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TestoFuel Blog : Make Gains & Pack on the Muscle

A Detailed Guide to Building Muscle Fast

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Looking to pack a little more punch?

Muscle building is a worthy goal for any gym-goer and the benefits of a brawnier physique are wide-ranging.

But how exactly do you grow muscle? In this detailed guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about building muscle – and how to get the results you want fast.

First, let’s break down the basics.

Muscle Building: the Basics

The key to muscle building is to keep it simple.

There are over 600 muscles in the human body[1], and they allow us to perform daily functions such as walking, talking, sitting, standing and eating.

Skeletal muscle, the muscle you are trying to build, is formed of myofibrils and sarcomeres which create muscle fibres that are the basic units of contraction [2].

When you work out, your muscles are put under extreme pressure and the fibres are damaged. Your body then breaks down and rebuilds the fibres, which causes muscle growth. This is because:

  • The number of fibres increases – also known as hyperplasia
  • The volume of each muscle fibre increases – also known as hypertrophy

Both hyperplasia and hypertrophy cause the muscles to increase in size. This is because your body is adapting to the strain you’ve placed it under.

For muscle growth to occur, you must continually challenge your muscles using higher levels of resistance. You also need to eat the right foods to support the rebuilding stage. Consistency is key.

Not sure where to start? We’ve put together 10 top tips you can use to put your body to the test and achieve those gains.

The 10 Commandments of Building Muscle

Commandment #1 Prioritise Compound Exercises

Compound exercises can make a huge difference to your strength training.

Working a combination of multiple muscle groups at one time offers real and transferable strength which no other exercise can give you. And as a bonus, they build the most muscle.

Below are five examples of compound exercises that will help you to build serious muscle:

  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row
  • Standing Barbell Shoulder Press
  • Barbell Squat

2) Monitor Your Training Volume

The secret to building muscle is progressive overload, this is where you continually aim to increase either the weight you are lifting or the number of reps you are able to perform at that same weight. This exposes your muscles to new stress and they then have to adapt and grow.

Increasing your training volume is crucial for building more muscle mass, however, overdoing things can lead to poorer results as you are less able to recover between sessions. That’s why a properly programmed training workout is so effective.

Listen to your body, if you are constantly feeling fatigued, achy, and grumpy, then your training volume may be too high. If on the other hand, you feel like you aren’t progressing and the workouts are becoming too easy, then your training volume may be too low.

3) Load up on Protein and Carbs

Muscle growth requires energy and lots of it, you need to make sure your body has enough fuel in the tank to maximize growth. Increasing your protein and carbohydrate levels can help you fuel your workouts and speed up muscle growth.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend you consume around 1.5-2g of protein per kg of body weight [3]. So, an 80 kg man would require between 120 grams and 160 grams of protein.

If you’re new to muscle building, you’ll need more. Carbs should make up around 50-60% of your daily calorie intake, the rest can come from healthy fats.

Nuts are a good source of protein to build muscle fast

Sources of protein:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Milk and cheese
  • Beans
  • Tofu

Sources of carbohydrates:

  • Whole grains
  • Oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Butternut squash
  • Couscous
  • Blueberries
  • Quinoa
Bowl of blueberries

4) Curb Your Cardio Sessions

Cardio offers many health benefits but if your cardio sessions are burning too many calories, you run the risk of affecting your muscle and strength gains. There are two reasons for this:

  • Cardio can lead to increases in cortisol, which may harm muscle growth
  • Too much time spent on cardio limits how much time you can spend on resistance training

Remember, resistance training itself counts as a form of cardio (it increases your heart rate and works your cardiovascular system), so you can get many of the benefits of cardio by lifting weights. Consider cutting your aerobic sessions down to once or twice a week and making them a little lighter than usual.

5) Give Yourself a Break

Muscle repair and growth takes place while your body is resting. For this reason, make sure you get enough rest to allow your body to catch up and make the gains.

Give yourself seven to eight hours of sleep a night and split your weekly training up with a rest day between each if you can. Rest days are also proven to reduce your injury risk [4]. Increasing your sleep and recovery can help to boost testosterone, improve your mood, and reduce cortisol buildup.

6) Supplement with Creatine

Creatine is a natural compound found in muscle cells. It has been shown to boost high-intensity lifting workouts and enhance exercise performance as it helps the muscles produce energy [5].

Combined with exercise, creatine can add mass to your muscle [6][7]. What’s more, creatine benefits beginners and advanced weightlifters. While it is available in different forms, creatine monohydrate is the most commonly consumed form and has been studied for decades.

7. Focus on a Calorie Surplus

Do you need to eat more to build muscle? For most people the answer is yes. If you are a beginner and overweight then you may be able to build muscle while in a deficit, but most people actually require a surplus.

To gain muscle, most people add on an extra 100 to 500 calories above their regular calorie requirements however the exact amount may vary depending on genetics, physical activity levels and age.

The type of food is important too. You can up your calorie intake healthily by munching on snacks such as pistachio nuts, or by adding avocado to your salad. Whole milk has been shown to increase protein synthesis and promote greater lean mass gains [8].

In another trial, eating a whole egg did a great job of boosting protein synthesis compared to just eating the white, despite being matched for protein content in young men [9].

Don’t fear fatty foods or carbohydrates when you’re trying to build muscle. Just make sure your overall diet is set up well. This can consist of three meals and two or three high-protein snacks a day.

8. Train Three Times a Week

Consistency is key to building muscle. We recommend you train at least three times a week to get those results fast. That’s one day on and one day off. If you’re a muscle-building novice, you could start with two sessions. As your body gets used to the intense workouts, you can ramp it up to four or even five, but don’t overdo it.

