Most guys can gain 0.25kg/0.5lb of lean muscle per week when they start lifting. That’s about 1kg/2lb of muscle per month or 12kg/24lb in a year. This assumes you do an effective training program like StrongLifts 5×5, eat well, and are consistent. Muscle gains slow down after the first year.
|Effective Training||Weekly Muscle Gain||Monthly Muscle Gain||Yearly Muscle Gain|
|1 year||0.25kg / 0.5lb||1kg / 2lb||12kg / 24lb|
|2 years||0.12kg / 0.25lb||0.5kg / 1lb||6kg / 12lb|
|3 years||too small to track||0.25kg / 0.5lb||3kg / 6lb|
Your body-weight can increase by more than 1kg/2lb per month when you start lifting. Your muscles store glycogen to fuel your workouts. Glycogen binds to water which causes water retention and a fuller look. This water weight increases your body-weight. But it’s not pure muscle tissue.
Some guys can gain more than 1kg/2lb of muscle per month. Teens gain muscle faster because they have more testosterone. Skinny kids gain muscle faster because they start under-weight. People who lifted before gain muscle faster thanks to muscle memory. Drugs change everything.
On the other hand, older people gain muscle more slowly because they have less testosterone. Same with females – they usually gain only half the muscle or 12lb the first year. Strong lifters gain muscle more slowly than weak lifters because they already have more muscle mass.
But on average you can expect to gain about 1kg/2lb of muscle per month during your first year on an effective training program. So if you’ve been going to the gym for a while but never did a program like StrongLifts 5×5, you can still gain 12kg/24lb of muscle in the next 12 months.
Most of your muscle gains will happen the first three years. In the beginning you’re weak and have little muscle. So you gain strength and muscle fast – these are the newbie gains. I started out skinny-fat at 60kg/135lb. My weight climbed to 80kg/175lb the first three years, most of it the first year.
But my weight hasn’t changed much since then. The more strength and muscle you have, the harder to gain more. This is the law of diminishing returns – it takes more work to get more, and the return is smaller. Luckily the gains are easier to maintain, and come back faster after a break.
It’s harder to build muscle than to lose fat or get stronger. You can easily lose 0.5kg/1lb of fat per week by eating slightly less. You can easily add 2.5kg/5lb per workout on Squats for weeks with StrongLifts 5×5. But you can’t build more than 0.5kg/1lb of muscle per week. Compare…
|Squat Gains||Fat Loss||Muscle Gains|
|1 Week||7.5kg / 15lb||0.5kg / 1lb||0.25kg / 0.5lb|
|1 Month||30kg / 60lb||2kg / 4lb||1kg / 2lb|
|3 Months||90kg / 180lb||6kg / 12lb||3kg / 6lb|
This explains why you can’t look like top bodybuilders, fitness models or celebrities in three months. They’ve usually been training for years – Arnold was lifting weights for eight years before winning his first Mr Olympia. And don’t ignore the lightning, tanning, photoshop, drugs, …
You can’t gain more than 1kg/2lb of muscle per month. This is the human genetic limit. The only way to gain muscle faster is by not going slower. It takes a year to gain 12kg/24lb of muscle and make a big change. Be consistent and stay focused so it doesn’t take you two years to get there.