How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?

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Are you starting off your muscle building journey and wondering how much muscle you’ll be able to put on?

Or are you somewhere along the line and you’re wondering if you’ve put on a decent amount of muscle?

In this video, I’m gonna tell you how long it takes to build muscle, what rate you can build it at, and what’s realistic for you.

And at the end, I’m gonna tell you about the most important things you need to do in order to maximize your muscle building potential.

Hi, it’s Ivana, helping you get fit healthy and strong at any age. If that sounds good, please consider subscribing to my channel.

What Affects Your Ability To Build Muscle?

Now everybody puts on muscle at different rates and everybody has a different muscle building capacity.

What affects your ability to put on muscle?

Well, I’m gonna talk about the things that are not changeable first. So the things that you need to be aware of that are affecting your muscle building potential, but there’s nothing really you can do about them.

Genetics And Your Ability To Put On Muscle

And the first of those things is genetics and yes, some people are more blessed with muscle building potential than others. This comes down to what you got from your parents. Not a lot we can do here. Some people have more type two fibers, which are the fast twitch muscles that respond better to muscle building. If you naturally have a higher percentage of type two fibers, then you’ll have a greater potential for muscle growth.

Your Body Structure

You also need to think about your body structure. It depends on how tall you are, how long your limbs are.

Limb length is a big one in terms of that, because someone who has very long limbs is never gonna get those really big bulging muscle bellies. If you have shorter limbs, it’s just easier to get that rounded effect. And you’re putting that muscle on a different size of skeleton. So there’s only so much that certain people can put on.

Gender And How You Build Muscle

The next thing is gender. Men definitely have a significantly greater ability to put on muscle.

Men have about 15 to 20 times the amount of testosterone or circulating testosterone in their bodies. And that’s the primary muscle building hormone. And there’s a clear dose response relationship between testosterone levels and muscle strength and muscle mass.

Men are also generally larger. Even a man. Who’s the same height as me. So I’m five 10, which is fairly tall for a woman. A guy who will be the same height as me is likely to have a larger frame thicker bones and is able to put on more muscle onto that frame.

Training Age

That means how long you’ve been consistently training with weights.

Newbie Gains

There is something that we call newbie gains. That means that when you’re a complete beginner to weight training, you’re gonna see a more drastic improvement in your muscle mass, also in your strength. But right now we’re talking more about the muscle mass side.

Building Muscle Naturally

Remember that I’m talking about how much muscle you can put on naturally. So not anyone assisted by additional testosterone or growth hormone or anything like that.

Rate Of Muscle Building

As a general guideline in the first year of training, let’s say for a relatively young male, around 30 years old, he can conceivably put on 20 to 25 pounds of muscle.

Now this is quite a lot and it can make a big difference for some people’s frames. But that’s the first year. In the second year, he might only be able to put on an additional 10 pounds. Then by the third year, he might have dropped down to only about five pounds. Now there’s a lot of variation, but for most people putting on 30 pounds of solid muscle is pretty fantastic.

Now, a woman in her first year of training likely won’t see that kind of growth, but maybe 10 pounds in the first year is quite a good result after that is gonna drop down as well, maybe five pounds. Perhaps after that two and a half pounds a year.

Some people have reached their potential after about three or four years of solid, consistent training and proper eating. I’m gonna go into some of those important training factors towards the end.

Height And Ability To Build Muscle

There’s gonna be a difference between someone who’s six feet tall compared to someone who’s five feet tall. Obviously you can put a lot more muscle on a six foot frame than you can on a five foot frame. So keep in mind your body type in general, your height. All of that is gonna affect how much muscle you can put on.

Now it gets a little bit fuzzy here in terms of newbie gains. We know that first year is really dramatic, but then after that, it drops off mostly because people don’t continue to train consistently and progressively. So not a lot of people get those incremental gains, except for those of us who have been training for a long, long time. And then you’re just trying to maintain, once you get to a certain point or perhaps add on, you know, half a pound of muscle a year, if you’re lucky, but now I’m gonna go into how you can make your training more effective.

