Sunday, 5 April 2015

How to Build Muscle Fast: Best Muscle Gain Tips Part 1

You have decided that you want to add some more muscle to your frame. You have started a weight training program. You are eating "clean". But despite all this you see very little change in the mirror. Why aren't you gaining muscle? What do you need to do? How do you gain muscle?

Well if you don't know what is needed or you are stuck in your quest for muscle mass, you have come to the right place. Here are 5 of my top muscle gain tips:

(If you are interested in fat loss click here)

Patience. Aim to gain 0.5-1 lb of lean muscle a week

Aim to gain 0.5-1 lb a week. No more. This might not sound like a lot but it is. There are 52 weeks in one year. So if you were to gain 0.5-1 lb a week for a whole year that would equal 26-52 lbs a year. And if you are training and eating correctly this will be 26-52 lbs of lean muscle, and this is achievable within a year. This may not sound so much for some people but realise that adding 26 lbs of lean muscle to your frame will completely change the way you look. We are talking about 26 lbs of lean muscle not fat and muscle. The problem is, with the exception of dedicated beginners, most people won’t even approach this amount of muscle gain because of impatience and not following the below tips. If you try to gain much more than 1 lb a week we run into a couple of problems:
  1. The weight gain will be mostly fat gain. Not muscle mass. There is only so much muscle mass you can build at a time naturally. Realise this and accept this.
  2. If you keep gaining too much weight you may create more fat cells. These new fat cells stick with you for life, they may shrink in size when losing weight, but they won't go away. And this will make it harder to lose fat and keep it away than had you not gained new fat cells in the first place.
  3. Having an excess of fat significantly increases the risk of a lot of medical conditions.
Be patient and accept it is going to be a slow and steady process. Do this and you will be rewarded with a good physique in the long run.

Eat More Calories

To build muscle you need to eat more calories than you burn. Muscle is very metabolically active. It takes a lot of calories to use, maintain and grow muscle. Even with the ideal training program, rest, and protein quantity, if you aren't eating enough calories you won't gain any muscle mass. This is probably the most important tip to gaining muscle. You have to eat enough food.

Now some people say they eat like a horse but still can't gain any weight. Well the solution is to eat even more calories. You might think you are eating a lot but if you were to actually track what you are eating in a day you'd realise that you probably aren't eating as much as you thought and your food choices have a very low calorie density.

There are many ways/formulas to calculate the number of calories you should be eating. But I like to keep things simple:

Calories for Muscle Gain= 16-19 calories x bodyweight(lbs)

Of course this is only a starting point and will depend on activity levels and you as an individual. But it gives a good starting point. There are many methods of keeping track of calories including calorie counting, but I think the easiest and most convenient method is the portion size method.

Track and Record your Measurements

You need to track, track, track and TRACK. I cannot stress the importance of this. These are the measurements I recommend you track:

Body weight: 
Track your body weight with a digital weighing scale for weight measurements, to make sure you are gaining 0.5-1 lbs a week.

Digital weighing scales are far better than regular bathroom scales as they are far more precise, allowing you to see if you have gained weight to the nearest 100 gram.

Muscle measurements:
Track your muscle measurements with a tape measure to ensure your muscle measurements are gradually increasing in size. I also suggest doing a waist measurement to ensure it doesn't increase too much.

Skinfold measurements:
Track your skinfold measurements with calipers for fat levels, to ensure you aren't gaining too much fat.

And I strongly recommend a training journal to track all your measurements and workouts. That way you can objectively track your progress, keep you accountable and see if you are headed in the right direction. Any notebook will do but I recommend investing in a dedicated training and nutrition diary. They are just as cheap as a notebook but very well laid out and organised, allowing you to track all the required information, keep all the necessary information organised, and make the information easy to refer back to. Plus they have plenty of useful extra information.

Progressive Overload

Your muscles will not grow unless they are forced to. Muscles are very metabolically expensive, they require a lot of calories/energy to maintain. So your body wants you to keep as little muscle as needed to cope with the demands you place on it. This basically means if you want your muscles to steadily grow you need to provide your muscles a clear reason to grow. And Progressive Overload is the best reason.

Progressive overload basically means you have to progressively and steadily increase the resistance you lift. In other words, you need to focus on building strength. As an example, If you can lift 200 lbs in the shoulder press, there is no way you won't have big, well developed shoulders, traps and arms. Now you do not have to rely on weight training to develop strength. It is certainly the most well known and implemented method to gain muscle. But you can achieve the same overload and strength development using calisthenics. This is mainly achieved by progressively moving on to harder and harder exercise variations.

Please realise that the pump, fatigue, and the feel/squeeze the muscle are all unnecessary for muscle growth. They are promoted by muscle magazines to confuse you, provide excitement and keep new content rolling.

Eat Enough Protein

For optimal muscle gain, in addition to a calorie surplus, I recommend 1.8g/kg (0.82g/lb)body weight of protein. This is the maximum amount of protein, shown in studies, needed for optimal muscle growth assuming you are getting enough calories. Amino acids, the components of protein, are the main contractile building block of muscle. So it makes sense to eat sufficient amounts of protein for optimal muscle and strength gains.

This protein quantity can certainly be achieved via whole food, but many trainers find it hard to reach the above protein requirements. So for convenience it may be a good idea to include protein powder. I would stick to whey protein. It is a cheap, convenient, high quality protein source.

These are my 5 top tips for muscle gain for today. Implement these tips and you will get a lot better progress. Click here for part 2.


  1. Wow, excellent post. I'd like to draft like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article. This post has encouraged me to write some posts that I am going to write soon. Build Muscle Fast

  2. Thanks Deborah for the kind words and I'm glad to have encouraged you.