Building muscle isn’t a quick process. So you have to be patient and expect realistic results.
We need to set a realistic timeframe to make any goal smart enough. Yes, when you’re building a house, you know how much time it can take. Similarly, in fitness, we are talking about how much fat loss or muscle we can make.
Today we will talk about how long does it take to build muscle? Remember here I’m talking about the 99.99% natural process and discussing the critical facts and tips that help to know more about the best way to building muscle.
So, let’s dive in!
How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?
We talked about fat loss, muscle building, and weight gain in fitness — remember, here we talk about muscle gain, not weight gain. Weight gain can be made by increasing water, fat, and muscle, but our topic is only muscle gain without getting fat.
It means muscle building or bulking can be followed between 2 to 6 months, depending on individual goals and deadlines. Generally, professional bodybuilders follow six months bulking while other two to a maximum of four months.
But before all, we need to know how much muscle we can gain per month, per week. And when you know the exact weekly process, you can do your math to 1-month, 2-months, etc.
First, all you need to know is your BMR. You can calculate it here, put your height, weight, age, activity level, and you’ll get your required daily calories.
The formula of gaining weight: 3500 calories = 1 lb
This means when you consume 3500 calories, you’ll gain 1 lb, and when you burn 3500 calories, you’ll lose 1 lb. That is the Fixed Number, and you need to very clear about it.
Okay, let’s say you consume 3500 calories in a week then: (3500/7) = 500 calories/day, it means if you take 500 calories each day, you’ll take 3500 calories in a week, and when you eat 3500 calories in a week, you’ll gain 1 pound weight.
Let’s extend the math and see how it will look:
- One week (3500/7) = 500 calories/day = 1 pound gain
- One week (7000/7) = 1000 calories/day = 2 pound gain
- One week (14000/7) = 2000 calories/day = 4 pound gain
If you add 1000 extra calories, you’ll gain 2 pounds a week. Similarly, for 2000 extra calories, you’ll gain 4 pounds, and so on.
Most importantly, you need to know that these are the extra calories you need to add to your required daily calories, which we get by calculating our BMR.
Let’s take an example: After calculating BMR (including activity level), let’s say you get the number of 2500, which is the required calories you need to maintain your muscle mass.
When you want to gain 1 pound in a week, you need to add 500 extra calories each day means your total daily calories should be (2500+500) = 3000.
Let’s see how the formula will go:
- Total calories + extra calories = Daily needed calories for gaining muscle
- 2500 + 500 = 3000 calories/day = 1 lb gain/week
- 2500 + 1000 = 3500 calories/day = 2 lb gain/week
- 2500 + 2000 = 4500 calories/day = 4 lb gain/week (crazy amount)
Note: The total daily calories we take here is 2500, which is a rough number. You need to calculate your BMR with activity level and apply this formula with your number.
Now how much weight you want to gain per week? If you wish to 1 lb, add 500 calories; for 2 lb, add 1000 calories; and for 4 lb, add 2000 calories per day.
Okay, now that’s interesting, what do you think? By adding 2000 calories, you can gain 4 pounds of muscle in a week?
NO! That’s what you need to understand now. Remember, we want to gain lean muscle, not weight or fat. However, you can add that many calories if you want to gain weight, no matter it’s in the form of water, fat, and muscle.
Let’s dig deep into how will be the ratio when you add different amounts of calories per day:
- Extra 500 calories/day = 1lb weight gain/week = 90-95% muscle (the best way)
- Extra 1000 calories/day = 2lb weight gain/week = 50-60% muscle
- Extra 2000 calories/day = 4lb weight gain/week = 10-15% muscle (worst number)
Now it’s all depends on what YOU want.
If you don’t care about gaining too much fat or have any deadline, you can add 2000 or even more calories a day. But you’ll feel disaster at some point, your stomach will out, and you’ll look very unhealthy (Not recommended).
Remember, our body has a maximum limit of muscle building. So the best way I would recommend you to add 500 calories in a day and gain quality muscle healthily and safely.
Recommendation: When our goal is building quality muscle, aim for six months means 24 weeks, and by adding 500 calories per day, at the end of 24 weeks, you’ll gain 24 pounds of weight, and most importantly, there would be 90%+ muscle mass (around 10kg).
Please don’t expect quick results; you need to understand that our body needs time to grow naturally. Your expected number should be 1 lb in one week, 4 lb in one month, and 24 lb quality muscle in six months. So be patient and give your body that much time.
Factors & Tips for Your Muscle Building Progress
Few crucial factors dictate how fast your body can put on muscle, including tips for muscle growth. Let’s read!
Your Training Age
Your training age and how long you’re lifting weights are among the biggest variables that affect how long or how much your body can pack on size.
Because when we’re starting to train and haven’t trained before, you will get newbie gains where your body can put a lot of muscles really fast.
If you’ve trained for more years, your muscle hit plateaus, and your body is getting closer to its genetic potential of how much muscle mass you can have. So the more you train, the slower the muscle-building progress would be as subsequent year.
