If you're seeking the fastest way to build muscle, your desire is understandable. Most of us want what we want right now, or at least as soon as possible. We certainly don't want to wait for it any longer than necessary. And since bigger muscles usually add appealing contour to the body, the cosmetic benefits are plainly obvious. Increased muscle size also improves the body's metabolism. When we add in the value of strength enhancement that's linked to muscular development, the reasons for wanting speedy progress are even more pronounced. It's no wonder the fastest way to build muscle is an almost universally-sought methodology.
But is there really a "fastest way to build muscle?" There are definitely ways to ensure it occurs as fast as possible. This can prevent it from happening at an unnecessarily slow pace. Whether or not the results live up to any individual's subjective idea of what's considered "fast" is a different point entirely. Since most body builders hit progress plateaus fairly soon within their physique-enhancing quests, anything that keeps progress moving steadily forward would be judged "fast" by most experienced bodybuilder's standards.
Bottom line: When you know how to make steady, unencumbered gains, you'll be in possession of the fastest way to build muscle.
'Fastest Way to Build Muscle': Accelerate Half the Equation
Muscle building is a two-step process. It's a stimulation/recuperation activity. The stimulation part is, obviously, the muscle building workouts. The recuperation part is the time spent waiting for full recuperation between workouts. The time devoted to recuperation is what we call "rest days", or "off days" - the days in which we refrain from weight training workouts.
Since the fastest way to build muscle obviously involves accelerating something, we need to identify what can be sped up in this two-step process. The workouts are relatively short stimulatory activities; we use them to actually tear down the muscle tissue in order to stimulate growth. The rest days between workouts are the time-consuming part; they're what really hold the most leverage for implementing the fastest way to build muscle.
Naturally, if we can reduce the number of rest days between workouts, we can accelerate the whole process. Ironically, however, adding more rest days can often speed muscle growth by squashing overtraining plateaus. In other words, since the biggest hindrance to fast progress is no progress at all, the addition of rest days can sometimes have the counterintuitive effect of speeding muscle growth. If you work your pectorals on Monday and they're not fully recuperated until Wednesday of the following week, then working them on Monday of that week will not speed up your progress; it'll slow it down and possibly halt it. So regardless of how much it seems that adding more inter-workout rest days is slowing down your progress, consider that it could be keeping it moving in the long run.
But the fastest way to build muscle is by definitely doing what's possible to maximize recuperation speed. This involves applying just enough workout stimulation to trigger growth. It requires combining that with just the right amount of rest time for growth to occur. When this equation is optimal, muscle growth occurs steadily and predictably. Theoretically speaking, it could also occur indefinitely.
Fastest Way to Build Muscle: Maximize Recuperation Speed
Beyond using an optimized workout/recuperation ratio, the way to speed muscle growth is by maximizing recuperation speed. The most impactful way of doing this is to reduce catabolic activities and hormones while increasing anabolic activities and hormones. We want to decrease hormones like cortisol and increase hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.
With this as our goal, let's look at some steps we can take to do it:
Get Enough Sleep: Maximum time in REM sleep tends to be beneficial to both growth hormone and testosterone levels. Conversely, getting behind on sleep raises cortisol, which breaks down the body's amino acids and muscle tissue. Therefore, getting the max amount of Z's each night can boost workout recovery and accelerate muscle growth. If it doesn't accelerate growth dramatically, it's worth emphasizing that falling short on sleep will likely slow it down.
Speaking from personal observation and opinion, I'd say what's "enough" varies among individuals and is probably hereditary. Therefore, I'm won't say 'the fastest way to build muscle' is to get eight to ten hours every night. Personally, I doubt I could get that much sleep even with the accidental ingestion of a knockout drug (bad thought). What's enough for me tends to fall in the range of six to seven hours. This is something you'll need to gauge by monitoring your own body.
Moreover, I don't think slight shortcomings of sleep will necessarily stop muscle growth. They usually just require that a bodybuilder take more rest days between workouts to compensate. So if you are falling short of sleep for reasons beyond your control, simply add more inter-workout rest days as needed. This can prevent a progress plateau, even if overall muscle growth is slightly slower.
Eat BCAA-Rich Protein: Getting enough protein to facilitate muscle growth is ubiquitous knowledge; it's so widely known that even non-bodybuilding types will gladly enlighten you about it. Of more particular and valuable know-how is from what sources to get most of that protein.
The fastest way to build muscle is to be selective about protein. Eating a diet rich in sources that are high in branched-chain amino acids can definitely maximize recuperation and growth. The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are three among the nine essential amino acids that need to be consumed in the diet; the body cannot synthesize them. These particular three (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine) comprise about 35% of skeletal muscle. While comprising a third of the tissue, they have a sparing effect on muscle after it's been catabolized by exercise and other stresses. Therefore, consuming protein foods that are high in these three amino acids during every meal is conducive to speedy muscle growth.
Some of the best sources of branched-chain amino acid-rich protein are beef, chicken, eggs, pork, and dairy products. Whey protein is a popular source due to its convenience and ease of digestion.
Reduce Internal Stress: This is an often overlooked ingredient in the 'fastest way to build muscle' formula. It should not be ignored, however, given its extreme importance. Regular internal stress - the kind that seems like it's chewing away at the insides - causes big increases in cortisol. This catabolic hormone breaks down amino acids in the tissues and slows down recuperation and muscle growth.
Notice I used the term 'internal stress' rather than just 'stress' alone. That's because it's unlikely we can remove outside circumstances that cause stress in our lives. Often, the only factor we have control over is how we respond internally to those outer stresses. Therefore, the more you can maintain an internal state of calm well-being in the midst of external chaos, the better you'll keep your cortisol levels below a damaging threshold.
There are various methods to help do this - some passive and some aggressive. A passive one would be to learn and practice meditation or yoga a few times per week.
