Understanding Muscle Gain: How Much Can You Gain in A Year?

Setting realistic fitness goals for the year can be more challenging than you think, at the studio we often hear clients say they’d like to get to their goal weight and physique within a matter of a few months. Obviously there are tons of variables when it comes to how realistic a persons goals are for building muscle or hitting their goal weight – but there are a lot of things to think about when it comes to setting a REALISTIC goal for yourself.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain Each Year of Strength Training

We are commonly mis-informed when it comes to how much muscle you can actually build from eating and working out correctly. Unfortunately the fitness industry has been filled with fad diets and bogus workout programs that promise you massive amounts of results when the reality is that, they are just trying to make money and will say whatever sounds good so you buy their product. Lets take a look at some proven facts when it comes to how much muscle you can build per year.

Beginners: This is someone who has just began their strength training journey, has little lean muscle mass relative to their weight, and does not have good muscular control. You are considered a beginner for the first 1-2 years of strength training – within the first year MOST people can expect to see 5-15lbs of lean muscle gain.

 The second year will be slightly less than the first, but usually you will see significant increases in lean mass when you are in this phase due to the body making quick adaptations to your change in lifestyle/stress put on the body (AKA increasing muscle).

Intermediate: A client who is entering the intermediate stages of weight training will most likely be in this phase from 3-5 years weight lifting. This is the stage where you get more efficient when it comes to movements in the gym and are pushing significantly more weight in the gym than the average person. You also will have noticeably more muscle mass than the average person due to muscle maturity and density of the muscle tissues.

Someone in this stage can expect to see 2-5lbs increase in lean muscle mass per year, as you see it is significantly less than a beginner. This is due the body already being accustomed to the individuals routine of going to the gym, leading to less adaptions made.

Advanced: As you can already see, the more years spent consistently working out, the less and less muscle mass you will gain each year. Even though it sounds disappointing, you would be surprised how much just 1lb of muscle can actually change your whole body! Not only will you have more definition, if you are eating correctly you will most likely lose body fat as a reaction to the increased lean mass on your body.

People in this category usually have been weight training consistently without time off for 5+ years and have near perfect form, years of experience, and years of piling on layers of muscle mass. You can expect to see .5-2lbs lean muscle mass added per year once you have reached this level.

As always, remember these are estimates and can change depending on the individual. Experience, genetics, past eating habits, and current eating habits play a large role in how much muscle you can truly gain.

Hopefully this makes you think twice before hitting that buy button from your favorite fitness influencers new fad diet. Hire a trainer, understand the science of exercise and nutrition, and keep doing scientifically proven workouts/dieting methods for years – thats how you get results! Thanks for reading.

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