Notice I titled this article “How to Get Bigger Muscles Faster” rather than ‘How to Get Big Muscles Fast.’ There’s a good reason for that. It’s because the former title connotes getting bigger muscles than you have now at a faster pace than you (and most natural bodybuilders) are currently making gains. The latter title is reminiscent of the BS you’ll see all over the Internet in order to separate you from your cash: The notion that you can actually add muscle (rather than fat and water) to your body at a pace that could generally be considered fast.
Marketers of many online bodybuilding products get away with headlines of the second type because muscle building is intrinsically full of relativism and ambiguity. For example, how does anyone even define “fast muscle growth?” It might be defined by tens of thousands of bodybuilders experiencing progress plateaus by the mere resumption of muscle growth. For underweight teenagers, it’s often a gain in body weight composed primarily of fat, glycogen, and water and misconstrued as “solid muscle growth.” As long as an aspiring muscle builder is legitimately shown ‘how to build bigger muscles faster’ than they’re currently gaining it, they’ll likely buy into the idea that they’re “building muscle fast.”
This is one reason why “bodybuilding experts” on the Internet are getting away with touting unreal numbers in muscle gains. You know the ones to which I’m referring:
“How I gained 40 pounds of muscle in 6 months”
“How to gain 21 pounds of solid muscle in 30 days.”
If emotional desires prod you to believe these numbers, ask yourself this question:
‘If muscle could be naturally gained even half this quickly – why would athletes use steroids? Why would they pay the exorbitant prices or endure the possible side effect of those drugs.’
Frankly, they wouldn’t need them. The most drug-filled Mr. Olympia competitor is (only) carrying about a hundred pounds of muscle over his pre-bodybuilding norm. Even while using huge doses of these powerful drugs (steroids and HGH), it typically takes the better part of a decade for pro bodybuilders to acquire the development of that hundred pounds (or so) of muscle.
But with some online advice on ‘how to build bigger muscles faster’, you’re being asked to believe that a non-steroid-using, non-elite-athlete gained muscle at an astronomical rate that’s not even experienced by the drug users. One would think it’d be an embarrassment to go in front of the world and make such claims, especially given that those who make them apparently never figure out how to add another forty pounds of muscle to their bodies within a second six months. Let’s face it; if forty pounds of muscle could be gained in six months, I’m sure it would be possible to gain at least half that much in the following six month. How come THAT never seems to happen?
“How to Get Bigger Muscles Faster”: Identifying the BS
I’ll start by presenting you a typical “bodybuilding expert” generic list you see all over the Internet. Then I’ll add caveats to the list items that aren’t removed or replaced altogether for being either extraneous tidbits or downright counterproductive garbage that’s repeated over and over by ‘affiliate marketing drones’ who, apparently, just mindlessly repeat stuff.
- Work each body part once-per-week (as if the 7-day calendar just happens to be a perfect schedule for anabolism).
- Use only big and heavy compound movements (as if ‘heavy’ isn’t relative to the number of muscles involved in an exercise).
- Work out no more than 45 minutes to an hour (as if your testosterone will stay spiked like an injection of Deca Durabolin by doing so).
- Stuff down food as if it stimulates muscle growth (as if eating too much doesn’t divert bodily energy from efficient recuperation to a struggle to merely digest and process food).
- Eat as soon as possible after your training sessions (as if this myth wasn’t created by bodybuilding supplement companies so you’d remember to use their products).
- Use nitric oxide products (as if they actually help build muscle).
- Use forced reps and other ‘set intensifiers’ (as if they weren’t created by steroid users who’ve augmented the hell out of their recuperative abilities with the use of drugs).
- Use one program consistently (as if being consistent at something that’s woefully ineffective isn’t enough to make a person utterly insane).
- Change your routine a lot (as if muscles could be confused into growth. Also, as if changing away from something that’s effective isn’t enough to likewise make a person utterly insane).
- Increase your workout weights (as if this can be done indefinitely without an effective strategy detailing precisely how to do it).
- “Cycle” your workouts, supplements, eating plans (as if cycling anything didn’t originate with steroid use and isn’t used in other contexts to simply mask overtraining).
That’s eleven very common “how to get bigger muscles faster” pieces of advice. Each was followed by a somewhat sarcastic “as if” remark I’ve added and on which I will now elaborate.
‘How to Get Bigger Muscles Faster’: Getting past the BS
Work Each Body Part Once-Per-Week: Let’s be straight-forward about this – the more a muscle is broken down by a muscle building workout, the more recuperative rest days between workouts it will need in order to grow. There’s no magic mechanism inside our muscles that makes them aware that a week has passed and they should therefore be ready to train again. In order to continually make progress, your ratio between tissue tear-down and inter-workout rest days needs to be optimal. That means if ten or twelve days between workouts is what’s effective, then that’s what you should go with – despite what the rest of the ignorant world tells you.
Use Only Big and Heavy Compound Movements: Oh really? Show me how someone’s going to build their rear delts or all three triceps heads with big, heavy compound movements. The rationale behind this has always been that “big movements can be done with heavier weights.” That’s true, but “heavy” should be considered in a relative sense; obviously, a heavy weight for doing dumbbell flyes would be light for doing bench presses. Why? Because more muscles than just the pecs are involved in bench pressing.
