How to put on Muscle Fast

Whatever the goal, there is no harm in us gaining muscle, in fact it is something that is beneficial for us all. But the big question… how?

First of all, if you are looking for the secret or looking for a quick fix overnight answer, unfortunately you won’t find that here. Quite simply the answer is down to science! There are two main factors we need to focus on: creating a stimulus through exercise and nutrition, specifically protein intake.

Building muscle, also known as muscle hypertrophy, is the increase in the volume of myofibrils, ie. the long proteins that make up muscle cells. The growth occurs in response to a stimulus. This stimulus is intensive anaerobic exercise, meaning activities that break down glucose without the use of oxygen. This includes exercises that are of short length and high intensity, such as, weight lifting, HIIT, sprinting and plyometrics.

During exercise, the muscle fibers are damaged, which the body then needs to repair. The growth of new muscle then happens in the hours following exercise. When damage occurs, satellite cells on the outside of the muscle fibers are activated which then repair the damage by joining together and increasing the fibers.

We have the process of muscle protein synthesis (the growth of muscle); however, we do also have muscle protein breakdown. When these two are in a complete balance, you won’t gain any muscle but also won’t lose muscle, you will maintain your current muscle mass. On the other hand if you are in a positive protein balance, the surplus that occurs will be directed into muscle cells. If you are in a negative balance, there will be no fuel to build new muscle.

Therefore, you can see that a surplus will be required to allow muscle protein synthesis to occur. What is important to understand is that you will always have some breakdown and growth happening but if the goal is to gain muscle mass then it is vital to be consistently averaging a positive balance rather than negative.  

Consequently, your diet will have a huge impact on the success of muscle growth. As you have just read, adequate protein is key for the growth of muscle tissue. Essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce on its own, have to come from the diet. These are the building blocks to allow muscles to grow. Leucine is an amino acid directly linked to muscle protein synthesis so this is going to be a key amino acid in the diet.

How much protein will depend on the individual and the intensity of exercise. If you search online you will see variations from 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight all the way to 2.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight to promote muscle growth. This is where I strongly encourage you to reach out to a qualified nutritionist to ensure that you are consuming the optimum amount of protein for you.

Whether you consume meat/fish or follow a plant based diet, there are plenty of great protein sources available. If you are following a plant-based diet, I strongly recommend you consume a wide variety of sources of protein to ensure you are consuming all of the essential amino acids, as plant-based sources tend to lack one or more of these.


Meat & poultry

Dairy products









Soya Products

The most important factor when it comes to protein is ensuring you are having a wide variety of sources, evenly distributed, across the day. Your total daily intake is more important than the amount of protein you have in the window immediately after your workout, so make your total intake the priority.

What about a BCAA supplement? If you are getting the majority of your protein from high quality sources, such as those above, then you will be getting the necessary amino acids in through the foods you consume. If you are already taking a protein powder supplement, you will also find your BCAAs in there too. Don’t stress about having a BCAA supplement, you are far better to spend your money on good quality food!

The final factor that I do want to touch on is sleep. Sleep is very often overlooked and something that you probably wouldn’t think about when you think about gaining muscle. Without going into too much of the science, we have two main stages of sleep: REM and non-REM. During non-REM, also known as our deep sleep, blood pressure drops and breathing becomes slower and deeper. Your brain is resting with very little activity so the blood supply availability increases to muscles, meaning they have more oxygen and nutrients to facilitate growth. More deep sleep means more time for muscles and tissues to rejuvenate.

A point definitely worth noting is that as muscles grow and become stronger, through repeated exercise, they become more resistant to damage and therefore why you tend to see faster changes and bigger muscle gains when you are a beginner and first starting out in your fitness journey.

Bottom line

There is no quick fix answer that is going to mean you build muscle overnight. There are two primary factors to focus on - creating a stimulus through exercise and adequate protein intake. The good news is that the answer to building muscle is not having to spend hours in the gym everyday. Keep things simple, build a routine that works for you and focus on consistency. Find the right training program for you, that suits your personal preferences and needs. Ensure you are consuming adequate protein, as well as enough calories and adequate water. Allow your body rest days, as well as adequate sleep, to give your muscles time to fully repair and recover.  

Written by Becs Sandwith, Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr), Personal Trainer and CrossFit Coach. Becs is based at CrossFit Putney but also works with clients 1-2-1 online, as well as with a variety of brands. Becs has a BSc in Nutrition, an MSc in Clinical Nutrition & Eating Disorders, as well as having a level 3 personal training and level 1 CrossFit qualification. Becs has a huge passion for helping people live a healthy lifestyle, whilst finding exactly what works best for each individual.

To reach out to Becs for personalised coaching and/or nutrition advice please drop her an email at You can also find Becs on Instagram, @bitesbybecs, where she shares heaps of fitness and nutrition content, as well as delicious recipes!

Becs Sandwith

Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr), Personal Trainer and CrossFit Coach

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