A muscular bodybuilder with dreadlocks flexes his bicep while looking at it admiringly.
Torre Washington

How to build muscle: Torre's 3 rules for muscle-building beginners

Torre Washington

When you want to know how to build muscle fast, ask a natural bodybuilding champion.

Torre Washington is a IFBB pro with over 10 years of competition under his belt. And he did it all on a vegan diet!

Before we jump into Torre’s tips for newcomers, let’s take a quick look at the basics of building muscle mass. During exercise, your muscles are put under stress. When you rest up after your session, your body starts to repair the affected tissue. The result? Hypertrophy (AKA muscle growth).

Sounds simple, right? But if you want to get bigger, you need to do more than just lift until you’re sore and exhausted. But where to start?

We asked Torre the must-know rules every person starting a muscle-building program needs to know, including what to include in your muscle-building diet, so that you know where to focus your energy.

Let’s go get those gains!

An Instagram photo of a man standing in a hotel room in his underpants, flexing his biceps and smiling.

If this man’s got tips, we’re listening.

Torre’s top 3 rules for muscle-building beginners

1. Focus on compound movements
While many different types of exercise can contribute to muscle growth, the most efficient is a program that uses plenty of compound exercises.

Because compound exercises are multiple joint movements, they allow you to work different muscle groups all at once. For example, if you're doing a weighted squat, you're engaging your torso, core, shoulders, legs, glutes and stabilizer muscles to balance that weight when lowering down and coming back up. That compound movement increases your testosterone, your growth factor, so it allows the body to really build up power, strength and adaptation to everything else that you're going to do.

That doesn’t mean isolation work is useless – in my Centr workouts you’ll find both compound and isolation movements to make those smaller muscles pop. But any muscle-building program worth your time is going to focus on those big compound moves.

2. Get your nutrition in check
When I say nutrition, I mean increasing your calorie intake and doing it the right way. Calories need to be increased because you need a surplus to build muscle. If you’re looking to max your muscle growth on an intense, rigorous training program like Centr Power, you’ll need to get pretty serious about eating.

You probably know that protein is important. But don’t make the mistake of trying to eat it all at once. Space it throughout the day, using several meals with about 25–35g of protein in each to make sure your muscles are properly fed.

That doesn't have to mean cramming extra chicken into your day. After all, I'm living proof of the muscles you can gain on a plant-based diet. One of my favorite muscle-building meals on Centr is the Cajun Lentil Burger, it’s got 24 grams of protein and no animal products at all. Just the way I like it.

A creamy smoothie with a peanut butter swirl, surrounded by chopped banana and protein powder.

A protein-packed Banana Peanut Butter Super Smoothie is just what growing muscles need.

You may find protein powder helps you meet your needs more efficiently. With a Centr muscle-building meal plan, all of this is managed each day to ensure optimum nutrition supports your training – right down to the protein-rich snacks. Give the protein-packed Banana Peanut Butter Super Smoothie a try instead of a store-bought shake.

Aside from protein powder, be cautious about taking muscle-building supplements. They aren’t all bad, but in my experience beginners tend to be focused far too much on pills and powders than on the stuff that really matters, like compound movements and quality nutrition.

There’s one more big factor that beginners often neglect as part of their muscle-building program...

3. Make sure you get enough rest
If you want to look like me or Chris Hemsworth, you have to be determined to train right. Rest is such an important part of building muscle. People tend to forget rest and recovery because they think they'd have to go hard all the time, but the body needs to repair the muscle that you break down every time you train.

It's a process, and it requires patience and perseverance. If you're keeping up with training five to six days a week, you need to make sure you’re getting two types of rest:

If you like to train most days, the best way to ensure your muscles have enough time to recover is to simply switch your target body parts in each of your daily workouts. If you’re training with Centr, we take care of the scheduling for you, so you can focus on getting those gains.

Remember that if you've never trained before, you're actually at an advantage. This is because your body's going to respond very quickly to a new way of moving. Don’t sabotage yourself by skimping on the rest!

There’s a lot more to the science of building muscle. Access the experts in training, nutrition and mindset – including the ultimate program for strength and size, Centr Power – with your free trial at Centr.com.

Torre Washington

Vegan bodybuilder Torre Washington is a championship-winning IFBB Pro and NASM Certified Coach in physique. Having followed his dream of sculpting a body like the comic book superheroes he grew up idolizing, Torre is our resident muscle-building expert, offering tutorials, full-gym workouts and at-home alternatives to ensure you don’t miss a muscle.

Torre Washington

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