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5 Minutes a Day to Bigger Muscles

Updated on September 1, 2017
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A physical therapist for 10 years. Applying the science of muscle physiology to the art of exercise.

Does five minutes a day really have any effect for muscle growth?

Yes! It does not depend on body type or metabolism or any other excuse that might sound appropriate here. If done correctly, consistently and efficiently, five minutes of work can result in significant growth for one particular muscle group.

I ran out of time to hit the gym. Even the home gym didn't get the respect it should have. I just didn't have the time in the day.

I ran out of time to hit the gym. Even the home gym didn't get the respect it should have. I just didn't have the time in the day. With two kids wearing me out each day and keeping me up every night, exercise was the last thing on my mind when I finally got a few minutes down time but it was still on my mind.

I felt guilty not exercising. I am physical therapist, I make people exercise for my profession but I don't have time for myself. I was still active enough to keep my heart strong but I didn't quite have the body I had when my wife and I started dating. Of course that was 15 years ago and I had a lot more time back then. Still, I thought there must be a way to get a little more buff without too much time constraint.

In college I had about twenty more pounds of muscle than I did when I started this experiment in my middle ages. I remember spending one or two hours in the gym four or five days a week. That wasn't going to happen now. I have a full time job and two full of energy kids. I barely have five minutes. What could I possibly do with five minutes. I decided to find out. I found out that with that simple five minutes I could increase my arm muscles by more than half and inch in less than one month with just a few simple techniques. Imagine what I could do if I kept on going.

Before I tell you what I did do, let me tell you a few things that I didn't. These are all thing that I had been told by the popular media that I had to do to build muscle. This does not necessarily agree with the science of muscle growth but these are the factors that I used fifteen years ago when I spent 1-2 hours a day in the gym and got decent results. This was just not necessary.

What not to do.

1. Don't supplement protein

2. Don't stick to 3/10

3. Don't go over the five minutes

4. Don't let your muscles rest a day

I'm not saying that what has been accepted as norm for decades is wrong. It probably does have good effect for many people who have the time. im just saying it's not necessary for the five minute warriors to get the same results.

I did not supplement protein. Excess protein intake is converted to energy (which if not used immediately is then stored as fat) and it is very hard on your kidneys and liver to process excessive proteins.

I'm a vegan. I get my protein from broccoli, bean and rice and pretty much all food that are grow naturally. There is a lot of science behind protein synthesis but the simple fact is you don't need to eat a burger or a protein shake to have enough amino acids to build muscle proteins.

I did not do three sets of 10. That is old and outdated and still accepted as science. The real reason I deviated from this tried but not so true format was I simply did not have time. Motivation was another factor. Three sets just seems like a lot where as two is just not that bad.

I did not let my muscle group rest for a day or two. In a rehabilitation facility patients attend therapy, a.k.a. exercise, twice every single day. I've been searching the scientific research for over a decade and have yet to find a study that shows significant benefits from letting muscles rest for a day before exercising then again. Now before I tell you exactly what I did, I want to emphasize the three factors that I found were the most important to success.


What I did do. I did keep my exercise routine to five minutes and sometimes even less. Any more than five minutes and I knew I would find excuses every once in a while to "take a day off." One of the most important factors of this experiment was consistency. I just could not afford to take a day off if I expected to see results. That brings me to the next key to success.

I did exercise every single day. For 28 days straight I took up to five minutes to work one specific muscle group. I will explain later how I have added more muscle groups and still maintain the five-minute framework. Of course the gains won't be quite as significant at that point but if continue every single day, alternating focus on specific muscle groups, there enough focus to grow one group at a time and maintain the others within five minutes.

Lastly but probably most important I did progress my program every day. A really good way to stay the same size and the same strength is to do the same thing. In order to increase strength and build muscle, I needed to add a little bit every day. I didn't add too much, just enough so that it was more than the previous day.

What to do

1. Keep it to five minutes

2. Every single day

3. Progress

So here's a blueprint of what I did and what you can do as well. I chose one muscle group to focus on. The biceps brachii was an obvious choice for objective measures, It's easy to wrap a take measure around an arm and measure growth. Every day around the same time, between 9 and 10 PM, I spent five minutes or less doing bicep curls with a dumbbell.

Research has shown that 60 to 80% of your maximum strength is required to qualify as strength training. I started with a weight that was probably closer to my 60%. I felt it was important to start out with success and know that I could increase the weight and repetitions regularly. I used an adjustable weight dumbbell and performed one set of 10 repetitions in each arm followed by a second set of 8 repetitions in each arm.

The next night I did exactly the same thing with one more repetition each set. For the first set I performed 11 repetitions and in the second set I performed 9. I continue to progress the program in this way until I had reached 15 repetitions in the first set and 13 in the second set. Traditionally the thought is that if you can perform more than 10 repetitions, the weight should be increased. I found, however, that at 10 repetitions I was not ready for a weight increase and my body mechanics would breakdown. I had to cheat to complete the exercise by compensating with other muscle groups. If I waited until I was able to perform 15 repetitions with a given weight and then increase the weight, I found I could perform about eight repetitions without compromising form. It's important to feel the exercise working the muscle group that it is intended for.

I started the experiment with 32.5 pounds on the dumbbell and by the end of the experiment was using 45 pounds. I did not take measurements during the experiment, only at the end. After 28 days measuring exactly the same position, three separate measurements, all resulting in the same measurement, I had gained 5/8 of an inch in circumference around my right arm bicep.

I have since moved on to other body parts and have seen the same results as I did with the biceps muscle. In order to maintain the strength and size that I gained for the biceps I include that in with my five minute workout. Instead of focusing on the biceps muscle, that now only appears in my work out three days a week for maintenance. This way I can focus on a new body part for strengthening, maintain the size and strength on the biceps, and still have room to add another body part once I have finished focus on the current body part that I am working to progress.

This method is certainly not going to win any bodybuilding championships.this is only a minimalist attempt to achieve the most efficient results. It goes against what a lot of traditional fitness and strength training beliefs have taught but the results speak for themselves. I don't regret the hours I spent in the gym when I was young, it was a great social time for me. I am just glad that I can share a discovery that no one has to spend that amount of time and we can all achieve the same results in just 5 minutes.


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