Building muscle may be a very daunting task for many people as it takes hard work and dedication.
But, hard work and dedication is not all it takes.
You can work hard to build muscle and be dedicated to that goal and never add one ounce of muscle mass to your body.
I went through this myself and never achieved any results from many years of hard work because I didn't know what I was doing.
This guide to building muscle is going to explain everything you need to know to reach your muscle building goals.
Chest Muscle Building
Chest muscle building is one of the most popular topics when it comes to building muscle.
This really isn't a surprise as men and women both have their chests at the top of their body appearance lists.
The chest is attractive to men and women both so it's very popular.
Build Chest Muscles Fast
The absolute best overall chest exercises are the push up and the dip.
Bench press is a good exercise too, but the push up and dip are much better.
Some so-called experts might tell you that the push up is not as good as the bench press, but this is 100% wrong.
You can safely add heavy weight to the push up just as you can with the bench press.
Simply elevate your feet on a weight bench and use a bar in a power rack at the correct height. Now hang weight with a weight belt or hip belt around your upper body.
Chest exercises that move your body through space (and not just the weight as with the bench press) are much better at building muscle.
This is how you build chest muscles fast (by using push ups and dips). You'll be able to add heavy weight to your body weight.
Workouts That Make Your Chest Bigger
A single workout for 60 minutes or so is not going to make your chest bigger or build muscle that you'll notice.
It's going to take many consecutive weight lifting workouts with the best exercises and the right workout plan to get a bigger chest.
For instance, if you decide to do 3 sets of push ups and 3 sets of dips for your chest workout, this is a great chest workout routine to build a bigger chest.
But, here's the important part:
If you do the same weight and the same number of reps for every workout over the next 6 months, you aren't going to continue to build muscle from every workout.
Instead of doing the same thing over and over with no results, simply add weight in small amounts each workout.
This provides the muscle building stimulus you need to build a bigger chest muscle or pectoral muscle.
Bench Press for Building the Chest Muscle
As you most likely have already read on this page, building muscle in your chest is best done with weighted push ups and weighted dips.
You can easily add heavy amounts of weight to these exercises safely. Some people don't think you can, but this is possible as I do it all the time and have been doing so for many years. I always workout alone too in my home gym.
Yes, the bench press is a great exercise and I recommend that you cycle versions of the bench press in and out of your weight lifting programs.
I always recommend getting very strong on one exercise and then switching to a different version of that exercise movement and getting strong on that one too.
But, if I was asked to choose the best chest building exercises, this would be weighted push ups and dips.
Build Muscle Fast
If you're looking to build muscle, you probably want to build muscle fast as no one wants to wait very long to get what they want.
In order to build muscle as fast as possible, you must understand that you will have to take in more and more calories as you are lifting heavier weights over time.
For example, you might start out lifting 100 pounds on squats and eating a 2,500 calorie diet plan.
In week 2, you would increase the amount of weight you are squatting and increase calories if you did not gain 1 to 2 pounds of muscle during week 1. This assessment and increasing of calories and weight would continue.
This is how muscle is built quickly. And yes, it takes hard work to do so.
Ways to Build Muscle Fast
Choose the best weight lifting exercises.
Use a full body workout as you get more opportunities to provide a muscle building stimulus to your body.
Focus on getting stronger on the best muscle building exercises. Set new personal records often throughout the year. Plan for those new records and break them. This is how amazing progress is made.
Increase calorie intake over time to support construction of new muscle tissue within your body. You must track calories and count calories to do this.
Get plenty of rest and sleep. Track your sleep with a Fit Bit and make sure you're getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Eat whole food meals around your workouts. Add more calories around your workouts. Have a full meal before bed too, but only the healthiest foods should be eaten at all times to prevent fat gain.
Carbohydrates are required to build muscle fast. Eat only the best sources of food and carbohydrates.
