EstimatedEst. Read Time: 15 minutes
how to build muscle fast

HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE FAST

You’re about to see a resistance training method for faster muscle growth that’s scientifically proven.

It doesn’t include things like creatine powders, amino acids, anabolic steroids or hormone supplements.

Here it is:

You build muscles faster by lifting faster.

That’s right. And when we say “fast”, that doesn’t mean that other people watching you lift will say “that’s fast”. And it doesn’t mean you need to shave minutes off your workout routine.

Pushing as hard as possible, to generate as much force as you’re able to, given the resistance you’re working with is a proven stimulator of muscle growth.

Time under tension, the explosive force, and the type of muscle you’re training are what matters for muscle growth.

While a lift may not look fast to other people, it can feel fast based on how hard you’re pushing or pulling against resistance.

Time under tension, the explosive force, and the type of muscle you’re training are what matters for muscle growth. Optimal muscle growth relies on muscle tension, which is influenced by the mass that you’re lifting, combined with the speed at which you’re lifting it.

Guys, don’t believe when people say that the only way to elicit muscle growth and gains is to use heavier weight.

If you can increase the speed of the mass you’re moving, you create more tension on the muscle fibres regardless of the mass. Tension equals mass times acceleration.

As you’ll soon see, it doesn’t matter whether you lift heavy weights or very light weights when you add speed to the training equation. Lifting speed will change your expectations about muscle gain.

Pushing (or pulling) as fast as you can against resistance activates Type II muscle fibers. Type II fibers, also called “fast twitch” fibers, have a better capacity for growth and fatigue more quickly than the slow twitch Type I fibers, which are associated with endurance.

fast twitch vs slow twitch muscle fibers

WHAT ARE THE TWO MUSCLE FIBER TYPES?

People have two basic types of skeletal muscle fiber in their bodies: Type I and Type II. Type II is divided into Type IIa and Type IIb, but the fundamental difference between the two types is how quickly they contract and generate force. They also differ in how quickly they fatigue.

Type I is commonly called “slow twitch” muscle tissue with less force generation capability and longer time to fatigue. Type II is called “fast twitch”, has more force generation capability, and fatigues more quickly.

Skeletal muscle tissue contains both types of fiber. So, the deltoids, for example, have both Type I and Type II but generally more Type II. Other major muscles, like the abs, contain more Type I. Interestingly, it’s been discovered that fiber types can actually change from Type I to Type II through high intensity resistance training (high load-lower repetition).

As people age, they gradually lose muscle mass, and it’s the Type II muscles that go first. Resistance training helps to slow and even reverse muscle loss. That means resistance training becomes even more important as a person gets older, both for their muscle size and to prevent common health issues.

 
 

THREE WAYS TO ADD SPEED TO YOUR TRAINING

There are three ways to lift “fast” and engage Type II fibers for faster muscle growth.

  • Pushing as hard as you can against a heavy weight for 10-12 reps.
  • Fast concentric phase, slow eccentric phase for 15 reps.
  • Lighter weights, lifting as fast as you can for 25-30 reps.

PUSH HARD AGAINST A HEAVY WEIGHT FOR REPS

Not lifting “fast” is maybe the biggest muscle building mistake people make. It’s also a mistake to think lifting “fast” means it looks fast to others.

Play Button
lifting fast for muscle growth
This may not look fast but it feels fast. Pushing as hard as possible against a weight for 10-12 reps.

Push as hard and fast as you can in the 10-12 rep range, using a weight heavy enough that your reps won’t look fast to a bystander. It should feel to you as if you couldn’t move the weight any faster. By pushing as hard and fast as you’re able, you’ll engage more Type II fibers.

The more tension you can create, the more fibers are recruited to perform the lift, and ultimately the more muscle mass you can build.

A guy doing the same amount of weight, but with greater speed on the concentric portion, will see more muscle gain.

Strength training routines, like the ones powerlifters follow, stress pressing or pulling as fast as possible to move a heavy weight. Bodybuilding routines on the other hand, which are designed for muscle hypertrophy, often do not.

