10 Oct 5 Proven Ways You Can Pack on Muscle in Less Time
Allow me to paint a scenario for you.
It’s a crisp Monday morning. You roll out of bed, wipe the gunk from your eyes, then see who emailed you and why.
You grab your phone, examine the calendar, and immediately get annoyed. Why?
You see that Bob from marketing scheduled a meeting at noon. Who schedules a meeting during lunchtime, right? Bob is the worst.
The night before, you’d planned the perfect day. A day where you could get up, knock out items on your to-do list, take a couple of calls, and crush an amazing 60-minute muscle-building workout. Now, sadly, you only have 35-40 minutes to focus on your workout, take a shower, before you head to the meeting.
So, what do you do?
Do you give up and not workout at all? Nope.
You don’t need a 60-minute workout to build muscle.
You need these five proven ways to pack on muscle in less time.
#1 – Take Advantage of Supersets
You’re busy as hell. You don’t have time to perform one set of an exercise then unnecessarily rest five minutes. Time waits for no man. You must conquer your to-do list and those important phone calls aren’t going to take care of themselves.
You can’t afford to waste time in the gym, so you must align the purpose of your training with the intended goal: building muscle.
If you want to increase strength, do one exercise at a time and allow for ample recovery between sets.
But, that’s not your goal.
Your goal is to pack on monstrous muscle in the least possible amount of time.
What You Should Do:
Train multiple muscle groups with minimal rest between sets.
Perform antagonist supersets so you crush multiple muscles at once without decreasing strength.
This method consists of pairing two exercises of opposing muscle groups in a superset (two exercises performed consecutively). There is little to no rest between the exercises and moderate rest after a set of both have been completed.
You’ll remain focused, elevate your heart rate, and burn more calories because you’re training more muscles in less time. Use these muscle group pairings and examples:
Muscle Group Pairings
- Chest/Upper Back
- Front/side delts
- Rear delts/Mid back
- Abs/Lower Back
- Incline press + chest supported rows
- Incline Hammer curls + lying tricep extensions
- Back squats + hamstrings curls
- RDLs + leg extensions
- Shoulder press + lat pulldowns
- Shrugs + Dips
#2- Fatigue Your Muscles with MOAR Reps
Imagine you just hammered out a few sets of dumbbell shoulder presses.
Your shoulders feel jacked and super pumped, but you left a little bit in the tank.
It’s natural to save your energy at different times during a workout so your body doesn’t feel like it’s been hit by a ton of bricks. I understand, but here’s the hard truth about building muscle:
Packing on muscle so you can feel like a superhero requires you to reach empty on the gas tank and run on fumes at times.
If you want to pack on muscle, the most important thing is reaching absolute muscle failure. It’s a trigger for maximum muscle growth.
You simply cannot quit before the set gets tough and waste the last few reps. You need to perform the exercise until your muscles can’t continue going with good form. You must create fatigue.
I’m not saying you should reach absolute muscle failure with each exercise every time you train. However, when you’re short on time and can squeeze every little ounce of energy from your muscles to make monstrous gains, you do it.
What You Should Do:
Perform myo reps so you can drain every ounce of energy from your muscles and get more effective reps in less time. How does this work?
I hate to tell you this, but your muscles are smarter than you. When you train, your muscles are efficient at producing the necessary force required to execute the exercise by initially recruiting the smaller muscle fibers. Your muscles save the larger muscle fibers for the most challenging reps, the last 2-3 in a set.
This creates two problems for you:
- These reps are the most effective for muscle growth and you only performed 2 or 3 out of a possible 8-15.
- The growth potential of these muscle fibers decreases as you begin your rest period.
When you’re attempting to make monstrous gains in less time, you must get the most bang for your buck. Myo reps help because you continue to stimulate your larger muscle fibers with more challenging reps over an extended period with minimal rest.
For this, you’ll hit failure on an exercise in the 10-15 rep range. Then, rest for 15 seconds. After 15 seconds, do as many micro sets of three reps as possible with a maximum of 15 seconds of rest between the sets. Stop when you can’t do three reps in a micro-set. The 15 second rest periods allow your muscles to restore enough energy so you can extend the set and create more fatigue with the larger muscle fibers before you reach failure.
#3 – Teach Your Muscles to Contract
Sometimes, you can feel jacked after completing an exercise, but not feel like you trained every muscle the way you intended to. Something just didn’t feel right. You finished a compound lift like bench press, squats, or deadlifts, but you have this nagging feeling that you missed an opportunity to train each muscle to its full capability.
Imagine you crushed a few sets of bench press, but couldn’t flex your chest during each rep. You felt like your shoulders and triceps did almost if not all the work. You felt like your pecs were just along for the ride. They’re lagging and will never grow.
You say something like:
“I’m never going to be able to feel my pecs during a bench press.”
Wrong. You’re 100% capable of improving your ability to flex and recruit the muscle fibers necessary for building a lagging muscle.
That’s right. You just need assistance before you perform your compound lift.
What You Should Do:
Use the pre-fatigue method so you can improve your ability to flex your lagging muscle and recruit every muscle fiber. You’ll fatigue the targeted muscle which will provide your body with a better feeling of how the muscle should work during your compound lift. When you recruit more muscles at once, you maximize overall muscle growth.
