Trying to get big fast? Now is literally the best time in the history of the human race to bulk up. Our modern understanding of biology, anatomy and chemistry have taken DIY bodybuilding to an unprecedented level. Anyone with determination and access to relatively common resources can add pounds of muscle in no time flat.
Below I detail 10 proven ways to help you get big fast, from what you need to eat to how to streamline your workouts. Round out your workout regimen with this course on how to gain weight, build muscle and increase your energy levels.
Needless to say, trying to “get big fast” comes with plenty of risks. Ideally, you should see a doctor before entering an intense training regimen and you should also consult a personal trainer for advice and tips on healthy practices. At the very least, do some research. This article from Ask Men discusses 10 dangerous bodybuilding habits. You should also be wary of dietary supplements, unless they are extremely well-established (this WebMD article illustrates just how dangerous new supplements can be). You don’t want to fit the “dumb jock” mold: when in doubt, consult a doctor and do your research.
1. Increase Your Caloric Intake
Let’s start with the basics. You need to eat more, preferably around 500 calories more, every day while you are weight training. This intake can even increase as you settle into your routine. The most accurate way to add 500 calories is to monitor your eating habits for a few days. Keep track of how many calories you average and, of course, add 500 to that number.
You want those calories to count, too. Foods high in protein will help you build muscle the fastest. One pound of skinless, raw chicken breast is approximately 500 calories; one egg is roughly 75 calories (~7 plain, boiled eggs = 500 calories). Please keep in mind that cooking a pound of chicken breast in 2 tablespoons of butter would add 250 calories.
2. Simplify Your Routine
You don’t need a specific exercise for every little muscle in your body. A simple routine is actually preferred to a complex one. Exercises that work a number of muscles at once, especially core muscles, are the most important: squats, bench press, dead-lifts, overhead press, pull ups, etc.
The dead-list is generally considered the ultimate strength exercise. Learn how to master it safely and get maximum results with this how-to-dealift course.
3. Less Is More
You want to limit your reps and increase your weight. 6-12 reps is ideal; 15-20 is far too many. You should also limit your workouts to under an hour. This will be easier if you are doing less reps with more weight. You should replace the “rep time” with “rest time.” Try to rest 3-5 minutes between sets; time yourself if you have to. This is especially important if you are maxing out at the end of the week or trying to set a new personal record. Let your body recover its ATP reserve.
4. Entire Body Workout
While you need to simplify your routine, you want to make sure you are working as many muscles as possible. If you can workout your entire body in one workout (or even do split routines) you will release the maximum amount of essential hormones: growth hormone, testosterone, etc. This will stimulate the most muscle growth for the longest amount of time.
5. Strength In Variation
Once you’ve got your first month of serious training under your belt, make some changes to your regimen. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown makeover, and it shouldn’t be, but you should definitely add some variation. You can do big things, like replace a few exercises with new ones or switch dumbbells for machines (and vise versa), or little things, such as altering rest time by thirty seconds or changing your reps.
Get ideas on new exercises with this butt, gut and thighs course by certified trainer Carla Sulzer-Fears.
6. Protein Sandwich
Let’s talk a little more about what you should ingest. To begin with, you should drink a cold glass of water within the first 30 minutes of waking up in the morning. This kick-starts a number of essential processes, most notably your ability to metabolize and recover.
You should also consume protein before and after a workout, but there is really only one option here: shakes and supplements. I provided a warning about supplements earlier, but there are a number of great, safe options available. The problem with eating something like a chicken breast thirty minutes before a workout is that you will have digested almost none of it (and it will be sitting in your stomach waiting to give you a cramp). A protein shake, on the other hand, will be kicking in right on time.
You should follow your workouts with a snack, too (protein is ideal, as always). This doesn’t have to be a shake, as time is not as crucial once your workout is over, but you should get something in your stomach within thirty or forty-five minutes after completing your routine.
7. Notes On Cardio
Believe it or not, you actually want to limit cardio to a certain extent. Too much cardio will burn through your stores of protein and you won’t have anything left for muscle building. But while you want to limit cardio, you also need to keep it up. Not only is it incredibly healthy, but many cadrio exercises, like running, utilize your entire body and help balance the stress on your muscles.
You should shoot for around two 30 minute sessions a week. Running is great, but high-intensity cardio is even better. Doing sprint work-outs or other intense calisthenics for 30 minutes will burn off just the right amount of fat. You can even turn your cardio into its own workout regimen with this “no equipment” home workout for full-body cardio and energy.
Stretching does not directly build muscle, but don’t underestimate its benefits. Stretching keeps you fluid and works wonders for injury prevention. Even a quick stretch before and after a workout will help you recover more quickly between workouts. It also helps to iron out deposits of lactic acid and allows your muscles to grow naturally.
You can stretch, kill stress (the benefits of which I discuss momentarily) and build strength all at once with this yoga for stress class.
Record every workout: what you do, when you do it, what day of the month, etc. This will allow you to keep track of progress and, more importantly, it will prevent you from deceiving yourself. You won’t be able to miss a day and hide it under the bed. Recording will keep you honest and provide motivation when it’s needed most.
If you’re just getting started in training and want more tips on the basics of body building, read this blog post on strength training tips for beginners.
I would guess that only stretching is more underrated than recovering. There’s more to recovery than sleep (although that is important: 7-8 hrs is a minimum). You shouldn’t train more than four times a week; go for three, workout hard, and let your body recover.
You should also try to avoid stress, nervousness, etc. This will inhibit your body’s ability to build muscle. While supplements will help you during workouts, vitamins and nutrients will go farther in helping you recover. Even just a basic daily vitamin will keep you recovering quickly.
If you can’t afford a personal trainer on a regular basis, you can still get expert advice for a bargain. Check out this five-star “no-bull fitness course” taught by a fitness coach who knows how to help you build muscle, lose fat and be healthy.