The first thing most guys ask when they start lifting is “how long will it take me to build x amount of muscle?” Experienced lifters hate that question because there are countless factors that influence just how fast you will grow.
That’s why it makes answering that question pretty much impossible – your age, body type, diet, lifestyle, routine, sleep schedule, stress level and other factors can all skew the ultimate timeline for achieving your ideal physique.
Having said that, it is possible to provide realistic expectations about the rate at which you can put on mass. While many supplement companies out there might tell you that you can look like Jay Cutler in a year with their product it’s simply impossible to gain 50 pounds of muscle in a year.
By knowing what you can realistically expect you can avoid getting sucked into some over-hyped, expensive product that doesn’t even help you.
Most beginners go to the gym with sky-high expectations. They think gaining 10 pounds of muscle is a realistic, sustainable target. Well think of it this way – if you gained 10 pounds of muscle per month you would be 240 pounds heavier after 2 years – does that sound realistic to you?
Stop comparing yourself to Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman – if you want to look like these guys any time soon you are setting yourself up for a big letdown. These guys have been training for 10+ years, have amazing genetics and dedicate their lives to the sport.
In addition to having amazing genetics these guys also take all kinds of steroids, growth hormones and other drugs. Obviously this helps them unlock an entirely new level of potential but for the drug-free reader of this article it doesn’t really make sense to compare.
That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them – watch their videos, be inspired by their motivation and even consume some of their more useful products.
How Fast Can I Build Muscle?
So now that we’ve brought you back down to earth let’s talk about a realistic pace for building muscle mass for the average trainee. If your diet, program and rest/sleep are all optimised you can expect to gain 1-2 pounds of muscle per month, with that tapering off to a much smaller growth level later on.
Are you surprised that it’s so little?
When you think about it, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most guys you see in your day to day life are unaesthetic with minimal muscle mass. Most guys in the gym are either skinny guys starting out or experienced, muscular guys who have been lifting for year. Some people might be able to grow at a faster rate – say 2-3 pounds per month, while others will have a more difficult time.
As a general rule you will grow the most when you first start out and that growth rate will taper off every year.
Now 1-2 pounds per month might sound low but think of it like this. If you gain 1.5 pounds per month in a year from now you will be 18 pounds bigger – that will be a noticeable size increase!
After 2 years you will be 30 pounds heavier, you get the idea. Over time the gains will add up and you will definitely put on size.
So now that you know a realistic growth rate for yourself you will want to set some goals for yourself in the short run – 3-6 months and longer-terms 6 months – 1 year. That will help you stay consistent and have a target to measure yourself against. Now making 1-2 pounds of muscle gains per month requires a lot of dedication.
If you are binging on junk food and going out and getting drunk several nights per week you won’t get very far. However, if you follow a proper routine and diet you can definitely make some solid gains even if your genetics aren’t ideal.
Importance of a proper game plan
It all really comes down to your workout program. That is the number one reason why most guys don’t build muscle fast.
Are you really following a game plan or are you just doing chest on Mondays, legs on Wednesday, back on Thursday and biceps on Saturday…… Maby not exactly like that, but you get the point.
I hate to break it to you but that’s not really a game plan.
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