How to Build Stronger Muscles in Three Days (Yes, Actually)

Dumbbell front squat
James Michelefelder

If you’re looking to get huge in a hurry, well, we’re still working on that one. But if you want stronger leg muscles fast, there’s a recipe for that: Sports scientists at the State University of California in Fullerton found that just three short resistance-training sessions were enough to increase the strength of men’s quadriceps muscles—and not just immediately following their three-day training stint but for two weeks later.

In the study, 31 healthy but otherwise untrained men were assigned to one of two training groups or a control group. Those who did resistance training with free weights saw the aforementioned benefit.

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“I was surprised they were able to retain their strength for so long,” says lead study author Pablo Costa, Ph.D. “I believe it was due to neural adaptations” that occurred during the training sessions.

Your quads are key for any number of daily activities (see: climbing stairs, sprinting for your train, and, of course, running a mean mile). Plus, vanity points: Strong quads make you look extra-cut.

Man using dumbbells as part of a strength training exercise.

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To give yours a boost, stack three days of resistance training into your workouts this week, and incorporate the following moves:

  • dumbbell squats
  • barbell squats
  • lying leg curls
  • deadlifts
  • leg press
  • lunges

Facing a packed schedule? Here’s an important takeaway, says Costa: “Even if you don’t have a lot of time to train, a quick workout—even once every two weeks—may be sufficient to maintain your strength.”

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