Muscle Gains to Expect in One Month
I'm the type of person who doesn't like to limit anyone. You can do amazing things so never let anyone limit your muscle gains.
Any amount of positive muscle gain is great each week. This is especially true if you are able to lose body fat at the same time. And yes, this is possible but shouldn't be your focus.
Muscle gains for each month will also be based on how close you are to your genetic potential.
Again, don't limit yourself.
The maximum amount of muscle a beginner might build in one month is 7 to 8 pounds if everything is done perfectly.
Since I've been lifting weights for a long time and have built over 60 pounds of muscle onto my frame, my rate of muscle gain is going to be slower than when I was a beginner.
So, instead of limiting yourself to how much you can gain per month, get to work and see what you can do with the WLC System.
Factors That Affect Fast Muscle Growth
Here's a list of some of the muscle building factors that affect the rate at which you are building muscle:
- Steroids & Drugs
- Trained or Untrained (Experience Level)
- Muscle Memory
- Workout Program
- Diet Plan
- Cardiovascular Exercise
Don't take drugs and steroids unless you want to live a miserable life and die early. Your body doesn't need drugs.
So the above list should tell you that you can control your workout program, diet plan, and cardio plan. And yes, cardio does help with building muscle when done properly. And yes, cardio can hinder muscle growth when not done properly.
Getting Big Muscles in 2 Weeks
Many people want to get huge muscles in a couple of weeks or maybe they will even double that and give themselves a month to build massive muscle size.
Well, that's not going to happen unless you inject your muscles with some fake substance. Don't do that! This is very bad for you.
Instead, you need to understand that big muscles take a long time to build. Yes, you can get larger muscles instantly by starting to workout as your body will retain more water in those areas and they will appear larger BUT there won't be a HUGE difference!
Please be pateint, work hard in the gym by slowly increasing weight over time, and add more calories from healthy foods to your diet over time. This is how you begin to build big muscles.
Muscle Building Tips
Some of the best muscle building tips that I have for you will be shared here and now.
Use these tips, and you'll be able to build muscle faster.
Eating to Gain Muscle Mass
You'll need to eat more calories over time to gain muscle mass.
If you aren't eating enough calories, you'll also have trouble gaining strength and continuing to build muscle.
As you add more muscle mass to your body, you'll need to increase calories further.
Increase the number of meals you are eating each day to easily increase calories.
Each meal you have should include a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Do not try to eat low carb when trying to gain muscle. And don't try to eat low fat when building muscle.
An example muscle building meal looks like this: muscle building recipe.
All meals should look like this. Even snacks between meals should begin to look like full meals as you'll begin adding more and more calories over time.
Protein, carbs, and fat should be included in every meal for a balanced and healthy meal.
Best Muscle Building Exercises
The best muscle building exercises are those that move your body through space.
- Push Ups
- Inverted Rows
- Handstand Push Ups
- Chin Ups
The above exercises are the absolute best movements for building muscle.
Yes, there are substitutions that can be made for these 7 exercise movements.
For example, the bench press can be used for push ups. And the overhead press can be substituted for handstand push ups. It's very difficult to add weight to handstand push ups so the overhead press is the next best exercise.
Full Body Workouts
For most people, I would recommend 3 full body workouts each week with a day of rest between workouts. The workout schedule for building muscle would look like this:
The same workout would be done 3 times per week.
This gives you an opportunity to not only practice the best muscle building exercises but to also get much stronger on them 3 times per week.
Your body will be in a constant state of building muscle with a full body workout plan.
Going to Failure
Going to failure is not required for every set of every workout.
At times, you will get very close to failure and even reach failure when trying to set new records.
You don't have to go to failure to build muscle.
Building muscle simply requires a heavier weight over time to trigger that muscle building stimulus. Failure is not required, but can be reached repeatedly if you are able to recover from frequent to failure workouts.
Many people cannot continue to recover from frequent workouts to failure. So yes, at times you should go to failure to set new records but most of the time you won't need to train to failure for building muscle.
