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Last Updated on February 22, 2021

How to Gain Muscle Quickly and Naturally (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Gain Muscle Quickly and Naturally (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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People often want to gain muscle in order to look their best, but building muscle has many benefits beyond the aesthetic. With more muscle, you can be more active without feeling pain the next day, create more supported joints for greater flexibility, and decrease your risk of certain diseases.

If you really want to learn how to gain muscle quickly and naturally, you’ve come to the right place, but there are no magic answers. What we do have is research-backed workout programs, nutrition coaching, and motivating support. Read on to learn how you can increase your muscle mass quickly and naturally.

What Is Muscle Mass?

One of the reasons I joined martial arts classes years ago was that I hoped that training regularly would give me a Bruce Lee body, and it didn’t, of course.

I lacked a fundamental understanding about how building muscles works. Martial arts gave me the necessary skills for self defense and improved my endurance, but it didn’t make me a Dwayne Johnson lookalike.

What I only later realized is that your muscles only build themselves up on a microscopical level when they need to. And you, as a macroscopic human, can foster that need in your muscles.

To gain muscle, you have to train on a specific rep range and on a specific frequency.

Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Muscle Gain

To gain muscles in the first place, you have to put your body under stress. Training itself is not altogether healthy for you. You’re losing precious body fluids in the gym, emptying your energy resources, and creating micro-tears in your muscles. It’s only when your body feels uncomfortable that you build muscles in the first place.

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Losing weight is also a stressful situation for your body in the short term. You’re taking in less energy than your body desires, which forces your body to restructure your organism in a way that needs less energy. In a non-scientific term: Your body starts burning fat if you eat less calories.

The common denominator of those two scenarios are necessity. Robert Greene, author of the international bestseller 50 Laws of Power, calls necessity the ruler of the world, as humans only act when they need to. Necessity implies being under stress.

Remember, healthy is always relative. Forcing an alcohol-addict to stop drinking may hurt them drastically in the short-term, regarding stress hormones, but in the long-term it might be a great decision when we consider the alternative.

In the sense of learning how to gain muscle, extreme muscle gain might be harmful, but if the alternative is obesity, it can be considered healthy, as it increases the life-expectancy for the individual more than being obese.[1]

What makes muscle growth healthy is the recovery phase. The pinnacle of a healthy muscle gain would be to do it on a plant-based diet, with plenty of sleep and a stress-reducing personal life.[2] Also, without the help of anabolic steroids, of course. 

How to Gain Muscle Naturally

Here are the 7 steps that you can take today to achieve maximum, healthy, natural muscle growth in the shortest time.

1. Commit Yourself

The first step to every long-lasting change is your mindset. This may sound cliché, but if you’re not committed to changing your lifestyle, you might just as well stay on your couch.

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“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln

Write down exactly why you want to gain muscle. Is it to impress that crush you have, to get more confidence, or to make your everyday life a little easier? Write it down and keep it where you can see it every day.

Pro tip: Use inspirational pictures to increase the effect.

2. Set a Goal

While you already have your pen and paper out, write down your goals. There’s something special about writing your goals down on paper. This is another side of commitment.

Make sure you’re setting your goals the SMART way—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. These are called SMART goals, and they work.

To build muscle mass is not a goal; to increase your bodyweight by 5 pounds of muscle before the end of July is. To measure your success, be sure to take before and after pictures to compare your results.

3. Find the Right Training Routine

I have a client in the fitness center that I manage for whom I just recently designed a full-body workout. After a month, he came up to me and confessed that he wasn’t following my training routine anymore. He was shocked when I told him that was fine. He expected me to be frustrated by his actions, but I wasn’t. I know that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, and I know that the right training program or routine is the one that works for you.

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You could have the best workout routine in the world, but if you always have to drag yourself to the gym and never feel excited, it’s not the right routine for you.

While the traditional, recommended repetition range for muscle growth is between 6-12 (based on studies of time under tension), there are also studies citing that 5-7 repetitions may be more optimal.[3] The exact same thing goes for training sets and rest periods between those sets.[4]

I generally would advise you to keep your rest periods between 1-2 minutes. Start with a whole-body training plan (yes, even train your legs), and aim for about 8-12 repetitions as a beginner. When you’re experienced, meaning you’ve been training for more than one year, you can decrease the number of repetitions.

