How Fast Can I Build Muscle Naturally? A Step-By-Step Guide to Building Muscle Quickly

How can one build muscle fast? Doing deadlifts like this man will help.

There’s a lot of false information out there on “building muscle fast.”

There’s also A LOT of companies making money selling useless supplements, many of them promising “toned” muscle within weeks.

These two things are not a coincidence.

Today, we’ll provide the truth you so rightly deserve:

This will help you separate fact from fiction on building muscle when training naturally.

Make no mistake about it, this stuff isn’t easy.

Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading about it on the internet!

If you’re somebody that’s worried about wasting time, or you want to have an expert hand craft a workout and nutrition program that’s based on your current situation, consider checking out our really popular 1-on-1 Online Training Program! I’ve been training with an online coach since 2015 and it has been the biggest boost for me in the world.

Alright, onto “how much muscle can I build naturally?”

How Fast Can I Build Muscle Naturally?

Bruce Banner can grow muscle really quickly. You'll have to take a slower path.

You’re here for an answer, so I’m going to get the ugly truth (that will probably make you sad) out of the way.

How fast can you build muscle?

Under OPTIMAL conditions, you can expect to gain around 1-2 pounds of muscle per month.

We’ve found that for most Rebels here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion (our community), closer to one pound per month is the reality.

“Optimal conditions” mean that you are:

Oh, and proper sleep is also absolutely necessary.

This also means you are trying to thread the needle of eating JUST enough to build muscle, but not too much that you put on a lot of fat, too.

Gaining a little fat while you bulk up might happen, but it's no biggie.

Yeah, you could go full hulk mode (“dirty bulk”) and just eat anything and everything, maxing out your muscle building… but it’ll be buried under fat, which you’ll have to trim again and restart the cycle.

While it is certainly one effective way to gain muscle and strength, we more often recommend fiddling with your diet and training so you can find that sweet spot where you’re building muscle and not gaining too much fat.

All of this to say: Yes, can build muscle quickly, but it will NOT be the crazy amount you read about in the magazines, unless you’re taking Dr. Stark’s super serum (ROIDS!).

If you had grand visions of looking like the dudes in the ads you see in muscle and fitness, don’t expect to do so in 90 days with a few days of training and protein shakes.

Remember: Expect 1-2 pounds of month of muscle gain…under optimal conditions.

The one possible exception to gaining strength and muscle fast? Noob gains.

How Fast Can a Beginner Gain Muscle? (Initial Gains)

Beginner's will often see lots of progress when they start their training.

Yes, we’ve all heard the stories of guys that have gained 40 pounds of muscle in two months.

We’ve also seen all the ridiculous ads about “the workout supplement doctors don’t want you to see” with a guy that looks like Bane.

99% of that stuff is absolute bullshit, so let’s just get that out in the open!

HOWEVER, If you’re really skinny, young, training hard, and eating all day every day, as a newbie you can produce results very quickly.

It is possible, in the first year of true strength training with intense focus and dedication, to gain 15-20 pounds of muscle. Combine that with 15-20 pounds of fat gain and you can drastically change your appearance if you started out very skinny.

When I started to take strength training serioulsy, I felt like I was invincible. I even gained 18 pounds in a month, and I foolishly assumed most of it was muscle.

A before and after of Steve in 2006.

But due to taking the supplement creatine (which allows your muscles to hold more water weight), almost all of it was water weight, along with some fat… and then probably 2 pounds of muscle!

I’ve since come to learn “TEH MUSCLE GAINZ” aren’t that easy. Fortunately, that’s only part of what I learned in that month.

You can learn a lot from trying to bulk up.

If you are new to strength training and you are eating right, you’ll not only pack on muscle, but you’ll see some incredibly impressive gains in your strength training:

  • Going from 1 pull up to 3 sets of 15?
  • Adding 100 pounds to your squat?
  • Adding 150 pounds to your deadlift?

I can’t predict what sort of results you’ll see in that first year, but it can be pretty epic if you attack it right!

Muscle growth might happen slower than you want, but I expect something different will happen along the way – you’ll fall in love with this idea of building STRENGTH! In fact, getting hooked on progress, and strength training is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

So, if you are young, growing, and brand spankin’ new to strength training, you’ll be able to pack on muscle at a decent clip. Our goal will be for you to do it in a way that’s sustainable!

