How Much Muscle Can We Gain Naturally?

How much muscle our body can build or carry depends on person to person.

When we’re on drugs, our body got an unnatural tendency to gain more muscle, but it’s not safe. So, exactly how much and how fast can our body put on muscle mass naturally?

Here, we’ll dig deep into how much muscle you can gain naturally, including the factors that influence it and the main things you should focus on while building muscle.

So, let’s read on!

How Much Muscle Can You Gain Naturally?

How Much Muscle Can You Gain Naturally?

There’re several different formulas and models which you can use to determine how much muscle you can gain naturally. The formulas are created by former bodybuilders, sports medicine specialists, or strength athletes.

The most formulas are solely based on height, ankle, wrist circumference, and body fat percentage to predict natural muscle building potential.

But the downside of these formulas is they are very complex and require many measurements that may overwhelm you.

Fortunately, there is a calculator you can use to calculate your natural muscle gaining potential.

However, it would help if you kept in mind that these formulas or calculators aren’t perfectly accurate

For example, this formula doesn’t calculate or measure how well you train and eat, which has about a 50 percent role in muscle growth, and also your genetics plays a crucial role but doesn’t measure by the calculator.

So, there’re a few less complicated ways to estimate your natural muscle-building potential. But the problem is the simpler methods tend to be less accurate. But they can give a rough idea about what you can expect when gaining muscle.

Lyle McDonald’s Method

One of these methods are developed by a well-known bodybuilder and researcher, Lyle McDonald.

Lyle McDonald’s Muscle Building Model

According to his model, you can gain around 20-37 pounds of muscle in just your first two years of training. After that, your additional gain comes very slowly, down to few pounds per year.

Although this model can be helpful, the downside is it’s designed only for men. And there’s no clear muscle gain rate mentioned for women.

However, women can expect half the rate that men can. Means women can gain between 10-15 pounds of muscle in their first two years of training.

Remember, this model is created for people who train, eat and sleep properly. So, if you’re inconsistent with your training and diet, this formula may not apply to you.

And also, this formula doesn’t check your age. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you can gain muscle faster than those older and don’t have favorable hormonal profiles for muscle growth.

My Recommendation

I strongly recommend you not rely on the formulas because every person has a different frame size and ability to build muscle.

So, instead of looking at your wrist or ankle, you should focus on your clavicular length (your shoulder width). When you look at someone’s body, look how broad his shoulders are. Try not to look at the size of their delts because it’s just the broadness of their clavicle bones.

We all know that clavicle length, whether short or long, limits us to how much muscle we can attach to that bone.

For example, if you got 6 inches more clavicles than you already have, you got 6 inches more space to attach more muscle into it (see the image below).

Different shoulder broadness of two men

So, the skeletal structure plays a major role in how large you can be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look good in any skeleton.

For example, Arnold and Franco Columbu are both of different height and skeletal, but they can look good according to their frame size.

Arnold and Franco Columbu both are giving pose

So, we all can look good within the skeleton that we have.

All you need to do is forget all these formulas. Forget your height, forget your wrist size, forget the gap between your biceps and elbow and other measurements.

Don’t let these things get you wrapped up. You need to learn how to optimize your frame instead of just got big as you think your body should be.

Your main aim should be taking every opportunity you have to train hard, take the right nutrition and keep progressing day by day because it’s a marathon, not a 100-meter run.

I highly recommend you to read our step-by-step muscle-building formula to know more about muscle building and put on lean muscle mass naturally and healthily. 

Factors that Influence Our Muscle-Building Potential

There’re many variables that can influence how much muscle we can build naturally, such as:

1. Genetics

The first variable that influences muscle-building potential is your genetics. Of course, there is no doubt that favorable genetics can help you get your results faster and more efficiently.

However, even though genetics do matter, it’s also extremely important to do the right thing with your diet, workout plan and sleeping schedule. 

Studies also support this. The research shows that genetics and environmental factors (workout, diet, and sleep) are equally important in muscle gain and strength-related phenotypes.

The bottom line: You can indeed improve whatever genetics you have. But it’s also true that someone with great genetics can put on much more muscle even while putting much less work than someone with bad muscle-building genetics.

2. Your Frame Size

Your body frame is one of the top factors that influence your muscle-building potential. The larger your frame, the more you can typically add muscles around it.

Studies also show that men with big bones can carry more muscle than the slimmer build frame.

Other studies also show that world-class bodybuilders and power-lifters all have a large frame size, making them very successful in their sports. (1, 2)

3. Your Racial Phenotypes

According to the scientific evidence, the phenotypes to the best genetic potential for muscle growth to worst are Black, then Caucasian, and then Asian. (3, 4, 5)

But you should not worry much about it because the evidence isn’t very definitive on this topic. There’re plenty of examples that peoples with different racial backgrounds successfully build tons of muscle, both naturally and unnaturally.

Summary: As I said earlier, environmental factors make about 50 percent of results to building muscle. So, don’t limit yourself just by thinking you have bad genetics. Ultimately, by working hard in the gym and doing the right things with your nutrition, you can reach the top of your genetic potential just by staying consistent.

How Fast Can We Put-on Muscle Mass

The simple formula of weight gain is when we consume 3500 calories, we gain 1 pound weight.

For example, if you consume 500 calories extra per day, at the end of the week, you’ll add 3500 calories means you gain 1 pound of lean muscle.

But if you want to gain muscle mass fast by doubling your calorie consumption, you’ll gain weight, but most of them are excess fat because our body can’t make a significant amount of muscle very quickly.

When it comes to gaining lean muscle mass, our body can build 1 pound muscle in a week, 4 pounds in a month, and about 24 pounds in six months.

I would highly recommend you read our detailed guide on “how long it takes to build muscle” to know deeply how the calories work in our body and how they help build muscle.


Like I said before, forget all the formulas that describe how much muscle you can gain because everyone’s body type and muscle loading potential is different.

Your goal should be to take every opportunity you have to hit the gym, train hard and keep progressing day by day. Remember, muscle gain is a process like a marathon, not a sprint.

I hope you have found this article helpful and truthful actually. If you have any questions regarding muscle building, please ask in the comment section below! We’ll glad to help you!

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