Do about three sets per exercise and aim to spend no longer than 1.5 hours in the gym. This way you’re minimizing muscle protein breakdown due to avoiding a long training session, and, most importantly, you’re not neglecting your personal life.

4. Be Consistent

Having the right training routine when you’re learning how to gain muscle is key because it helps you be consistent. If you’re going to the gym regularly for 3 years, you will see results. It doesn’t matter if you have the best exercise program or your genetics; commitment will pay off.

If you need help creating an exercise habit, check out Lifehack’s 30-Day Resistance Band Workout Challenge. This will help you stay committed to a routine for a month, which can help you move more easily into a muscle-building schedule.

5. Focus on Progression

Progression is the major key when you are trying to build muscles.

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Adding more weight in the long term adds mechanical stress to your muscles. Your body has to see a reason to adapt, and a great way to make it adapt is to add mechanical stresses.[5] Each week or month, try to bump up the amount of weight you’re lifting or the number of reps you’re doing.

6. Eat More of the Good Stuff

To lose fat but build muscles, you need energy. You gain energy through your food, which then is transformed into muscle tissue. To gain muscle, you have to be in a calorie surplus, eating more calories that you actually need, and these calories need nutrient dense. Eat dried fruits or drink smoothies, as they increase your calorie intake without decreasing your appetite. I suggest you aim for a calorie surplus of about 200 calories per dayYou should include protein with every meal, which can come in the form of protein shakes or even protein powder. Eat carbs only post-workout in order to help with recovery as you build strength and muscle. You should also be drinking a healthy amount of water, as this will help your muscles heal and grow after a workout.

7. Switch up Your Routine

This is similar to progression. Again, you want your body to keep guessing in the long-term, as once you hit a plateau in your training, you have to try a new approach.

Implement different exercises, and train at a different rep-range. Have fun with your training, and experiment. You never know when you will find what works for you.

Final Thoughts

Muscle growth is an extremely complex process that involves many different physiological functions and variables. You can spend hundreds of hours studying it and barely scratch the surface, but building muscles isn’t that complicated.Most people who have built a great body in the gym are not renowned scientists; they’re regular people following a proven plan. They have committed themselves to the gym, and they are being consistent with their routine while seeking constant progress. This is possible for anyone who is motivated enough to try. Use my advice above and get started building muscle today!

More on How to Gain Muscle

Featured photo credit: John Fornander via unsplash.com

Reference

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Florian Wüest

Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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Published on July 30, 2021

7 Best Resistance Bands to Work Out at Home

7 Best Resistance Bands to Work Out at Home
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Looking for the ideal way to build up strength at home can be challenging, especially if you don’t have that much space to get workout equipment or build your own home gym. Besides using your own body weight, you can make use of a resistance band, a simple tool to help with your workout at home. These bands provide enough challenges where you can build your strength from various exercises. One of their main benefits is that they allow you to strengthen your natural body movement patterns.[1] They are also very small and won’t take up much space in your home.

Resistance bands are designed to simulate weight lifting. While these bands are very light, the various movements you’ll be doing will be met with resistance depending on the band that you got. For this list, I’ve picked out some of the best ones that you can use to build up your strength at home.

How We Picked the Best Resistance Bands

Before diving into the list, here are the criteria that we used to determine the best resistance bands available on the market:

  • Type – Each type of band here is based on the popular options of bands. Things like loop bands, tube bands, circle bands, and figure-eight bands are popular options. Each type has its own perks depending on the exercise that you are doing or want to do.
  • Weight range – Since you’re not using free weights, you’ll want the weight range to go from simple to challenging over time. Each of these packs will allow you to easily do this.
  • Material – Because these products are bands, you’ll find most of them to be made of rubber or latex. These bands provide either one or the other material. For more elasticity in the bands, latex is the better option.

1. Best Overall: Fit Simplify Resistance Bands

    For those looking for classic resistance band sets, this set has got you covered. It comes with five rubber resistance loops that are thick, durable, and won’t harm your skin. Each loop offers a resistance level between two and 30 pounds, making them ideal to scale up intensity levels during workouts.

