High Performance Vegan Letters

How To Build Muscle in Under 45 Minutes Every Workout

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

How To Build Muscle in Under 45 Minutes Every Workout

January 23rd, 2024

I've been focused on muscle-building for nearly 13 years.

I've spent hundreds of hours and read dozens of books on the art and science of hypertrophy (muscle-building).

Science because there IS a step-by-step process.

Art because I see building an aesthetic physique as artistic expression.

For context, I grew up as a small, skinny kid.

I was the second shortest in my class and one of the scrawniest kids in my school.

I was the kind of skinny that you could see my ribcage most of the time.

Until I hit 18.

I read a classic book on bodybuilding called 'The Book of Muscle' by Men's Health.

Inside the book, I was exposed to many strategies, tools, and a step-by-step roadmap to build muscle.

I was addicted.

So, I started my training journey.

I started working out consistently at the local Planet Fitness gym near my home.

At the time, I worked as a restaurant server - aiming to become a manager by working six days a week for 60+ weeks.

To hit my career goals, I had to be in the gym by 8 am, giving me 90 minutes to work out before opening the restaurant at 9:45 am.

I also printed out the muscle-building training program (24-week program) from the Book of Muscle by photocopying the pages from my mother's printer.

Excited for my workout, I hit the gym with enthusiasm each week.

Fast forward a few months later, I was dismayed at the results I was seeing.

I had gained weight but not in the areas that I wanted.

I was bulky, but mainly in my belly.

I continued to train, but secretly, I felt like a failure and used the gym to release work and life stress.

Years later, I realized my mistake when I first started training.

I had tried to model an elite bodybuilder's training plan without first developing my physique first.

I also had ZERO idea what I was doing with my nutrition to build muscle.

So, with the context above, here's how to build muscle in under 45 minutes every workout:

#1 Focus on getting enough training volume per muscle group each week

When I first started training and working out, I had no idea what volume was.

Volume is just a fancy way of saying do enough work.

Volume = total amount of work.

If you do enough work, you'll get the right results.

If you don't - you won't see the results you want.

We need to give our bodies a reason to change.

Lifting heavy weights (progressive overload) and doing it enough times is the reason why your body will build muscle.

Expert Tip: you can lift weights all day, but if you aren't challenging yourself and leaving 1-2 reps in your tank, you probably aren't training hard enough.

There's nothing worse than training for six months only to realize that you weren't training hard enough.

90% of people who go to the gym year after year are precisely like this.

It's hard to get out once you get into your comfort zone.

Going to build muscle requires you to PUSH yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Most people spend 60, 90, or 2 hours in the gym because they are NOT training hard enough.

If you lift heavy weights and train hard for 45 minutes, I guarantee you that you won't be able to work out for 90 minutes, AND you'll see better results from a 45-minute hard workout vs. 90 minutes of messing around.

When you go to lift, train your body to build muscle.

#2 Eat in a caloric surplus to gain muscle and weight

Building muscle quickly per workout also requires eating more.

For skinny humans like I used to be - this is even more important.

Again, your body does NOT want to change by default.

We need to give it a reason to change.

Lifting heavy weights + doing enough work + eating more food = muscle-building success formula.

If your goal is to build muscle and strength, you must fuel your way to this goal.

Undereating or not eating enough will only hinder your journey.

As a rule, always start with your maintenance calories (or the food you need to eat to maintain your current body weight).

Once there, focus on adding 250-500 k/cal to your daily intake until you gain weight and ideally see positive body composition.

Progress photos, body measurements, and tracking your body weight will all be useful tools that you can use to tackle your muscle-building process, but eating more food will ensure every workout you do is one step closer to a pound of muscle built.

#3 Use compound movements first, then secondary exercises

When it comes to exercises, do the big lifts first.


Think of your big compound movements.

Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows.

All of these will give you the biggest ROI for the time you invest.

Over the years, I've been amazed at what lengths people will go to to avoid doing the WORK in their workouts.

Excessive stretching.

Small muscle group exercises.

Cardio frenzies.

Group fitness classes.

Yet, ALL of these people asked me how to build muscle.

They REALLY wanted to build muscle.

The ego is a funky creature.

It will do everything it can to keep you in your comfort zone and inside of what you know.

Instinctively, humans know what we need to do.

Lift heavy shit. Put it down. Repeat. Eat more. Do it again. See the results over the long term.

It's not rocket science.

So, focus on the big muscle groups.

Lift heavy.

And repeat.

One simple way to make sure you're building muscle every workout under 45 minutes is to use my 2-muscle-building rules:

  1. Lift use big muscle groups (refer to my point above)
  2. Leave 1-2 reps in your tank or lift to 80-90% intensity with each rep

Ideally choose 4-6 main exercises per workout and train 3-4x a week (I prefer 4x times since it lets me hit my upper body 2x and lower body 2x).

You do NOT need to workout for 60-90 minutes to get great results.

You need to workout correctly to get great results.

#4 Have a long-term time horizon

The longer your time horizon, the higher your chances of success.

Time horizon is how long you see forward.

The further forward you can project, the higher your success rate.

Building muscle takes time.

It won't happen overnight.

It will take months and years of work to craft a reasonable amount of muscle.

Building muscle happens much more slowly compared to dropping body fat.

This requires patience on your end.

Because the longer your time horizon, the higher the reward at the end.

Have faith in the process of muscle building.

Follow the principles here and focus on nailing each one down until you feel confident.

Then move on to the next one.

The best part about muscle building is that you change your body and get stronger, but about WHO you become.

Stepping up my workouts has changed my life.

What can it do for you? :)

- Gabriel

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83 Alta Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10705

High Performance Vegan Letters

by Gabriel Zhanay

Join the top 1% of plant-based founders, leaders, and creators. Every week, you'll receive practical advice on how to build muscle, get lean, and build a high-performance body that fuels your busy plant-based lifestyle.

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