If you are new to the muscle-building game, or if you have been trying unsuccessfully to gain mass for a long time, you might be confused by all of the training information available online and in books and magazines. Most bodybuilding magazines and internet publications advise everyone to do some type of body part split, where the work for different muscles is assigned to certain days of the week.
While this is certainly an excellent, productive method of fast muscle building for many people, beginners oftentimes need more frequent stimulation to build their base of strength and muscle mass. If you are having trouble making headway into your bodybuilding journey, try this 3-day-per-week, full-body training program for fast muscle building.
This muscle-building plan focuses on strength gains in the powerlifts, which are the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Though you will work your entire body at each session, different days will place the main focus on different lifts. Do this entire rotation each week on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday or equivalent schedule.
Day 1: Squat Focus
Squat – Use your strongest stance, and get your depth to at least parallel.
Incline Bench Press – Use your strongest grip and a full range of motion.
Barbell Row – Use an overhand grip and straps if needed. A little bit of cheating on the movement is acceptable.
Pullups – Use an underhand, overhand, or parallel grip, and stick with that variation for this day.
-tip- Fast Muscle Building with the Barbell Row: Some people find it difficult to strike a balance between a heavy, but sloppy row, and a light, but strict one. Try doing one set with a very heavy weight, and really put some jerking into the motion. Work on improving form and reps with this set over a few weeks before you up the weight again. Do a second set with lighter weight and better form / more reps, and work on increasing the weight on that set over a few weeks.
Day 2: Bench Press Focus
Bench Press – Use your strongest grip and a full range of motion.
Pullups – Pick a different variation from Day 1.
Dumbbell Row – Do these one side at a time, and place your free hand on a bench or rack to brace yourself. Use straps if needed.
Leg Press – Use your strongest foot placement.
Day 3: Deadlift Focus
Deadlift – Use a conventional, narrow stance and an over-under grip. Only use straps if absolutely necessary.
Military Press – Use a shoulder-width grip and a slight amount of leg drive.
Pullups – Pick a different variation from Days 1 and 2.
Machine or Cable Row – Pick your favorite machine or cable attachment. Do not use straps.
-tip- Fast Muscle Building with the Deadlift: Sometimes people use variations of the deadlift to gain even more muscle mass. Try alternating full range deadlifts with deadlifts done out of a power rack. Set the pins so that the bar is just below your knees. You will be able to use more weight and further stimulate your back.
Sets, Reps, and Progression
Many bodybuilding writers and trainers make set and repetition protocols far too complex. Your goal with every weight lifting exercise is to gradually make large increases in the weight you use, as well as to provide adequate muscle stimulation for a given session. One of the best ways to do this and get the best fast muscle building results is to do one “heavy” set and one “lighter” set per exercise. For this plan, just work up to one set of 4-6 reps, and follow it with a set of 8-10 reps with a lower weight. These sets should be done to positive failure, which means that you keep going until you cannot perform another full rep. Since there are four main exercises per day on this plan, each weight lifting session will have eight main muscle-building “work” sets. Your warm-ups in preparation for these sets should not be taxing whatsoever and should simply get your body ready for big weights.
Here is an example of a trainee working up to his primary sets of 315 and 275 on the squat:
Bar x 15 reps x 3 sets
135 x 8 reps
225 x 3 reps
315 x 4-6 reps
275 x 8-10 reps
Biceps, Triceps, and other Small Body Parts
The compound, multi-joint weight lifting exercises that compose the bulk of this program will do a great job of building your entire musculature, big and small body parts alike. However, you should do a few single-joint, isolation exercises at the end of each session, as well. Pick one exercise each for biceps, triceps, and calves, and work up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
Eat to Build Muscle
You can push yourself as hard as possible in the gym, but you will make no muscle-building progress without a good diet. For fast muscle building, make sure you are consistently in a caloric surplus and are taking in 1.5-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. You should be gaining about 3-4 pounds per month, and your lifts should be constantly increasing.
Stick with it
The often-hyped idea that you should alter or completely change your weight training routine every few weeks is complete nonsense. The only time you need to change your plan is when your progress stalls. If you are a complete beginner to weight training, or if you have been lifting weights for months or years with no progress, stick with this plan for at least 5-6 months. If you are eating enough to consistently gain weight, you will almost certainly gain a great deal of strength and muscle mass over this time period.