This Is How Much Muscle You Can Build Naturally

We tend to get a lot of emails here at broscience and for the most part they tend to contain one of the following questions:

How much muscle can I build naturally?

How long does it take to build x amount of muscle?

How much muscle can I gain each month/year?

It’s kind of funny because if these people only took 2 minutes to do a quick google search they would find tons of articles and forum discussions on the topic.

Nevertheless they want a special post made for them – so this one is for you guys! Now a lot of guys get annoyed by these types of questions because they say it shouldn’t matter how long it takes and you should just stick to the process.

However, we don’t feel this is the best way to look at it.

Figuring out how long your bulk or cut is going to take is actually quite important.

The Importance of Setting Expectations

First of all, if you can gain some knowledge on the rate of muscle growth you can set some realistic goals for your program.

Way too many guys start lifting and expect to put on 10 pounds of muscle in the first month.

As you know this is simply impossible.

However, the fitness industry preys on these people and sells them supplements that promise to have them looking like Phil Heath in a few months.

Yeah right!

By knowing the realistic rate of muscle growth you can set expectations that are achievable.

Generally speaking people tend to overestimate what’s possible rather than under-estimate.

As a result, most guys end up jumping from one training program and diet plan to another without actually giving them time to work.

They are looking for that magic formula that will have them growing quickly.

As a result, when 2 weeks goes by and they haven’t put 2 extra inches on their arms they blame the program and move on to another one.

Women have the opposite problem – they are afraid of getting too muscular!

They think that by doing a couple sets of dumbbell curls they will turn into Rich Piana’s ex-wife

. As a result, they do tons of cardio and avoid weights out of fear of becoming bulky.

This is why you see so many high rep, low-weight training programs coming out all the time targeting women.

This Is How Much Muscle An Average Guy Can Build Naturally

How Much Muscle Can You Actually Gain?

There are tons of articles and discussion threads on what is realistic in terms of muscle gains.

Not to mention we have our own first-hand experience.

Based on what we have learned and observed, the average man can build 30-50 pounds of muscle in their lifetime.

For women, that range is 15-25 pounds. Keep in mind we are talking about muscle here.

Fat on the other hand is much easier to put on and it’s not uncommon for people these days to pack on 100+ pounds of fat during adulthood.

Also keep in mind that these are just estimates – some people who are genetically gifted can put on more while those who are not so lucky might struggle to put on 20 pounds of solid muscle.

However, for the average person this is what you can expect.

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?

Ok, now that we know how how much muscle can be gained over your lifetime the next question is how quickly can we do it?

Again there are tons of articles and discussions online about this sort of thing and we also have our first-hand experience.

From what we have observed, most men will build muscle at a rate of 0.2-0.5 pounds per week.

For women that drops to 0.1-0.25 pounds per week.

That’s 1-2 pounds per month for men and 0.5-1 pounds per month for women.

We would like to reiterate that we are referring to muscle growth, not weight.

Obviously you can gain several pounds of fat per week if that is your goal – although we don’t recommend it for obvious reasons.

Now, these ranges we provided are assuming you follow a solid resistance training routine, eat a clean diet, get 8 hours of sleep each night, have low stress levels in your life, etc.

In other words these figures are based on ideal conditions – which can be difficult for most people to achieve.

These numbers are also ranges and are influenced by genetics – some people will be lucky to gain 0.5 pounds of muscle per month while other will have no problem putting on 2 pounds of muscle each month.

Key Factors Influencing Rate of Muscle Growth

1- Experience Level

Chances are you’ve heard of the expression “noob gains”.

These come when you are just starting out and your body has never experienced resistance training before.

As a result, there is an intense response that includes building a lot of muscle quickly.

This is generally when you will build the most muscle in the shortest period of time.

As you become a more experienced bodybuilder the rate of muscle growth will decrease significantly.

In fact most guys will build twice as much muscle in their first year of training compared to their second.

This trend continues until the point where advanced bodybuilders are happy to add a few pounds of muscle PER YEAR!

2 – Steroid Use

This one should be obvious but it is still worth mentioning.

Steroids alter your hormone levels and completely change what is possible in terms of muscle growth.

People you see in supplement advertisements who grew very quickly tend to be steroid users as their gains are not possible for most natural trainees.

