How quickly can we build muscle?
written by Philip Stefanov | FEBRUARY 9, 2021
As we pile on year after year of proper training behind our backs, the rate of muscle growth decreases.
By taking a moment to see how far you’ve come with your training, you can more accurately predict how much muscle mass you can gain month to month. Provided, of course, you train well and eat enough calories.
Training experience can be categorized in a few different ways, with the most popular one developed by Lyle McDonald. His method is based on years of proper training:
First year: up to 25 lbs (two lbs per month)
Second year: up to 12 lbs (one lb per month)
Third year: up to 6 lbs (half an lb per month)
Fourth year and beyond: 2-3 lbs
Alan Aragon has his own model, as well:
Beginner - 1 to 1.5 percent of total body weight gain per month
Intermediate - 0.5 to 1 percent of total body weight gain per month
Advanced - 0.25 to 0.5 percent of total body weight gain per month
Based on where you put yourself, you can roughly estimate how much muscle mass you can gain on a monthly basis:
Beginner (less than a year in the gym): 2-3 lbs. / 0.9-1.2kg.
Intermediate (1 to 4 years of proper training): 1-2 lbs. / 0.45-0.9kg.
Advanced (4+ years of proper training): 0.5lbs / 0.22kg.
Here are some thoughts on the topic:
- Gauging exactly how many years of proper training you have behind your back can be difficult. For example, you might have been lifting for five years, but only started training properly three years ago. It’s good to be mindful of the models but you should also track your progress as you bulk.
- Taller guys should strive to gain weight at the upper end of the ranges from above.
- Beginner lifters with more muscular development (due to previous history in sports or a physically demanding job) and more strength can benefit better from gaining as an intermediate lifter.
- More advanced lifters who can’t tell how many years of proper training they have and are relatively weak can also benefit from gaining as an intermediate lifter.
Until next week,
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about muscle growth, lean bulking, and similar, click here to read my guide.
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