Using our example here, you can perform a set of shoulder presses with weights that are heavy enough that the reps look slow to a bystander, but that you’re actually pressing as fast as you possibly can. They seem fast to you and to your muscles.

So it’s not necessarily the speed at which the weight moves through space, it’s the acceleration of muscle contraction that makes the difference. Increase the speed component of the equation against more challenging resistance to build muscle mass.

This applies to both isolation and compound exercises. Isolation exercises are movements that involve just one joint while compound lifts involve more than one.

But there’s a second way we can add speed to our reps that doesn’t require heavy weights, where a bystander might recognize the speed.

FAST CONCENTRIC, SLOW ECCENTRIC

My work with athletes has showed me that training explosively is important to muscle growth.

Explosiveness in weight training is one of the key drivers of muscle building because it activates Type II muscle fibers.

In resistance training, explosiveness can be added on the concentric (pushing or pulling) phase, the eccentric (lowering) phase, or on both raising and lowering phases.

Explosiveness in weight training is one of the key drivers of muscle building because it activates Type II muscle fibers.

So the second alternative for adding speed is to use slightly lighter weight so that you fail in closer to a 15-rep range.

Play Button
How To Build Muscle Fast
Explode against the weight on the concentric phase, followed by a slow controlled eccentric phase.

Here, accelerate a lighter weight at a faster pace. Other people will see speed a bit more readily on the upstroke of these lifts.

Control the eccentric, lowering portion of the press. Focus on a quick burst, delivering as much tension as you can to that concentric, upward phase, and then really squeeze the muscles and control the eccentric phase, all with proper form.

That’s the second method to “lift fast”. But we can even go a step further.

LIFT LIGHTER WEIGHTS AS FAST AS YOU CAN

In this third technique, to get maximally explosive, lift the weight as fast as you possibly can.

These are speed reps. Don’t slow down the exercise.

Use lighter weight so you can get into the 25-30 rep range before failure. These will look fast to other people who might be watching.

Play Button
speed reps for muscle growth
Use weights that are light enough for you to lift as fast as possible for sets of 25 to 30 reps.

You’re still building muscle mass because you’re delivering higher tension to the target muscle and activating Type II fibers for muscle hypertrophy, by virtue of the metabolic overload created by speed reps.

INCORPORATE LIFTING “FAST” TO BUILD MUSCLE FAST

Guys, you don’t always have to use heavier weights in order to elicit muscle growth and gains.

The idea that using heavy loads is the only way to build muscles isn’t necessarily true. Heavy weights are one method to do it, but so are speed reps.

In order to have a maximally well-rounded routine, you have to include all these techniques at different times of your training.

It goes without saying that you should always use proper form, regardless of how fast you’re lifting. Rep performance is fundamental always. And of course, your diet has to be in check to build lean muscle mass.

Finally, strength gains and increases in muscle size may not coincide. Speed reps are a reliable way to see strength gains. You should expect to see additional muscle size too, especially if you’re a beginner. But since pushing as fast as possible against resistance is the way Olympic lifters and powerlifters train, strength gains will probably come first.

The biggest takeaway here: Start consciously thinking about how fast you’re moving your weights if you aren’t already. Speed is one of the biggest factors you can use to increase how fast you’ll see muscle gains, by literally increasing the speed of your reps.

 
 

NUTRITION FOR BUILDING MUSCLE

To build muscle fast, perform well and recover adequately, you need to have your nutrition in check.

That starts with a clean well-balanced diet and avoiding empty calorie intake and junk foods that will only add body fat.

A lot of guys make the mistake of focusing only on their protein intake. Yes, dietary protein is an important macronutrient. My rule of thumb for protein intake is .75 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.7g protein per kilogram of body weight).

It can sometimes be difficult to incorporate all of this protein into your diet with food alone and that’s where supplementation can be helpful. Trying a high-quality whey protein powder (protein shakes) is a great strategy to help you make sure you’re meeting your protein goals.

