Build Lean Muscle Fast


What are the best ways to build lean muscle fast?  I'm a guy who is starting my freshman year of college. I am 5'11" 145 pounds with around 8-10%% body fat and have been participating in athletics all my life until now.

I am embarrassed when I work out because all the other guys in the gym are way more muscular than me. I'm sick of being the skinny guy so I want to find all the ways to build lean muscle fast with the goal to get my weight to 185 pounds as quick as possible.

I was reading an article in Flex magazine about ways to gain muscle fast and it seemed more like an advertisement than an informational article as it recommended at least 4-5 dietary supplements.

For my goal what should my exercise program be like?   How many calories should I eat every day?  Are there ways to build lean muscle fast without supplements?

Thanks for the Help!


Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken


First of all you shouldn't be "embarrassed" because you are not as big as "the other guys" in the gym. For all you know, they may be trying to drop their body fat percentage and become a lean 8-10% which you are already at. The slow, progressive approach to muscle building is almost always better than the all-or-nothing binge eating and mass supplement consuming approach.

There is nothing in scientific about term "lean muscle."  Assuming when you say "lean muscle" you mean that you want to build muscle fast with minimal fat gain complicates the process of building muscle fast. Since the high caloric diet of many muscle building programs will cause some fat gain, you should really prioritize your goals before you try to build muscle fast.

What is more important to you?  Do you want to gain muscle and body weight or do you want to maintain your lean physique?  If it is the latter, it may not be the best idea to take part in any program where you try to build muscle fast.

How to Build Muscle Fast

There is really nothing in science about the term "lean muscle."  You either build muscle or gain fat. Assuming by saying you want to build lean muscle, you mean you want to build lean muscle fast without gaining excess body fat you will be required to be a little more selective than someone who wants to gain muscle mass at all costs.

Whether you are able to build muscle fast depends on a number of factors. Genetics is always going to be a factor so if your parents and family are mostly ectomorphs you probably face an uphill battle in gaining muscle. The most important part of any exercise program and diet is to monitor your results so you know when to quit and try another method because there is not a one-size-fits-all muscle building program.

Build Lean Muscle Fast with a Simple Mass Building Program

1. Diet

If you really want to build lean muscle fast eating enough calories is going to be your number one priority. In order gain muscle with minimal fat it is best to consume 4-6 balanced meals per day every 2-3 hours. By eating multiple meals at even intervals throughout the day your body will be able to recover from intense workouts more efficiently as your muscles will have a constant supply of nutrients.

Secondary to consuming enough calories consuming enough protein is also essential to building muscle. Focus first on the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate & fat) and once you are consuming a muscle building diet you can add micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) and dietary supplements at a later time (more on supplements on the end of the post).

2. Resistance Training

It is probably no secret to you that resistance training (weight training) is going to be required to build muscle. How often and how much you train depends on how much time you have available to train. Since you are in college you surely have things to do such as class and studying so you have to find the right workouts that fit your schedule.

There is no single program that will help you or any individual gain muscle so you will have to use trial and error to see what works best for you. To build muscle fast, a program with high training volume is important. This will likely also require weight training splits to fit in the schedule of your life. Learn about training volume here and training splits here.

In general, a full body weight training program which focuses on compound exercises with large muscle groups such as squats, dead lifts, bench press, military press, pull-ups lunges etc.

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Beware of the Possible Drawbacks of Gaining Muscle Fast

Fat Gainfat gain muscle building eat right

Often those who attempt to build lean muscle fast do so by consuming extreme amounts of calories.

Since the human body is only capable of gaining so much muscle and essentially has limitless fat storing capabilities fat gain is a very common "side effect" or drawback for those who try to gain muscle fast.

Although trying to build lean muscle fast is likely going to result in some fat gain, if you consume 1000s of extra calories per day rather than something like 500 extra calories per day your chances of significant fat gain increase.

Stretch Marksstretch marks from building muscle too fast

If you increase the size if your muscles to fast with extremely high amounts of calories, dietary supplements and/or steroids the growth rate of your muscles may exceed your skins elasticity and cause stretch marks.

Stretch marks are not physically harmful but are permanent scars which never go away. If you want to avoid stretch marks at all costs you should try to avoid building muscle fast and do it slowly with a healthy balanced diet and smart weight training.  Some people don't mind but to others they can be unsightly.  If you build muscle too fast, stretch marks are a very likely possibility.

Supplements to Build Muscle FastSupplements for Fast Muscle Building

While you can certainly build lean muscle fast without dietary supplements some will help you achieve your goals more efficiently. Whether or not you use dietary supplements depends on your ability to get enough calories and nutrients in your diet with regular foods.

It is best to stick to supplements that are backed by science rather than trying every latest and greatest supplements that are hyped by the average "Muscle & Fiction" fitness magazine.

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Final Words

This may seem like a vague answer to your question and that is because there simply is no single program or diet which can help everyone build lean muscle fast. Some people will gain weight and muscle quickly when they eat a high calorie diet and others find it very difficult to gain weight.

The most important thing is to consume enough calories as building anything is impossible without the materials and the food you eat is the fuel that will not only give you energy for intense workouts but is the raw materials used to increase the size of your muscle.

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