If you are a beginner to the gym or even a seasoned veteran you are likely overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information out there on how to build muscle fast, mostly from bodybuilders on steroids.
I remember exactly what it feels like to be a beginner, so I want to lay out EXACTLY what you have to do from A to Z to gain your first 20 lbs. of muscle in this article, or how to make consistent muscle building progress if you are a veteran.
I used to be 137 lbs. as a junior in High School, and am now 205 lbs. with less than 10 percent body fat.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is ‘Everybody learns from mistakes, but nobody said they had to be yours.’
If I listened to EXACTLY what I’m about to tell you in this article, I would have gotten to my current physique about 5 years sooner.
Seriously, I made so many mistakes it’s ridiculous, and that is why I wanted to put together this comprehensive guide on how to gain 20 lbs. of muscle as fast as possible.
Seriously, building muscle (especially your first 20 lbs.) is not a complicated thing, but when you are going down multiple rabbit holes its easy to feel overwhelmed.
Let’s hop on the gain train and get this party started!
PART 1 – Nutrition and X Factors
We are starting this article off with nutrition because its actually the most important part. A lot of guys think they are eating enough to build muscle but they are completely wrong.
I recommend you use some sort of calorie tracking system like My Fitness Pal or whatever is convenient for you.
How many calories do you need to eat and how will we eat them? No need to overcomplicate things, let’s make this really easy!
I could throw all these fancy charts at you and completely overwhelm you, talk about ‘carb cycling’ and all these fancy things that fitness models and body builders do, but your body is PRIME for muscle growth if you are in a surplus and lifting heavy so all you need to concern yourself with is that you are eating enough calories for GROWTH and that you are in a calorie surplus.
We are simply going to take our bodyweight and multiply it by 15 to get an approximation on our ‘maintenance calories’.
What I mean by this is the amount of calories that our body’s burn naturally throughout the course of school, work, working out, and overall running around on planet earth!
Once again, you will see various guesstimates on this all over the internet. IGNORE THEM? and here is why.
Now that we have our approximate ‘maintenance calories’ lets do some more simple math.
Remember how I said we have to be in a calorie surplus to gain muscle mass? We are going to add between 500 and 1,000 calories to this number to ensure we are in a proper surplus.
Let’s say you weigh 150 lbs.
So far we are at 150 lbs. x 15 which equals 2,250 Calories at maintenance.
Next we are going to add between 500 and 1,000 to this number Every single day and keep track of our weight each week to make sure we are gaining weight.
Let’s say we are very active and training like a beast. That means we take the 2,250 maintenance calories and add 750 total calories to it, meaning we will have to eat 3,000 calories Per Day.
If the 150 lb. man-child is training like he should (which we are about to cover) – and NOT gaining about 1 lb. per week this means he needs to continue to add more calories.
This is not uncommon with someone under 21 with a super fast metabolism. That is why its so important to track your calories and weigh yourself and understand how to build muscle fast at the gym.
I repeat – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!
WEIGH YOURSELF AT THE SAME TIME EACH WEEK!
I like to weigh myself either Sunday Nights or Monday mornings (keep in mind your weight fluctuates night vs morning – which is why you want to weigh yourself at the same time each week)
I have all of my coaching clients do this and literally 100% of them all gain mass when its structured like this.
The reason that we have to weigh ourselves is this:
We all have different metabolisms, workout volume, and activity levels.
Some of us will have to add 1,000 to our maintenance calories due to these factors, while others will only have to add 500.
The easiest thing to do is get on the scale and make sure its moving up by at least 1 lb. per week, because when you follow the workout advice we are about to get into, you will be gaining mass like a Boss!
Part 2 – Workout Routine
This is the Workout Regimen That packs on 20 Lbs. the Fastest!
Seriously, make sure you pay extra close attention to what I’m about to say because if you don’t it will cause devastating side effects which include:
- Lack of progress in the gym
- No ‘mirror gains’ after close to a year of working out
- An embarrassingly weak bench press and squat
- Puny arms
- Chicken Legs
- Years of frustration and social media trolling
Your first two years in the gym you need to be doing tons of BICEP CURLS! This is how to build muscle fast at the gym!!
Seriously, doing bicep curls is going to be huge for you because if you have bigger arms you will command respect and get more girls, right?
Ok, I’m being really sarcastic?
There is no need to be drop-setting bicep curls if you can’t even do a regular weighted pull-up. You are actually causing more harm than good!
This was the single most catastrophic mistake that I made when I was younger, and I’m STILL playing catchup from it.
The Great Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was also on tons of steroids but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a ton of knowledge said this:
‘My first 2 years in the gym all I did was the basic compound lifts, the bench press, squat, dead-lift, overhead press, and rowing exercises. That formed my foundation and I would recommend everyone does that regimen the first 2 years.’
Arnold is a bodybuilding legend for a reason, he paid attention to the details and he knows how important an incredible foundation is.
The quickest 20 lbs. of PURE MUSCLE MASS will come from getting stronger on the compound lifts and mixing in intensity factors like drop-sets, supersets, and time under tension at the end of your workout.
