How Much Muscle Can You Build from Working Out?

Building muscle is not fast and it’s a process that gets slower with time.

Building muscle (naturally) is a lengthy process and understanding how much of it is achievable will only help you best achieve your goals.

According to personal trainer and health coach John Chapman from TheLeanMachines, having information means you have realistic parameters to work with and won’t base your expectations on the elite.

We all build muscle at different rates, he explains, but you can have good estimations at the realistic amount of muscle you can gain is and what time frame this will take for someone training and eating optimally.

Watch: How Much Muscle Can You Build

  • Year 1 – 20-25lbs (around 2 lb. per month)
  • Year 2 – 10-12lbs (around 1 lb. per month)
  • Year 3 – 5-6lbs (around 0.25 lb. per month)
  • Year 4+ – 2.5-3lbs (not worth calculating)

These ranges are based off Lyle McDonald’s Natural Lean Muscle Mass Gain Model and apply to men, with female athletes expected to gain about half the muscle mass.

McDonald notes that the values are averages and make assumptions about proper training and nutrition, and that age should also be taken into account. Older individuals won’t gain muscle as quickly and young ones might surpass these values.

Read more: This Is How to Train for Size and Strength in Your Later Years

Important takeaways

  • When you first start training you’ll gain muscle much faster because your muscles face a new stimulus. As the years go by your muscles get used to the training and therefore will grow slower.
  • Everyone is different. Some people are genetically predisposed to building muscle easily, others are not. That’s okay.
  • Building muscle is not a fast process, and next to training you have to deal with emotional and psychological midfields. Be kind to yourself.
  • Understanding how much muscle you have gained in not an easy thing to do anyway.

Muscle building calculators

You can use the Casey Butt equation to calculate your maximum muscular potential. There are many calculators online you can use.

Lyle McDonald’s model for genetic muscular potential is another useful resource if you want to know how much muscles you can build from training.

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