But protein is not the be-all-end-all and you must consider your entire nutrition strategy. This includes things like how many total calories per day you’re consuming, drinking water, as well as carbohydrate intake, of both fibrous and starchy carbs.

Fat intake is also a factor. You do healthy fats in your diet, but it is easy to overdo it. Each gram of fat carries 9 calories, compared to 4 calories per gram for carbs and protein. Fat grams add up fast so you’ve got to be careful to eat enough but not so much to cause fat gain.

Your nutrition strategy must ensure you’re getting the extra calories you need to get through your daily energy expenditure from challenging workouts and support your overall training volume. You already know that seeing the muscle gains you want requires training hard. And to do that, you’ve got to be getting adequate daily calories of the right kinds.

You don’t need crazy diets, just a smart balanced diet regime that’s full of clean food choices. It’s good to eat frequently throughout the day as well, to help keep metabolic rate and blood sugar levels stable.

protein sources in food meat and vegetarian

MUSCLE RECOVERY TO BUILD MUSCLE FAST

Muscles grow during recovery and not during workouts.

Intense workouts impose adaptive stress, not to be confused with muscle damage. The workout we just described is intense, and with intensity goes greater skeletal muscle fatigue, as well as neurologic fatigue (which we won’t delve into here).

That means you need to factor in muscle recovery, meaning SLEEP, combined with proper diet which we just mentioned.

If you’re only getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night, you’re not getting sufficient rest for muscle growth to occur properly.

Elite athletes often sleep for 10 hours a night to account for their muscle recovery needs. Let’s face it: a typical person is probably not going to be training as long or as hard as they do. But if you’re only getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night, you’re not getting sufficient rest for muscle growth to occur properly, and you’re not getting the extra health benefits of sleep.

You may have heard this a hundred times already, but it’s worth repeating. Build 7 to 8 hours of sleep into your schedule every day of the week and practice good sleep hygiene, which includes a cool, dark room, and no electronics. Read a book or do something other than stare at your phone for at least an hour before bed to get yourself prepared for a good night’s rest.

I’ve given you three proven techniques to help you build muscle fast that you can incorporate into your strength training routines.  You should use each of them at different times in your training for best results.

In addition, make sure you are sticking to a proper nutrition plan with sufficient protein and calories in general to promote muscle growth.  Muscle recovery is equally as important, so don’t skimp on sleep if you want to get big!

If you’re looking for a training program to help you build muscle from head to toe, check out our ATHLEAN-X programs to see which one best fits your goals. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, let me be your strength coach and personal trainer on your muscle building journey, and you’ll get the results you’ve been after.

athleanx
THE HIGHLIGHT REEL:
HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE FAST

  1. Many people think lifting heavy weights is the only way to build muscles. That may be true for building strength. However, there are more paths to muscle hypertrophy than simply lifting heavy weights.
  2. Adding explosiveness to the concentric lifting phase of a lift engages Type II muscle fibers, which are the muscle fibers that add size.
  3. Include speed and acceleration in your training by altering either the mass you’re lifting and the speed at which your muscles work to lift it. “Lifting fast” may not necessarily appear fast to bystanders.
  4. Use a full range of motion and not a shorter range just to make reps faster.
  5. There are three muscle building techniques you can use to add speed to your resistance training.
  6. The first is to press (or pull) as hard and fast as possible against a heavier weight for 10 to 12 reps.
  7. The second is to use a somewhat-lighter weight with fast concentric phase and slow controlled eccentric phase for 15 reps.
  8. The third is to lift light weights as fast as possible–up and down–for 25 to 30 reps.
  9. Every effective training program includes explosiveness. Find a way to incorporate it for best muscle gain and don’t neglect proper form and diet.
  10.  Fast doesn’t mean that you can use bad form. Correct form is always important in your weight training if growth of muscle is your objective. And warm up before a speed routine. Lifting fast can be risky with cold muscles.

