Male Bodybuilder Flexing Muscles Front Pose

This article will be discussing how much muscle mass you can gain in 1 year. It is a question that is often asked by many people that want to improve on their looks.

Let’s dive in!


What is Muscle Growth?

The question sounds quite easy to some. Building muscle mass is easiest achieved by performing strength training. Muscle growth has to do with the expansion of muscle fibers. This is called hypertrophy.

The latest scientific studies suggest that mainly hypertrophy is responsible for muscle growth. The growth of new muscle fibers, which is called hyperplasia, should not be ignored just yet though, because animals show muscle growth because of hyperplasia.

Muscle growth with both humans and animals show an increase in the amount of connective tissues, as well as its strength.

Click here to learn more about hypertrophy.


What is Considered Realistic?

A lot of magazines and websites claim that you can easily gain 15 lbs of muscle within a period of six weeks. Most of these slogans are simply trying to lure you to buy products that won’t give you the promised results.

Muscle growth doesn’t start from the first time you touch a dumbbell. This is where I’m going to burst your bubble if you are one of the people that wants to grow muscle mass ASAP. True muscle growth is initiated after a period of 12-18 workouts.

The first few weeks are simply lessons for your body. You’re slowly learning how to perform certain movements, you’re improving on coordination and your muscles are being damaged.

If you give your body enough time and the right nutrients, your muscles will recover from this damage, causing your strength and muscle mass to increase.

That being said, you will probably start seeing results after 4-8 weeks. This depends on the quality of your workouts, nutrition and recovery. It’s interesting to note that muscle growth of the upper body often happens at a faster rate than muscle growth of the lower body.


So, How Much Muscle Mass Can I Build?

It is very hard to give specifics on this question, as the amount of muscle someone can attain differs from person to person. Some people are able to build 20 lbs per year, others will only see an increase of 1-2 lbs.

The rate of building muscle depends highly on your build, how well your muscles react to workouts and nutrition. It’s a guessing game. It is best to just go for it, without comparing yourself to other people too much. Giving numbers won’t help you.

Researcher Alan Aragon has made a few estimates, though.

  • Beginning lifters can gain 1-2 lbs of muscle mass per month.
  • Intermediate lifters can gain 0.5-1 lbs of muscle mass per month.
  • Advanced lifters can gain about 0.5 lbs of muscle mass per month.

As you can see in this graph, the rate of muscle growth slowly decreases. This is why it is so important that you have the right workout plan available. Volume and intensity determine whether you will see results.


A Simplified Guide

Many books, magazines and websites advertise their products or services with alluring slogans.

“Easily gain 10 lbs within ONE month!”

At Strength Perfected, we don’t make such claims. If you have read the aforementioned paragraphs thoroughly, you will have learned that it is not all that easy to gain muscle mass. Therefore, I urge you to be realistic and honest with yourself.

Progress is progress, no matter how small it may be!

If you want to gain muscle mass and strength, you will need to treat it as a long term goal that requires dedication and slow progress. That being said, here is a small guide that might be helpful.


1. Training

Choose a workout plan that stimulates and challenges your muscles enough to grow. Always perform exercises using good form! Failing to do so might get you injured. Don’t lift with your ego!

Click here to learn the basics of creating your own workout plan.


2. Determine your metabolism

Before you are going to gain more muscle mass, take a good look at your body fat percentage. If this number is relatively low (<12% for men, <22% for women), it is recommended to start clean bulking (slowly adding weight). You could also just keep eating enough to maintain your base caloric usage. This way, you will ingest as many calories as you burn.

If you body fat percentage is higher and you would like to lose some fat, try eating up to 250 calories under maintenance. This will ensure a slow but steady loss of fat.


3. Nutrition

This depends on your goal. Each goal has its own guidelines and are listed below.

  • Weight loss: consume 100-500 calories under maintenance.
  • Clean bulking: consume 100-200 calories above maintenance.
  • Maintaining weight: consume as many calories as your maintenance.

Calories are of course not everything. You will need to make sure that the quality of your nutrition is up to par. These 10 Nutrition Guidelines (FREE DOWNLOAD) can be of help to you. 7


4. Evaluate your sleep

A well rested body and mind is of great importance for focus and training. Ask yourself: do you wake up well rested? Are your body and mind recovered to traverse a new day?


5. Relaxation

Stress is bad for your workouts and recovery. Not being rested and focused for your training will make it less effective, resulting in less progress. Make sure that you have the right balance between work and rest.

Take a day off once in a while and take pleasure in going to your work. Stress will kill your performance in the gym!


6. Dedication

I can give you all the tools you could ever need in order to reach your goals. However, if you are lacking in dedication and perseverance, you will not nearly see as many results as possible.

This is frustrating!

Use a realistic workout plan that not only is effective, but one that you actually like using. If you are using a workout plan for a week, and you notice that you are under performing, be honest to yourself and alter your workout plan until it fits your needs.


In Conclusion

Muscle mass is hard to attain. Books, magazines and websites that claim you’re able to gain 10+ lbs of lean muscle mass in 4-8 weeks are simply lying. Unless you are using steroids or have amazing genetics, you will not be gaining muscle at this rate.

Be okay with this. Slow and steady wins the race! If you commit, you will see results.

What is your experience with growing muscle mass? How much have you gained in your first year of going to the gym? Let me know in the comment section below!


Frequently Asked Questions

How much muscle can you gain in a week?

Realistically, a week will not give you all that much extra muscle mass. If we use the numbers that Alan Aragon used in his study, beginners are able to gain 0.25-0.5 lbs per week, intermediate lifters can gain about half, and advanced lifters could gain around 0.12 lbs per week.

Can you speed up muscle growth?

Not really if you want to stay natural. The rate of your muscle growth depends on nutrition, the efficacy of your workouts, recovery, consistency and genetics.

What exercises are most effective for muscle growth?

High Intensity compound exercises. These will make you stronger, which results in bigger Muscles that are there to stay. High volume adds a lot of mass to your Muscles as well, but it is important to note that most of this mass is water retention and glycogen, rather than actual muscle tissue.

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