You want to make sure that you don’t get into the habit of comparing yourself to guys on steroids as these dudes are on a different playing field.

Also, just because someone takes steroids doesn’t mean they will admit it due to the negative connotation associated with it.

As a result you might think you are comparing yourself to a natural bodybuilder when in fact you are not.

3- Natural Testosterone Levels

Do you know why some guys are able to build muscle faster than their workout partner?

They might even have a similar physique when starting out.

One of them gains a lot of muscle and they are both doing the same diet and workout plan!

So you might be wondering “how is he able to put on so much muscle mass?”

The reason are natural testosterone levels.

Those with higher testosterone levels will be able to build more muscle faster.

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for muscle growth.

So can you increase your natural testosterone levels?

Luckily for us it’s possible to increase testosterone levels without using steroids.

That’s when testosterone boosters step in.

They are designed to increase your natural testosterone production.

The results?

You will have more testosterone in your system.

Making it easier for you to gain  more muscle faster.

In my gym almost every natural guy is taking some kind of a testosterone booster.

4 – Genetics

After steroids genetics is probably the biggest determinant of how quickly you will build muscle.

Genetics determines hormone levels, bone structures and insertion points – all of which are crucial in determining just how big you can get.

Now, genetics isn’t something you can change (with the exception of hormone levels which can be influenced by steroids) so if your genetics suck you are at a disadvantage for sure.

Your gains will come slower compared to someone with better genetics – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make great gains.

If you are one of those guys who is a genetic freak then congratulations – enjoy your easy gains.

5 – Age

Depending on how old you are you might find it easier or more difficult to build mass.

Keep in mind that as we age our testosterone levels tend to drop making it more difficult to build muscle mass.

A 16 year old who is brand new to bodybuilding will have an advantage over a 45 year old who is also new.

In fact, as we age we need to work even harder to maintain that superior physique.

This is why so many people tend to gain weight as they get older – although they always had a sedentary lifestyle their hormone level create less than ideal conditions for a fit body.

5 – Muscle Memory

A lot of people don’t realize that it is actually far easier to rebuild muscle you once had (and subsequently lost) compared with building it for the first time.

This is a result of muscle memory.

This is another area that frustrates people – they see someone build a great physique in a short amount of time and can’t understand why.

What they don’t know is that this person was a football linebacker in college and used to be very muscular.

As a result of muscle memory he was able to get that old physique back much more quickly than it would take to build it from scratch.

 

 

6 – Diet and Training Program

Your diet is crucial in determining your success.

If you aren’t consuming a calorie surplus comprised of high quality food then you won’t be able to build mass, it’s as simple as that.

Similarly, if you are eating a large calorie surplus filled with sugar then you can expect to put on a lot of fat.

It never ceases to amaze us how many people ask if they can build mass by eating a calorie surplus comprised of fast food.

Similarly, your resistance training program can make a huge difference.

While people love to debate rep and set schemes the truly important thing here is to focus on compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, bench press and row.

These movements work many different muscle groups and allow for heavy weights to be lifted.

Whether you do a 3, 4 or 5 day split is really up to you and what works for your body.

7 – Genetics

After steroids genetics is probably the biggest determinant of how quickly you will build muscle.

Genetics determines hormone levels, bone structures and insertion points – all of which are crucial in determining just how big you can get.

Now, genetics isn’t something you can change (with the exception of hormone levels which can be influenced by steroids) so if your genetics suck you are at a disadvantage for sure.

Your gains will come slower compared to someone with better genetics – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make great gains.

If you are one of those guys who is a genetic freak then congratulations – enjoy your easy gains.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it – the six main factors that influence the rate at which you build muscle.

Hopefully now you won’t write us angry emails asking why you aren’t building 10 pounds of muscle each month like the steroid user down the street who claims to be “100% natty”.

Just focus on making steady, sustainable gains and doing as much as you can to improve your testosterone levels, get lots of rest and eat clean.

Over time you will be very satisfied with your results. Also, don’t be discouraged if your growth rate declines over time – this is totally normal.

Most professional bodybuilders would be thrilled to gain a few extra pounds of muscle from an entire year of training – so gaining 10-15 pounds now is something to be proud of.

Generally speaking, the guys who try to make gains as quickly as possible end up putting on a ton of fat.

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