Changing Workout Styles
Full body workouts are great for a long period of time. I still use full body workout programs with a high frequency (up to 6 full body workouts per week) and obtain great results since the year 2000.
I am a huge fan of full body workouts, but I also use a good number of different split routines as well when needed.
Sometimes a change in the style of training you are accustomed to will bring about even greater results.
For example, you might go from very high frequency workouts with a lower intensity to very low frequency workouts with very high intensity. This may trigger enormous muscle growth and muscle gains for you.
My highest recommendation is to always use some form or variation of the 7 best exercise movements: squat, deadlift, push up, row, overhead press, chin up, and dip.
This shouldn't be the exact same exercise over years and years of working out.
For example, you might use the low bar squat for the first couple of years and you get really strong on that squat version. You then have trouble increasing the weight so you switch to the high bar squat.
Then you work on getting really strong on the high bar squat. When you go back to the low bar squat, you will shoot past your previous maxes.
This works very well for building muscle and strength over the years. Simply switch to a close variation of the best exercises and work on getting really strong on that exercise.
Muscle Building Guide
If you're looking for a muscle building guide, I've got one for you.
Here's the basic outline to build muscle:
- Workout with progressively heavier weights using the best muscle building exercises
- Eat only the healthiest foods in balanced meals with protein, carbs, and fat
- Increase the weight on the exercises as often as possible
- Calories must be increased to gain 1 to 2 pounds of body weight each week
- Measure results and make adjustments based on the amount of lean muscle gained and body fat lost
The WLC System lays all of this out for you.
Understanding Progressive Resistance
Increasing the weight lifted over time is the correct way to build muscle fast.
If you are always going all out to failure every workout, yes, you are going to have trouble increasing the amount of weight you are lifting.
Instead, before you begin a weight lifting program you should take a break from weight training so your body is able to recover and become de-conditioned to any larger weight loads on them.
Once you have taken a break for 1 to 2 weeks, you can start out with light weights and continue making progress.
Building Muscle for Skinny People
Sometimes skinny people will have to work a little harder with their diet plan than others to build muscle.
The process of building muscle is the same for all people, but each and every person is different.
The same things don't work for all. For instance, training to complete failure all the time on every set might work for some while this won't work for most.
When I say this, though, people can change by improving their fitness levels, the way they eat, and more.
Skinny people need to count calories while using a good weight lifting program. Simply increase the amount of food until you are gaining body weight. Measure results and see how much of that body weight is lean muscle mass.
If you gain fat from eating so many calories, look at the foods you are choosing to eat. All foods should always be the healthiest. No junk food or weight gainers or other bad supplements should be used to gain muscle for skinny people.
Instead of adding a weight gainer shake, take a handful of walnuts or pistachios or sunflower seeds and add them to your meals. Nuts and seeds are not going to make you fat. Choose no salt and no added ingredients for the nuts and seeds.
Amount of Weight to Lift to Gain Muscle
All you have to do is to start every weight lifting program (after a one to two week break) with very light weights.
From there, start increasing the weight every workout.
I like to do something like this as an example:
Week 1 Workout 1 = 100 pounds for 5 reps
Week 1 Workout 2 = 105 pounds for 10 reps
Week 1 Workout 3 = 110 pounds for 15 reps
Week 2 Workout 1 = 115 pounds for 20 reps
Week 2 Workout 2 = 120 pounds for 20 reps
Week 2 Workout 3 = 125 pounds for 20 reps
Week 3 Workout 1 = 130 pounds for 20 reps
Week 3 Workout 2 = 135 pounds for 20 reps
Week 3 Workout 3 = 140 pounds for 20 reps (New Record)
Week 4 Workout 1 = 145 pounds for 15 reps
Week 4 Workout 2 = 150 pounds for 15 reps
Week 4 Workout 3 = 155 pounds for 15 reps
Week 5 Workout 1 = 160 pounds for 15 reps
Week 5 Workout 2 = 165 pounds for 15 reps
Week 5 Workout 3 = 170 pounds for 15 reps (New Record)
Week 6 Workout 1 = 175 pounds for 10 reps
Week 6 Workout 2 = 180 pounds for 10 reps
Week 6 Workout 3 = 185 pounds for 10 reps
Week 7 Workout 1 = 190 pounds for 10 reps
Week 7 Workout 2 = 195 pounds for 10 reps
Week 7 Workout 3 = 200 pounds for 10 reps (New Record)
You would continue increasing the weight lifted while moving the reps down. I like to go down to the 5 rep range and then the 3 rep range.