9. Up Your H2o

Water is a no brainer when it comes to strength training. About 60% of your body is water [10]  and if you’re dehydrated you put your muscle size at a disadvantage. Lifting heavy weights can make you sweat, causing water loss and muscle recovery impairment. A lack of water can also affect your mental performance.

Drink enough of the good stuff and you’ll prevent dehydration and achieve the focus you need to make those gains quickly.

10. Slow Each Rep Down

Man performing squat
Focusing on the eccentric part of the exercise will trigger hypertrophy.

What’s the rush? Okay, so you want to build muscle and you want to build it fast. The thing is, to increase mass and growth, your muscles need to be exposed to tension for longer than you think.

To get the most out of each exercise, spending more time on the eccentric (muscles lengthening) part of the lift will help to stimulate more muscle growth.

Let’s use the bicep curl as an example. Standing upright with the dumbbell at your waist is a good starting position. Curl the dumbbell up so that your bicep becomes shorter. This is called the concentric part of the lift, and can be performed at a normal speed.

Next, you are supposed to lower the dumbbell until your arm is straight again. This lengthens the bicep and is the eccentric part of the movement. This is often performed at the same speed, but by slowing the lengthening part down, you make the exercise harder and yet more effective.

This technique can be very taxing on the muscles, and beginners will notice more muscle soreness the next day. Don’t worry, your body will soon adapt to it, and soon you’ll see some serious results!

Workout Tips for Building Muscle

We want to make your dream of achieving bigger muscles a reality. That’s why we’ve put together a range of muscle building workouts so that can help you transform your body into the peak physique you’re after.

Want to know how to graft for the gains? Keep reading to discover the best muscle-building workouts.

These Workouts Can Help you Build Muscle Fast.

Try them with a 45-90 second rest period between each set.

Full Body Workout

Kick your muscle building into gear with this total body workout. Compound exercises work many muscles at once, giving you more bang for your buck and adding serious shape to your body.

  • Barbell Squat – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Barbell Deadlift – 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunge – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Pull Ups – 3 sets x 10 reps (assisted if you struggle to do a full one)

Leg Muscle Workouts

Thicken your quads, firm your calves and add some shape to your hamstrings with these leg muscle workouts. Your legs won’t know what’s hit them.

  • Leg Press – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Leg Extensions – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Goblet Squat – 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Good Mornings – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 3 sets x 12 reps
Man doing lunges
dumbbell lunge

Back muscle workouts

Want a balanced, well-rounded physique? Or how about better posture and a reduced risk of injuring yourself? We’ve got it covered. Spend some quality time on your rear with these back muscle workouts.

  • Barbell Bent-Over Row – 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Dumbbell Single Arm Row – 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Lat Pulldowns – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Seated Cable Rows – 3 sets x 12 reps

Arm and shoulder muscle workouts

Add some enviable definition to your shoulders with these arm-and-shoulder-muscle workouts. From your biceps to your triceps, we know exactly what you need to do to get the results you want.

  • Bicep Curl – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Triceps Pushdown – 2 sets x 15 reps
  • Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Barbell Curl – 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Bench Dip – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 5 sets x 8 reps
  • Front Raise – 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Lateral Raise – 4 sets x 10 reps
Woman doing an arm workout

Chest Workouts

Want your pecs to pack some punch? When it comes to working the chest muscles, most people start and end with the bench press, but there are lots of ways to tone that torso. Here’s how to train your chest muscles to achieve maximum pecs appeal.

  • Cable Crossover – 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Barbell Bench Press – 5 sets x 8 reps
  • Wide Press Ups – 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 sets x 8 reps

The Importance of Testosterone for Muscle Building

Men suffering from low testosterone find it much harder to build muscle than men with regular or high levels of testosterone. This is because testosterone, alongside growth hormone, are crucial for muscle protein synthesis. This is the process where damaged muscle fibres are rebuilt and grown.

Increasing your testosterone through diet, sleep, exercise, and supplementation, can help you to build muscle, it can also help to prevent the downsides of low testosterone. These include depression, insomnia, poor recovery from exercise, elevated cortisol, and even muscle loss.

Muscle building: FAQs

You know the basics, tips and workouts, but what else is there to know when you’re on a muscle building journey? We’ve got the questions and answers covered:

What common mistakes do people make when trying to build muscle?

When building muscle, it’s important to know what to do and of course what not to do. Try and avoid these 8 mistakes when you start your muscle-making mission:

  • Not eating enough protein
  • Overdoing it
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Lifting too heavy
  • Lifting with poor form
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Doing too much cardio

How quickly can I expect to build muscle?

The rate of muscle building differs for men and women due to the fact men have higher levels of testosterone. Nutritionists believe new lifters can expect to gain around three pounds of muscle after two months [11], assuming you’re doing everything we have discussed above.

Do I need supplements to build muscle?

It is possible to meet your gain goals by following all of the above however some supplements may help you get there faster.

These four supplements may help you achieve greater muscle mass alongside a heathy diet and exercise plan:

  • Creatine monohydrate
  • Protein powder
  • Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB)
  • TestoFuel

How do I get enough protein to build muscle?

Protein is found in a variety of food sources, so there’s no need to purely stock up on meat and eggs.

Some of the top protein sources include:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Oats
  • Cheese
  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas and hummus
Bowl of oats

Of course, you could always give protein shakes a try. Some experts suggest that consuming 20-25g of protein after a workout may help boost muscle growth and repair [12].

The Final Word

The benefits of building a brawnier, leaner physique are undeniable. But it takes effort, dedication and of course motivation. So, what are you waiting for? Put these tips and workouts into action and you’ll soon turn your body into a fat-burning, muscle-building machine.