Building muscle is up there with the most common exercise goals there are. People want to know the ins and outs of how to build muscle in general and the best tips and tricks to help get there. We’ve seen everything from the time it’ll take to the food you need to eat, and it’s all-important stuff.

However, one big issue about doing the homework about these topics is the amount of content that’s out there about them. Of course, everyone has something to say on the matter, but that doesn’t mean it’s all false either. Different things do work for different people, and everyone is different.

The problem with this is that you need to find out what’s going to work best for you. For that to take place, you need to have the answers to some of the bottom-line questions. So let’s talk through a few.


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

  1. How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?
  2. How Many Times A Week Should You Train?
  3. What’s The Best Workout Plan To Use To Build Muscle?
  4. Do You Have To Lift Heavy?
  5. What To Eat To Build Muscle?

1. How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?

Man checking out his muscles

The single most common question we see about how to build muscle is how long does it take, and sadly, there’s no real single answer, no matter what anyone tells you. Even with the best of muscle gaining tips, it’s almost like asking how quickly you can lose weight; it just doesn’t work like that. However, putting it into general terms, it’s reasonable to say it’s not a quick change, and it’ll take weeks, months, and even years. There’s no real constancy to it!

2. How Many Times A Week Should You Train?

Man using a bench press

Next up is how often you have to train. Specifically, how many times per week. This is another of those questions that’s a little up in the air, and it is different for everyone. However, there is a rough guideline to follow, unlike the previous question. Training 3-4 times per week is one of the best ways to go about it. Make sure you work every muscle group 1-2 times every week and give 48-hours between using the same muscle group again. That’s the bottom line.

3. What’s The Best Workout Plan To Use To Build Muscle?

Woman squatting a barbell

So now that you’re looking into the previous questions, it’s only natural to wonder what it is that you should be doing in your training. There are tonnes of ways to go about it, after all. The advice we’d give here is this. Try push pull legs. Change it up when you’re ready for a change or start to plateau. Try a different set style or change the dynamic of your training. See what you enjoy doing and what gives YOU the best results. There are a lot of set styles out there that you can choose from, after all. (Here are a few of them)

4. Do You Have To Lift Heavy?

Woman deadlifting in a gym

How heavy do you have to lift to build muscle is the next go-to question that we see cropping up, and it’s for different reasons too. Some people want to tone up and build muscle without becoming huge, and some people want to grow their muscles as much as possible. The two are not the same, and that’s crucial. This often leads to the question of how heavy you need to lift, and again, there’s variation. Heavy lifting is great for muscle building, as it’s a staple of hypertrophy. It’s not exactly a muscle-building tip; it’s just a fact. That much we know. Lifting lighter helps build muscle, too, though, and that’s something that most people don’t think about. Your muscles need variation in your training, and building up endurance and mass are both important for optimum results.

Take a look here for more info.

5. What To Eat To Build Muscle?

An example of tips on what to eat to build muscle

Last and by no means least is what you need to eat to build muscle. Diet and nutrition are always going to be a tough one to get to grips with. Many people jump into things like bulking, calorie maximising, high protein, low carb diets, etc., but there are a few staples you should know about. Generally speaking, you need carbs slightly before you train and slightly after. Ideally, 4-8 hours either side for the best results. Complex carbs too. Simple carbs are good just before your training too, though, for good performance. After your training, those carbs restore your muscle glycogen, and then it’s on to healthy fats and proteins to help build muscle and recover as well as possible. Finally, you need a slight calorie surplus in your diet to allow your body to use the extra calories to build new muscle mass. They’re the absolute essentials.

All of this information is brief, and that’s because they are all huge topics to talk about. For more information and more tips about how to build muscle, and answers to other questions you might have, take a look at our fundamentals of muscle building guide here.

Or for general tips, here’s a little info on strength training from the NHS


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.