But this means that gains should be considered in a relative sense as well. A relatively small gain in dumbbell flye strength can be equivalent in its ability to produce pectoral mass as a bigger gain in bench press strength. The flyes will certainly isolate the pectoral muscles when done correctly. And if the muscle is isolated and effectively overloaded/recuperated, it will get bigger, even with a higher ratio of isolation exercises to compound movements.
Work Out No More Than 45 Minutes to an Hour: The rationale behind this is really funny: It’s said that “anabolic hormones” (aka, testosterone) begin to drop after an hour of working out. Does anyone have the sense to ask the following question?
Last time I checked, workouts were meant to be catabolic – not anabolic. When we engage in a muscle building workout, we’re intentionally tearing down the tissue. We’re actually trying to catabolize the muscle. That way, between workouts, we can wait for a responsive dose of anabolism to occur. Tell me why an ‘anabolic hormone’ would even matter at the time when we’re catabolizing the muscles.
Bottom Line: The benefits I’ve gotten from longer rest intervals between sets (which create longer workouts) far outweigh any insignificant and transient testosterone “spike” (if there is one) obtained from a short workout.
Stuff Down Food as if it Stimulates Muscle Growth: When I was young, I bought into the words of an ignoramus pro bodybuilder who said the following.
“There’s no such thing as overtraining; there’s only under-eating and under-sleeping.”
Hey… as a young guy with too much time on his hands, I loved that notion. It gave me a great reason to eat like a pig and sleep ‘til I had drool on my pillow when I awoke. Unfortunately, my eating addiction grew along with my waistline. Even more unfortunate was the fact that it didn’t do much (if anything) for gaining muscle.
Now I stay at no more than about ten percent body fat; no “bulking phase” for me. And, I’m gaining muscle faster than ever. It makes sense; testosterone levels really matter on the average and nothing threatens those average levels more than excessive body fat.
So, a big lesson in “how to gain bigger muscles faster” might be in not worrying so much about workouts going over an hour as making sure not to eat so much that anabolism gets thwarted from lower ‘average testosterone’ and misdirected bodily energy.
Eat as Soon as Possible after Your Training Sessions: The hilarious thing about this notion is that it’s currently being perpetuated by online “bodybuilding experts.” These are the guys who constantly bad-mouth the bodybuilding supplement companies and tell their eager followers that they “don’t need supplements to build muscle.” However, it was the supplement companies who actually created this notion and disseminated it through their bodybuilding magazines. So much for the advice of “experts” when they don’t check their sources.
Twenty five years of experience has shown me that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. Sometimes, if I’m hungry, I eat right after a workout. Other times, when I’m not so hungry, I wait up to an hour and a half before eating. My gains are the same… regardless.
Use Nitric Oxide Products: I wouldn’t waste a dime of my money on these. There’s no evidence anywhere that they help build muscle. There’s nothing more to say about that.
Use Forced Reps and Other Set Intensifiers: I’ve written at length about forced reps and other set intensifiers right here. Bottom line: One of the biggest keys to making me a non-stop natural muscle gainer was dropping these nonsensical practices from my workouts. They’ll over-train the natural bodybuilder. They’ll even over-train the drug users if taken too far.
Use One Program Consistently: You know the saying about “doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.” My advice is to ONLY be consistent when doing something that’s effective. Enough said about that.
Change Your Routine a Lot: I’ve also written extensively on the BS notion of ‘muscle confusion.’ Muscles don’t grow from change; they grow from overload, followed by adequate recuperation, followed by higher overload… recuperation…etc.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that while many people don’t experience the muscle growth they desire, they simultaneously make constant changes to the wrong variables. They’re flexible with their training routine and rigid with their training schedule. If they’d switch that around, they’d discover a secret of ‘how to get bigger muscles faster.’
Increase Your Workout Weights: This is an absolute necessity for muscle growth. However, most muscle building experts don’t have a realistic method for doing it over the long term. They simply tell their followers to “increase the workout poundage whenever possible.”
As far as I can tell, I’m probably the only author on the topic of natural muscle building who addresses this issue with realistic and detailed strategies. Let’s face it: If the guys who advise others to just “pile on some more weight when you can” were providing adequate instruction, steroid use among athletes would probably not be so prevalent.
“Cycle” your workouts, supplements, eating plans: Since most people who don’t gain the muscle they desire have simply not hit on the optimal muscle tear-down/recuperation ratio, they become susceptible to the notion that what they need is to “cycle” routines and techniques to make them effective. Many bodybuilding gurus push their programs of “cycling this” and “cycling that.” Some will even sell you programs in which you’ll cycle different eating techniques.
It’s easy to buy into this concept because it masks what’s usually the biggest problem: overtraining. If you cycle into a new routine when the past one has put you in an overtraining state, you can experience the sensation that gains have resumed, even while long-term progress is actually stagnant.
When you get dialed in to the perfect muscle tear-down/recuperation ratio, you won’t even want to cycle out of it; intuition will tell you to keep doing what you’re doing as you realize you’ve discovered the ultimate “how to get bigger muscles faster” secret.