For some exercises, like dips as an example, I keep the rep range a little higher to prevent really heavy weight at a very low rep range.
Once I hit new records at 3 reps, I will continue increasing the weight for as long as I can. Once I stall out on this example program, I move to the 1 week to 2 week break.
Then, I start over with very light weight again and either use larger weight increments or use slightly heavier weight than the previous workout program.
You will always be increasing the weight over time and this is the key to building muscle.
How To Build Lean Muscle
If you want to know how to build lean muscle, I'll first tell you that the foods you choose to eat make a HUGE difference.
For example, I don't consider whey protein shakes as food any more. And let me tell you this: I drank them for years and they didn't help me but only hurth my health.
Manufactured food from production plants aren't healthy for you and include substances your body doesn't need.
Instead of relying on muscle building supplements or other scams, you should spend your money of better whole food sources.
For instance, a piece of wild-caught salmon or a steak from grass-fed beef has much more muscle building potential than a whey protein shake.
You can compare going to battle with a butter knife (whey protein shake) versus going to battle with a two-edged sword (grass-fed beef). Which one would you rather have?
Eating Everything in Sight to Build Muscle
Many people, in an attempt to bulk up as fast as possible, will eat anything and everything in sight.
I was one of those people in the past, and I got really fat doing so. But I did have fun going to a buffet and eating everything in sight.
This leads to health problems as I have first hand experience with that. Acid reflux, high blood pressure, and more. Not fun.
Do not take this approach. I don't care if you think you have a high metabolism or that you're skinny and need to eat everything that you can.
If you want to gain body fat that is difficult to burn and want to have numerous health problems as you age, then go ahead. But, I know that you don't want that.
Instead, build muscle at a slow and steady rate with all of the healthiest foods and you will feel amazing and look amazing. Be patient. Don't rush the muscle building process.
Building Lean Muscle Mass
Focus on improving the sources of food you are eating.
For instance, you can usually find local farms that provide very healthy and real food to you for a good price.
Typical chain grocery stores do not have the best sources of food. Replace what you can with food from local farms. Support your neighbors as much as possible.
Once you begin eating the right foods, you will not gain body fat any more.
Don't eat junk foods and unhealthy foods. Get rid of them from your life completely. Seriously, there is no going back. I don't miss any of them at all and love the foods we eat at my house.
Your diet is the key to building lean muscle mass.
How Can I Build Muscle
One of the most popular questions I get is “How can I build muscle?”
Building muscle is easy once you know how.
I want to give you some of the basics of how to build muscle.
There are a couple of things required to build muscle:
- A muscle building stimulus
- A calorie surplus with the right nutrients
Once you have met the above conditions, your body will begin the construction process of new muscle tissue.
You also need other supporting things such as proper rest and low levels of stress.
A Muscle Building Stimulus is Required
You must provide a muscle building stimulus. Weight lifting is the key to providing this stimulus.
This needs to be something your body isn't accustomed to lifting.
Maybe this is heavier weight than you've been doing or maybe this is more repetitions with the same weight or maybe this is lifting more weight overall in your next workout.
There are many different ways to provide a muscle building stimulus.
Many different workout factors can be manipulated to provide a muscle building stimulus: volume, frequency, intensity.
