you’re getting protein into you with every meal.
#4 Supplement Wisely
Although certain supplements are a waste of money and others only give you that extra 1% as explained, there are certain nutrients we fail to garner from our food and thus supplementation is very beneficial when someone is already eating well and wants to put on muscle fast enough.
Getting a sufficient dose of vitamins such as zinc, vitamin D, omega 3, selenium, magnesium, vitamin K2 etc. – can give you a great boost when putting on mass.
I purchase most of my supplements from evergreen.com, MyProtein and my local pharmacy in Sandyford.
You will find The Optimum Performance Personal Training Sandyford infographic here on the dosages and timing for each supplement.
This is our own protocol so ensure you get a complete blood panel done by your GP and do your own research before embarking on any supplement journey.
#5 Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!
You NEED proper sleep if you want to put on muscle. It’s really that simple. Men constantly ask me why they’re not growing despite eating and training correctly, and a huge amount of the time it can be attributed to staying out half the night every single weekend.
Getting proper sleep every single night is absolutely crucial to putting on muscle. You need to get into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, i.e. a deep sleep. Just because you’re sleeping 8 hours a night doesn’t necessarily mean it’s quality sleep. I recommend supplementing with magnesium one hour before bed. Melatonin is also excellent to take every night. It can be difficult to get at times but is well worth the purchase.
When I moved to Stillorgan, the bright blue lights from opposite buildings would flood through my bedroom windows at night and disrupt my sleep. Any light on the skin (phone, alarm clock, child’s night light etc.) will zap your melatonin production and your body won’t know it’s time to sleep. I covered my windows in tinfoil (yep.) and my sleep immediately improved, but you could always invest in some good blackout blinds if you want. A pitch black bedroom is worth it, trust me.
If your goal is to put on muscle fast, I cannot stress the importance of sleep enough. The significance of winding down in the evenings is something most of us also take for granted and doing it correctly will improve your sleep quality hugely. You should always dim the lights 3 hours before bedtime, and use an app on your phone/laptop called Twilight or F.lux in the hours before sleep.
#6 Learn How To Manage Your Stress
You have to manage your stress. I’m talking about your mental reaction when someone swerves in front of you while you’re driving to work, when you realise you left your wallet at the bank, when your child just will not sleep or when you’re in the middle of a massive fight with your girlfriend. When your mind is stressed, your body will be too. By managing how you react to certain stressors, you can avoid causing certain issues within the body like inflammation. It is a completely overlooked aspect of fitness and it’s crucial you learn to manage it, especially if it’s your target to put on muscle fast.
I meditate every morning before work for ten minutes, which I have talked about numerous times. The benefit of meditation in terms of putting on muscle fast is in regards to hormone output. Those who manage their stress levels effectively have a much better hormone output than those who don’t. If your hormones are out of whack, so too will you ability to put on muscle fast; not to mention that being stressed before a workout will significantly hinder your ability to perform well. Learn how to manage your stress so that when stressors do arise (and they will) you know exactly how to control your response.
#7 Train Hard & Train Smart
I’ve said it so many times at this stage – put down the dumbbell and stop spending so much time doing bicep curls. You should be focusing on the most bang-for-your-buck lifts such as the deadlift, squat, bench, lunge andchin up. Each of these exercises encorporate many of the major muscle groups at once, and so more muscle fibers are recruited. This will carry over into increased protein synthesis and thus increased muscle gain. Bare in mind that you should focus on form before adding any serious weight, and spend time doing mobility before every session.
So there you have it. My No BS Approach To Adding Quality Lean Mass. There unfortunately is no quick fix, and I see young men all to often giving up due to a perceived lack of progress. I urge you to stick to it, as consistency in all that I have mentioned above is key to success when it comes to building mass. Send this article to anybody you know who is faltering in their gym efforts because they are doubting the process! And if you have any questions regarding nutrition, training or supplements, comment below.