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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet

What’s up, guys? Sean Nalewanyj on – The title of today’s video is The Single Fastest
Way To Gain Muscle. And I’ll say up front that if you’re looking
for some sort of fancy groundbreaking never-before-seen answer to the question then you might be a
bit disappointed here, but I really wanted to get this video out there because there’s
just way too much fluff circulating around when it comes to YouTube fitness content and
Instagram fitness content. And a lot of people just end up losing sight
of what is most important in the whole equation. Now, most people who have done their research
and have some training experience under their belt already understand that progressive overload
is the primary driver of building muscle over the long term. Meaning, you need to be progressively exposing
your muscles to a more challenging workload over time if you want them to continue responding
and growing further. And this can be done in a variety of ways,
the most common method is to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting on each exercise,
but you can also perform more reps with the same weight you can perform more sets per
muscle group for the week, you can train a muscle more often, you can adjust your form
to make it exercise more mechanically challenging, you can reduce your rest time in between sets,
slow down your rep cadence, there’s also the option of applying certain high intensity
techniques during your sets, those are technically all forms of progressive overload that can
lead to improved muscle growth in one way or another. However, it’s important to understand that
not all forms of progressive overload are equal. And I’ve been seeing a lot of content where
people will list off all these different methods and say, see lifting more weight is not the
only answer look at all these other things you can do to make progress in the gym. And that’s not incorrect, you can do those
things as a way of improving your progress to varying degrees. However, unless you’re a more advanced lifter
with at least a couple years of consistent training under your belt who’s already built
up a solid foundation of muscle, the simple fact is that getting stronger and adding more
weight to the bar on all of your exercises, particularly the basic compound lifts, that
should be your primary focus by far. That is the fastest way to gain muscle no
matter how you break it down. You’re not gonna build a big chest by pressing
thirty five pound dumbbells, you’re not going to build big legs by squatting 150 pounds,
and you’re not gonna build a big back if you can’t even do pull-ups using your body weight. And on the other hand, you’re not not going
to have a muscular chest, legs, or back if you’re pressing, say, 100 pound dumbbells
per reps or you’re squatting 3 plates per side or more, or you’re doing, let’s say,
strict pull-ups with 60 pounds or more strapped around your waist. You can dabble around all you want with these
elaborate bodybuilding pump programs you see with fancy exercise variations, and drop sets,
and super sets, and Swiss balls, and bands, and all this stuff, and where all the training
variables are constantly being mixed around. That makes for good online content because
it seems new and it seems unique and you definitely can gain some muscle in the initial stages
that way. But if you’re looking to maximize your progress
to put on significant mass onto your frame to build a legitimately impressive physique
and to do it as efficiently as possible, you need to stop diluting your focus with all
this unnecessary complicated stuff and make basic strength gain your primary goal. Not only because progressive tension overload
is the most effective way to stimulate hypertrophy in general but also because most other methods
of progressive overload can only be applied up to a pretty limited point anyway. For example, when it comes to training volume,
how many sets can you realistically add to your program before it’s not practical anymore? The fact is that you can only do so many sets
per workout or per week before the overall workload gets too high, not to mention that
training volume also means a bigger time investment. So if you gradually work up to, let’s say,
doubling your training volume that also means you’re going to be spending twice as much
time in the gym. Whereas lifting more weight at the same volume
doesn’t change the time investment and so you’re able to be a lot more efficient with
your training. The same thing goes for training frequency. If you’re already hitting a muscle twice per
week then what’s next? Three times a week, four times a week, five
times a week, you can’t just keep increasing the frequency indefinitely. Whereas when it comes to strength gains, particularly
