We all know the old saying “work smarter, not harder”. But do you know how that applies to building muscle in the gym?
It’s true that amazing gains never come overnight, but there are still things you can be doing to maximize the amount of muscle you get out of your workouts. Of course, we know that taking certain supplements and focusing on our training can be sure fire ways to see those gains we want most, but sometimes figuring out the best steps can be challenging and ultimately may put us in an overwhelming hole as we try and figure it out. With so many options, it can be difficult to nail down the best ways to gain muscle, especially naturally, but it is possible.
While many of these ways tend to be self-explanatory and potentially obvious, our busy lives and schedules tend to keep us from fully realizing exactly what needs to be done to achieve this. Sometimes just reading it and hearing it again can be exactly what we need to make sure we hear it through and can tackle all of these muscle building needs in a safe, effective, and natural way. Working smarter is very much a true saying in the world of lifting and while working hard is important, doing so efficiently is the key to success.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 ways to naturally gain muscle faster so you never need to worry about that vital growth again. Not only will some of these ways benefit your lifting goals, but other areas of your lifestyle will change for the better as a result of taking better care of yourself.
Top 10 Ways To Naturally Gain Muscle Faster
1. Training Volume Is Key
Too many people get complacent in the gym and stop trying actively to push themselves. The fundamental key to muscle growth is progressive overload – meaning you increase the intensity of your workouts overtime (1). If you aren’t getting that burning feeling from overloading your muscles, it means you aren’t building them, period. Increase the amount of weight over time and make sure to increase the volume, too – that’s the number of sets and reps you do for each workout with weights.
2. Be Consistent
The second biggest thing to remember about making massive gains is that it’s also a game of consistency. There’s only so much muscle that can be put on by the body in a day; one huge workout, or even one huge workout once a week, will get you nowhere. Make a plan and stick to it but be in the gym three to five times a week and make sure to do that every week.
Muscle is gained incrementally. Even if you aren’t pushing yourself, it’s better for your body and overall muscle mass to do so after workouts five times a week than it is to really push yourself in the gym only once or twice a week. That’s a surefire way to lose gains.
3. Take Advantage Of Supplements
Depending on your unique needs as an athlete, different supplements will work for you. Creatine, and whey protein are the two cornerstone supplements that lead to huge gains (2). Your muscles need to consume food to grow and develop, so you need to make sure you’re giving them all the fuel they need. In some cases, eating casein before bed can actually provide the muscles with enough amino acids to literally grow overnight while you’re asleep. Imagine waking up with more gains than when you went to bed.
Other supplements to know are pre-workout, which can provide for energy and insane muscle pumps, BCAA intra-workout products to burst through fatigue and keep you going stronger, and fat burners, which can shed that unwanted fat while maintaining lean muscle mass (3). Having a good supplementation routine can really work wonders for all of your gains.
4. Be Strict About Form
This is an easy one to forget. Exercises like squats, barbell presses, and crunches are all considered staple exercises for a true gym rat. But exercises only help you gain muscle if they’re performed correctly. Are you leaning forward when you squat? It could be a sign you overloaded with too much weight.
When you do a sit-up, is your spine straight and your stomach flat? If not, it’s a sign you’re overloading a weak core. Take the time to do these exercises the right way. Otherwise, you’re only getting a fraction of the gains you set out to make.
5. Get A Full Night’s Sleep
This is another no-brainer people often don’t think about. Studies have shown that sleeping for eight hours instead of five can increase testosterone by 10 to 15%. That has a huge impact on how much you gain muscle when you work out (4). This is a really easy thing you can do to improve your performance in the gym and give yourself the best chance for a better tomorrow.
6. Recovery Is An Important Part Of The Process
If you go hard in the gym five nights a week every week for a year, you will absolutely destroy your body. Set aside cycles of rest so you can recover after tough workouts. Pushing yourself too hard will only lead to burnout. Trust me, your body will thank you. Recovery will also support things like mobility and an overall better mood, so don’t neglect this vital part of your workout and post-workout routine (5).
7. Stay Healthy Outside The Gym
It doesn’t mean you can’t drink or have fun with your buddies at the bar, but you should do your best to be generally healthy in your habits outside of the gym. This means no binge drinking and stay away from drugs and smoking, at the very minimum. You definitely won’t be maximizing gains in your workouts if you’re dehydrated and hungover from a long night out partying.
8. Keep Your Workouts Simple
You don’t need fancy equipment to get shredded. Remain focused on the basics and the tried-and-true exercises that have worked for bodybuilders for generations. Don’t get caught up in the promises of fancy equipment and “new breakthroughs” that offer shortcuts. There is no shortcut; just do the work.
9. Stay Organized & Manage Workouts
Huge gains are no easy task and getting organized definitely helps make the process smoother. Consider keeping a journal of your workouts and your meal plan. You’re less likely to slip up and cheat with a greasy cheeseburger at the end of a long day if you’ve already got a plan in place and food waiting prepared at home.
10. Lift Heavy While Being Safe
If you feel comfortable lifting, you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. Lifting the heaviest amount of weight you can is a critical factor in making the most gains for it will work your muscles to grow, increase that time under tension, and allow for massive gains to your strength and size which is what you want most.
While it may seem daunting to find natural ways to boost your muscle growth and gain that valuable muscle faster, following these simple yet highly effective steps can work wonders for you. Looking to the top ways to see gains while still making your life easier is a sure-fire way to get this done. Give these top 10 ways a try and see how your muscles grow bigger, faster, and stronger as you also promote a better lifestyle overall.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Mangine, Gerald T.; Hoffman, Jay R.; Gonzalez, Adam M.; Townsend, Jeremy R.; et al. (2015). “The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men”. (source)
- Tipton, Kevin D.; Elliott, Tabatha A.; Cree, Melanie G.; Wolf, Steven E.; et al. (2004). “Ingestion of Casein and Whey Proteins Result in Muscle Anabolism after Resistance Exercise”. (source)
- Jeukendrup, A. E.; Randell, R. (2011). “Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism”. (source)
- Dattilo, M.; Antunes, H. K. M.; Medeiros, A.; Neto, M. M.; et al. (2011). “Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis”. (source)
- Sands, William A.; McNeal, Jeni R.; Murray, Steven R.; Ramsey, Michael W.; et al. (2013). “Stretching and Its Effects on Recovery”. (source)