There are a few ways you could utilize this method, but we need to get you in and out of the gym. Let’s focus on the version that minimizes your time but maximizes your muscle:
Isolation exercise + compound exercise
For the isolation exercise, choose an exercise that trains your lagging muscle. In our example, you couldn’t feel your chest during a bench press. Therefore, you perform an exercise like a cable flye that allows you to have singularity of focus on one muscle, your pecs.
For the compound exercise, you would choose the bench press.
Perform 10-12 reps for the isolation exercise at a slow and controlled tempo. Rest for one minute. Then, perform 6-8 reps for the compound exercise. Rest for two minutes. Do this for 3 complete sets.
Below are examples for each potential lagging muscle group:
- Incline dumbbell flye + incline bench press
- Cable flye + bench press
- Banded rows + bent-over rows
- Seated cable rows + Pendlay rows
- Leg extensions + front squat
- Hamstring curls + RDLs
- Tricep pushdowns + bench press
- Overhead tricep extensions + overhead press
- Cable curls (slight lean forward) + bent-over rows
- Front raises + overhead press
- Lateral raises + overhead press
#4 – Chase The Pump After The Pump
Do you ever feel it’s like pulling teeth to get a smaller muscle to grow? You feel the muscle working. You can flex it hard, but it looks like you’ve never trained it a day in your life.
Maybe your bench press is outstanding, your chest massive and chiseled, but your triceps look like a soft pillow.
Maybe you have impressive squat numbers but you have skinny little chicken legs.
When you execute a big lift like a bench press or squat, you reach a point where the muscles grouped together can’t produce enough force to continue. You stop to rest, but the individual muscles still have enough energy to perform an exercise on their own.
When this is the case, you must do the opposite of the pre-fatigue method.
What You Should Do:
Use the post-fatigue method so you can isolate a muscle you want to target for exponential growth. You’ll fatigue the targeted muscle and enhance your chances of packing on muscle immediately. Again, we want to get out of the gym in a reasonable amount of time so you can dominate the day. Use this combination:
Compound exercise + isolation exercise
Here are examples of combinations to use at your disposal:
- Bench press + lying dumbbell tricep extensions
- Bench press + dumbbell flyes
- Shoulder press + lateral raises
- Pullups (underhand grip) + lean away cable curls
- Bent over row + hammer curls
- Squats + leg extensions
- RDLs + hamstring curls
#5 – Drop It Like It’s Hot
If you like to train hard, fast, and your singular focus is achieving massive growth for a muscle group, this part is for you.
Training density is the amount of work done in a certain period. You can do more work in a set period or more work in less time. Increasing training density does a few things:
- Increases caloric expenditure leading to more fat loss
- Trains your cardiovascular system without you having to step on a treadmill
- Keeps you focused allowing you to waste zero time in the gym
I know it sounds awesome, but how do you use this information? I’ve got the answer right here.
What You Should Do:
Use a mechanical drop set so target to the same group in three different ways. You’ll achieve massive muscle growth in half the time.
Normally, you would perform three exercises on their own. Including rest periods, this may take you 20 minutes to complete during a workout. During a triple set, you complete three consecutive exercises with 5-10 seconds of rest between each using the same weight. So, what usually takes you 20 minutes quickly turns into 10 minutes.
Maintaining strength is still key. Put the exercises in order of weakest to strongest so you can improve strength and stimulate muscle fibers in an area you may be lacking as it will spark monstrous muscle growth.
Choose a weight the allows you to complete 12 to 20 reps total for the entire set.
There are several ways you can do this with each muscle group. Here are two examples for each:
- High incline dumbbell press + mid incline dumbbell press + flat dumbbell press
- Reverse grip dumbbell press + neutral grip dumbbell press + regular dumbbell press
- Pronated pull-ups (overhand grip) + supinated pull-ups (underhand grip) + neutral grip pull-ups (palms facing in)
- Bent over dumbbell row overhand grip + underhand grip + neutral grip
- Leg press feet low and narrow + feet in the middle and shoulder hip-width + feet high and wide
- Bulgarian split squat + normal split squat + front foot elevated split squat
- Romanian deadlift + sumo deadlift + conventional deadlift
- Leg curl feet turned in + feet turned out + feet straight
- Lying dumbbell tricep extension + pronated grip + Tate press
- Decline dumbbell tricep extension underhand grip + overhand grip + neutral grip
- Barbell curl extra-wide grip + wide grip + narrow grip
- EZ bar curl reverse grip + wide grip + narrow grip
- Dumbbell Arnold press + standing dumbbell shoulder press + dumbbell push press
- Dumbbell incline lateral raise + dumbbell lateral raise (seated upright) + dumbbell lateral raise (slight lean forward)
Dedicating a 60-minute workout to packing on muscle isn’t necessary. You need 35-40 minutes and the five proven ways to do it that have been laid out for you. Don’t pay attention to the bros at your gym or every article on the internet that says you need to be in the gym for at least an hour every day. Maximize your muscle and minimize your time, so that you can dominate the rest of your day.
If you’d like help in crafting a plan from an expert coach that allows you to pack on muscle without sacrificing time at work or with your loved ones, apply here.