on the basic compound lifts, you really can continue to just increase in a linear fashion. And you can do that for years and continue
making gains from it and again without changing the overall time investment. And the same thing applies to the other methods
that I’d mentioned as well, you can’t just keep reducing rest time between sets, or making
exercises more mechanical challenging, or slowing down your reps, these things are all
pretty limited in how they can be applied, where a strength gain is something that can
be worked on and improved on over the long-term. Now, once you do hit that more advanced lifting
stage and you’ve gained a considerable amount of overall muscle size and strength and maybe
the amount of weight that you’re lifting on certain lifts isn’t something that your joints
can keep up with without discomfort, then, yeah, then you can start manipulating these
other variables to squeeze out some additional progress. But for anyone who isn’t in the advanced stages
yet and is otherwise healthy in terms of their joints, the single fastest way to gain muscle
is to gain strength. Make no mistake about it. It’s to gradually add more weight to the bar
on the key compound lifts over time. That’s where your primary focus needs to be
and that’s what you need to be using as the central gauge for determining whether your
program is moving in the right direction. If you’re consistently gaining strength and
your nutrition is in order then you’ll know for the most part that you’re on the right
track. Your body is continuing to make those positive
adaptations. Whereas if your strength isn’t increasing
then you’ll know that something is off and needs adjusting. And this is why your training logbook is so
crucially important because it’s going to allow you to track your strength progress
in detail. It’s gonna give you a concrete record of where
you are now and what you need to do to improve. So every time you enter the gym you want to
be thinking about beating the logbook by getting just a little bit better each time. And a little bit better is a key phrase there. People will hear this idea that gaining strength
is the fastest way to gain muscle and so they think that that means they need to be piling
on the weight and making rapid increases every week. Keep in mind that none of this stuff happens
rapidly, and it’s often going to be measured in terms of individual reps and then small
increases of 5 to 10 pounds at a time or even 2.5 pounds on smaller isolation lifts. So maybe one week you lift 100 pounds for
five reps, next week it’s a 100 ponds for six, 100 pounds for seven, and then you increase
to 105 and aim for five reps again and just continue in this fashion, making sure that
your lifting technique remains exactly the same with each weight increase. The changes from week to week are going to
be very minor but if you just write it down and you focus on improving in some way, even
if it’s just one rep, and then you extrapolate that over six months, one year, two years,
three years, over time it’s going to add up to huge increases in both muscle size and
strength. And following a basic model like this and
just focusing on getting stronger can easily allow you to achieve, I would say around 80%
or more of your total genetic muscle building potential, probably over the course of about
two to three years. And then again, at that point you can start
using some of the other methods that I’d mentioned to help take things further if you
want. And all of this, of course, assumes the other
aspects of your program, so your lifting technique, nutrition, supplementation, sleep, etcetera,
that all those things are on point as well. But the bottom line here is don’t get too
distracted by all the noise out there. There obviously are a lot of smaller details
involved in structuring an optimal program in all areas but for beginner and intermediate
lifters especially, muscle growth will come as an automatic byproduct of building up a
solid strength foundation and that’s where the majority of your focus should be placed
if you want to transform your body as quickly as possible. So, I hope this advice was helpful. If you do want to learn all those other details
behind mapping out a complete training program from A to Z in order to fully maximize your
size and strength gains including step-by-step routines for beginners, intermediates and
more advanced lifters then you can check out my body transformation blueprint by clicking
here or by visiting For those who are new to the channel, my brand
new science-based pre-workout fish oil and multivitamin are also now available over at, the link is in the description box and make sure to hit
that like button leave a comment and subscribe below if you haven’t already in order to stay
up-to-date on future videos. Thanks for watching, guys. And I’ll see you in the next video.

