How Fast Can Muscle Be Built?

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they put 15 or 20 pounds of muscle on in a month or six weeks. I’m referring to natural muscle-building. Of course dianabol will do that for you without even lifting a weight, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m sure in these cases these folks did put on that much weight, but it wasn’t muscle. Maybe some was, because even in the case of dianabol, most of that weight gain is water.

In the instant gratification society we live in, we’ve developed a now sort of mentality. There is no waiting. You want it, go online and get it. That’s great for ordering our supplements, or protein powder, but we can’t order our muscle that way.

You’ve seen ads in magazines for 20 pounds or rock hard muscle in a 12 weeks, or a supplement promises 5 pounds of muscle in a week, right? This is doable in the short-term with a load of creatine, or a ton of carbs, but it isn’t really muscle gain. Once again it’s water, or worse – fat.

A natural male with a good hormonal balance and supplementing correctly will be doing very well to gain 1/2 of pound muscle per week. A female might gain half that or about 1/2 pound of muscle every 2 weeks.

Over a full year of training, assuming the trainee is doing everything right – from training, to supplementation, to recovery, that’s 26 pounds of the solid muscle for men, and 13 pounds for women. That is a serious amount of muscle. Next time you’re at the butcher counter, take a look at what a pound of flank steak looks like. Then multiply that by 26, or 13 – impressive. Just maybe not as impressive as what a magazine might tell you.

That assumes that half-pound is gained week-in, week-out for the entire year. It usually doesn’t work that way though. Trainees may go a long time with no measurable gains and then wake up several pounds heavier seemingly overnight. It works that way for fat loss too.

I’d note that, under the right conditions, by that I mean someone who is untrained and exceptionally skinny, and probably a teenager, then it’s possible that much faster rates of muscle gain can be seen. These tend to be exceptions to the rule more than the norm, and since most of you reading this are not skinny 15 years old males with raging hormones, I don’t consider those exceptions to be of much value.

The average male gaining about 1/2 pound muscle per week, 2 pounds per month or about 24-26 pounds per year will likely only happen in the first year of training ,and things slow down after that. A female may be gaining about half that much, 1 pound per month of actual muscle tissue or 10-12 pounds per year. That is still pretty impressive. At this stage of the game, even if I do everything perfectly, I’d be thrilled with 12 pounds of muscle gain in a year.

Happy Lifting!

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