A thumb rule of muscle-building progress is:
- 1st year: 20-25+ pounds (2-4 pounds/month)
- 2nd year: 10-12+ pounds (1-2 pound/month)
- 3rd year: 5-6+ pounds (0.5-1 pound/month)
- 4th+ year: 2-3 pounds (Not worth calculating)
First of all, you need to know that 20-25 pounds of muscle is a lot of muscle, and that can change your entire look.
So if you’re just starting and your first or second year of training, you can expect two and four pounds of healthy weight every single month.
But if you find you’re gaining more weight, you probably gain fat because there’s a genetic limit of how much muscle we can put on.
The second thing we need to talk about genetics. You and I different genetics, and it varies on different people.
Some guys have better muscle-building genetics where others have poor. Actually, that’s based on our parents and family.
Most of the guys fall in the middle of this muscle-building Bell Curve. Where they’re not genetically blessed but not genetically cursed. So we (who doesn’t a competitive bodybuilder or like that) mostly fall in the middle curve (means not too weak or not a champion bodybuilder).
You’re also curious about muscle building, which means you’re probably falling in the middle of the curve. So you really need to optimize your training, nutrition, and recovery to make sure you’re building muscle as its optimum potential.
The third thing is supplementation. What supplement are you taking? Here I’m not talking about just the baseline good supplements like protein, creatine, pre-workout stuff like that.
I’m talking about the dark side of supplements like steroids, pro-hormones and stuffs like that. Because those have a significant impact on your ability to put on muscle and I absolutely do not recommend you to go that route.
Because you should also know that those gains from steroids stick around as long as they continue those substances, but when they stop, they’ll come back down to the natural rate, and those kinds of stuff have numerous side effects as well.
So this is why we recommend you to make stepwise slow-steady progress and build muscle mass in a natural, safe, and healthy way.
Some supplements actually do work for natural bodybuilders–the first one is creatine monohydrate (5-gram after a workout). Every guy should take this, and it’s a proven muscle-building supplement, perhaps the most research supplement on the planet as well.
And the second is a quality protein powder–whey or casein blend after your workout (25-35 grams of protein) is super beneficial to kickstart your muscle-building process after your training, and that’s it.
And before you workout, if you need some stimulation, black coffee can be a perfect option for you.
Don’t be complicated with some fancy stuff like pre-workout, testosterone booster, and much other stuff that is not well researched and not nearly as effective as a good diet, proper training with creatine and protein supplement.
The next thing I ask you that how good is your training, nutrition and recovery? When it comes to muscle building, exercise is one of the most important things you need to do correctly.
First and for most, add compound-based exercises for building muscle mass. The workouts such as:
- Bench press
Doing those exercises consistently with a proven training program is essential for your progress. I would highly recommend you to get our FREE muscle building program which contains a proper workout and nutrition plan, including some critical muscle building tips to boost your gains.
Workout routine: Your aim should be 30-60 minutes per day for 4-5 days of training a week and perform each exercise for 3-sets with 6-8 repetitions to train fast-twice (type II) muscle fiber which is essential for your muscle growth.
Nutrition and Recovery
Okay, now let’s move into the nutrition part. We know that the training provides stimulus for building muscle, but if you’re not eating correctly and recovering well, you’re not going to put on size.
Training provides the stimulus, and nutrition helps to build muscle while you sleep.
First, all you need to do is make sure you’re eating the right amount of calories because if you’re not eating enough, your body doesn’t have enough calories and other essential macros that actually build the muscle for you.
We need to know how many calories our body needs, and then we need to eat roughly around 250 to 500 calories over that mark for gaining size.
Remember, you should not overeat calories for getting fast gains because, as we already know, our body has a maximum limit to building muscle.
So if you eat way more calories than you need, you’ll gain a certain amount of muscle, but the extra calories will convert into fat, which we don’t want.
Tip: You should take 5-6 meals a day by eating every 3 hours (depending on your metabolism). Every meal should contain protein, carbs, and healthy fats, and the macro breakdown would be 50% of carb, 30% of protein and 20% of fat for building muscle mass.
And most importantly, you should make sure you’re taking 7-8 hours of nighttime sleep because that’s where your muscles recover and grow.
Other crucial muscle-building factors include your actual age and testosterone level — which is why men have more muscle than women. And some vital hormones, including growth hormone and insulin growth factor, play a role in muscle growth.
Can you build muscle doing cardio?
Generally speaking, this depends on what kind of cardio you’re performing. Most people won’t build muscle by doing traditional cardio like walking or jogging, and people who train for the long time also won’t build new muscles by only doing cardio.
However, aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is vital to improve metabolism and heart health which can be indirectly beneficial for muscle growth. The cardio involving high-intensity exercises (like jump squats or like that) or high-volume weight training can help build muscle.
Although cardio can improve your overall health and fitness and build muscle in specific scenarios, but strength training is the best way to make some quality muscle.
Building good muscle is vital for your proper body function and strength. Regardless of fitness level, it may take weeks or months to put on some noticeable muscle.
Consistently focus on your training, take a healthy diet and proper recovery to get the optimum results. As always, you should consult a personal trainer or nutritionist before starting any particular program to make sure you’re making the right choice.
I hope this guide will clear your doubt on how long does it take to build muscle. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below!