You can bet, though, that increasing the amount of weight you are lifting is THE most important and this should be your priority.
A Calorie Surplus is Required
You could try to build muscle without a calorie surplus, but you're probably going to have some trouble doing so.
And you might waste time in the gym if you don't give your body the resources it needs to build muscle.
So you want to make sure you keep your body fed with plenty of muscle building nutrients throughout the day.
This is why I recommend eating a balanced meal every 3 hours or so during muscle building cycles. And yes, eat a meal right before bed too.
All foods should be healthy foods at all times. Then, the calorie surplus will not lead to fat gain but only lean muscle gains.
Muscle Building Books
There are a huge collection of muscle building books available in today's world.
Something new and “ground breaking” is always coming out, but you can rest assured that NO ONE truly has anything new as the body continues to work the same.
Many so-called muscle building experts use drugs like steroids and growth hormone to get amazing bodies. Once they do, they'll “teach” you how to build muscle naturally.
This isn't fair to you as many of them truly don't know how to build muscle naturally.
Don't Use Steroids or Other Dangerous Drugs
Most of the people with AMAZING bodies have “cheated” with illegal drugs and steroids.
When you take those drugs, yes, you still have to work very hard to build muscle but many mistakes can be made and you will continue to build muscle.
Your tolerance to weight training and recovery is also increased which leads to amazing gains too.
But, do you want to have many health problems and die early? I don't.
Advice for Natural Trainers is Different
You shouldn't ever take advice from professional bodybuilders unless you're taking illegal drugs.
If so, this isn't the place for you. This site is all about natural bodybuilding and strength training with weights.
I don't have any advice for people using steroids or other drugs to build muscle.
The natural trainer can't do 50 sets a workout to complete failure and beyond for 4 hours a day and 6 days per week.
Instead, they must do things much differently than the drug assisted weight lifter or bodybuilder.
Muscle Building Programs
There are always new muscle building programs released all throughout the year by new “experts.”
Someone always has something new that many people will just jump to immediately without thought. The people who jump from program to program never get results consistently. This is why they jump.
This is similar to new diet plans or weight loss plans that people believe are going to work.
Instead of jumping from program to program, you need to find someone you trust and stick with the program for good. Ignore all the other noise as it will get you no where.
Here's a Muscle Building Program Sample from Weight Lifting Complete
As I've said, I highly recommend full body workout plans so I want to give you a muscle building program you can start using.
You'll find all details you need to start using this program today.
Muscle Building Program Workout Schedule
There will be 3 full body workouts per week. This gives you the opportunity to apply a muscle building stimulus 3 times each week for all major muscle groups within your body.
The weight lifting schedule is repeated each week.
Sample Muscle Building Exercise Plan
Here's an example full body workout plan with exercises so you understand how to choose the best exercises:
You can also see there are 3 working sets for each exercise. This means you do the first set and stop short of failure. Then do a second and third set by stopping short of failure.
Once 12 reps are reached on a given exercise, it's time to increase the weight on that exercise.
This is called the plan of progression.
The weights used, reps completed, and next workout weights are just examples. You will start with really light weights until you find the right weight that allows you to get 12 reps rather easily.
Once you find that weight, you would continue increasing the weight each workout for as long as possible.
It's okay to keep the weight the same, but try to get an extra rep or so each workout so that you'll be increasing the weight or reps as much as possible.
Muscle Building Program Confusion
As you know, there are a HUGE number of websites and businesses out there with muscle building programs, books, and other products.
There are some good ones out there, and then there are all the fad programs and “NEW” muscle building techniques.
You have to watch out for all this new stuff all the time. Don't constantly change programs. Find someone you trust and stick to it. You'll get results if the program is intelligently designed and programmed.
Never use single muscle building routines and try to string a bunch of different workouts together. This doesn't work. Plan out your program.
