How Many Pounds of Muscle Can I Gain a Month?

April 13, 2015

Getting the Superhero Body

I came across this gem on the internet a while back:

“Steve Rogers [Captain America] is my fitness role model. In other words, I too want to be injected with a magical serum that’ll give me the perfect body in mere seconds without my having to do any exercise whatsoever.”

Life, however, is not a movie or a comic book. Building muscle and getting in shape takes effort. So the question is, how long is it going to take me to do it naturally?

First we need to remember it’s not just about building the muscle, it’s about losing fat as well. We’ve all got a six pack, but some are just buried underneath padding, and it’s not going to be visible unless your overall body fat percentage drops (and you can’t just do crunches to make it go away). It takes a combination of eating the right amounts and right kinds of food to gain muscle without gaining too much extra fat at the same time – under optimal conditions, you can expect to see about 1 to 2 pounds of muscle gainage per month.

Doesn’t sound like a lot, right? There are a few exceptions to this “rule”, especially when you’re new to the strength training game and start off pretty skinny. But don’t buy into the plethora of ads for BS supplements – a lot of the weight you might gain using those actually is due to your muscles retaining more water. In other words, water weight (which is often the first to go when you are trying to lose weight as well, and can demoralize people because they lose a “lot” of weight in the first couple of weeks but then can’t keep up that rate later on).

Here’s a few quick tips for how to build that muscle:

  • Get a proper amount of sleep – yes, sleep is important to more than just your “overall” well-being
  • Consume more calories, specifically protein and veggies
    • if you find yourself gaining too much fat, lessen the caloric intake on non-training days
    • when in doubt, it’s better to eat more calories than needed
  • lift heavy, and work towards increasing your limit
    • do squats and deadlifts, as well as other moves that target multiple muscle groups all over your body
    • you can do bodyweight exercises if you don’t have access to any equipment, but know that it’ll be a slower process
  • Don’t worry about getting too “bulky” if that’s a concern of yours – it takes a lot of conscious effort (with some genetics thrown in) to get that superhero look. Unless you’re actively training to look like Thor, you’re not going to.

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