A question that I get asked a lot when it comes to building muscle mass is how long it takes to build muscle. How many muscles can be built in what time? I would like to address this question in this article.
Interestingly, the question of how long does it take to build muscle is asked for various reasons. The men usually can’t go fast enough and they want to know how much is realistically possible without resorting to (illegal) aids. Women, on the other hand, are often afraid that things will be going too fast. They fear looking “too manly” when they start training.
To get to the bottom of the matter, I’ll cover the following topics in this article
Finally, I will briefly take a stand on what to think of programs and dietary supplements that promise extremely fast muscle growth in a short time.
Spoiler Alert: Not that much. 😉
How long does it take to build muscle? – What is realistic?
I want to make one thing clear in advance: Natural muscle building is more like a marathon than a sprint. So be prepared for it to take longer than you might like. But how much is really concretely, realistically possible now?
The Lyle McDonald model – a good guide for muscle building duration
It is quite difficult to make a 100% reliable statement about this. As an approximation, however, there is a good and proven model by Lyle McDonald that can give a good orientation of what is possible. It is important that these values can only be achieved if you consistently follow a training plan that is suitable for you and designed for muscle growth. In addition to training, you should also consider the other influencing factors for successful muscle building and try to adhere to them as best as possible.
If you do that, you can realistically achieve the following gains:
Possible muscle building in one year
up to 12 kg
up to 6 kg
up to 3 kg
max. 1-2 kg
As you can see, it goes quite quickly at the beginning, with about one kilogram in the month. After that, the possible muscle growth will decrease. Anyone who has trained hard and consistently for four to five years under (almost) optimal conditions has almost reached the end of the flagpole. In most cases, only minimal increases are possible, provided that optimal training and living conditions are strictly observed. At this point, you’ve reached your genetic limit and are probably doing (almost) full-time bodybuilding. 😉
Do these guidelines apply equally to everyone?
Of course, not everyone achieves these gains in time. Depending on how good your general conditions are, it can take a few years longer. For example, if you exercised poorly in the first three years, ate poorly and consistently slept far too little, then you may have only built up 12 kilos of muscle mass. If you start doing everything right now, you will not start with year four but actually with year two.
Likewise, other rules apply if you have already built up muscle mass and then lost it again. Muscles that your body once had, it builds up again much faster than the first time. These “recovered” muscles would of course have to be considered separately in a conventional procedure with mass phases and definition phases. In the definition phase, some muscle mass is usually also lost. This is built up again in the bulk phase. The values shown in the table are increases beyond this.
It should also be noted that these are average values that also correlate to some extent with genetic factors such as body size. So if you are particularly tall (1.90m +), then the probability is high that your absolute gains are even slightly larger than those of an average-tall man (approx. 1.77m). By and large, however, the above values are always a good guide.
And what about the muscle building time in women?
Lyle McDonald assumes in his model for women that they can build about half as much muscle as men. So, as a woman, you don’t have to worry about looking like the Hulk after a few months in the gym. In addition, women usually start with less muscle mass than men.
Of course, even with women it is always a question of disposition and where you start. However, a woman who is slender by her disposition will never naturally and especially not quickly mutate into a mountain of muscles when she begins to do weight training. So don’t worry!
Either way, I can only advise you, if you want to have a firm and beautiful body as a woman, then you should do strength training. You women are good at building a few muscles, that suits you well. Always remember: fit is the new sexy! 🙂
Which factors you can influence to accelerate your muscle building
You now know what is possible in terms of building muscle. Now you might be wondering how you can influence reaching these maximum values. I can recommend the following article, in which I have described the most important things that really make a difference:
Build muscle mass effectively – What really matters when building muscle
In the following, however, I will once again briefly list the core success factors for minimum muscle building duration or maximum muscle building in the shortest possible time.
1) The right training
The right muscle building training includes the right training principle (mainly hypertrophy training ) and the right training frequency. You should also have a good training plan that is tailored to you. Whether split training or full body training is better, depends entirely on you. However, any muscle building training plan should be based on complex basic exercises . However, it can also contain isolation exercises to set individual priorities.
2) Proper nutrition
If you don’t eat enough and / or don’t eat the right thing, you are putting a huge brake on your muscle building. The right bulk phase diet with a calorie surplus is therefore mandatory if you want to build muscle quickly. I recommend about 500 kcal above your daily consumption as a guideline. It is also important that you consume enough protein . This consists of amino acids that your body needs to build muscles.
I recommend consuming at least 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. If you are having trouble with your diet alone, you can also help with one or the other protein shake .
I use the WPC 80 Whey Protein from Supplement Union the most. This is very soluble, tastes delicious and has a great price / performance ratio. You can get the WPC 80 at Amazon * or even cheaper directly in the manufacturer’s shop *. If you are lactose intolerant, Egg Protein can be a good alternative for you.