100 thoughts on “The Single Fastest Way To Gain Muscle, Period.

  1. Do compound full body exercises, in a standing position, pick 5 or 6 exercises, do one set of 10 on each at a weight that has you fail on the 11th rep using perfect form. When you manage to do the 11th rep at perfect form, slightly up the weight & repeat. Mix up these exercises with others each week, as well as the order you do them in. At that level of intensity, I find a rest period of about 4 days (to eliminate all DOMS) optimal between workouts. PS That's pretty similar to Mike Mentzer's old 'Heavy Duty' system. Occasionally break the pattern and replace one of these sessions with one where you do isolation exercises (also use bands) on muscles you feel the need to, using the same principles, and at other times do a bodyweight only exercise session, pick 6 exercises, and do each until failure.

  2. Just came across this vid, I've been training over 30yrs..mostly natural..took me years to figure out what this fella is saying..all you young folks listen up..this is exactly what you need to do..

  3. I got a great increase in strength since I started lifting a year ago but nearly zero gain in visible muscle.. I started weighing 50 kg and now I'm 58 with a big reduction in body fat, so that difference must be in muscles although I don't understand why they're not bigger yet..

  4. Absolutely love this. Sean is spot on here. Got back to the gym 6 months ago and have stuck with just 5 compound exercises focusing on progressive overload (just adding an extra rep here and there and upping the weights slightly) Full body workouts 3x per week of no more than 45 mins per session (no BS bro split routines of endless reps, sets and isolation's) Just get in, hit it hard and get out. All the time tracking my lifts and aiming to improve on them over time without living in the gym. Keep this simple guys, no need to make it harder than it has to be. This is an age old science and what worked years ago still holds true today. Be consistent and make sure you fuel your workouts/recoveries with enough decent nutrition and rest!

  5. Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Then one day he started a Youtube channel…. and just like that…. he was gone.

  6. There isn't much literature on YouTube pertaining to lengthening clavicle and scapula bones for wide shoulders.

    I know that's genetics but no one talks about it. You can lengthen spine by hanging , any stretches for shoulders?

    What's your take

    There are people who say dead hanging with weights will help, wide grip deadlifts, but they don't sound healthy for joints. Then there are some people selling programs to increase shoulder bones….

  7. I agree with most of what you have to say in this post.I do believe that you can gain good muscle size without going heavy.Technique moderate weight and time under tension are the three key things to keep in mind.Consistency and proper splits are important too.

  8. more reps and increasing training frequency are just different forms of volume increase
    one is doing more per session, the other is doing more sessions per week
    increasing weight lifted is power increase. At some point, continous increase of both volume and power causes stalls (unless on serious loads of gear); so 5×5 becomes 3×5 becomes 5/3/1 or LP or TM or whatever

  9. Agreed 100%. BUT up to a point! This is fine for us all up to a certain age! I am now 68 years old & did that up till about my 50th year +-. I then had to change my training & train smart with lighter weights & a bit more volume. Now I know this may not be the case for all of you guys out there. But really as we age we need to start training smart & heavyweights are really not an issue anymore, unless you a competitor. This works for me & now at my age I am in excellent condition.
    Blessings to all you beautiful people out there. Train safe & listen to your bodies. 👍🏻💪🏻

  10. um sir. I think you'll find that "The Single Fastest Way to Gain Muscle" is to find the biggest man at the gym, fight him, and chop off his head. We've all seen Highlander. #ThereCanBeOnly1 #KeepChoppin #TwinkiesAREProtein

  11. Hey Sean love your videos and information! What would you say the best option is when you have experienced a muscle strain in your pec. I’m struggling building my chest because about 8 months ago I strained my pec minor. I started at square one doing chest presses with 10’s, 12’s, and 15 lbs dumbbells at about 40-50 reps while I rehabbed. I finally got up to 35lb dumbbells (I used to press 45lbs dumbbells for 8-10 reps) and then my led strain flared up again and I’m back down to pressing no heavier than 20 lb dumbbells to avoid pain. Any ideas on what I could do?

  12. I was surprised how many of your sentence is I was able to complete before you finished saying them. and how many spots I was able to predict what you would talk about next.

    That's because what you said, it's the truth.. all of it. 😉

  13. Hi Sean, thanks for the great content. I have a question. When reaching a plateau for a certain lift certain bodybuilding "experts" tell to switch over to a different exercise for a while; for example dumbbel chest presses, if your barbell press has stalling. Is this concept true? Can you really increase a certain lift by avoiding it and do something else? I wonder because I've heard people telling the opposite, that if you stay away from a certain heavy lift your power will drop. On the other hand I've heard about increasing sets, reps or add on accessory exercise to bring up weak points which I think make logic sense.

  14. Reverse pyramid training changed my life. I was doing straight sets of 3x 6-12, and it was causing so much neural fatigue and I didn't feel recovered enough between sets even with 3 minutes or even between workouts, especially with squats. Now I do my heaviest working set first with a 4-6 or 6-8 rep range depending on the exercise, a second lighter set with a 6-8 or 8-10 rep range depending on the exercise, and a third even lighter set with an 8-10 or 10-12 rep range depending on the exercise. In just a couple of months I've added SO MUCH strength because that first set is super heavy. My third/lighter set has even surpassed what my straight set weights used to be, exponentially.

    Given that reverse pyramid training prioritizes your first set above all else, allowing you a mental boost/rest with the subsequent lighter sets, you feel even more motivated to pull for new prs on a weekly basis, and trust me, you can handle the weight especially since you're working in all rep ranges which all provide their own unique benefits. After one uber heavy set, those following sets feel light, and you will keep tracking progress and increasing weight on those sets independently. Hitting prs in each rep rage is many times more motivating. Sets 2-3 shouldn't be easy btw, – but not having to lift super heavy for those sets is a weight off both mentally and literally! The best part is that they're still in the hypertrophic rep range, so enjoy the gains and take a load off.

