If you’re looking to build muscle and do some strength training, you might be wondering how much muscle gain you can expect to see from your heavyweight workouts. Like losing weight, adding to your muscle size and bulking up can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. After all, you didn’t gain weight or get to your current body composition overnight, so changing it won’t happen overnight either. The amount of muscle you can expect to gain in a month will vary from person to person and is substantially different depending on your gender. However, other factors are also at play when it comes to gaining lean muscle.
How Much Muscle Can Men Gain in a Month?
When it comes to muscle building, men are at a distinct advantage compared to women. On the whole, men have significantly more muscle mass than women, especially in the upper body. This is due partially to sex-based differences in weight and height, but hormonal differences in men, such as the higher level of testosterone and growth hormones, also make it easier for men to gain muscle than women. On average, men can expect to gain one to two pounds of muscle per month. Beginners can gain more muscle tissue in their first month of lifting weights since they are just beginning the process of hypertrophy, which is the cellular process responsible for muscle growth. Over time, your body adjusts to harder workouts, which means you have to work harder to build muscle after experiencing post-workout muscle recovery and soreness. Thus, experienced lifters may only gain 2.18 to 2.33 pounds of muscle over an eight week training period, as established by one study. Weight gain, in this instance, is a good thing because one pound of body weight that is muscle weighs more than fat. So if you lose fat, you gain weight!
How Much Muscle Can Women Gain in a Month?
As previously established, women are at a biological disadvantage when it comes to building muscle compared to men thanks to a difference in hormones and body composition. While the average man can expect to add one to two pounds of muscle per month, the average woman can build up to one pound per month. As is the case with men, women who are just starting to lift weights can expect to gain more muscle in their first month of training as they begin the process of hypertrophy. Like men, they will also have to work harder to add muscle as their bodies adjust to increasingly challenging workouts and up the number of pull-ups and push-ups they can do as well as use heavier weights for their bench press, deadlifts, or resistance training.
What Factors Impact Muscle Gains
For both men and women, there are a number of factors that influence how quickly you gain muscle and how much muscle your body can actually amass. One of the biggest factors that impact muscle gains is genetics. Genetics not only dictates how quickly you can gain muscle but also how much muscle your body can add before it stops. One study in the Journal of Applied Psychology studied bodybuilders for 16 weeks during a quadriceps training program. Of the study group, one quarter increased the size of their quads by an astonishing 58 percent from weightlifting, while another quarter did not gain any size at all during their weight training. The remaining half increased their quad mass by an average of 32 percent. In examining the cells in each participant’s muscles, they found that the relative number of specialized stem cells known as satellite cells predicted how each participant’s muscles would respond to training. While it might be disheartening to know that some people’s genetics simply don’t allow them to put on muscle quickly, there are other factors that also impact muscle gains. A person’s diet, training intensity, training volume, training frequency, and recovery, as well as their hormone levels, can all impact the amount of muscle an individual gains in one month.
What Can I Do to Gain Muscle More Quickly
If gaining muscle is your goal, there are a few strategies you can employ to help speed up the process. Consider yourself warned, though – it’s a lot of hard work, and no matter what you do, you’re not going to add ten pounds of muscle over the course of a month from dumbbells alone. The personal trainers you see in the gym who seem to have every muscle group bulging out of every piece of clothing have been at the game for a long time, and ultimately, consistency is the best way to build muscle.
Train to Fatigue
There’s a lot of focus on the specific number of reps a person should do in order to build strength, but a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research indicates that training to fatigue matters more than how many reps you perform. Training to fatigue means that you physically cannot perform another repetition of an exercise. Lifting heavy for fewer reps fatigues the muscle fibers more quickly than performing a higher set of reps with a lighter weight, but it’s important to find a balance. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, performing multiple sets of six to twelve reps with a one-minute rest between sets is the best way to maximize hypertrophy.
Eat More Protein
The building blocks of protein synthesis, amino acids, are also the building blocks of our muscles. That means that if you want to add muscle, you need to be getting enough protein in your diet – more than you need to survive on a daily basis. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that optimal muscle growth requires men to consume between 0.4 and 0.55 grams of protein intake per kilogram of body weight four times per day. A guy weighing 187 pounds would need to eat 34 to 47 grams of protein per meal four times per day for a total of 136 to 188 grams of protein per day. You can add protein in the form of high-quality lean meats, whey protein shakes, protein powder, and other options. You should also be sure to consume enough calories to meet your daily calorie needs without overloading on carbs and sugars.