The #1 Top-Recommended Exercise To Build Bigger Muscles Fast
If your fitness goal is to grow your muscles quickly, there's one form of training that should receive your undivided attention. We spoke with Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a member of our Medical Expert Board and a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, who reveals his top-recommended exercise to build bigger muscles fast, along with five of his most coveted tips to work out the muscles you want to grow. Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss The Ultimate Muscle-Building Workout Every Man Over 40 Should Try.
If you want to build bigger muscles fast, it's time to start lifting weights.
When your goal is to build muscle in a speedy fashion, lifting weights—also referred to as resistance training or strength training—is the name of the game, according to Dr. Bohl. Other forms of physical activity such as cardio can add some muscle to your frame and come with their own benefits, but weightlifting is ideal for hypertrophy, aka muscle growth.
You can perform weightlifting with resistance bands, free weights, selectorized machines, or additional tools that create resistance in your exercises. And as far as what specific moves you should focus on, it really depends on the muscles you want to build up, Dr. Bohl explains. "For example, doing the chest press will grow your pecs and triceps, while doing bicep curls will grow your biceps. Once you've chosen which muscles you want to grow, one of the most important things to do is focus on how you're working out those muscles," he says.
Why is sculpting a strong, muscular physique important?
Some individuals focus on building up their muscles due to aesthetic purposes, but performing regular physical activity—which includes lifting weights—can enhance your overall health and wellness. "Having stronger muscles can enable you to be more active. And as people age, the body naturally loses some muscle mass, so maintaining (and even building back) that muscle mass is one of the best ways to stay independent and feeling well in older age," Dr. Bohl explains.
Now, let's get into Dr. Bohl's muscle-building tips below.
1. Use a higher weight, and complete fewer reps.
First off, Dr. Bohl suggests completing three to six sets of six to 12 reps while using the greatest amount of weight you're safely able to. "More weight and fewer reps is better for muscle growth, while less weight and more reps is better for muscular endurance," he explains.
2. Take things slow.
Taking things slow—especially when it comes to lowering the weights you're working with. The greater amount of time your muscles are under tension, the more they'll be challenged. Dr. Bohl adds, "Going slowly—especially during the eccentric (weight-lowering) phase of working out—causes more pro-growth hormones to be released in the body and is associated with more muscle growth."
3. Go hard during your "on" days, and rest on your "off" days.
Going hard on your workout days is key, but knowing when to give your body a break to rest and recover is just as important. "When you're at the gym, make sure you do several different exercises that target the muscles you want to grow—just one or two won't be enough to grow muscle quickly. But also remember to take enough rest between training days, so your muscles have an opportunity to recover and grow back stronger," Dr. Bohl tells us.
4. Consume the right foods before workouts.
Before heading to the gym, be sure you're eating just the right foods that will fuel you for your workouts. "A carbohydrate-rich snack can give your body the energy it needs for an intense gym session," Dr. Bohl explains. "Caffeine has also been shown to be beneficial for performance when consumed before working out."
5. Get your fill of protein throughout the day.
Lifting weights is just part of the equation. In order to build bigger, stronger muscles, feeding your body with sufficient nutrients that it can turn into muscle is critical. If you're not consuming a protein-rich diet, it's time to reevaluate your eating habits. "To stimulate muscle protein synthesis all day long, eat at least 20 grams of protein every three hours (and consider having a snack with casein protein before bed)," Dr. Bohl says.