Hopefully I didn’t put a big damper on your Captain-America fueled dreams! I just want to set proper expectations so you don’t get discouraged with slow progress, and instead get SUPER encouraged with any progress. Getting strong should be freakin’ fun!

Weirdly enough, once I stopped trying to get there quickly is when I started to actually make permanent progress.

Good?

Good!

Now let’s build you some muscle!

How Do You Make Your Muscles Grow Faster? (Strength Training 101)

How do you get muscles like these? Strength training will get you there the fastest.

We’ve covered this at length in the “How to Bulk Up Fast” Guide but I’ll give you the abridged version:

How to build muscle quickly and bulk up:

  1. Lift heavy things.
  2. Then, lift heavier things than last time (progressive overload).
  3. Specifically include squats and deadlifts and compound movements – they target the muscle building triggers in your entire body.
  4. Target sets and reps in the 4-5 sets of 6-10 reps per set.
  5. Sleep as much as you can.
  6. Eat more calories, especially on training days (with plenty of protein and carbs, and vegetables). Head here to calculate your caloric needs.
  7. Use a protein supplement if you cannot consume enough protein via regular sources.
  8. Consider supplementing with creatine.
  9. Repeat month after month after month.
  10. When in doubt, eat more than you think.
  11. If you put on too much fat, slightly cut back on calories on non-training days.

The goal here is to thread the needle where we pack on size and muscle but not fat. If we don’t eat enough (generally a problem for us skinny people), we will struggle to put on either.

However, if we overeat we’ll build muscle and add some fat. We can then trim the fat, if after a few weeks we notice our body fat percentage creeping up.

“But Steve, I don’t have access to a gym – can I pack on muscle with just bodyweight exercises?

Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises. Look at any Olympic gymnast!

Proof that you can get big and bulky with just lifting yourself up.

I personally managed to pack on some weight while traveling the world.

However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements.

If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.

Note about all of the above:

If you’re confused about how to start with strength training, or you want to start with bodyweight training before trying a gym, or you just want to make sure you’re squatting and doing pull-ups right, we cover ALL of that in our free downloadable guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know.

Get your free guide when you sign up in the box below, and we’ll show you exactly what to do:

Should I Worry About Getting Too Bulky?

How was Steve able to gain so much muscle on three months? Strength Training and proper diet.

“I want to put on muscle, but not too much I don’t want to get too bulky, Steve!”

We get this comment via email a LOT, from both guys and gals.

In fact, I heard this fear so frequently that I included it in our top 7 myths of strength training for women. Mostly, this comment comes from folks who are new to strength training and fitness, which makes sense.

The unknown is scary, and we’re scared to start something if we’re not quite sure how our bodies are going to adapt.

Combine this with mainstream magazines saying things like “lift light weights to tone arms!” and we conjure up visions of lifting heavy weights producing a Hulk-like response.

Here’s a before and after from Staci, a Senior Coach in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, who picked up VERY heavy weights and actively tried to get bulky.

Let’s see the results:

Don't worry about getting bulky. Staci lifts constantly and doesn't look bulky.

Here’s the truth: YOU DO NOT GET BULKY WITHOUT DEVOTING YOUR LIFE TO IT! Unless you are training with hypertrophy (increased muscle size) as a focus, have superior genetics, take steroids, eat like a horse, and focus on nothing but muscle size for months/years, you are NOT going to get too bulky.

I run a fitness site. I have dedicated my life to health and fitness for the past twelve years, and I have actively been trying to put on weight and muscle throughout that entire time.

I am nowhere close to looking bulky, despite all of my efforts to do so, and dedicating my last 13 months to building muscle and size. 

Yes, genetically some people MIGHT put on muscle more easily than others, but even then it’s fractions of a degree, not DRASTIC sweeping differences. We tend to get this question from men or women who are so thin and have such fast metabolisms, they probably need to put on 40-50+ pounds of both fat and muscle, before they would ever even think to use the word “too bulky.”

So, remove this from your vocabulary! 

Build Muscle and Get Strong Now.

Whenever Rebels together, we start lifting weights to grow muscle fast.

