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To build as much muscle mass as quickly as possible, it is important to follow proven strategies that have stood the test of time. Every beginning or intermediate bodybuilder who is serious about packing on muscle needs to consistently follow these three basic rules for building muscle.

Focus on Compound Exercises and Moderate Weights

Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said that to look like a bodybuilder, one must train like a bodybuilder. Nobody ever maximized their muscle gains by lifting light weights and doing tons of cardio every day.

Instead, the focus should be on lifting moderately heavy weights on basic compound lifts that utilize large amounts of muscle mass. Basic bodybuilding exercises like squats, leg presses, bench presses, shoulder presses, pulldowns and rows should make up the foundation of every mass-building program and should be included in every workout.

Eat Plenty of High-Quality Protein, Carbs and Fats

Eating adequate amounts of all micronutrients – proteins, carbs and fats – is necessary to fuel intense bodybuilding workouts and gain as much muscle as possible. While popular trends might recommend limiting either carbs or fats, the vast majority of muscular physiques over the past 100 years were built with a solid balance of macronutrients and a lot of calories.

Shoot for one gram of protein, two to three grams of carbs and up to one half gram of fat per pound of bodyweight. This would give a 200-pound bodybuilder a range of about 3,300-4,100 calories per day.

Get As Much Sleep As Possible

Professional strongman and bodybuilder Stan Efferding was known to sleep up to 11 hours during his competitive days. He advises that the standard 8-hour recommendation given by many physicians and exercise experts should be viewed as the bare minimum amount of sleep one should get when training to maximize muscle and strength gains. So getting at least eight hours in one shot is a good baseline, but adding in one or more naps throughout the day is ideal.

Beginners often ask how to gain muscle fast, and today there are a lot of trends that only lead to confusion, frustration, and lack of growth. These three simple rules of weight gain have built just about every massive physique the bodybuilding scene has produced. When combined with consistency and hard effort, bodybuilding gains are sure to follow.