    Great advice though, Sean. Increasing weight on those major compound lifts will give you 80-90% of your aesthetic and strength improvements. Keep it simple. If you stalled like me and your workouts of 3×8 were burning you out, try reverse pyramid training. Knowing it gets easier after the first heavy set, relatively speaking, makes you look forward to working out, hitting new prs, and you enjoy the benefits of every rep range while getting adequate volume.

  15. How the heck does he only have 152k subscribers… This is the best channel bar none. Sure it's not fancy and flashy with useless and distracting music or cut scenes, but it's the most useful and straight to the point information for us serious athletes.

  16. All these utubers with so much hypocrisy…talking about train hard…eat right..etc etc…all fine and dandy…but they never mention all the steroids they also take to look the way they do…

  17. eat

    take supplements to become more advanced, but don't take them if you don't even take bodybuilding seriously!

  18. Going heavy in basic lifts like the back squat deadlift bench press is a myth… you'll become smaller… that's something Ego lifter do… they make no progress. The two main components of bodybuilding is frequency and volume… the other training principles like compound sets, is shock training… too much of that your progress will come to a screeching halt!

  19. I waisted 1 year of lifting because I wasn’t taking my nutrition seriously. now I have it in check I’m making progress again in all my lifts! Eat big to get big. Solid advice here Sean love your vids simple but informative 👍

  20. The single fastest way to gain muscle, is to max out per muscle group( legs, chest, back, shoulders) throw in a good anabolic regimen.

  21. Thanks Sean. Good advice. Just got back into lifting past 3 months after 25years of sitting on my butt at a desk. Seems not much has changed in mass/strength theory. I do compound exercises only. Once I can do 4 sets of ten reps on any given lift I up the weight. I stay on that weight until I can do 4 sets of ten then up the weight. And so on. I lift 3 times a week alternating lift days with press days. 4 exercises each session – 16 sets total. I'll be 60 this year.

  22. Wow…best advice from a YouTube video. Thank you. My friend said the same thing, for the most part. Listening it again tells me that I'm on the right track. Thanks!

  23. Good advice to keep you …and me, on track: increase muscle strength by lifting progressively heavier weights in an exercise, over time. use "compound" (multi-joint) exercises which require two or more joints to move – with each joint and its parts moving apart (as the joint "opens") or moving together (as the joint "closes") during each repetition, in a "compound" exercise.

  24. Volume doesn't build muscle one set is all you need . Without steroids you won't recover . It's how hard not how much when trying naturally to build muscle . You do not want to increase training volume or frequency the harder you train the more rest you need . When you get bigger and stronger it places more demands on you recovery ability so you need to train less .

  25. Thanks brother. Im 57 and hit it hard on the deadlifts and squats.
    Happy to hear im on the right track. Keep the vids coming.
    Us older guys need the knowledge

  26. Hey Shaun,,thanks for sending out solid truth on weightlifting,,in all reality this is all you need to no as a natural lifter,,to build your body,,and solid healthy diet,,this is all old school trainer's did,train safe natural and smart,,be persistent,,it definitely a marathon not a sprint,,thanks Shawn stay natural and thanks for real truth of weight lifting

  27. Sean, what would you say is the next best thing to adding weight for progressive overload for an individual with multiple joint problems (knees, elbows, wrists, ankles)?

    Also, I'm assuming the same answer would be a good if not most optimal form of progressive overload for small muscles such as deltoids that cannot keep up with increasing weights.

  28. Sean I need help. Most weeks I manage to have 3 training sessions, and that's it. I'm doing Ppl, and currently on a surplus of about 250 calories, I'm gaining 1kg a month the last 4 months. Problem is sometimes my workouts can only be done Monday Tuesday Wednesday and then Im able to hit the gym next Monday. Don't ask why, I'm not lazy believe me, I'm working shifts and I have a 2year old son, it's pretty tough.. So, is there any difference in muscle gain with this pattern that the weeks I split my workouts within the week, let's say Monday Wednesday Saturday? Not really much I can do about it, but it will just give me peace of mind if you say it's OK!! Lol

  29. i dont like this guy, he is speaking the truth…i want to hear those methods where you build abs in your sleep and get a wider back as you fart

  30. This advice is spot on. I would like to add that natural lifters have to keep their calories strict in order to have abs. That will limit your gains a bit compared to eating like a horse. Nothing you can do. It's part of the game.