 I want to talk about one final thing: all of the above info about muscle building is true, if you are 100% focused on muscle building.

Your results will vary if you are trying to build muscle while also:

  • Running regularly
  • Doing martial arts
  • Participating in sports that require endurance

Why? Well, because instead of using the calories from your food to grow big and strong, the calories are going to fuel an extra long run.

We dive deep into the subject here in “The Ultimate Guide to Building Any Physique.”

Now, all of this information comes with a caveat: do what makes you happy! If you love to run, or play ultimate frisbee 4 days a week, go for it. Just be sure to temper your goals if you’re ALSO trying to accomplish a billion other things too. Just temper your expectations as to what will be possible.

If you are looking for more specific guidance on how to build muscle naturally, or you’ve been at it for months/years without getting results and think you’re a lost cause, you’re not alone!

I honestly thought I was a lost cause because I spent 6 years training to bulk up and saw no results. Despite the story I told myself, it wasn’t because of my genetics. It was because I was following bad advice, had a bad training program, and didn’t have the right nutritional strategy!

If you are tired of not getting results, want to avoid trial-and-error, or you just want to be told exactly what to do to reach your goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Coaching Program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition strategy for you.

Nerd Fitness Coaching Banner

Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced app, Nerd Fitness Journey.

Our fun habit-building program helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

What else can I answer for you about healthy strength and muscle building? 

We can become superheroes, and we have dozens of stories to prove it 🙂 – just remember it’s going to take time. Attack the problem with the right game plan, and your ascension to superhero status can come a bit quicker.

What do you want to know about building muscle and strength? Leave questions in the comments!

-Steve

PS: Not ready to commit to one of our programs?

That’s cool too!

Make sure you sign up for our email list so we can send you BOTH the “Skinny Nerd’s Guide to Bulking Up” and also our entire “Strength Training 101: What You Need to Know” ebook! You can get both free when you sign up in the box below:

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201 thoughts on “How Fast Can I Build Muscle Naturally? A Step-By-Step Guide to Building Muscle Quickly

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  3. I started playing in a recreational adult softball league in 2014. I was skinny and weight about 120lbs. I discovered that I could not hit the ball very far. This was due to both bad swing mechanics, and lack of strength. I decided to hit the gym in September 2014 and start lifting weights. Progress was slow but by summer the following year, I had noticeable gains in muscle and strength. As my batting technique improved to match the added strength, I found myself hitting the ball further and a lot harder than I could during my rookie season. See the only reason I got in the gym was to build strength for hitting. I have come a long way considering I workout only 2 days a week. My question is should I workout 5 days a week during the season? The general consensus is your muscles need time to heal after a workout. Also it is not good to workout on game days because your muscles will not be fully recovered by game time. Game days for me are Sun, Mon, and Fri. I workout on Tues.,Wed. and use Thurs, Fri, Sat. for recovery.

  4. For muscle breakdown and growth to occur you want to force your muscles to adapt by making stress that’s completely different than the previous threshold your body has already adapted to. this can be done by lifting heavier weights, regularly changing your exercises in order that you’ll harm a lot of total muscle fibers and pushing your muscles to fatigue whereas obtaining a “pump.” once the exercise is completed, the most vital part begins that is adequate rest and providing ample fuel to your muscles in order that they will regenerate and grow. –

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  10. Great information!! I will try these exercises for sure. The truth is that most people get overwhelmed. They just want to get super muscle in two days, which is impossible. Now, stay calm and work every day. BABY STEPS COUNT. Now, I know that resting very well is great. Having a quality sleeping time will help you to get better and faster results. Also, I will recommend you to pay attention to myostatin, which is a protein that prevents muscular hypertrophy and hyperplasia. To know more about it click in this link http://healthallthetime.com/build-muscle-fast-naturally-quick-can-someone-truly-naturally-begin-muscle-building/

  11. Hllo… I m too much skinny body what can i doo for gain my weight and muscle in 6 mnths?

  12. It’s absolutely possible to build muscle naturally, but the rate at which you’ll gain depends primarily on three things: genetics, your diet, and your exercise plan.

    First, some people are just predisposed to muscle gain, whereas others aren’t. It’s in your DNA. If you have a harder time gaining muscle than most, you’ll have to work harder – but you shouldn’t give up.

