5 Methods For More Muscle In Less Time

WRITTEN BY Pratik Thakkar

Do you find yourself irritated waiting for a machine at the gym?

Or the sweaty bench used by the ‘gym bro’ pisses you off?

Or the thought of skipping a session sounds better than working out in a crowded gym?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the questions above, this piece might just be for you.

We all agonize over those busy gym hours that we are forced upon (not really). But that should not demotivate you from working out. Rather, planning the gym session in a better way should be the solution.

Hustle for the muscle, after all.

Let’s discuss ‘how’ in a good ol’ five-pointer way:

1. Wake up early

The most rhetoric way to put it. But many a time, you are forcing yourself to be in a crowded gym because you do not plan your schedule well. In the current times, gyms are more crowded in the evening hours compared to the mornings.

Reason being, everyone is oversleeping.

‘Early bird gets the worm’

This holds true.

Plan your day better. After all, for a majority of you folks, joining the gym was to have a better lifestyle.


2. Use ‘Antagonist Paired Sets’ (APS)

Most of you might have heard about drop sets, supersets, etc. Well, those are time-consuming.

Instead, use APS.

5 methods for more muscle in less time

APS is a technique where you do exercises that target different muscle groups altogether.

For example, you have 3 sets of bench press and 3 sets of barbell rows in your workout. You do set 1 on the bench and then set 1 of rows. Then set 2 of each and so on.

You take normal rest between the two exercises as opposed to ‘supersets’ fashion where you do not rest between sets. Training this way has even shown benefits over muscle and strength gains. [1]

Let’s say you have a chest and back session and it typically looks like this: Barbell rows, Lat pulldowns, Seated rows, Flat bench, Incline bench and Pec Flyes in sequence.

While incorporating APS, it would look something like this:

1A. Barbell Rows

1B. Flat Bench Press

2A. Lat Pulldowns

2B. Incline Bench Press

3A. Seated Rows

3B. Pec Flyes

You can do the same for your arms by doing triceps and bicep exercises back-to-back and for your leg days, workout on your quads and hammies back-to-back.

3. Be biased towards compound exercises

Volume is the driver of growth. But, this does not mean you engage in ‘beach body’ type exercises like bicep curls or hammer curls all the time if you are short on time.

Instead, give more emphasis to compound exercises as they will help you target more muscles within a comparatively shorter amount of time.

For example, if you are doing a chest, shoulder, and triceps workout, it would typically have 3-5 variations of each. In most cases, it is not needed as you are already engaging your shoulder and triceps in your chest work.

A typical chest, shoulder, triceps workout would look like:

  • Flat bench
  • Incline bench
  • Pec Dec
  • Overhead press
  • Lateral raises
  • Front Raises
  • Tricep pushdowns
  • Reverse tricep pushdowns
  • Rope Pushdown

Instead of a 3-3-3 pattern, I often recommend a 2-2-2 or a 2-2-1 pattern like:

  • Flat Bench
  • Incline Bench
  • Overhead Press
  • Lateral Raises
  • Incline Skullcrushers

More is not always better as it may affect your long-term performance and recovery as well.

Emphasize on quality over quantity and more on compounds. In most cases, this will make you stronger and actually help you put on MORE muscle in the long term.

5 methods for more muscle in less time

4. Reduce rest intervals gradually

If you are a hardcore weight training fan like I am, you might have noticed that majority of our workout time is resting between sets than lifting weights.

That is the way strength training is.

To save time, you can gradually reduce the rest period between sets. But do not do it drastically or instantly that it ends up reducing your work capacity. It will defeat the purpose.

A good guideline would be to rest for a minute between compounds and for isolation/accessory work, 0 to 30 seconds should do it.

But again, you need to do it gradually. Let’s say you have a habit of resting 3 minutes between your compounds, start with dropping it by 30 seconds and make it 2:30 minutes.

Feel good and still performing your best, drop it to 2 minutes.

Keep doing this until you do not need more than a minute between your compounds. It may be a logistical hassle in the beginning as you will be tracking your rest periods but in the long-term, it will help you get in and out of the gym quickly without compromising your workout.

5. Skip the post-workout stretching session

Surprised to see it here, aren’t you?

I have personally seen people being in the gym 15 to 30 minutes post workouts doing static stretches, holding poses for long durations, foam rolling and whatnot.

The idea behind stretching is that it helps reduce stiffness or to stretch fascia or to get the muscle resting length back to normal post-exercise.

It is also claimed that stretching post workout reduces the risk of injury by over 20%.

Guess what? Stretching does none.

There is data that suggests static stretching (post-workout) may decrease performance and does not increase strength or muscle gains. [2][3][4]

Looking at the data, it is a better idea to skip it than dedicating 15 minutes of your time to the ‘post-workout’ stretching.

5 methods for more muscle in less time


As you have been an awesome person to read this piece until this point, I am throwing a bonus workout plan which you can start following to apply these pointers.

It is an Upper/Lower Split which I recommend most of my busy clients to hit 2-3 times per week for maximum hypertrophy (4 to 6 workout sessions per week).

Start with a 10-min treadmill walk and do 1-2 light sets of 1A and 1B to get your muscles warmed up.

Upper Body:

1A. Seated Rows

1B. Flat bench press

2A. Lat pulldowns

2B. Incline bench press/Overhead press

3A. Face pulls/Rear delt raises

3B. Lateral raises

4A. Tricep pushdowns

4B. Bicep curls

3 sets of 8-10 reps on 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B with a rest period of 1-1.5 minutes between sets.

2 sets of 12-15 reps on 3A, 3B, 4A, and 4B with a rest period of 0.5-1 minute between sets.

Lower Body:

1A. Squats – any kind

1B. Romanian Deadlifts

2A. Leg press

2B. Leg curls

3. Glute kickbacks/Bulgarian split squats

4A. Seated calf raises

4B. Standing calf raises

5. Add a couple of sets (12-15 reps) of weighted ab work if time permits (optional)

3 sets of 8-10 reps on 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B with a rest period of 1-1.5 minutes between sets.

2 sets of 12-15 reps on 3, 4A, and 4B with a rest period of 0.5-1 minute between sets.

You can totally just pick your duffel and move out of the gym as soon as you complete the last rep of your last exercise.


  1. Wake up early and hit the gym in the morning hours.
  2. Use Antagonist Paired Sets (APS)
  3. Have more compound exercises in your regime over beach body work
  4. Reduce the rest period between sets gradually
  5. Skip the post-workout stretching session

BONUS TIP: Follow the given workout plan

Now that you have these smart tricks up your sleeve, I am pretty sure that you will be utilizing your workout time in a more efficient way and making more gains in lesser time.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20733520
  2. http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2015/04000/Influence_of_Strength_and_Flexibility_Training,.31.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11773330
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/936827
Author: Pratik Thakkar
Pratik Thakkar is the co-founder of GetSetGo Fitness. He is known to apply evidence-based practices to help his online coaching clients build strong and lean physiques.
You can find Pratik Thakkar at http://getsetgo.fitness/

Get your hands on my cheat sheet for setting up training programs that took a 132lbs. skinny weakling from not being able to bench the bar to deadlifting 3x his own body weight and winning silver at the nationals.



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