You work hard in the gym to gain muscle. You sweat and strain, pump and flex. Then, after your workout, you stand in front of the mirror – and you wonder, “When’s the payoff gonna’ come?” “When am I going to start to gain muscle?”

It’s a common question. And a confusing one. Supplement and magazine companies make all sorts of extravagant promises.

According to the supplement sellers, you can gain you 40 pounds of muscle in 12 months if you buy their product. Magazine covers exhort you to try their latest biceps routine in order to pack a full inch on your arm in a month.

Claims like these are unrealistic – even with the benefit of steroids.

Yet, the question of just how much muscle you can realistically gain in a year is a difficult one. That’s because we’re all different.

How Quickly Can You Gain Muscle?

There are, in fact, four key determinants that will play a huge part in how quickly you gain muscle:

  1. Genetics: Individual genetic make-up plays a significant role in determining how quickly or slowly a person can build muscle. Factors such as muscle fibre distribution, testosterone and growth hormone levels, insulin sensitivity, myostatin levels and recovery ability all come into play when it comes to gaining muscle.
  2. Experience Level: The amount of time that you’ve been training plays a huge role in determining how fast you gain muscle. Beginners will have a relatively quick rate of muscle growth, assuming that they’re training and eating properly. These ‘newbie gains’ will diminish as you gain more experience.
  3. Dry Muscle Tissue VS Glycogen and Water: For every pound of dry muscle that you gain, you are also creating more space for additional glycogen and water storage. Although not technically muscle tissue, this is still lean body weight.
  4. Bone Structure: Everyone has a unique bone structure. This affects the way that they carry their newly gained muscle. 5kgs of muscle on a small frame is going to look very different to the same amount on a guy who’s 6 foot, 5.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line on the ‘how much muscle will I gain question” is that an answer of so many Kgs in a year may give you a big picture goal to strive for, but it is bound to be very generalised due to the factors mentioned above. The best advice is to forget about it, focus on your training, eating clean and let the muscle take care of itself.

Having said all of the above, it is quite conceivable that a ball-park figure of 1 to 1.5Kgs of solid muscle in a year is quite realistic. That may not sound like a lot but it will make a dramatic difference to how your body will look. To make it look like you’ve made twice that amount of muscle gain, focus on reducing your body-fat while building muscle. A tight lean, defined muscular physique will be well worth the effort.

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