Building your first 10 pounds (5kg) of lean muscle mass is a huge and highly noticeable achievement. But doing it in the shortest timeframe possible requires intense training and careful diet planning. This post explains how to gain 10lbs of muscle fast.
Beginners can gain 10lbs of lean muscle in as little as 1-3 months. It is recommended to perform heavy compound lifting and increase weight every week. It is also important to go on a bulk by eating a 15-20% daily calorie surplus and maintaining a high protein intake.
The workout and tips shared in this post are based on what worked for me as an ex-skinny guy, and the lessons I learned from my personal bulking experience.
- Focus on heavy compound lifting with progressive overload.
- Best exercises include; bench press, shoulder press, pull-downs, squats, and deadlifts.
- It is unnecessary and usually counterproductive to work out every day.
- Go on a bulk and eat enough protein to fuel muscle growth.
- Gaining 10lbs of lean mass usually takes around 6 months at a normal rate of weight gain.
- But optimizing your training and nutrition can see beginners get results in 1-3 months.
3-Day Workout Plan To Gain 10lbs Of Muscle Fast
Complete 3 workouts per week (see below) and be sure to leave 24-48 hours of rest between training days.
Each workout focuses on 5 core compound exercises to build full-body muscle fast.
After you’ve completed these 5 core movements, move on to the specified isolation exercises (different on each day) to finish key mirror muscles like the chest, shoulders, arms, and legs.
Additionally, the first isolation finisher exercise is always a superset (two movements completed back to back). These are denoted by a “*”. Supersets are a great way to fatigue the target muscles and get a really good pump at the end of the workout.
The second isolation finisher targets the abs.
Rest for 1-2 minutes between sets.
Core Compound Exercises (Mon, Wed, Fri):
|Exercise||Sets||Reps||Weight (% 1RM)|
|Flat dumbbell bench press||4||8||80%|
|Dumbbell shoulder press||4||8||80%|
|Traditional barbell deadlift||2||6||85%|
|Isolation finisher exercise 1||3||8||70%|
|Isolation finisher exercise 2||3||12||70%|
Isolation Finisher Exercises (Mon):
|Bicep curl & tricep extension*||3||8||70%|
* Complete 8 reps of bicep curls and move directly onto 8 reps of tricep extensions before resting to complete a superset.
Isolation Finisher Exercises (Wed):
|Dumbbell lateral raise & chest fly*||3||8||70%|
|Dumbbell-weighted knee raise||3||12||70%|
* Complete 8 reps of lateral raise and move directly onto 8 reps of chest flyes before resting to complete a superset.
Isolation Finisher Exercises (Fri):
|Quad extension and hamstring curl*||3||8||70% 1RM|
|Dumbbell-weighted sit-ups||3||12||70% 1RM|
* Complete 8 reps of quad extensions and move directly onto 8 reps of ham curls before resting to complete a superset.
Why It’s Effective:
Training the entire body (including the legs) is the best way to build a balanced physique and gain 10 pounds of muscle fast.
Each muscle group is worked with 10-20 sets per week using an 8-12 rep range.
As long as you lift sufficiently heavy weights (over 70% of your 1RM), you’ll complete a good amount of volume for maximal hypertrophy (growth).
Combined with progressive overload and a good nutrition practices (see below list), you’ll gain 10lbs of muscle in the shortest time possible.
If you don’t have a gym membership, you can also replicate the workouts at home here.
Best Training And Nutrition Tips To Gain 10lbs Of Muscle Fast
Generally speaking, it’s not hard to put on 10lbs of lean mass. But doing it fast is a completely different ballgame since muscle growth is a naturally slow process.
Follow these tips for the best results:
1) Lift As Heavy As Possible
Lifting heavy weights is essential for skinny guys to put on 10lbs of lean mass as fast as possible. Choose a weight that is at least 70% of your 1-rep max (1RM) on any given exercise. The appropriate weight varies depending on the rep range. But generally speaking, lower reps mean you should lift heavier weights and vice versa.
2) Keep Lifting Increasingly Heavier Weights
Heavy lifting only gets you so far. And using the same weight every week will unlikely build you 10lbs of muscle no matter how long you train for.
Indeed, not following a good progression plan is a common reason why people stay skinny despite working out.
That’s because your muscles adapt and get stronger the more they are worked.
Solution- apply progressive overload by adding 5% to each lift (10% to deadlift) when you feel physically able to do so. This keeps your muscles constantly challenged and growing.
