How to Increase Muscle Quickly

By Brad Murrow , last updated December 9, 2011

The quickest way to increase the size of your muscles is to create a bodybuilding program that includes the proper diet, a systematic lifting program and the right techniques for each exercise. Using the right amount of weight, performing a set number of reps and using the most efficient muscle contractions will help you build your size in the optimal time possible.

The Program

A good bodybuilding program for building muscle quickly is the 5X5 lifting routine, which requires you to perform five sets of five reps of one exercise before moving to the next exercise. If you are a beginner, a 3X5 workout, consisting of three sets of five reps, is also adequate for efficient muscle building. Take a one-minute break between each set, then a longer break before you start a new exercise.

Loads

Loads refer to the amount of weight or resistance you use. Before you begin your muscle-building program, calculate the maximum weight you can use for each exercise. This is the maximum amount of weight you can lift one time before failure. If you can lift that weight more than once without needing a break, you haven’t reached your max. Although you will do five reps per set during your workouts, you’ll need to take a break between each rep if you are at your max.

Once you know your max for each exercise, you can calculate warm-up loads. Fitness expert Steve Shaw recommends performing the first set of a 5X5 using 60 percent of your max, the second using 80 percent and the final three sets lifting your maximum.

Each week, re-calculate your max to see if you’ve improved. Aim for a goal of increasing your max 5 percent to 10 percent each week, depending on how often you lift. If you can’t increase your max and perform five reps with it after two weeks, try lifting that increased amount anyway and keep trying until you can. Even if you can’t lift the new weight, the effort you use to do so will help build muscle. Eventually, you should be able to increase your max using this technique.

Volume

Volume refers to the amount of reps you perform. If you don’t have heavy enough weights to perform your exercises with your max, you can perform more reps per set. The key is lifting until you feel a burning sensation in your muscles when you use lighter weights.

Technique

To get the maximum benefit from your workouts, lift weights slowly, using muscular effort the entire time. Letting your arm drop after a biceps curl uplift, for example, deprives you of the more beneficial downlift, which creates eccentric muscle contractions. Lower the weight slowly during a curl and stop before you arm is completely straight. This will require you to use maximum muscle effort.

Add a pause between uplifts and downlifts. When your muscles resist a weight without moving, this creates an isometric muscle contraction, adding another dimension to your lifting. You can hold isometric muscle contractions longer for even more benefit.

If you use lighter weights than your max, resist the temptation to perform your reps quickly. Raise the weighs slowly, pause, and then lower them slowly.

Variety

Use a wide variety of exercises and create workouts with different exercises, rather than performing the exact same routine each time. This will help prevent your body from adapting to the exercises, reducing your benefit. Focus on specific muscles you want to build during some workouts, and then perform exercises that use a variety of muscles during others. Add bodyweight exercises such as pushups, chin-ups, pull-ups and dips for more variety and benefit.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Take five minutes to warm your muscles and get blood flowing to them before you lift to start each workout with the most efficient muscles contractions. After each workout, cool down with moderate muscle movements and a good stretch to reduce post-workout muscle stiffness and soreness.

Rest and Recovery

It’s important to give your muscles 24 to 48 hours to recover and repair between workouts. You don’t build muscle lifting weights, your muscles grow larger as they recover from the damage you to do them lifting. If you plan on lifting twice each day, perform an upper-body workout in the morning and a lower-body workout during the afternoon.

Diet

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want a bodybuilding diet to focus on protein. Your lifting workouts will call on your body’s supply of glycogen, so you will want to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet. Eat about two-thirds carbs and one-third lean protein during the day, with more carbs as you get closer to workouts and more lean protein shortly after workouts. Lean protein provides amino acids that help the muscle repair process after workouts. On lifting days, add more total calories to your daily intake to make sure you have ample supplies of glycogen.

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