    Second, your diet will play a crucial role in your gains. There are numerous calorie calculators across the internet that can help you determine the number of calories you should consume each day in order to meet your goals. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re properly balancing your macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) according to your needs.

    Finally, if you’re trying to gain weight, you should avoid cardio. It seems counterproductive in that cardio is what keeps your heart healthy and boosts your overall endurance, but it also burns a significant number of calories. The goal is to use those calories as fuel for muscle building – not to burn them off on a bicycle or a run.

  13. It takes a significant amount of time to build natural muscle. Healing time has to do with it, but it is mainly about the amount of exertion and energy and commitment. As I have explained to people, it would be likened to chopping down a redwood with a hatchet. It takes a few years of complete dedication and extremely exhausting overall work to develop an impressive physique. It took me 1 year to put on my first 25lbs of pure muscle, after that, growth slowed down but has been steady. This is why it is impressive to begin with. Most men can’t do this. They want things to be fast and so they take stuff to move the process along. But I can say the natural physique is very unique.

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  16. Muscle building needs a long term plan which also includes a good meal plan. There are many things a beginner muscle builder should also look out for when starting with free weights and nutrition supplements if that is the way the carb intake is going to be. There is also a lot of free info out there for beginners and i highly recommend reading up before making your first steps. You can find a great how to for beginners in this article:
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  17. Professional athletes and bodybuilders turn to creatine supplements when they want to get the most out of their workout. They use creatine supplements for their ability to help support building of muscle tissue and increasing energy during workouts, allowing serious bodybuilders to increase their workout and get ripped faster. With Muscle Advance, you’ll get the same secret used by pro athletes and bodybuilders to get the bodies you see on TV. http://bit.ly/creatinemusclebuilders

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  19. Hi Im 14 and I’m pretty skinny but I notice that I gain muscle at a short amount of time and though I do gain that muscle quickly,I remain skinny because I don’t have a lot of time to workout. Can someone tell me why I gain muscle quickly even though I’m not athletic?

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  24. I have read from many different sources that only noobs get 1-2 lbs a month and after the first 9 months that drops to .25-1 per month and then as you approach human genetic potential (think guys bigger than Arnhold) it drops to about 3-10 pounds per YEAR! Because after the halfway point it becomes an investment of diminishing returns. But most ppl will only train 3-5 years reaching about 40% of their potential before they get where they want to be and then slow down and just maintain. Just what i have found in my endless reading

  25. I know this is really old but I just came across it. “Eat more calories”?? Everything I am seeing says Eat less calories or have a calorie deficit and eat more protein…So which one is it?

  26. Build muscle and increase lean mass percentage is a challenge for many people. The only way to maintain muscle mass in a process of thinning is to feed the muscles properly and simultaneously burn fat with aerobic exercise.

  27. Ok so I’m 13 year old and started sort of getting into training at 12 years old, I haven’t focused on either diet and proper form(trying to get better at it) I eat what my mom cooks and sometimes she brings fast food to eat which is unhealthy, I’m really skinny and want to add muscle but not to crazy much of muscle, i just don’t want to look skinny and want to look good the point where I can see my muscle and finally considering my self built, ik what hard works takes and I’m patient, I cannot afford no programs so I’m only sticking to what I can find online, I would really appreciate anyone to give me suggestions and advice Thank you.

  28. Hey, ich habe deinen Blogpost gelesen, es war nützlich für mich, da ich mit Wissen aktualisiert wurde. Um mehr Details zu erfahren, besuchen Sie bitte Austin Fitness

  29. It depends on the time frame. It is possible to build 20 pounds of lean mass naturally, but definitely not in 28 days. The thing is, most people would be surprised at what just 10 pounds of muscle gain looks like. It doesn’t sound like much, but visually there’s a huge difference. If building muscle fast is your goal, it’s really worth checking out Sean Nalewanyj’s stuff. Some of the transformations are pretty insane. Here’s a direct link to his guide: AdonisPlan.Com

    Follow the right advice, be consistent and you will see gains.

  30. Is that possible you provide a scientific research referring to the :
    “Under OPTIMAL conditions, you can expect to gain around 1-2 pounds of muscle per month ”
    please ?

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