Most beginners are able to overload a few times a week if they’re also eating sufficient protein and calories.
3) Maintain Good Form For Maximal Muscle Gains
Progressive overloading is great for muscle growth. But you shouldn’t fall for the common mistake of sacrificing lifting form for heavy weights.
What constitutes good form?
Each rep should be completed with a full range of motion (ROM). This means, for example, you should reach full depth on a barbell squat rather than doing “half-reps”.
It’s also a good idea to control your lifting tempo rather than using body momentum to help you swing a weight up. Each rep should ideally last ~2 seconds (up and down).
4) Ensure 24-48 Hours Of Rest Between Workouts
This is essential if you want to gain 10lbs of muscle in a short timeframe such as 1-3 months!
Training only supplies the hypertrophy stimulus. It’s during rest that the muscle repair process actually occurs and they start growing.
Aim for 3-4 workouts per day as a beginner and avoid working out every day if you want to make the fastest gains.
Intense workouts on a daily basis are a one-way ticket to overtraining and stunted progress.
5) Use The 75:25 Rule For Compound Lifts
Compound lifts work multiple muscle groups in one fell movement. This makes them the bread and butter for skinny people looking to quickly pack on mass.
They are the opposite of isolation lifts which target specific (often smaller) muscles.
I recommend following the 75:25 rule:
75% of the exercises in your program should be compound-type lifts whilst the remaining 25% can be isolation-type lifts.
6) Increase Calories To Bulk Up
Bulking is essential for muscle growth. You need to eat more calories than you burn (caloric surplus) to fuel the hypertrophy process.
I recommend dirty bulking for skinny guys to gain 10lbs of muscle in 1-3 months. A dirty bulk requires you to eat ~15-20% daily surplus calories.
To do this, simply determine your maintenance calories using a calculator like this one, and then add 15-20%.
If you’re a skinny-fat guy, you may want to consider cutting first to shed your body fat to baseline levels before going on a bulk to gain 10lbs of lean mass.
7) Include More Protein In Your Diet
Protein is also essential for gaining muscle. It’s the macronutrient used by your body to repair and build new muscle fibers after a heavy workout.
Most experts agree you should eat a minimum of 1lb of protein per lb of body weight every day for optimal muscle growth. In my experience, this is an effective recommendation. It’s unnecessary (and expensive) for a beginner to eat more than this.
If you need meal-planning ideas, you can check out my other post on how I get 140g of protein every day.
8) Utilize Calorie-Dense Foods To Reach Nutrition Targets
These are ingredients that have a high-calorie content for a low volume. Examples include nuts, fatty meats, vegetable oils, and sugary foods.
They are a great way to reach your daily calorie targets with minimal bloating (a common issue for naturally skinny people and beginners who often have a low appetite).
You can even blend different foods into an easy-to-drink smoothie. Liquid calories are much easier to consume than solid meals.
For smoothie ideas, you can check out my other article for a list of calorie-dense shakes that you can make at home.
9) Increase Meal Frequency
Spreading your total calorie target over multiple meals throughout the day is another simple but effective way to reduce bloating.
You don’t have to be eating 6 meals a day. I aim to get just 4 meals and it works.
Find a meal frequency that works with your daily schedule.
How Long It Usually Takes To Gain 10lbs Of Muscle
The average beginner usually takes around 6 months to gain 10lbs of lean mass. But this is based on a normal rate of weight gain.
It is possible to put on 10lbs of muscle faster, say in 1-3 months, by following a more aggressive bulking and training program (such as the one detailed in this post).
To ensure success, however, you should track your weekly progress.
This allows you to clearly establish whether or not your bulk is working. And if it isn’t working, then you can identify the reasons why ASAP.
You can go to my other post for the telltale signs of muscle growth.
Can You Do It Faster?
Depending on how aggressively you bulk, how effectively you train, and your genetic potential, you can potentially gain up to 10lbs of muscle in just 1-3 months.
This is for high-outlying beginners though.
Realistically, most beginners take around 6 months to gain 10lbs of lean muscle (accounting for sub-optimal gains as a result of making common newbie mistakes).
For more details, you can go to my other post for a typical timeline of how long it takes a beginner to get muscular.
It’s entirely possible for a beginner to gain 10lbs of muscle in as short as a 1-3 month period.
Doing so requires heavy compound weight training, a good overloading program, and a bulking diet.
A dirty bulk is recommended to build muscle fast. Aim for a 15-20% calorie surplus and ensure 1g of protein is eaten every day per pound of body weight.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!