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how to build muscle faster

The ONLY 4 Ways to Build Muscle Faster

by Jeremy Ethier - March 16, 2024

What if you could press the “fast forward button” on muscle growth?

Well, scientifically, there are only 4 strategies you could use to build muscle faster.

Most people only take advantage of 1 or 2 of them. Or, they do them all, but incorrectly. In today’s article, I’ll reveal what the 4 strategies are and how to properly use them to build muscle faster. 

#1: Boost Recovery

OK, here’s the first thing you need to do to build muscle faster.


Just kidding! But I’ll definitely speak about how steroids could help you build muscle faster later.

Now, most people think that your muscles grow in the gym.

But that’s not true. 

Working out damages your muscles and gives them a reason to get bigger.

But the actual growth happens when you’re resting.

Which is why improving your recovery is one of the easiest yet most overlooked ways to build muscle faster. 

And there are 3 main areas of recovery you should focus on. 


The first is your diet. 

Your body needs enough energy to perform well in the gym, but it also needs the resources to grow bigger and stronger afterward. 

Now you can definitely build some muscle while losing weight.

But if you want to maximize muscle growth, the research is clear that eating enough to at least maintain your weight or even slowly gain about 1-3 lbs a month, is what’s ideal.

Now to get a very rough idea of how many calories you’ll need to eat everyday to achieve that, you can take your current bodyweight and multiply it by anywhere between 16-18 depending on how active you are. 

But what you eat everyday is just as important. 

Eat Enough Protein

The building block of your muscles is protein, so you need to make sure you’re eating enough of it. 

In fact, a recent meta-analysis by Nunes and colleagues had subjects consume either a high-protein diet or a low-protein diet over the course of 12 weeks. The high-protein group gained 1.5 lbs more muscle over those 12 weeks. 

Now that may not sound like much, but 1.5 lbs of additional pure muscle is huge — especially if you can get that just from eating more protein.

As for how much protein to aim for, based on the current research, I personally take my body weight in lbs and multiply it by 0.8. That number is the minimum target I aim for every day.

I used to really struggle with this, but now using my own brand of protein powder, I can get 29 grams of protein just in 1 scoop, which makes hitting my daily target so much easier.

Build muscle faster by eating enough protein

So, during your workout days but more importantly during your rest days, make sure you’re doing 2 things: eating enough food and eating enough protein

That said, as important as nutrition is, it’s not going to do much if you’re screwing this next thing up. Sleep.

Sleep Enough To Build Muscle Faster

If I had to choose between extra workouts or extra sleep for faster muscle growth, I'd pick sleep every time.

One study published back in 2010 found that dieters sleeping 5 hours lost 55% less fat and 60% more muscle compared to those getting 8 hours.

So instead of slimming down, their bodies were cannibalizing more muscle for energy.

But sleep quality seems to be just as important. 

A 2020 study had two groups do the same full body workout routine with the only difference being one of the groups also got lessons on how to sleep better. 

After 10 weeks, the sleep group gained muscle about 30% faster (1.7 vs 1.3). 

So, for me personally, even if this means sacrificing some of my workouts or cutting out my late night TV binges, I always prioritize getting at least 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. 

Manage Your Stress Levels

The final way to boost recovery so you can build muscle faster involves your stress levels.

This is the 1 area that I’ve personally noticed has really held me back recently. 

I work a lot. And as much as I love what I do, being on YouTube is stressful and honestly a lot of pressure. So I’ve noticed when I’m super stressed out, I just can’t recover very well and my workouts just aren’t as good. 

Now this is still a work in progress for me, but I have noticed a huge benefit just from every single day prioritizing time to destress whether it’s with video games, meditation or spending time with my loved ones. 

#2: Work Smarter

Now while you might be recovering well, you still need to workout to provide your muscles with a reason to grow. 

But instead of simply “working out more”, a much easier way to build muscle faster is to work smarter. 

And there are 2 ways of doing this.

The first has to do with your training technique. 

There was a recent paper published with the goal of figuring out the best way to perform your reps to build muscle faster.

They found that to maximize muscle growth in each set, you should: 

  1. Control the weight, taking around 2-8 seconds to perform each rep and
  2. Use a full range of motion, specifically during the stretch part of each exercise. For example, it’s fine not to go all the way up during a dumbbell press, but you should go as far down as you can to fully stretch your chest. The same applies to things like squats and bicep curls. 

But on top of this, you can build muscle faster by choosing the right exercises. 