I have been convinced of the products from Supplement Union for years and I recommend them to my coachees and readers. In the meantime I also have a cooperation with the manufacturer and can offer you an exclusive 5% discount code on the products from Bodybuilding-Depot Onlineshop * with ” Fitvolution5 “. You are guaranteed to get more discounts on the products nowhere.
In addition to the protein, you should also make sure that you are consuming the right fats. I can only recommend that you keep your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids high (regardless of muscle building for health reasons). That’s why I personally take five Omega 3 fish oil capsules * every morning with my Greens Shake *.
3) Sufficient breaks
Compliance with break times is often underestimated. However, this can make a huge difference to your muscle building duration. Therefore, follow the recommendations for the right breaks between sets during strength training . And of course it’s also important that you don’t train too often. Your muscles need time to regenerate. Daily training is rather counterproductive.
4) Enough good (!) sleep
Don’t underestimate the topic of sleep! A good sleep is essential for your regeneration. It works on so many levels, from physical to mental to psychological regeneration. So always try to get enough good sleep. If you find it difficult, find out how you can sleep healthier and better . This is probably my biggest stumbling block, which I have already worked on a lot and keep working.
5) Drink enough water
You should drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day. If you do sport, you add another good liter for every hour of sport. Most of them don’t even know that they drink too little . However, a lack of water has a direct negative effect on muscle building. So make sure you are always well hydrated. This is also very good for your mental performance. 🙂
6) Motivation and Mindset
Your motivation and your mindset are the basis that you even manage to set a goal and then to achieve it. They are massively underestimated by many people. Most people can easily acquire the necessary knowledge. The real challenges arise the more you change your behavior and the longer you have to stay on the ball. For this reason, you should definitely deal with it.
With the pig-dog killer I have written a book that takes you step by step from setting goals to achieving them. In it I will also give you my most effective tips and tricks against your inner weaker self and many tasks for direct implementation. It’s like coaching in the form of a book for a fraction of the price.
If you stick to these rules, it shouldn’t take you longer than necessary to gain muscle mass.
What to think of people who promise extremely fast muscle building
Some people promise extremely fast muscle building, much faster than what I wrote above. These can be “coaches” who want to sell their “revolutionary” training program. However, these can also be manufacturers / sellers of muscle building preparations . But what is to be made of such offers?
More muscle building through nutritional supplements
Let’s start with the food supplements . Are there any products that can help you build muscle? Yes, there are quite a few useful supplements that can be useful for building muscle and reduce your muscle building duration a little. One example would be Creatine Monohydrate . Also one or the other protein shake can certainly be helpful in meeting your protein needs. But miracles are not to be expected from such things.
Dietary supplements primarily compensate for nutritional deficiencies. If your diet is on point and you are consuming enough proteins, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables for the micronutrients, then you don’t necessarily need them. However, they can make your life a little easier and more flexible.
If a product really significantly promotes muscle growth, then you can assume that it is illegal and almost certainly harmful to health. I strongly advise against this and I will not comment on such substances here. Your health should always come first.
More muscle building through the “revolutionary” training concept
If someone wants to sell you an innovative training concept for a lot of money that promises you massive muscle growth and a reduced muscle build-up duration beyond the above-mentioned values, then take your legs in hand. Such promises cannot be kept. In addition, these concepts are mostly completely standardized and you are probably even wasting potential in contrast to a good, individual training plan.
Reference values that are advertised as evidence by such “coaches” are usually exaggerated and often ignore the following facts:
- Not all muscle mass is the same
- Reconstruction is much faster than building new muscles
That, in combination with a few well-made photos and testimonials on a nice sales website, makes a program that promises 10 kilos of additional muscle mass in less than half a year, then of course quickly a bestseller.
If you want to find out in a compact summary without false promises what it is about really arrives, then my (soon to be published) new book will be interesting for you. It’s all about the really essential things that you should consider for effective muscle building with a manageable effort.
If you want to know first as soon as this appears, then the best thing to do is to sign up for the Fitvolution newsletter .
Conclusion on muscle building time
Building muscle takes time. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. However, if you stay on the ball for a few months and years, then you can make very remarkable progress. There are some factors that you can actively influence in order to get the most out of it. If you stick to these rules, you will realize your potential.
A good trainer and the right nutritional supplements can definitely support you on your way. However, don’t be ripped off by people who promise you the blue sky.
If you are looking for more information on building muscle and don’t want to waste time, I would like to recommend my book Muscle Building Basics to you. In it you will find out everything that is really important if you want to build muscles. It is the first real “no bullshit” guide with “step by step” instructions for effective muscle building. There are also some tried and tested muscle building training plans from which you can choose the one that’s right for you. In this way you can minimize your muscle building duration according to your personal circumstances.