15 Ways to Build Muscle Fast

6. Blast your biceps

To hit all the muscle fibers in your biceps, you need to either lift max weight or lift at max speed—which nobody does when they work their biceps, says Chad Waterbury, M.S., the author of Huge in a Hurry. The next time you do curls, use a weight you think you can lift just 6 or 7 times. Bang your reps out as fast as you can while maintaining good form. That means lifting the weight quickly, lowering it at a normal speed, and immediately starting the next rep. Stop the set when one rep is clearly slower than the others. You may pull off 4 or 5 reps on your first set, and fewer on later sets. Rest for 45 seconds between sets, and shoot for 25 reps total.

7. Trick out your triceps

Waterbury recommends jackknife pushups as a triceps-building companion for the high-velocity curls (tip 6).

Assume a pushup position but place your toes on a bench; keep your hands on the floor, thumbs 6 to 12 inches apart, and hips up. (If you feel the blood rush to your face, you're in the correct position.) Do pushups as fast as you can without rearranging any of your favorite facial features. (That is, don't hit the floor.) Go for 35 reps total, with 7 or fewer per set.

8. Power up your legs

Supercharge any lunge variation by extending your range of motion, making your muscles work harder and grow faster. Boyce recommends these brutally effective leg builders.

Reverse lunge from step: Stand with both feet on a 6-inch-high box or step. Take a long step back with your right foot and descend until your knee almost touches the floor. Return to the starting position, and then repeat the move with your left foot.

Bulgarian split squat with front foot elevated: Place your left foot on a 6-inch step in front of you and your right foot on a bench behind you. Drop straight down until your right knee almost touches the floor. Do all your reps, switch sides, and repeat. Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each leg using body weight only, or 10 reps holding dumbbells at your sides.

9. Shift your butt into gear

Deadlifts and squats are great for your glutes, but only if you're actually engaging those glutes. If your knees cave in toward each other, you're doing less with your butt and more with your back, says Brian Zarbatany, C.S.C.S., training director at the Human Performance Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The solution: Grab the floor with your feet, as if you're trying to twist through the outsides of your shoes. That helps you keep your knees out and your glutes working.

10. Get more from your core

The abdominal push press is the best ab exercise you can do in bed, although you'll probably want to try it on the floor first, says physical therapist Jonathan Fass, D.P.T., C.S.C.S. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your right knee so your hip is bent 90 degrees, and press your left palm into your right thigh, near your knee. Now try to lift your thigh to your chest while pushing back with your hand. If you're doing the exercise properly, your core should work to produce a stalemate. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds, switch sides, and repeat until you're sick of it.

11. Mix it up for a hard middle

If you have a partner, Fass recommends ab prayers, a core-building exercise for two that can double as foreplay. Stand facing each other in an athletic position. Put your palms together (as if praying) in front of your chest, elbows extended 6 to 10 inches from your body. Have your partner push and pull your hands in all directions, forcing you to adjust. Go for 30 seconds, and switch. You should both feel your midbody muscles working.

No partner? Try stir the pot, a classic core exercise from spine specialist Stuart McGill, Ph.D. Assume a plank position with your forearms on a Swiss ball, and roll the ball around by moving your forearms and elbows in a circular pattern.

12. Build bigger calves

Instead of working your calves in isolation, try the bench bridge, which works them in conjunction with your hamstrings and glutes, says Nick Tumminello, a Baltimore-based personal trainer. Lie on your back with the balls of your feet on the edge of a bench and your knees slightly bent. Lift your hips. You should feel it from your calves through your glutes. Lower your hips and repeat the move for as long as you can.

13. Move more and risk less

Everyone wants to lift more on the classic powerlifts, and nothing beats hard work, of course. But you can also produce big improvements by incorporating even the simplest of tricks. For the barbell squat: During the move, "Pull the bar down as if you're trying to rip it apart," Gentilcore says.

"You'll activate your lats, which provide more spinal stability." You'll move more weight with less risk of injury. And if you actually do rip the bar apart, please send us video.


14. Boost your bench

This one may seem "bass ackwards," but to improve your bench press, the experts would like you to start with your butt.

"Clench the bench" by contracting your glutes, and keep them contracted throughout your set, says Joe Stankowski, a personal trainer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You'll find that this tweak solidifies your base and allows you to generate more force on the lift. Don't forget to unclench when you're done.

15. Raise your deadlift

Here's a gear tip: Wash your socks. Then, when you arrive at the gym, perform the deadlift with your shoes off (if your gym allows it), advises strength coach and power-lifter Eric Cressey, C.S.C.S. "Shoes increase the distance the bar has to travel," Cressey says. They also lift your heels off the floor, which puts more emphasis on your quads and less on your glutes and hamstrings, where it belongs. Either barefoot or in your stocking feet is fine. If your gym frowns on this, invest in shoes with minimal heel lift. Or find a new gym.

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