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How long does it take to gain muscle?

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I can’t be the only one who’s wondered how long it takes to gain muscle, right?

I’ve felt the effects of a tough work out almost immediately, but when you don’t notice a huge physical difference quite as quickly, you begin to wonder if your hard work is paying off.

lady flexing her biceps

Let’s be realistic about muscle growth.

It is a slow process. Some people think that when the scale goes up after switching to a new workout program, it’s muscle. Well, that’s pretty unlikely. There are so many other factors involved.

The truth is that no matter how consistently we work out or how on point we are with our eating, we will not see results immediately. But, how long until we do? Can we notice a change in a week? in two?

Knowing the facts about how long it takes to see muscle growth will help us be realistic in our fitness goals and keep us from getting discouraged.

So, how long does it take to build muscle?

  • Average Man: about 1.5 pounds of muscle gained per month
  • Average Woman: about 0.5-1 pound of muscle gained per month

What’s interesting is that those numbers are for beginning lifters, as you become more advanced the rate of muscle growth decreases slightly (source).

While, pounds of muscle gain may be a slow grow, weight loss can still have a huge impact on our appearance and show some off some of our hard work. So if you start to lose some fat as a result of your new workout plan, your body will have a more muscular appearance more quickly despite the slow gains.

Tips for muscle gain:

  • Choose compound movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press-exercises that involve multiple muscle groups) over isolation movements.
  • Push yourself. Most people do not lift heavy enough.
    • According to SELF, “You know the weight is heavy enough if you struggle to complete the last few reps and would have liked to end a few reps before you planned to…You should be able to keep the correct form right up until your last rep (but not much longer)…A weight is too heavy if you struggle to maintain proper form or can’t hit the number of repetitions set out in the workout
  • Eat enough protein.
  • Eat enough food in general. Most people will recommend you eat in a surplus of 250-500 calories a day. The truth is, you just need to be eating enough to fuel your body, but since it is hard to figure out how much truly is enough, eating in a surplus is the safe bet.
  • Rest.
  • Be active on your rest days. This will increase blood flow to your muscles and help facilitate muscle tissue repair.
  • Be consistent. In your exercises, in your training frequency, all of it. It is trendy to do all these unique workouts every time, but it is impossible to track progressive overload if you are changing your workouts too often.
  • Track your workouts. Use an app or just paper & pen to record your workouts to make sure you are increasing your strength. Strength and muscle growth go hand in hand.

What does happen immediately:

Okay, sure, muscle growth takes time. But, that doesn’t mean you can see certain results right away.

A couple things you may notice right away are DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and an increase in strength.

One important thing to remember is that while DOMS is completely normal, you don’t want to work yourself until you can’t move your arms or legs and it takes you a full week to recover. That is NOT ideal. Push yourself, sure. But don’t over do it.

I hope after reading this post you remember to set realistic goals for the new year. If you need some ideas, here are some of ours 😉

best healthy new year's resolutions that follow the S.M.A.R.T. goals guidelines. These are attainable healthy goals for the new year!

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