  31. I swear the last time I watched one of your videos was perhaps 5 years ago or so, then I just lost track of you, today I was wondering "Who was that Sean guy I watched some vids of couple of years back", and you popped up, granted it took me some searching ahah but honestly, you should have more recognition.

  32. Nice video, the only pro tip I would add is everyone is going to have a sweet spot for rep range according to their body type. A 5X5 is a no go for me other than building strength. I need to be in the higher rep range (8-12). I also use the basic TUT (time under tension) principle which has never failed me in the higher rep range for results.

  33. People are being brainwashed into thinking intensity is the only method of training… I spent years training intensely getting nowhere! You have Mike metzer high intensity, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's high volume… over the years I never tried high-volume training because it was always talk down just like it is today! I tried High volume training for 2 months and to my surprise I increase the size of my muscles… what that means is muscles grows at a different rate… you can't always train intensely and you can't always train in high volume!

  34. I find that doing 4 or 5 seconds on the eccentric phase of the movement with a 1 or 2 second on the concentric phase on each rep really forces the muscle to work hard, and in a 8 rep set that's up to 56 seconds in time under tension. Most people don't care about this so they end up doing 1 second in both phases, so about 16 seconds in time under tension. I then superset the set with things like pushups (if I'm working chest).

  35. How about for older men? I'm 58 years old and would be interested in your comments on this subject for older men. I am interested in general health benefits of weight lifting etc. but am wondering if at my age the "growth plates" whatever those are will toltally limit muscle and strength growth. Thanks much.

  36. I've been bodybuilding for 51 years so far, and I employ all of the strategies of progressive overload to keep my interest and fun factor high. Yes, weight increases is the prime mover for sure, but I like to intersperse other methods now and then so my mind doesn't go stale, let alone my body. Your advice is excellent here Sean, and I agree fully with your message. I believe that working out in the gym with weights should be fun, because when people have fun with an activity, they want to do it again and again, and when this is applied to pumping iron, the guaranteed result is muscle hypertrophy. If we keep adding more reps or sets, we reach a point where the workout becomes tedious and boring due to its length, not to mention, as you say, a ridiculous time investment. I train with overloading with added weight primarily, throwing in supplemental strategies to ramp-up my fun factor and enjoyment, and hopefully lead to increased muscular soreness the following day(s). I guess you'd say my training at this stage is purely intuitive, as I do not track what I do with methodical accuracy like I did when in my twenties, but I do know where my basic strength ranges are for each muscle group. Thanks for the great training advice here! See ya' …

  37. I know he is talking about the most efficient way to gain muscle. However due to health problems. I can't lift heavy as my aneurysm will bust and be dead within 10 minutes. Coming back, I have lifted lighter weight. My progress is slow, I have made gains but it beats being dead. So only do what your body can handle.

  38. I struggled to gain size and strength in my legs for years. I was regularly squatting 220lb but kept running into back problems. I trained in a progressive cycle and eventually realized that I was actually getting a better pump in my legs at the much lighter end of the progression. So I started just training at that lesser weight and actually saw some improvement. Not huge but something. Recently I learnt where I was making the form error that was causing my back problems. Having had a fairly serious injury years ago I had assumed that was the culprit. Still not doing even my body weight in rear barbel squats, but I am doing them ass to grass in a slow and controlled manner and seeing some small improvement in strength week to week. Pushing myself a bit more with split squats where maintaining balanced form is far less of an issue for myself.

  39. Nice solid points. Do you consider going 40 reps to 50 strenght? I love push ups (strict, full room, paused, close arms). Studies suggest if the muscle reach failure doesn’t matter how rep range is to a huge extent (I think bellow 30% rm matter). Thanks man!

  40. Sean what you say is so correct. Years ago I stop watching as much YouTube and reading mags as I got focus fatigue and confusion on what I should be doing. Watched heaps of vids, too much info, to many exercises and by the end I had no idea what to do or if what I was doing at the gym was right/ the best use of my time.
    So I got on a simple program and add weight as often as I can and I'm seeing incremental gains. Some guys had great physiques in the past without elaborate bullshit workouts. I train with clear mind and keep it simple! Just lift the fkn weight!.. With good form!

  41. It seems that very few people consider the possibility that gaining muscle as fast as possible may not ultimately be the best long term approach to bodybuilding…

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