If that's a little too "Zen-like" and skill-dependent, another way is to practice a more aggressive method. This entails punching a heavy bag, chopping fire wood, beating dust out of heavy throw rugs, or taking overhead swings at an old tractor tire with a sledge hammer. These are called 'gross impact' exercises. They require little skill and a lot of burst-like energy. The 'little skill' characteristic is important; skilled exercises can be stressful because they carry performance expectations. The 'gross impact' component is equally important; internal stress is discharged with each blow. This can release pent-up stress and reduce cortisol levels.
Bottom line: The fastest way to build muscle is to incorporate a positive way to reduce stress if you've been regularly internalizing it.
Maximize Testosterone: The fastest way to build muscle is to maximize your average level of this anabolic hormone. There are a number of steps for doing this. Best of all, none of them require taking an overly-hyped product made of unproven ingredients while carrying a name like 'Ageless Virile Wonder Male.' Here are some recommendations:
Minimize Body Fat- Contrary to popular belief, gaining substantial fat while building muscle ("bulking up") does not help muscle growth. Instead, keeping body fat reasonably low reduces aromatase which can minimize estradiol. This usually results in higher testosterone, which does help muscle growth.
Check Vitamin D Levels- If you have blood levels lower than 50 mg/dl, you might want to consider using a vitamin D3 supplement until you get up to that level. A study of a wide age-range of male subjects showed a correlation between raising vitamin D to this level and a significant rise in testosterone. This needs monitoring, however, as there is potential toxicity if levels hit 150 mg/dl. If you can manage to get your vitamin D from adequate sun exposure, that's probably ideal.
Check Cholesterol Levels- If total and relative numbers are normal or low, you might want to talk with your physician about intentionally raising intake. Testosterone production is dependent on cholesterol, so it shouldn't be eliminated. Free testosterone has been shown to rise with an increase in dietary cholesterol intake.
Use Olive Oil- A study has shown that olive oil helps facilitate testosterone production by assisting in shuttling cholesterol into the leydig cells. Personally, I like to scramble three whole eggs with a few egg whites in a skillet greased with olive oil. Of course, I only raise frequency of the egg yolk intake while keeping an eye on my lipid levels and ratios.
Try Pomegranate Juice- Studies show rises in testosterone among a group of subjects drinking just one cup of it per day. Is it the antioxidants? Does it have anti-estrogenic effects? I'm not sure researchers have a clue what happened. But the stuff appears healthy at this amount. I'd control it though, as this juice contains a lot of non-pulpy sugar.
Selenium and N-acetyl-cysteine- This combination was shown in one study to increase serum testosterone levels. While I once took selenium supplements, I now consume a handful of Brazil Nuts each day instead. Of course, the amount of selenium contained in nuts is dependent on the amount contained in the soil in which they're grown. Other food sources of selenium are sunflower seeds, liver, and shellfish. Don't overdo this mineral; it's easy to get too much.
Get Enough Zinc- Another mineral that's needed for testosterone production. It also might help to control estrogen levels. Make sure you get 30 to 40 mg. per day. Don't overdo this one as it can interfere with other mineral absorption.
Try Cranberries- One study shows cranberries to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and to induce liver cells to make more LDL-receptors. This process might have a similar effect on the adrenals, the ovaries in women, and the testes in men. If cranberries help facilitate the transport of LDL into the leydig cells, they might induce greater testosterone production. Some increased antioxidants from this tart fruit certainly can't hurt.
Eat Some Almonds- These are a great dietary source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect the leydig cells from oxidative damage (good for preserving long-term T-production).
Eat Fatty Fish or Cod Liver Oil- The EPA and DHA contained in these has been shown to lower SHBG, which raises the ratio of free testosterone. There's also some evidence that it might boost luteinizing, which raises total testosterone.
Maximize GH Release: Another of the body's anabolic hormones is GH (growth hormone). The fastest way to build muscle is to maximize release of this hormone along with testosterone.
Since one of the body's biggest pulsed releases of GH occur during the first few hours of nighttime sleep, exploiting this hormonal cascade can be beneficial. We definitely don't want to hinder it. With this in mind, I've personally switched from eating just prior to nighttime sleep to abstaining; I now refrain from meals within the three hour window before bed.
That's often been dubbed a 'no-no' in bodybuilding circles for a long time. Some bodybuilding gurus have even advised trainees to get up in the middle of the night and chug down nocturnal protein shakes. And, granted, this practice might be the fastest way to build muscle when a bodybuilder's between 15 and 25 years old.
Beyond that age window, my advice would be to start manipulating GH release with some mild nocturnal hypoglycemia. Diminishing blood sugar stimulates growth hormone release. High blood sugar raises insulin, which thwarts growth hormone release. Unsurprisingly, my recuperation and muscle building gains have accelerated since I've eliminated the practice of eating within three hours of nighttime sleeping.
Record Your Workouts: Here's a recurring recommendation in many of my articles. That's because I can't express the degree to which this has transcended my muscle building experience. I've personally gone from a frustrated "no-gainer" to someone who thinks his best muscle building progress is still ahead of him, all from recording workouts. What's more, this optimism pervades my mind at nearly 50 years old; not 25.
Every person's body reacts differently to the same degree of muscle building workout stress. Therefore, the only way to know exactly how much inter-workout rest to apply to a given number of sets of exercises performed at a high intensity is to keep a record. This allows for feedback and constant adjustment. Since the fastest way to build muscle is to make volume overload progress during every workout, these feedback-induced tweaks are absolutely essential.
If recording workouts sounds like drudgery, let me tell you, it's not. It's a small effort with the huge payoff of being the fastest way to build muscle. Even better, I've discovered a method for doing it that easy and (dare I say), even pleasurable.
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