Could you teach me how to gain muscle fast? Could you teach me how to pack on an extra ten to fifteen pounds of muscle mass before my next vacation? Could you help me get ready for my first bodybuilding or fitness model competition? Could you help you look like someone who actually lifts weights? Could you help me build a body that turns heads and demands respect?
As a skinny guy muscle building expert, I get approached these questions daily in my office. Every single hard gainer I consult with wants to know how to gain muscle fast and how to do safely and effectively.
Hard gainers, please listen up! There is hope for you. I am happy to say that learning how to gain muscle fast is not as hard as some would make you believe but it also not as easy as you might think. But you must be prepared to train smarter and not harder. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about wimping out during your workouts. I am referring to the big picture of training more intelligently.
Here is some of the most popular advice I give to the hard gainer when he wishes to gain muscle fast.
1. Never Perform More Than 10 Reps.
If you are lifting weights beyond 10 reps than you are emphasizing your slow-twitch muscle fibers which have the smallest opportunity for muscle growth. You are a hard gainer and you need recruit the maximal amount of muscle fibers in every set. Always choose your weights knowing that a 11th rep is forbidden and trespassing into 'skinny land.'
If you really want to gain muscle fast than get your mind into heavy lifting mode. Every single set and every single exercise. Keep the weights heavy and never more than 10 reps. Approach every workout knowing that you are going to be venturing into new territory and waging war on your skinny genetics. I recommend these workouts with a workout partner so you can eliminate any safetey issues, not slack off and push your limits every inch of the way.
2. Reduce Your Workout Time
Perform more work in less time and you have increased your work capacity. Work refers to the number of sets, reps and poundage within your workout. Who is fitter? The guy who can do 4 sets of 185 pounds bench press with 30 second rest or the guy who can do 4 sets of 185 pound bench press with 90 second rest? The one who can do the same amout of work in less time. Guess who is more muscular? The one who has a higher work capacity.
Next time you enter the gym, try to complete your current workout in less time. Take shorter rests. Move from one exercise to the next much quicker. Don't be surprised if you feel out of shape! This is one of the easiest tips you can take away to increase your muscle density and take your fitness to a new level. Be prepared to humble yourself and get out of your comfort zone.
3. Do Only One Exercise Per Muscle Group
Only one? Yes, only one, unless you want to buy into the notion that you must mutilate a muscle for over an hour to get any growth out of it. Consider this typical day in the gym. Today is your chest day. Your first exercise is bench press. You perform your first set with 185 lbs, second set with 205 lbs, third set with 225 lbs and fourth set with 245 lbs.
Assuming this is your max weight for the desired number of reps, is it not safe to say that you have used the maximal number of muscle fibers? Your goal is to simple spark your muscles into growth. Not exhaust them to death. Once they experience a unknown assalut (stimulus), your body will be forced to adapt and create new muscle to prevent future assaults! Therefore, your take home lesson is this: Once you have out performed your last workout, it is time to move onto the next exercise.
4. Do No More Than 3-5 Sets Per Muscle Group
I question a hard gainers workout intensity if they must do more than 3-5 sets per muscle group. Now if you are using anabolic steroids or have muscle friendly genes than you can safely dismiss this advice. Remember, learning how to gain muscle fast for the hard gainer requires following a new set of rules.
Consider the first 1-2 sets at 85% maximal effort. The third set at 95% maximal effort and the fourth (and sometimes fifth) set at 100% maximal effort. It is only this last all out set that contributes to the greatest muscle growth. Anything over and above this last go till you blow set simply exhausts the muscle beyond reason and delays your recovery ability to hit the muscle again. It is this last set that you should perform at least 1-2 extra reps or 5-10 extra pounds than last workout. Mission accomplished. You have sparked your muscles into growth. Time to move on.
5. Increase Your Strength 5% Every Two Weeks
One of the biggest mistakes I see hard gainers make in the gym is not track there progress. They return week-after-week to simply reherse the same workouts with the absense of progress. How do you expect to gain muscle fast if you continue to lift the same weights each workout? Your body is designed to tolerate stress. Assault it and let it get bigger. Assault it and let it get bigger. It's a simple concept.
So your take home message is to aim for a minimum of 5% strength increase every two weeks. You might progress a little quicker with larger muscle groups like back and legs versus smaller muscles like biceps and triceps. Just think, in six months from now, you will be over twice as strong as you are now! I would actually recommend writing down your strength goals for six months from now and than work backwords. If you are currently dead lifting 135 lbs, aim to be deadlifting 270 lbs over the next few months!