Compound exercises put the most overload on your largest muscle groups, as well as working surrounding muscle groups.
You might think that a set of bicep curls is going to get you bigger arms, when in reality its actually getting stronger on pulling exercises like the barbell row and underhand grip pull-up that will yield faster results!
The great thing about the regimen that I’m going to lay out for you is that you are going to see super fast progress.
X Factor Pro Tip: Get yourself a composition notebook and keep track of all your lifts each workout! I can’t recommend this enough.
If you don’t do this you are going to go in the gym and have no recollection of what you lifted last time.
The beauty of tracking your lifts is you always know how much you have to lift to beat your previous workout, and this will cause you to get stronger each workout, and build muscle faster with progressive overload!
Here are the exercises we will be focusing on the most for each muscle group!
- Barbell Bench Press
- Db Bench Press
- Barbell Incline bench press
- Db incline bench press
- Db Shoulder press
- Seated Military Press
- Db Arnold Press
- Barbell Row
- Underhand Grip Barbell Row
- Pull Ups (Wide and Medium Grip)
- Barbell Shrugs
- Db 1 Arm Row
- Barbell Squat
- Barbell Front Squat
- Db Walking Lunges
- Leg Extension Machine
- EZ Bar Curl Close Grip (Perfect Form, Slow Motion)
- Straight Bar Curl
- Weighted Dips (Or regular if not strong enough)
- Skull Crushers
- Stiff Leg Deadlift
- Barbell Deadlift
- Lying Hamstring Curl
- Weighted abdominal crunch
- Russian Twist
- Bicycle Crunch
- Pillar Holds
Here is a sample workout routine that would allow you to hit every muscle group twice per week with one rest day. This would be an aggressive approach to building muscle fast and a routine that has worked well for me because you can train each muscle group twice per week.
Monday: Push Workout (Chest – Triceps – Shoulders)
Tuesday: Pull Workout (Back – Traps – Biceps)
Wednesday: Legs Workout (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
Thursday: Push Workout (Chest – Triceps – Shoulders)
Friday: Pull Workout (Back – Traps – Biceps)
Saturday: Legs Workout (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
Sunday: Rest Day
Now we have an entire workout laid out for you, and you better not skip out on leg day!
Part 3 – Balloon Method
Your body builds muscle in 3 ways according to modern science – mechanical overload, metabolic stress and muscle damage. If you want to build muscle fast you should hit all 3 with every workout.
That is why we recommend that you try a Balloon Method workout for every muscle group, which maximizes the 3 scientific ways your body builds muscle mass in short and intense workouts. We put together an entire video playlist of a balloon method workout for every muscle group for you – so bookmark this below!
Part 1 – Progressive Overload
I recommend that you perform 2-3 sets of all exercises that are “progressive overload” based each workout depending on how much time you have.
Your reps should go down each set as you attempt to lift heavier and you get warmed up on your heavy compound lifts like squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press.
I recommend 8-12 reps per set on your first set, then I suggest moving in the 5-8 rep range on your heavy sets that you are tracking each workout. (Remember, get yourself a workout Log!)
Once again, just keep track and beat your workout scores each week! You MUST get stronger if you want to gain muscle fast.
Part 2 – Time Under Tension
The second component to the Balloon Method workouts is “time under tension.” Research shows that 30-45 seconds direct time under tension maximizes metabolic stress on the muscle and will help you build muscle faster.
This means that on sets where you are focusing on metabolic stress, that you count your time under tension instead of your reps and focus on squeezing the muscle throughout the entire set.
Part 3 – Mirror Rep Dropsets
The final component to the Balloon Method is a “mirror rep dropset” which means you pick a heavy weight in the 8-10 rep range and perform your set until failure. Next you will drop the weight by 30% and perform another 8-1o reps BUT with a huge emphasis on going slow and controlled on the eccentric portion of every single repetition. This is the part where you lower the weight and this creates more healthy micro-tears.
Do these 3 things with every muscle group when you are in a calorie surplus and you will build muscle as fast as humanly possible!
Wanna Make More Gains?
You know what is the biggest X Factor to making crazy fast gains? Surrounding yourself with motivation and like-minded people.
That’s why I put together this bad-ass Private Facebook Group where you can connect with me and ask any questions you have.
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
I created SuperHuman You to give you access to the most cutting edge information so you can reach your body goals as fast as humanly possible.
I’ve been obsessed with training since 2005 when I attended IMG Academy and got to train alongside NBA, NFL and Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes.
Now I’m on a mission to transform as many lives as possible and I’m so excited you found us!
I’ve been fortunate enough to train alongside and pick the brain of some of the best pro athletes, bodybuilders and trainers in the world – and this site represents over 15+ years of insights from the world’s best.
Want more gains? Here are a few suggested actions:
Head over to the world’s largest exercise database for a wide variety of unique exercises for every muscle group
Visit our Youtube Channel where you can watch Balloon Method™ workouts for Every Muscle Group.
Check out Alpha Lion so you can learn more about 1 of the fastest growing fitness lifestyle companies in the world and stack up on the best science-backed supplements.