Of course you can. If you wait for circumstances to be perfect you’ll be waiting forever. But things don’t need to be perfect in order to make progress. If you start today—like right now—it might take you ten months instead of two to gain twenty pounds, but you’ll still get there.
The tricky thing is that you need to know the most important stuff so that you can cut the fluff.
If you can’t make it to the gym three times per week.
- Do full body workouts. That way you’ll stimulate all of your muscles each week even if you only get one workout in.
- Do more sets and reps. Doing the right amount of sets each week (lifting volume) is more important than doing the right amount of sets and reps each workout (lifting frequency). Doing fewer workouts? Do a couple more sets of each exercise.
- Go closer to failure. Lifting to failure requires dramatically more recovery time without dramatically increasing the amount of muscle growth, so you’ll usually build more muscle by avoiding failure and training more often. But if you won’t be training again for a while anyway… may as well go a little harder.
- Only bulk when your muscles have been stimulated. Go back to eating a maintenance diet if you haven’t been lifting in four days or so. By that point the insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells will be back to normal, and they won’t be grabbing all those surplus calories and using them to build muscle. (Same thing if you’re cutting. You don’t want to be losing weight if you aren’t lifting heavy, otherwise you may lose some muscle.)
Then, when your schedule eases up, transition back into a more optimal routine where you’re lifting more regularly. Hopefully by then you’ll be a dozen pounds burlier.
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