You should know the approximate amount of weight you can lift for most exercises so it's easy to plan out a program. You also need to know what to do once you have trouble on an exercise.
Muscle Building Exercises
The best muscle building exercises will be discussed in this section.
You should always work all major muscle groups within your body including your lower body and upper body.
Running or other cardio exercise is not enough for your lower body. It's not even close to enough so don't go there and have chicken legs with a huge upper body. Yes, lower body exercises are difficult but required.
Weight lifting exercises like squats and deadlifts that use the heaviest weight will build muscle throughout your entire body. Yes, squats and deadlifts will build bigger arms.
Lower Body Muscle Building Exercises
Here are the best lower body exercises for building muscle in your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves:
- Squats of all types
- Lunges of all types
- Deadlifts of all types
- Calf raises of all types
If you already have a good set of calves, you can even skip the calf raises as squats, deadlifts, and lunges will work the calves very well.
Upper Body Muscle Building Exercises
The best upper body muscle building exercises for building muscle in your chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms are shown below:
- Push ups
- Deadlifts of all types
- Rows of all types
- Chin ups and pull ups
The arms are worked very well with all of the above exercises.
Yes, you can add some curls if you must or some triceps extensions to further build arms. Just remember, these aren't the best muscle building exercises.
Compound exercises that use the heaviest amount of weight will work the best.
Adding Isolation Exercises
Isolation exercises can be used as needed to bring up a lagging muscle group.
For instance, I use all types of calf raises during my workouts to bring up lagging calf muscles. Standing calf raises, seated, reverse, and donkey calf raises were used over the years with increasing weight.
I've been doing this for years, and now my calves are larger than my arms and look much more balanced with the rest of my body.
Yes, it takes time to bring up a lagging muscle group but this can also be done with exercise selection.
For example, one of the best back width exercises is the chin up. If your back is in good shape, you can choose close grip chin ups to prioritize lagging biceps.
You can do the same with other muscle groups.
Build Leg Muscle Fast
Another popular topic I want to discuss is how to build leg muscle fast.
The absolute best way to build lower body muscles is to use squats, deadlifts, and lunges.
At times in my life, I have had knee issues when running long distances. Anterior knee pain would come and go until I started stretching and using the foam roller often. I also got rid of high impact cardio exercises.
But due to this, I would have to lower weight on squats and deadlifts. This means I would have to catch up in leg muscularity over and over again when I had knee issues.
You may have had similar issues with your lower body, or you just neglected to work your lower body.
The Best Exercises to Build Leg Muscle Fast
Squats and lunges are the absolute best exercises to build leg muscle fast.
There really is no comparison. Deadlifts are great too, but squats and lunges will build leg muscles fast.
These 2 leg exercises are highly recommended. Use both squats and lunges in the same muscle building program too.
I also recommend single leg exercises to fix any imbalances between your legs.
Lunges are great for this as well as single leg squats or Bulgarian squats.
My Top 2 Leg Isolation Exercises
If you want to focus on the quadriceps even more with an isolation exercise, I recommend the Terminal Knee Extension (TKE).
For the hamstrings, I recommend the cable kickback. This is not an easy exercise, but it works very well for building posterior leg muscles including the glutes and hamstrings.
Combine these 2 isolation exercises with squats and lunges, and you'll build leg muscle fast.
Also, some forms of deadlifts are very good for the posterior chain too without working the upper body too much.
Again, we're trying to balance the lower body with the upper body so we try to choose leg exercises that don't work the upper body so much.
Stiff-legged deadlifts and romanian deadlifts are great choices for the hamstrings and glutes.
Conclusion to Building Muscle
Building muscle was very difficult for me when I first started because it was a total mystery.
After so many years of building muscle, it's no longer a mystery and I hope you have enjoyed this page and learned many new things.
If there's anything I can do to help you with your muscle building efforts, just let me know.
Leave your questions below, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your questions about building muscle.