According to a bunch of new research, exercises that challenge your muscles more in their stretched position tend to lead to more growth

So far, there have been studies on the:

While we don’t have the data on all of the muscle groups yet, it seems likely the trend would be true for most of them. 

For example, I’ve been doing behind-the-body cable lateral raises rather than standard dumbbell lateral raises to get a better stretch, and my side delts have blown up

Now here’s a list of all the exercises that do a great job of really working your muscle in that stretched position. 

Build muscle faster by picking the right exercises

Adding or swapping these exercises into your routine is a really simple change that can make a big difference. 

If you’re unsure how to properly apply this to your training or if you’re just looking for something that takes care of all the guesswork for you, check out our custom workout plan here.

#3: Work Harder

So we’ve covered recovery and working smarter. But the third way to build muscle faster is with brute force. By working harder.

And there are 2 ways of doing this. 

Increase Volume To Build Muscle Faster

First, you can increase volume. 

Highlighting the effectiveness of this method to build muscle faster is a 2017 meta-analysis by Dr. Brad Schonefeld. He found there was about 30% faster growth when doing more than 10 weekly sets per muscle compared to doing only 5-9 weekly sets. 

So, for example, if you’re currently only doing about 10 sets or less for your chest per week, then consider slowly working your way up to 16 sets per week to start forcing more growth. 

However, this only seems to work up to a certain point past which it becomes counterproductive, or at the very least a waste of time. 

For example a later study published in 2022 found that once you start doing more than about 20 weekly sets for a given muscle, it becomes less likely that you’ll be able to further speed up your gains. 

So what I’d recommend is start out with around 10 sets per muscle per week and see how your body responds. Then, if certain muscles aren’t growing as quickly, you can bump the number of sets up.

For example my chest has always been a stubborn muscle for me. But it finally started growing once I reduced my volume for my other muscles, and then bumped up my chest volume to about 16-20 sets per week. 

But aside from just doing more volume, there is 1 more way to force your muscles to work harder so you build muscle faster.

Go Closer To Failure

Based on a recent meta-analysis, stopping your sets around five reps short of failure gets you about 75% of your maximum growth potential. But if you pushed past that, every additional rep you do would get you about 5% more growth. 

So, for example, when I first met my now fiance, Tahnee, she didn’t like being in the gym for very long and doing a crazy amount of sets. So I told her to train with fewer sets, but take them to all out failure or at least very close to that point to get the same results. 

But now you might be wondering, what if I increase both my training volume and intensity? Surely that would lead to the most growth, right?

Well, theoretically, yes. But it depends on how much you can recover from. 

I’ve personally tried out high volume workouts plus taking most of my sets to failure. 

But after just a few weeks of this my body quickly broke down and just couldn’t recover. 

So experiment with both options of increasing volume and/or increasing your intensity and see what works best for you. Just don’t overdo it. 

#4: Steroids

OK so I joked about this earlier, but taking steroids is truly the quickest and most effective way to build muscle faster.

For example, one study found individuals taking steroids and NOT exercising gained more muscle than those who were exercising but didn’t take any steroids. 

However, they come with plenty of health risks and side effects especially at higher doses. 

In my honest opinion, the risks don’t outweigh the benefits for most people unless you’re planning to make bodybuilding and competing your career. 

Building muscle naturally will be slower, but it’s extremely rewarding and you can drastically speed up the process by using the 3 methods to build muscle faster we talked about earlier.


  • Boost recovery and build muscle faster by eating enough protein, getting 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep, and managing your stress levels.
  • Build muscle faster by working smarter. You could do so by really controlling the weight and using the full range of motion. Use stretch-mediated hypertrophy.
  • Work harder. Increase your training volume (up to a point) and get closer to failure within sets (while keeping an eye on your recovery).
  • The most effective way to build muscle faster is … steroids. But, IMHO, the risks don’t outweigh the benefits for most people.

Remember how earlier on I mentioned the importance of working smarter to build muscle faster?

Well, I recently collaborated with 7 industry experts to find the smartest way to build muscle

Build muscle faster by working smarter

You can check out the article here, where I’ll show you exactly how to apply their tips to your training. 

And if you’re looking for an all-in-one fitness plan that puts this all together for you, just take our quiz below to create the best plan for you and your body:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

Thanks for sticking to the end, and I’ll see ya next time!

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

The ONLY 4 Ways to Build Muscle Faster

The ONLY 4 Ways to Build Muscle Faster