Beginners in strength training often ask: how long does it take to build voluminous muscles? How much muscle mass can you gain in a week, in a month, in six months? All these are not idle questions. Knowing the answers to them, you can realistically approach training — without high expectations.
How much muscle mass can you gain?
On average, a person builds up from 9 to 22 kilograms of muscle mass in his life. To clarify: for men, this figure is 18–22 kg, for women — 9–12 kg. These figures are averaged, that is, some people may not reach the declared 18 kg (for women — 9 kg), while others quite easily step over the upper limit. But most people fit into that range of values. Note that here we mean a set of muscle mass without the use of pharmaceuticals.
How fast can muscles grow?
If you create optimal conditions for the growth of muscle tissue, you can expect the following dynamics:
an increase in muscle mass per week for men — 100–200 g (about 0.5–1 kg per month);
for women — 50–100 g (up to 500 g per month).
We are talking about the growth of lean muscle mass. Although the overall weight gain is greater — due to the accumulation of water and fat. Here again, averaged indicators are given: in exceptional cases, both a greater and a lower rate of muscle recruitment can be observed. How fast your muscles grow depends on many factors. Let’s consider some of them in more detail.
Age and muscle growth
The younger a person is, the easier it is to build muscle. The fact is that at a young age, hormones are more actively produced that stimulate the growth of muscle tissue. While the body is growing and forming, anabolic (creative) processes predominate in it. After the age of 25, the level of anabolic hormones begins to gradually decline. In adulthood, the processes of catabolism (destruction) dominate. In the absence of increased physical activity, the percentage of muscle tissue in the body gradually decreases. And even if you regularly perform strength exercises, the muscles will not grow as fast as in youth.
Doing the same training program, one person will build impressive muscles in a year, while another may need twice as long to do this. There are also people who, no matter how hard they try to pump up voluminous muscles, cannot. It’s all about heredity. Different people have different potential for muscle growth. The rate of muscle growth directly depends on anatomical and physiological features, such as the length of muscles and tendons, body proportions, the ratio of slow and fast muscle fibers, hormonal levels, etc.
Untrained muscles are easily stimulated to grow. They are sensitive even to small loads. If the training process is organized correctly, beginners demonstrate a high rate of muscle growth. But after about six months, it begins to decline. The longer the training experience, the slower the muscles grow. Every year, the rate of muscle growth is halved.
Choice of exercises
The basis of mass-gathering training is basic exercises. They allow you to use the largest weight of weights and load several large muscle groups at once. If the training is aimed at gaining muscle mass, there is not much point in using isolation exercises. Although they may be present in the program, but as an addition to the base.
The role of nutrition in the process of gaining muscle mass
Strength exercises alone are not enough for successful muscle growth. Proper nutrition plays an important role in this process. The body must continuously receive all the necessary substances for building muscle fibers, for energy production, for the synthesis of anabolic hormones, etc. During the period of gaining muscle mass, nutrition should not only be balanced, but also high-calorie. You need to consume about 20% more calories than the daily requirement. At the same time, the composition of the diet should be such that the amount of muscle tissue, and not fat, increases in the body. It is necessary to give preference to a variety of cereals, vegetables, dairy products, lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits, herbs, nuts.
It is quite difficult to provide the body with all the necessary substances without resorting to sports nutrition. During the period of mass gain, the body needs a lot of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, trace elements. In sports supplements, all this is contained in a concentrated form. It is much easier to drink a serving of a gainer or a protein shake than it is to cook and eat several meals from regular food. There are many types of sports supplements. Sports nutrition for gaining muscle mass is gainers, proteins, BCAA, creatine, vitamin and mineral complexes. Do not confuse sports nutrition with pharmacological preparations. It has the same composition as regular food, only it is better absorbed and contains useful nutrients in a concentrated form.
The effect of steroids on muscle growth
Steroids are pharmacological drugs with powerful anabolic and androgenic effects. Taking steroids, you can achieve a significant increase in muscle mass in a short time. Steroids speed up protein synthesis in muscle cells and increase the number of red blood cells in the blood, so that the muscles are better supplied with oxygen. Under the influence of steroids, the formation of fat cells slows down, the effect of catabolic hormones decreases, and tissue regeneration is accelerated. These drugs increase endurance and improve performance, making workouts more productive. In addition, they shorten the recovery period after heavy loads. However, steroids have side effects and can be toxic to the liver and kidneys. They cannot be taken all the time. And after the end of the course, it is necessary to cleanse the body, restore the liver and kidneys, and normalize the hormonal background.