The Challenges Of Building Muscle

It does take time to put on muscle. A lot of people will start their training and they expect to see changes very quickly.

Putting on muscle is actually much harder than losing weight. If you get yourself into a calorie deficit, you’re just gonna start to lose weight. You’ll start to lose fat, but muscle is a slow, meticulous process. And you need to constantly be doing the right training and providing your body with the right nutrition in order to keep building. So I actually think it’s much more challenging to build muscle than it is to lose weight. And it’s harder to maintain your muscle mass as well to maximize your muscle growth.

Training To Build Muscle

You need to focus on progressive resistance training, and that means that you’re increasing your weights as you get stronger. Now this can also be body weight training, but then you really need to challenge yourself.

It is much easier just to start loading more weight for different exercises. And you wanna focus on compound exercises where you’re using more than one joint at the same time, big muscle groups, squats and lunges, dead lifts as well. Things like pull-ups and dips can be effective.

Large multi-joint exercises will allow you to build more muscle more quickly and effectively.

Training Frequency

It’s also important to pay attention to the frequency that you’re training. So that’s how often you train each body part. So ideally you’re doing each body part twice a week. It’s been shown that that’s most helpful for building muscle. You need to balance between the training and the recovery, because if you don’t have enough recovery time, you won’t allow your muscles to grow. It’s not ideal to do small body parts split programs.

You don’t need a biceps day and a triceps day and a forearm day or anything like that.

It’s good to hit each muscle group twice a week. You also wanna pay attention to your sets and reps in order to build muscle. You wanna vary those, and there’s a good range of reps that will develop muscle. The important thing is that you continue to progress over time. As you get stronger, as you build more muscle, you build more muscle and you keep striving for that goal. Nutrition is really important in terms of maximizing your muscle mass. You’re not gonna gain 20 pounds of muscle mass if you’re not eating enough and you’re not getting enough protein.

There was an interesting study where they compared a higher protein diet with a lower protein diet in women who were in their twenties. And in the two months of the study, they put on about two and a half pounds of muscle per month for the women that were on the higher protein diet.

The women on the lower protein diet did put on some muscle, but not as much other things that you wanna pay attention to.

Supplements To Build Muscle

If you wanna maximize your muscle mass, supplements can be useful for muscle building way protein. I don’t really consider that a supplement. I just consider it an additional food. But that can be helpful for getting your protein needs met. You can also use casein, which is a slower releasing protein, which is found in cottage cheese.

You also need to make sure that your calorie intake is high enough in order to build muscle.

Body Recomposition And Calorie Intake

In some cases you can build muscle in maintenance as you’re losing body fat. That would be the case of body recomposition. However, some people will need more particularly if you’re already very lean and you’re trying to put on muscle, you’re a naturally slim person.

You’re going to probably need a calorie surplus, some extra calories to get you to build your maximum muscle mass.

Rate Of Building Muscle Mass

Now, an important warning in terms of the rate that you’re putting on your muscle mass.

Most people are gonna be tracking and monitoring their muscle growth through the scale. And perhaps with measurements, if you’re looking on the scale and you’re seeing a gain of more than five pounds per month for a male. For a female, probably more than a couple of pounds per month. Then you are likely not seeing an increase in muscle mass.

You’re seeing an increase in fat.

You maybe put on some muscle, but you’re putting on some fat in a lot of cases, it’s quite challenging to just put on muscle and stay very lean. During that point, most people will get into a calorie surplus, put on muscle and also put on a little bit of fat. But you wanna minimize the amount of fat that you are adding while putting on muscle. So it’s just another sign that you may actually be overeating, consuming too many calories. So you’re not using them to build muscle. Your body is storing them as fat.

So be patient with muscle building. Give it time.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 7-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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