How Much Muscle Can You Gain in a Month?

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The amount of muscle you can gain in a month may be different from the numbers you see on the scale. Muscle gain is different for everyone and will depend on your level of exercise, gender, age, hormones, calorie intake, and exercise routine.

Gaining weight involves more than just adding muscle mass. A 20–30 pound weight gain—including muscle, fat, water, and carbohydrate storage—might be possible for some people. But as lean muscle? Probably not. Also, keep in mind that we're referring to natural training without the help of anabolic steroids.

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

It can be difficult to calculate how much muscle you can gain in a certain time. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule or a simple math equation, but a few research studies can give a good idea. 

Research investigating lean muscle gain over the course of a month is limited, but experts suggest that most healthy individuals can gain 1 to 2 pounds of lean muscle mass per month. However, this rate varies based on factors such as age, sex, physical condition, genetics, diet quality, and of course, training program. As a result, some individuals may gain slightly more, while others might gain slightly less.

Muscle is built by stressing the fibers to the point that they must adapt, building or recruiting more muscle fibers in response. The muscles need to be challenged by increasing the stress through additional weight loads, repetitions and sets (volume), or frequency, for instance. You will also need to eat enough calories and, in particular, protein to fuel muscle growth.

There are limits as well—the increases you achieve in, say, three months may not be sustained over six or 12 months. Instead, a monthly increase of about half a pound is more likely over time. In addition, muscle gains may accelerate during intense training (hypertrophy) and decrease during bouts of decreased training (atrophy).

It's easy to see how the facts about muscle gain can be manipulated when you factor in the all the variables.

Getting Started on Building Muscle

The best way to figure out how much muscle you might gain in a month is to consider your current weight and level of fitness, for starters. Your sex and genetics are also a factor: Men tend to put on muscle more easily than women due to their higher testosterone levels, and some people are more genetically predisposed to muscle gain than others.

As well, your age and hormonal profile will affect your ability to gain muscle. As we age, hormone levels can drop, leading to decreased muscle or a harder time gaining it. However, with a proper diet and exercise routine, you can still achieve excellent strength and muscle function.

Remember that you will likely gain more muscle during the initial one to three months of training, but gain less after that. Overall, around 8 to 15 pounds per year could be a good estimate, but again, some people may gain more (or less) than that. Note this is nowhere near the exaggerated promises of 20–30 pounds in just 10 weeks.

You should also allow for some fluctuation in water and carbohydrate storage; You have to work hard, eat a healthy, balanced diet and be patient to build muscle; there is simply no other way.

Working Out and Muscle Growth

To gain muscle, resistance training is essential. There is a wide range of training modalities that can help build muscle. Traditional advice says that a repetition range of 8-10 is ideal for muscle hypertrophy, but in reality, lower or higher repetition ranges will also lead to muscle gain.

The largest factor of increasing muscle mass is to continue stressing and challenging the muscles, so they must adapt and grow. One prominent method for this is to increase the volume of weights lifted over time.

Any type of resistance exercise can help build muscle. If you are a beginner, you can start with bodyweight exercises and practice form and technique. Additionally, compound lifts—ones that use multiple joints and muscle groups—are known to elicit the highest response in terms of overall muscle activation. However, single-joint exercises can also create a muscle-building effect and so choosing a combination of both is a good strategy.

The Scoop on Nutrition and Supplements

There are a few nutritional factors to consider when assessing the rate of muscle growth. Muscles consist of muscle fibers and connective tissue, and contain blood, water, and glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrate).

To fuel muscle growth, it is ideal to consume a higher number of calories than you burn. Conversely, eating fewer calories than you burn interferes greatly with the ability to gain muscle mass. Consuming enough protein, in particular, is essential. Studies show that eating around 0.3g of protein per kilogram of body weight at each meal is recommended to elicit a muscle-building response in the setting of resistance exercise training.

Research shows that daily protein intakes should be approximately from 1.6g of protein per kg of body weight up to 2.2g of protein per kg of body weight per day to maximize muscle-building potential. You can reach this protein intake level by eating 3 meals containing 0.53g of protein per kg of body weight or 4 meals with 0.4g of protein per kg of body weight.

Various supplements may also help to boost muscle growth, including protein powder, which can help you reach your ideal protein intake. Supplementing with branch-chain-amino-acids (BCAAs) is another way to acquire the building blocks of protein and build muscle, but if you already consume enough protein, adding BCAAs may not be unnecessary.

Creatine intake of around 5 grams per day has been shown to help increase lean muscle tissue in those that participate in resistance training, although its mechanism in older adults is still being investigated.

A Word From Verywell

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to muscle-building, and there are key factors that play important roles, such as your diet, training plan, genetics, age, sex, and hormone levels. The best way to monitor your muscle gain is to compare your results to previous months. If you gain weight and strength while resistance training and consuming an adequate diet, you are optimizing your chances of gaining muscle.

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