How Much Muscle Can You Really Build?

The one thing everyone wants to know is: How much muscle can you build? Or Gains? The answers range from 1 lb a day (Tim Ferris) to 1-2 lbs a month (sane people). But the truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are several factors at play:

  1. Your current age?
  2. How long have you been training?
  3. How tall are you?
  4. Are you underweight?
  5. Are you training and eating properly? (I will revert to that one shortly).

Now if we assume proper training and nutrition, there are two formulas that can be helpful. My online idol Lyle McDonald keeps it simple, the formula below works for men; women should cut the numbers in half.

1 20-25 pounds
2 10-12 pounds
3 5-6 pounds
4+ 2-3 pounds

As you can see, there definitely is a diminishing return (I can attest to this as in all of 2014 I only gained 2 lbs… Sad)
Alan Aragon comes up with a similar number via a different path:

Beginner (1st year of lifting) 1-1.5% of total body weight per month
Intermediate (2nd year of lifting) .5-1% of total body weight per month
Advanced (3 years plus of lifting) .25-.5% of total body weight per month

So, on average we could assume that you can build about 50 lbs of muscle in your first four years of training and then things go at a snail’s pace from there. On top of all things most of these numbers pertain to younger lifters, as most people start training as teenagers/young adults and when their hormones are raging. If you start later in life, those numbers may not be attainable. By the same token, shorter lifters will build less muscle, but the visual effect will be the same.

Great Maik, that is very uplifting, especially for those of us who have been training for more than four years. So is it time to drop the weights and grab the Doritos?

Not so fast….
Let’s go back to the title of today’s Newsletter “How much muscle canYOU really build?” Yes, most of us will never reach Mr. Olympia proportions, but if at 5’10” you get to a lean 190lbs you are the envy of everyone on the beach and that is more than most can say.

Proper nutrition is the key as I had to learn that the hard way! I pretty much wasted 3-5 years of training by not being consistent and jumping from fad to fad. Do yourself a favor and set-up a proper macro nutrient scheme from day 1 and then stick to it.

Lastly, consider where you want to put on more muscle. I could easily put another 5 lbs on my legs, just to look like an Oompa Loompa. Once you have reached a good degree of muscularity (4 years of proper training and dieting) you can start focusing on your weaker body parts.

 In closing, remember you are doing this for yourself so try to block out what other people say or look like (as hard as that is) and focus on finding a routine that works for YOU!

Maik Wiedenbach Creator German Body Engineering
Consult your doctor or physician before starting any diet or exercise program.  Please note that there is a 24 hour cancellation policy for all Personal Training sessions booked in New York City.