BUILD MUSCLE FAST FAQ

Getting big muscles in 2 weeks might not be possible, but you can see some changes in muscle size within 2 weeks. Some of the best techniques to build muscle fast are:

  • Pushing as hard as you can against a heavy weight for 10-12 reps.
  • Fast concentric phase, slow eccentric phase for 15 reps.
  • Lighter weights, lifting as fast as you can for 25-30 reps.

Protein is the most important food to build muscle faster because protein helps synthesize muscle. However, carbohydrates and fat are also important to a balanced diet and your fitness, so don’t neglect them in your nutrition plan.

How long it takes to build muscle will depend on many factors including genetics, the training and techniques you use, nutrition and adequate recovery time. You'll want to be sure to take 1-2 rest days between training each muscle group. This rest period allows for muscle recovery and growth. How fast muscle development occurs also depends on how much muscle you already have. People without much muscle tend to build muscle more quickly, while for people with a lot of muscle mass already, additional muscle growth occurs more slowly.

To build your arms fast, try one of these fast muscle growth techniques in your training:

  • Pushing as hard as you can against a heavy weight for 10-12 reps.
  • Fast concentric phase, slow eccentric phase for 15 reps.
  • Lighter weights, lifting as fast as you can for 25-30 reps.

You can build muscle faster by employing some of the best muscle growth techniques in your training plan including:

  • Pushing as hard as you can against a heavy weight for 10-12 reps.
  • Fast concentric phase, slow eccentric phase for 15 reps.
  • Lighter weights, lifting as fast as you can for 25-30 reps.

Watch the YouTube version of this article
Jeff Cavaliere Headshot

Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS

Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.

Read more about Jeff Cavaliere by clicking here

Popular & Trending
stop doing face pulls like this facepull mistake
1
How To Do Face Pulls
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
September 9th, 2019
Face pulls are one of the best corrective exercises to help offset poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.  They help strengthen the chronically weak...
Body Fat Percentage Men
2
Body Fat Percentage Men
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 11th, 2023
There are many ways to measure body fat percentage; some wildly expensive and most inaccurate. It's time to give you an alternative method that...
2 reasons your biceps aren't growing and 3 ways to fix it
3
Why Your Biceps Aren’t Growing
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
August 22nd, 2019
Have you ever felt that no matter how much you trained your biceps you’re left saying… “My Biceps STILL Aren’t Growing?” I believe I know...
The Perfect Abs Workout
4
The Perfect Abs Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
July 31st, 2019
We’ll be following my ‘Six Pack Progression’ sequence as we choose each of the beginner and advanced ab exercises for each abdominal movement...
incline bench press avoid mistakes for upper chest
5
How To Incline Bench Press Correctly
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
January 16th, 2024
The Incline Bench Press is one of the best upper chest exercises there is, but there's one major problem preventing us from getting the maximum...
best dumbbell exercises for chest
6
The Best Dumbbell Exercises for Chest
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
November 6th, 2023
Today I’m going to share my favorite chest exercises… but there’s a catch. We can only use dumbbells! I’ll show you what to do whether you...
long head triceps exercises
7
Long Head Tricep Exercises
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
December 19th, 2023
The triceps make up two-thirds of the size of your arm so the bigger your triceps, the bigger your arm muscles. But not all muscle heads of the...
cable chest workout
8
Cable Chest Workout
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
November 2nd, 2023
Today, we're diving deep into the most underrated piece of equipment in your workout arsenal for chest workouts – the cable machine. The constant...
cable shoulder exerciees
9
Cable Back Workouts
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
December 12th, 2023
If you want a versatile back workout that hits every angle, challenges muscle recruitment patterns, and provides consistent tension, then you can’t...
cable shoulder exerciees
10
Cable Shoulder Exercises
By Jeff Cavaliere MSPT, CSCS
November 30th, 2023
Unlike barbell or dumbbell shoulder workouts, cables offer consistent tension throughout the exercise, a key factor that can lead to better...