    These are the best overall because you can work from really low levels before building up in intensity. You also don’t have to worry about mixing up your loops either as they’re all color-coded and have their intensity levels marked.

    Pick up Fit Simplify’s Resistance Bands here.

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    2. Best Budget Resistance Bands: Insonder Bands Set

      While resistance bands are generally cheap when compared to other workout equipment, some products can offer more value for the price you pay. Out of the many we looked at, the best budget-friendly ones are the bands from Insonder.

      They offer a resistance level of 15 and going up to 40 pounds. They’re also made of latex so, unlike other brands, they’re stretchier and will last longer and provide additional comfort when you use them.

      While the starting weight is ideal for those who are familiar with bands already, these are also great if you’ve got some experience with bands or you’re looking to challenge yourself.

      Purchase Insonder’s Resistance Bands here.

      3. Best Set: Kootek 18-Pack Resistance Bands Set

        Most resistance band sets are very straightforward with what you get—five (or possibly more) of a certain style of resistance bands with varying degrees of intensity. However, some resistance band sets offer incredible value that extends beyond that.

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        Consider the one from Kootek, which offers 18 bands. What’s amazing about this set is that they provide different combinations of bands. Through this set you’ll get:

        • Five latex resistance loops (that offer between five and 40 pounds of resistance)
        • Five resistance tubes (offering ten and 50 pounds of resistance)
        • Two handles
        • Two ankle straps
        • A door anchor

        It’s incredible value for the price if you don’t mind having all this equipment at home.

        Purchase Kootek’s 18-Pack Resistance Bands here.

        4. Best for Glutes: Peach Bands Resistance Bands Set

          Another classic resistance band brand is Peach Bands. This brand has always focused on lower-body workouts, and their bands haven’t changed since then. That said, these bands are made of latex, which promises to be lightweight, durable, and stretchy.

          These bands are also very beginner-friendly, starting with 10-pound options and going up to 35 pounds.

          Buy Peach Bands Resistance Bands here.

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          5. Best for Flexibility: TheraBand Resistance Band Set

            Traditional loop bands are ideal if you’re looking to build up strength as they tend to offer great resistance. That said, all that weight doesn’t necessarily make you use your full range of motion. This is a big problem if your goal is to improve your flexibility. Traditional bands can’t help in that area at all, but resistance straps can.

            TheraBand is one of the best brands we found that offer resistance straps to help with flexibility. Each strap is five feet long and five inches wide, allowing you to perform all kinds of exercises.

            Naturally, the weight range for these is limited to 4.3 and 6.7 pounds, but the focus is on stretching your muscles rather than building strength.

            Purchase TheraBand Resistance Bands here.

            6. Best Non-Slip: RenoJ Bands Set

              RenoJ’s Booty Band Resistance set offers three resistance loops ranging from two to seven pounds. While these bands are fewer in number and offer less weight range, the key selling point for these bands is that they’re not going to be slipping at all when you’re performing exercises.

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              The reason these won’t be slipping is that their material is made of fabric. The fabric allows you to grip easier, provides you further comfort, and is even more durable than latex. This is a big deal as people’s skin can get irritated by latex or have to deal with latex-type bands slipping and sliding while doing exercises. With these, you can have peace of mind that they’ll not be slipping off.

              Buy RenoJ Resistance Bands here.

              7. Most Durable: SPRI Braided Xertube Bands

                The final of the best resistance bands we’re offering is the SPRI Braided Xertube resistance bands. Their main selling point is the fact that these bands are the most durable out of all the options here.

                Tube bands are already quite durable on their own, but these bands are braided to provide further durability. They also offer great levels of resistance ranging between 12.5 and 62.5 pounds so you can easily find bands to suit your needs. The only catch is that each of the bands offered is sold separately.

                Buy SPRI Braided Xertube Resistance Bands here.

                Final Thoughts

                Depending on your exercising needs, you can find all kinds of resistance bands to fit your needs. If you’re new to resistance bands, try out some of the lower weighted bands and work your way upwards until you want to go for higher intensity. For those who are more experienced, dive into some of the higher-level ones and work through some quality bands that were built to last.

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                You can check out this guide for some resistance band exercises:

                Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

                Reference

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