Building Lean Muscle, Part 5: It Won't Happen Overnight

If you’re looking to gain muscle fast, one of the most important things to remember is that you are not going to see results overnight. Period. Sorry, Charlie.

Sadly, many athletes fail in their quest to safely gain muscle simply because they lack patience. When they don’t see immediate results, they fall off the plan and right back into old eating habits. Building muscle is a process! We live in an “instant gratification” culture, where we can read, watch, listen to, or learn anything almost instantaneously online. But unless you can get over the instinct to demand immediate results, you will not succeed in your goal to build muscle properly.

Here are some tips to help you quiet that “instant gratification” instinct.



It is no secret that your body type helps determine the speed with which you can build muscle.

If you happen to have an ectomorph body type, which means you are naturally very skinny, you have a bit of a battle ahead of you in the road to grow muscle. Your body is naturally primed to fight any sort of weight gain, so the muscle-building process for ectomorphs is slower. Since your genes determine your body type, there’s not much you can do to change it--so you might as well just accept it.

If you are a mesomorph individual, however, and are naturally quite muscular, your muscle-building process will look differently than that of the ectomorph. You will find that you tend to build muscle relatively easily, even without as much work on your part. Again, there is not much you can do to change your inherent body type, so acceptance is the best and easiest policy.

This is why it is never productive to compare your muscle gaining process to someone else’s. If you’re an ectomorph comparing your weight gain results with a mesomorph, for example, the chips are stacked against you. Learn what your body type is and how to work with it, not against it, and you will see results at your body’s own pace. (You can read more about these categories of body type here.)



Moving along, also remember that the faster you attempt to build muscle, the greater the risk of body fat gain will be.

Your body can only build so much muscle each week (optimum composition of new weight gain is 75% muscle and 25% fat), and any calories consumed over and above what your body needs to build that muscle will be converted into body fat.

This is why, if it is lean muscle gain you seek, it is absolutely critical that you put together a proper diet designed specifically to gain muscle. Eat too little, and your body has no raw materials with which to build new muscle. Eat too much, and make no mistake, you will be on your way to fat gain.

It is the perfect balance you need to strive for. You definitely need more calories when the goal is building muscle, but consume too many and you won’t like your results.



Finally, remember that safe muscle gain takes time. Your body can only do so much in a day and if you try to overload it with too much food and exercise, it is going to fail you. The safest and most effective way to build muscle is slowly, with a proper diet and training program, over time.

Furthermore, non-FDA approved or experimental supplements will not get you faster results. More often than not, these products come with a wide array of negative side effects and very few benefits, if any at all.



Ditch the supplements and stick to your diet plan (which, hopefully, you have by now established from our previous 4 posts on the topic) and you will see results. They may be slower than you’d like, but good things come to those who wait.


Join over 100,000 coaches and athletes using Volt's intelligent training app. For more information, click here.


Mike Bewley, MA, CSCS, C-SPN, USAW-I is a guest contributor to the Volt blog. He is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Clemson University, a specalist in sports nutrition, and the founder of online nutrition platform NutraCarina.